Florida State and Kansas survived tough tests Monday night from healthy underdog opponents, but both emerged victorious at home. Nevertheless, North Carolina and Texas hooked up their backers as nine and 14.5-point road underdogs, respectively.
Bill Self’s team found itself down 33-31 at halftime when Andrew Jones hit a buzzer-beating trey to hook up Texas backers on money-line bets in the first half. (The Longhorns were +8 in the first half. I never saw a money-line payout for the first half, but we’re guessing it was at least a +350 return.) KU went on an 8-0 run to extend its lead to 10 with 8:30 left, and the Jayhawks hung on for a 69-58 win.
Senior center Udoka Azubuike was a scratch from the starting lineup, but he came off the bench to pace KU with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Playing without Brandon Robinson, North Carolina hung tough with the Seminoles in Tallahassee for 40 minutes. The Tar Heels came up short, though, in a 65-59 loss.
After missing nearly two months injured, UNC freshman point guard Cole Anthony returned this past Saturday in a 71-70 home loss to Boston College. He scored 26 points in the losing effort.
Cole, who is the son of UNLV legend Greg Anthony, is a projected lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. He struggled at FSU, hitting only 5-of-22 shots from the field and had as many turnovers as assists (three apiece). Anthony had 16 points and eight rebounds.
Let’s jump around the country with some injury information, trends and notes for some of tonight’s games and beyond…
—Alabama (12-9 straight up, 15-6 against the spread) will play host to Tennessee tonight at Coleman Coliseum. Nate Oats’s first ‘Bama team had covered the spread in 12 consecutive games to improve to 15-3 ATS going into its home game vs. Kansas State on Jan. 25. However, the Crimson Tide failed to cover the spread in a 77-74 victory over the Wildcats. Then on Jan. 29, Alabama lost 90-76 at LSU, which remains undefeated in SEC play. This past Saturday back in Tuscaloosa, the Tide lost an 82-78 decision to Arkansas as a 3.5-point home favorite. Oats had already lost Top-100 freshman recruit Juwan Gary (knee injury) and Jahvon Quinerly (eligibility after the Villanova transfer was denied a waiver) before the season started, and then lost All-American juco transfer James Rojas to a torn ACL. Before the loss to the Razorbacks, Alabama announced that junior forward Herb Jones is ‘out’ indefinitely with a wrist injury. Jones was averaging 9.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Senior James Bolden, a grad transfer guard from West Virginia, missed the loss to Arkansas due to an illness. Bolden has been upgraded to ‘probable’ vs. the Volunteers after missing back-to-back contests. As of early this morning, most books had Alabama installed as six-point favorite vs. UT. The Tide is 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS at home, while the Vols (12-9 SU, 9-12 ATS) are 2-4 SU and 3-3 ATS in six road assignments. The total is 146.5 points. The ‘over’ is on a 9-3 run for the Tide, and the Vols have seen the ‘over’ cash in three consecutive contests. With that said, we have to point out that this is the highest total Rick Barnes’s squad has seen all year. The previous high was 142 points in an 82-63 home win over Murray State that went ‘over.’ ESPNU will have tonight’s telecast at 7:00 p.m. ET.
—Maryland (17-4 SU, 11-9-1 ATS) plays host to Rutgers tonight at 7:00 p.m. ET. on Fox Sports 1. As of early this morning, most spots had the Terrapins as 7.5-point home ‘chalk.’ Mark Turgeon’s team is undefeated in 12 home games, going 8-4 ATS. Rutgers (16-6 SU, 13-6-2 ATS) is 3-1-1 ATS in five road assignments. The Scarlet Knights haven’t lost by more than six points since they dropped a 77-65 decision at Michigan State on Dec. 8. Their only other defeat of the season by a margin North of six points was a 71-60 setback at Pitt on Dec. 3. RU owns a 5-2 spread record with a pair of outright wins in seven games as an underdog. Maryland is on a four-game winning streak and has covered the number in five straight.
–As of early this morning, Arkansas was listed as one-point home favorite vs. Auburn. The total was 143 at most spots. The ‘over’ has hit in five consecutive games for the Razorbacks and is 8-1 in their last nine outings. Since getting smashed 69-47 at Florida on Jan. 18, Bruce Pearl’s squad has won four games in a row, including a 75-66 home win Saturday over Kentucky. Isaiah Joe had successful knee surgery earlier today and will be out for 2-4 weeks. Joe gave it a go Saturday at Alabama, but he went scoreless in 21 minutes of action. He was 0-of-3 from the field and his only contribution to the box score was one rebound. Joe is still averaging 16.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game.
–DraftKings has updated its future odds to win the 2020 NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga is the +800 favorite. The next-shortest odds belong to Kansas (+1000 or 10/1), Baylor (11/1), Duke (11/1), Oregon (12/1), Michigan State (15/1), FSU (20/1), Louisville (20/1), Kentucky (22/1) and Villanova (22/1). The best value appears to be with one of these teams: Dayton (30/1), Maryland (30/1), San Diego State (30/1), Texas Tech (50/1), Iowa (60/1) or LSU (60/1).
–Speaking of the Hawkeyes, they captured a thrilling 72-65 win Sunday over Illinois as a 4.5-point home favorite. Luke Garza was the catalyst with 25 points and 10 rebounds. His dagger three with 36 seconds remaining put his team up seven and put the game on ice. Garza is averaging 23.0 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots per game. The 6-foot-10, 260-pound center is now the +150 ‘chalk’ to win the Wooden Award at DraftKings. Make sure to check out the rematch at Illinois in the regular-season finale. The Illini apparently wasn’t happy when the Hawkeyes dunked with 12 seconds remaining off a long pass from the backcourt. Illinois assistants Ron ‘Chin’ Coleman and Jamall Walker had (many) words with Iowa’s Fran McCaffrey, prompting the Hawkeyes head coach to pull his team out of the handshake line.
—The nation’s best ATS teams going into Tuesday’s action: Yale (14-4 ATS), Winthrop (16-5), Austin Peay (15-5-1), Lafayette (15-5-1), South Dakota State (17-6), Northern Iowa (14-5-1), California Baptist (14-5), North Florida (16-6 ATS), Arkansas Little Rock (16-6-1) and Alabama (15-6).
—FADE LIST (worst ATS teams): Iona (3-13-1 ATS), Samford (5-15-1), North Dakota (5-15), Wagner (5-14), Kennesaw State (6-16), UMass (6-15), Illinois State (6-15), Xavier (6-15-1) and Toledo (6-15).
–You might have seen my prediction on Dayton last week. The Flyers, who are off until Saturday when they host Saint Louis, saw their 6-0 run of ‘overs’ ended in Saturday’s 70-56 home win over Fordham. The 126 combined points slithered ‘under’ the 127-point total. Anthony Grant’s team has won 11 games in a row, winning eight of those games by 13 points or more.
–As of early this morning, Kentucky (16-5 SU, 9-12 ATS) was a 6.5-point home favorite vs. Mississippi State (14-7 SU, 13-7-1 ATS) in tonight’s 9:00 p.m. ET tip at Rupp Arena on ESPN. Ben Howland’s team has caught fire in recent weeks, winning five of its last seven games while going 7-0 ATS. The Bulldogs’ only losses came at LSU and vs. Oklahoma (in Oklahoma City) by two combined points. They rallied from a 16-point deficit to win 78-71 at Florida last week, and then returned home to top Tennessee by an 86-73 count. The ‘over’ is on a 10-4 run for MSU.
–Good news for Seton Hall. The team sent out a press release Monday (2/3/20) that Quincy McKnight is day-to-day after MRI results on his knee came back clean. McKnight injured his knee in Saturday’s home loss to Xavier. The senior guard is averaging 11.5 points, 5.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.
—Michigan State hosts Penn State tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET. on the Big Ten Network. As of early this morning, most spots had the Spartans installed as 8.5-point home favorites with a total of 144. Tom Izzo’s club is 10-1 SU and 9-2 ATS at home inside of Breslin Center. PSU is 3-3 both SU and ATS in six road assignments. The ‘under’ is on a 6-0-1 roll for Michigan State in its last seven games, and the ‘under’ has prevailed in three consecutive contests for the Nittany Lions.
–Ohio State freshman guard D.J. Carton stepped away from the team on Jan. 30 in order to deal with mental health issues. There’s no timetable on if or when he’ll return to the Buckeyes. In the first 20 games of his career, Carton was averaging 10.4 points, 3.0 assists and 2.8 RPG.
—Ohio State is a 2.5-point underdog tonight at Michigan on ESPN2 at 7:00 p.m. ET. The Buckeyes were mired in a 0-7 ATS slump with just one outright win until winning back-to-back games both SU and ATS last week. They won 71-59 at Northwestern before capturing a 68-59 home win over Indiana. The ‘under’ has cashed at a 7-2 clip in Ohio State’s last nine contests. Tonight’s total was 136 points as of early this morning. Similar to Ohio State, Michigan snapped a four-game losing streak (and ended a 0-5-1 ATS slide) with wins at Nebraska and vs. Rutgers this past week. Isaiah Livers (13.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG) is ‘questionable’ tonight after missing the last two games with a groin injury. After serving a one-game suspension in last week’s win at Nebraska, senior captain Zavier Simpson returned in the win over Rutgers and had nine points, 10 assists, four rebounds and three steals. The Wolverines are 8-3 SU and 5-5-1 ATS at home, while the Buckeyes are 2-4 both SU and ATS in six road contests.
—Duke is a 14.5-point favorite tonight at Boston College. This is a vintage look-ahead spot for the Blue Devils, who play at arch-rival North Carolina on Saturday. The total is 145 points. The ‘over’ has hit in six straight games for Duke. On Dec. 31, Boston College was run out of Cameron Indoor Stadium in an 88-49 loss as a 22-point road underdog. This is the second-highest total BC has seen this year. The previous high was 146.5 points in a 100-85 home loss to Belmont. The Eagles have had seven totals in the 140s, with those coming out as a wash (3-3-1). Tip-off on ESPN is set for 7:00 p.m. ET.
–The ‘under’ is on a 9-2 run for Indiana. The Hoosiers, who have lost three in a row both SU and ATS, host Purdue on Saturday.
–Houston’s DeJon Jarreau has been suspended one game by Kelvin Sampson for biting (biting? Yes, he went Mike Tyson circa ’97.) a Cincinnati player in Saturday’s game.
–ICYMI: BYU’s TJ Haws beat Saint Mary’s with a game-winning trey from deep beyond the top of the key this past weekend:
—New Mexico had only seven scholarship players available in Saturday’s blowout loss at Fresno State. Here’s a list of the players the Lobos have been missing (from Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal):
UNM SCHOLARSHIP PLAYERS WHO DIDN’T PLAY
• PF Carlton Bragg (dismissed from team)
• PG J.J. Caldwell (suspended for the 11th game)
• PG Drue Drinnon (transferred from program in November)
• F Vance Jackson (missed last five and a half games due to a bone bruise in his left knee)
• G JaQuan Lyle (after being injured two games, Lyle served the second of a two game suspension on Saturday)
• F Bayron Matos (freshman who last week enrolled at UNM and took the scholarship vacated by Drinnon stayed home in Albuquerque and isn’t expected to play for the Lobos this season)
• G Kurt Wegscheider (healthy, just didn’t play on Saturday)