Best Bets: Previewing Baylor-Kansas, Myles Powell-Markus Howard

Dylan Buell/Getty Images
0 Comments

The Vegas lines for Saturday’s games were not released at the time of this publishing. Score projections from KenPomTorvik and Haslametrics were used in their stead. 

No. 4 BAYLOR at No. 3 KANSAS, Sat. 1:00 p.m. (CBS)

  • KENPOM: Kansas 69, Baylor 61
  • TORVIK: Kansas 72, Baylor 62
  • HASLAM: Kansas 74, Baylor 57
  • VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: Kansas 69, Baylor 61.5

My thoughts on this game really are no different than what I thought about Kansas facing off with West Virginia last week with the notable exception that Baylor just so happens to be a better team that West Virginia.

These are two of the nation’s top ten defenses. Baylor has been playing primarily man defense this season, but as they showed against Texas Tech, they can flip between man and zone easily. They have the size inside to be able to deal with Udoka Azubuike and David McCormack, especially if Tristan Clark is able to give them 15 minutes on Saturday, but with the versatile Mark Vital on the floor, they can keep playing big while matching up with Kansas when they go to their four-guard lineup.

The Jayhawks, on the other hand, currently sit as the second-best defense in college hoops, according to KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, and their best perimeter defenders should be able to matchup with Baylor’s talented guards.

Put another way, I have a hard time seeing how this game gets away from Baylor. I know that they have never won in Phog Allen Fieldhouse, but they do tend to play the Jayhawks tough on the road. They’ve lost by eight, three and five points in their last three trips to Lawrence, and none of those teams were as good as this team.

BEST BET: In a battle between legitimate top five teams, eight (or ten, or 17) points are just too many points, and that’s before you factor in how well these teams matchup with each other defensively. I’ll take Baylor and the points as long as it is (+7.5) and above.

*SATURDAY UPDATE: So the line opened up at Baylor (+7.5), which is the floor of where I feel comfortable betting the Bears. That’s where I’m leaning, and that’s probably what I am going to bet, but I’m not going to feel great about it.

No. 22 TEXAS TECH at No. 17 WEST VIRGINIA, Sat. 6:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

  • KENPOM: West Virginia 67, Texas Tech 60
  • TORVIK: West Virginia 67, Texas Tech 58
  • HASLAM: West Virginia 67, Texas Tech 58

On Friday’s podcast, we talked about some of the issues that Texas Tech has in the Big 12 this season, namely they they just do not have the size inside to be able to handle the best teams in the Big 12.

West Virginia is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, and I don’t think that is going to change against a team that is going to roll out T.J. Holyfield and Chris Clarke to try and deal with Big Sheeb and Derek Culver.

That said, the Mountaineers turn the ball over on nearly 21 percent of their possessions on the season — and over 27 percent during Big 12 play — while Texas Tech just forced 20 turnovers on 62 possessions (32.3%) against Baylor.

BEST BET: I think that if this total opens at 128 or above, the under is most definitely in play. I also think that the Red Raiders are going to be able to keep this thing fairly close. The more turnovers they force, the fewer possessions West Virginia is going to be able to get to the offensive glass, which is where I think their best offense is going to come from.

I don’t know where Tech’s offense is going to come from (which is why the under is the more intriguing bet here), but if you need to take a side, the Red Raiders at (+7.5) or higher has value.

*SATURDAY UPDATE: This line opened up at West Virginia (-5) and immediately dropped to (-4.5). The value is on West Virginia at that number, especially when playing at home; keep in mind that we have not seen Texas Tech have to play a road game in league play yet.

MARQUETTE at SETON HALL, Sat. 4:00 p.m. (CBSSN)

  • KENPOM: Seton Hall 76, Marquette 69
  • TORVIK: Seton Hall 77, Marquette 70
  • HASLAM: Seton Hall 78, Marquette 69

As this season has gone on, the Golden Eagles have gotten more and more reliant on Markus Howard’s game-changing ability to win them games. In three games against Seton Hall last season, Howard averaged 17.7 points while shooting 10-for-46 (21.7%) from the floor and 6-for-28 (21.4%) from three. In the game at the Prudential Center, he shot 2-for-11 from the floor and finished with just six points in 28 foul-plagued minutes in a 73-64 loss.

(As an aside, Howard actually scored 21 points in a game where he shot 1-for-15 against Seton Hall in the Big East tournament; he took 24 free throws in that game.)

Anyway, I fully expect Quincy McKnight to spend Saturday afternoon covering Howard like a wet blanket.

BEST BETS: I like Seton Hall up to (-7.5).

*SATURDAY UPDATE: The line here opened up at Seton Hall (-6) and it has yet to move away from Seton Hall (-6). This is my favorite bet of the day.

No. 12 MARYLAND at IOWA, Fri. 7:00 p.m. (FS1)

  • KENPOM: Maryland 74, Iowa 73
  • TORVIK: Iowa 74, Maryland 72
  • HASLAM: Iowa 72, Maryland 71
  • VEGAS IMPLIED SCORE: Maryland 74, Iowa 72

On the one hand, Iowa is 10-5 this season, they’ve been better but still something of a mess on the defensive side of the ball and losing Jordan Bohannon certainly didn’t help matters. At the same time, Maryland has looked like a team that is starting to put things together. They are coming off of back-to-back impressive wins over Indiana and Ohio State at home, and we know that they have enough talent to be a serious problem if they do find a way to put it all together.

Having said that, Iowa — who is not ranked but who is a top 25 team according to all of the metrics I use — has played their last two games on the road, where Big Ten teams are 4-26 this season. This game is, of course, going to be played in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in a spot where it feels like we’d be buying on Iowa low in a must-win game (they’re currently 1-3 in the Big Ten) while fading a Maryland team that is 0-2 on the road this season at a high point.

BEST BET: Iowa is getting points at home right now, but instead of betting the Hawkeyes at (+1.5) or (+2), I will be taking the money line at +110.

*SATURDAY UPDATE: Cha-ching.

No. 11 OHIO STATE at INDIANA, Sat. 12:00 p.m. (FOX)

  • KENPOM: Ohio State 69, Indiana 66
  • TORVIK: Ohio State 69, Indiana 66
  • HASLAM: Ohio State 71, Indiana 64

Unlike Iowa-Maryland, I do not feel comfortable betting on Indiana in this situation.

After getting blown out by the Terps in College Park last week, Indiana returned home and needed to erase a late 10-point deficit to avoid a loss to Northwestern in Assembly Hall.

At the same, I don’t feel comfortable betting on an Ohio State team that has been good defensively while struggling to find a way to score outside of Kaleb Wesson, and I definitely don’t want to make that bet when the Buckeyes are facing a team that plays the Pack-Line.

BEST BET: I think the under is the play here. I fully expect Ohio State to make life difficult for the Hoosiers, and I have not felt good about what the Buckeyes are doing offensively for a while. If the total is 135 or above, let’s get on that under.

*SATURDAY UPDATE: This is a gross spot. The line opened at Ohio State (-2) and has since dropped to (-1.5). I don’t think there is enough juice on Indiana’s ML (+110) to make it intriguing, but taking a Big Ten team on the road is just as uncomfortable.

Then there is the total, which opened at 133 and has since moved 135, which is the floor for where I would feel comfortable betting the under. If you’re asking me where I’m leaning, it’s Ohio State (-1.5) and the under, but I certainly do not feel good about it.

Alabama coach Nate Oats gets new 6-year, $30 million deal

alabama basketball
Marvin Gentry/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nate Oats has agreed to a new six-year, $30 million contract amid the program’s best regular season in decades.

Oats will average $5 million plus incentives over the deal running through the 2028-29 season under a deal approved by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees Compensation Committee.

It makes him the fourth-highest paid basketball coach in the Southeastern Conference and among the Top 10 nationally, athletic director Greg Byrne said.

Oats, who is in his fourth season, will make $4.5 million for the first year with $200,000 annual raises. The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide (19-3, 9-0 SEC) has the team’s highest ranking this deep into a season since 1976-77.

“I am honored and humbled to receive a contract extension from the University of Alabama,” Oats said in a statement. “As I have said many times, my family and I love this community, the city of Tuscaloosa and the university.

“I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to build during our time at UA which is a direct reflection of the student-athletes, coaches and staff who have all played a big part in our success. I am excited for what’s happening in the future of our program and the direction we are heading.”

Alabama has gone 80-39 under Oats, winning the 2021 SEC regular season and tournament championships.

“Coach Oats has done an outstanding job leading our men’s basketball program, and we want him to continue doing so for many years to come,” Byrne said in a statement. “He and his staff have lifted the program back to national prominence and built a product that is exciting to be a part of for our team and for our fans.

“We were confident Nate was going to be an outstanding coach for us when we hired him, and he is not only that, but also a great leader of our young men.”

The new contract comes nearly three weeks after Alabama basketball player Darius Miles and another man were charged with capital murder following a fatal shooting near campus. Miles, a reserve forward, was removed from the team and suspended from the university following his arrest.

Duke women’s coach Kara Lawson says men’s ball used vs. FSU

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

Duke coach Kara Lawson said her team played with a men’s basketball for the first half of a loss to Florida Stated.

The 16th-ranked Blue Devils lost to the Seminoles 70-57 in Tallahassee, Florida – the team’s second Atlantic Coast Conference loss of the season.

After her team beat Pittsburgh 53-44 , Lawson ended her news conference by speaking animatedly.

“This would never happen in a men’s game. This would never happen. It’s embarrassing for our sport,” she said.

The circumference of a women’s ball is about an inch smaller than a men’s ball and it is typically 2 ounces lighter. While it may not seem like a lot, that’s a big difference.

Lawson said throughout the first half, Duke players were “complaining about the ball.” The Blue Devils were 7 for 34 from the field in the opening 20 minutes of that game. They were 12 for 38 in the second half. Florida State made 10 of its 30 shots in the first two quarters and 14 of 31 in the second half.

“To have a game that, at the end of the season, could be the difference between a seed, between a title, my players don’t deserve that and neither do their players,” Lawson said. “It’s a complete failure. And you can figure out who the people I’m talking about that failed the sport and our players and both teams.”

Lawson said assistant coach Winston Gandy went to the scorer’s table at the half to check on the ball when he realized what the problem was. She said the game officials changed the ball to start the second half.

“We have concluded through our investigation that it was a men’s ball,” Lawson said. “The conference and Florida State is saying that it wasn’t.”

The ACC said it did a comprehensive review talking with game officials, administrators, the table crew and both schools.

“Following the thorough and objective review process, there was no evidence found to support the claim,” the conference said in a statement. “Per NCAA playing rules, there is no appeal or protest process.”

The ACC has instituted a procedural change that the game ball will be brought to the pregame meeting with the captains for approval.

“It’s very frustrating that (the game) … was not treated with the utmost respect that players on both teams deserve,” she said.

This wasn’t the first time this has happened in women’s basketball. In 2017, the College of Charleston played home games and practiced with men’s balls for most of its season until the error was was discovered.

“Let me be clear: Florida State beat us. They beat us playing with a men’s ball in the first half and a women’s ball in the second half. But I can’t say if we’d have played with a women’s ball in the first half and the second half that we would have won. But they can’t say that either,” Lawson said.

No. 1 South Carolina wins 28th straight 87-69 over ‘Cats

south carolina basketball
Jeff Blake/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Dawn Staley’s pleased South Carolina had made its once-lopsided series with UConn more competitive the past few years.

She hopes her top-ranked team can accomplish another milestone when the teams meet for a top-five showdown on Sunday.

“It still stands true that we haven’t won up there,” Staley said.

Aliyah Boston had 14 points and 14 rebounds as South Carolina prepared for the top-five showdown with an 87-69 victory over Kentucky on Thursday night.

The Gamecocks (10-0 Southeastern Conference) improved to 22-0 and won their 28th straight, a run that included a 64-49 victory over the Huskies in Minneapolis last April to win the national championship.

Staley had lost her first seven games as South Carolina coach against UConn. The Gamecocks have won three of the past four matchups since.

“This particular class committed to each other,” Staley said. “When you have that type of commitment and you just want to win, you find yourself winning some games that you haven’t won before.”

Against Kentucky, reigning AP player of the year Boston extended her school mark with her 75th career double-double and moved within 11 of the SEC record of 86 games with a double-double held by LSU great Sylvia Fowles.

Things weren’t perfect for South Carolina, which fell behind early, then had its 15-point halftime lead cut to 54-48 midway through the third quarter.

Still, its dominant inside game – South Carolina outscored the Wildcats 62-14 in the paint – was more than enough to shut down Kentucky (10-12, 2-8), the last team to defeat the defending national champions at the SEC Tournament last March.

The Wildcats went on top 16-15 after a pair of baskets by Adebola Adeyeye.

That’s when South Carolina, fueled by its bench, took control with a 17-2 run. Ashlyn Watkins had three inside shots and Kamilla Cardoso scored four points during the surge.

The Wildcats used a 13-4 burst to start the third quarter to give South Carolina a few uncomfortable moments. But the Gamecocks got going once more with an 11-0 run to extend their margin.

Cardoso, the 6-foot-7 reserve, had 14 points and five of South Carolina’s 14 blocks. Defensive ace Brea Beal had 10 including both of the Gamecocks’ 3-pointers.

Beal thought the team held together well to blunt Kentucky’s runs and regain control. “I think it’s our mental aspect of the game and us believing in each other,” she said.

Robyn Benton had 24 points to lead Kentucky, which has lost three of its past four games.

Wildcats coach Kyra Elzy said South Carolina is difficult to match up with because of its deep bench. “They have depth after depth after depth,” she said. “They keep coming.”

BIG PICTURE

Kentucky: The Wildcats are the not the same team that featured two-time SEC player of the year Rhyne Howard the past few seasons. They have 10 newcomers – and six freshmen – who are still learning how to play against the SEC’s top teams like South Carolina.

South Carolina: Forgive the Gamecocks if their focus wasn’t fully on this one at first with a big week ahead. In an eight-game span, South Carolina will face No. 5 UConn and No. 3 LSU, a pair of high-profile games could expose any flaw – or show how powerful the Gamecocks are in chasing a second straight NCAA crown.

UCONN KARMA

South Carolina has opened 22-0 twice under coach Dawn Staley, in 2014-15 and the following year. Both runs ended against UConn. Next up for Gamecocks are the Huskies, although South Carolina has won three of the past four games over UConn including last April’s 64-49 victory to win the NCAA Tournament title.

UP NEXT

Kentucky returns home to face Alabama on Feb. 9.

South Carolina heads to No. 5 UConn on Sunday.

Miles, Citron lead No. 9 Irish past Boston College 72-59

notre dame basketball
Erica Denhoff/Getty Images
0 Comments

BOSTON — Olivia Miles and Sonia Citron had already scored 10 straight points to put away Boston College when they turned their attention to other things.

“I told Sonia I needed two more assists for the double-double. And she was like, `All right, I’ve got you,”‘ Miles said after helping No. 9 Notre Dame beat BC 72-59 on Thursday night.

“That’s just kind of our communication on the court,” said Miles, who found Citron for baskets on the next two Irish possessions to complete a 14-0 run – with all 14 points from Miles and Citron. “We just really play off each other really well.

Miles scored 22 points with 10 assists and eight rebounds, and Citron scored 23 for the Irish (18-2, 9-1 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Maria Gakdeng scored 16 points, T’Yana Todd had 13 and Andrea Daly scored 10 with eight rebounds for BC (14-11, 4-8). The Irish beat BC at home 85-48 on New Year’s Day but hadn’t won in Chestnut Hill since 2019.

“This is such a tough place to play,” said Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey, whose team faces No. 16 Duke next. “We’ll celebrate it until about 12:30, and then we’ve got film. Tomorrow we start focusing on Duke.”

BC came within five points, 55-50, before the Irish ran off 14 points in a row – nine by Citron, and five by Miles. That put an end to what had been a back-and-forth game in which the Irish opened big leads and then frittered them away.

“I always feel like we’re close,” BC coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said. “They’re young; I think consistency comes with experience.

“I think it’s a big improvement from the first time we played Notre Dame,” she said. “I still want to see more, and I want to see us grow up as fast as humanly possible because I think we do have a dangerous team when we going well.”

Notre Dame led by 11 in the first quarter and held a 38-30 lead with two minutes gone in the third. BC scored 13 of the next 18 points, capitalizing on back-to-back Irish turnovers to tie it 43-all with three minutes left in the quarter.

But Natalija Marshall put back the rebound of her own miss, Miles drove to the basket, Maddy Westbeld added a pair of baskets and then Miles stole the ball and found Citron on the fast break to make it 53-43.

BIG PICTURE

Notre Dame bounced back from their first league loss of the season, a 69-65 defeat at North Carolina State on Sunday. Now they face No. 16 Duke.

The Eagles, who beat Pittsburgh on Sunday to snap a five-game losing streak, were looking for their second victory over a Top 25 team this season, having also beaten then-No. 10 N.C. State on Jan. 5.

UP NEXT

Notre Dame: Hosts No. 16 Duke on Sunday.

Boston College: Visits Syracuse on Sunday.

No. 16 Xavier beats No. 17 Providence 85-83 in OT thriller

xavier basketball
Kareem Elgazzar/USA TODAY NETWORK
1 Comment

CINCINNATI — Jack Nunge had 23 points and 14 rebounds as No. 16 Xavier held off No. 17 Providence 85-83 in an overtime thriller Wednesday night.

Colby Jones and Souley Boum each scored 20 for the Musketeers, who won a first-place showdown in the Big East without injured forward Zach Freemantle.

Noah Locke had 22 points and Ed Croswell added 21 for Providence (17-6, 9-3), which had beaten Xavier three straight times.

A layup by Boum put the Musketeers (18-5, 10-2) ahead 82-79 with 51 seconds remaining in overtime. A turnover by the Musketeers led to a layup by Devin Carter that cut Xavier’s lead to one with 24 seconds left.

Boum hit one of two free throws, and Jared Bynum’s 3-point attempt from the left corner rimmed out at the buzzer as the Musketeers held on.

Xavier played its first game without Freemantle, the team’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer. He is expected to miss four weeks with a left foot injury, the same foot that required surgery in 2021.

Jerome Hunter, who has excelled off the bench for the Musketeers, made his first start of the season and scored nine points with eight rebounds. Xavier had used the same starting lineup in each of its previous 11 Big East games.

Things started well for the Musketeers. who went on a 12-1 run to build a 25-11 lead.

With Boum on the bench with two fouls, the Musketeers didn’t have a field goal in the final 4:18 of the first half and the Friars pulled to 39-35 at halftime.

Providence outscored Xavier 8-2 to start the second half and took its first lead, 43-41, with 17:41 left.

There was a frantic finish to the second half, with Adam Kunkel’s 3-pointer putting Xavier ahead 76-73 with 55 seconds left. But then Bynum banked in a tying 3 and Boum missed two long shots to send the game to overtime.

BIG PICTURE

Providence: The Friars, who won their first Big East regular-season title last year, entered the night tied atop the conference standings with Xavier and No. 14 Marquette, which hosted Villanova later. Providence was picked fifth in the preseason.

Xavier: Hunter, who averages 14 minutes, left with three minutes remaining in OT with an apparent cramp in his right leg. With Freemantle out, Hunter played 36 minutes.

UP NEXT

Providence: Hosts last-place Georgetown on Wednesday.

Xavier: Will host St. John’s on Saturday.