Best Bets: Maryland-Michigan State, Auburn-Kentucky highlight a loaded weekend slate

John McCoy/Getty Images
0 Comments

Saturday’s lines have not yet been put out by the fine folks running sportsbooks. Until they are, we will be using projections from KenPom, Torvik and Haslametrics to analyze Saturday’s games.

No. 24 MICHIGAN STATE at No. 9 MARYLAND, Sat. 8:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Maryland 70, Michigan State 67
  • TORVIK: Maryland 69, Michigan State 68
  • HASLAM: Maryland 68, Michigan State 67

The biggest knock on this Maryland team has been their inability to start games well, which is ironic given the fact that the last time these two teams played, the Terps needed a miracle, 14-0 run in the final three minutes to avoid losing a game they led by 15 points in the first half.

I cannot imagine the Terps finding a way to dig a hole like they did against Minnesota on Wednesday, or Ohio State on Sunday, or Northwestern, or Indiana, or Illinois in either of the games they played against the Illini. Gameday will be in town! It will be an 8 p.m. tip! They will be getting the Scott Van Pelt bump! All the narratives!

I expect that, combined with some of the issues that Michigan State has had this season, to push this line up past Maryland (-3), and that makes me want to bet on the Spartans. I know, I know, maybe I just can’t quite Michigan State, but with Rocket Watts, Marcus Bingham and Malik Hall starting to play better, it’s allowed Aaron Henry to focus on being more than just a third-scorer. I also think Xavier Tillman should be able to shut down Jalen Smith the way he shut down Luka Garza in the second half on Tuesday night.

BEST BET: I’m going to stay away from this game unless I can get Michigan State at (+4.5) or higher.

*SATURDAY UPDATE: This line is currently sitting at Michigan State (+3). I want to be on the Spartan side, but I am going to stay away from it at that number.

No. 15 AUBURN at No. 8 KENTUCKY, Sat. 3:45 p.m. (CBS)

  • KENPOM: Kentucky 73, Auburn 68
  • TORVIK: Kentucky 73, Auburn 67
  • HASLAM: Kentucky 73, Auburn 68

This is such a weird matchup between two teams that have been brutally inconsistent. Auburn has been depantsed on the road too many times to feel comfortable betting them in this spot, but Kentucky’s shooting splits — they are significantly better from beyond the arc away from home than they are in Rupp — makes terrified to wager on them when they are laying six or seven points. I will not be on a side in this game unless the line just gets complete out of hand in either direction.

BEST BET: My favorite bet here is going to be the under, especially if the total creeps up past 143.

*SATURDAY UPDATE: This line has been sitting steady at Kentucky (-6.5) for me since it opened, and at that number I am going to be staying away. The total is more interesting. It opened at 140.5, dropped to 139.5 and it now at 140. I still lean towards the under, but I was hoping this would open higher.

ARIZONA at UCLA, Sat. 10:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Arizona 71, UCLA 67
  • TORVIK: Arizona 70, UCLA 66
  • HASLAM: Arizona 69, UCLA 64

First and foremost, there is no way in hell that this line opens at UCLA (+4). The Bruins are the hottest team in the country. They beat Arizona in Tucson. They have won six in a row, ten of their last 12 and are coming off of a win over Arizona State to take over first place in the Pac-12 race. This game will be played in Pauley Pavilion, which was rocking on Thursday night against the Sun Devils. Arizona is the team that is actually UCLA’s rival, and that’s to say nothing of the fact that Mick Cronin and Sean Miller hate each other from their time as rival head coaches in Cincinnati.

I also think it’s important to point out that the metrics have tended to overvalue Arizona this season while UCLA — who ranks outside the top 75 in all metrics — has been playing like a top 35 teams over the last six weeks.

Should I mention that Arizona’s Josh Green will not be playing in this game?

BEST BET: I will be checking this line early and often to see if I can snag the UCLA moneyline while they are getting points. I would probably take the Bruins all the way up to (-1).

*SATURDAY UPDATE: UCLA is (+2) right now and the moneyline is +112. This is my favorite bet of the day.

No. 13 SETON HALL at MARQUETTE, Sat. 2:30 p.m. (FOX)

  • KENPOM: Marquette 75, Seton Hall 72
  • TORVIK: Marquette 76, Seton Hall 73
  • HASLAM: Marquette 76, Seton Hall 73

I’ve said over and over against that I hate betting on Marquette games because it feels like I am betting on whether or not Markus Howard is going to have himself a day. And I know the numbers. Last season, in three games against the Pirates, Howard averaged just 17.7 points while shooting 21.4 percent from the floor and 21.7 percent from three. In their first matchup this season, Howard finished with 27 points, but it took an 8-for-22 shooting night to get there. Quincy McKnight has been his kryptonite.

That said, this does feel like a sell-high spot for the Pirates. They are coming off of back-to-back home wins and, prior to that, had developed a bit of a habit for slow starts. The last time they played a road game Providence led 34-9 before Seton Hall finally decided to play.

And I think it is worth noting that this will be Howard’s senior night. He’s going to be gunning.

BEST BET: If you can find a player prop for Markus Howard shot attempts, take the over. And if there was ever a time to bet on Howard finding a way to have a blow-up game, this is it. I like Marquette (-3).

*SATURDAY UPDATE: If I like Marquette (-3) then I love Marquette (-2), which is where this line is currently sitting.

No. 19 MICHIGAN at No. 23 OHIO STATE, Sat. 4:00 p.m. (CBS)

  • KENPOM: Ohio State 71, Michigan 67
  • TORVIK: Ohio State 70, Michigan 66
  • HASLAM: Ohio State 70, Michigan 65

This is such a weird matchup. Prior to Wisconsin lighting up Michigan on Thursday night, I would have said that this was a battle between the two Big Ten teams that were playing the best basketball in the league. I think the matchup here actually favors Michigan, to a point. Ohio State plays a gapping defense, which means that they are going to try and prevent penetration by sacrificing open threes. The way that Wisconsin beat Michigan on Thursday night was to stick to shooters in the corner and allow Zavier Simpson to try and win a game by himself. He had 32 points, and Michigan shot just 10 threes on the night, the fewest they’ve attempted in a game since John Beilein’s first season.

On the other hand, Michigan is really good at running teams off of the three-point line, and Ohio State shoots a ton of threes. Put it all together, and if we like the matchup for the defenses on both sides of a rivalry game that will be the second matchup between the two teams on the season, the best bet seems to be obvious.

BEST BET: The total looks like it will be somewhere around 136.5. The first game was 61-58. Hit that under.

No. 16 PENN STATE at No. 18 IOWA, Sat. 12:00 p.m. (BTN)

  • KENPOM: Iowa 78, Penn State 75
  • TORVIK: Iowa 78, Penn State 77
  • HASLAM: Iowa 78, Penn State 75

I love this spot for Iowa. For starters, it’s the ideal spot play that we look for. Penn State is coming off of a home win that they maybe didn’t deserve — they blew a big lead to Rutgers and needed a three with 12 seconds left for a one point win that prevented a three-game losing streak — and will not have to go on the road to play an Iowa team that is coming off of a road loss to Michigan State. Now throw in that the Nittany Lions did not have an answer for Luka Garza the first time these two teams squared off, and all signs point to the Hawkeyes.

BEST BET: I’ll be on Iowa up to about (-4.5).

*SATURDAY UPDATE: Iowa opened (-3.5). It’s now at (-4). Let’s roll.

No. 7 DUKE at VIRGINIA, Sat. 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Duke 62, Virginia 58
  • TORVIK: Duke 60, Virginia 58
  • HASLAM: Duke 63, Virginia 58

UCLA is my favorite bet of the day. Virginia is my second-favorite bet of the day. As it currently stands, Duke is a top eight team in the metrics and Virginia is more of a borderline top 50 team. But over the course of the last month, the Wahoos have gone 8-1 and are playing as the 31st best team in college basketball. During that same stretch, Duke, who has lost two of their last three games, is playing like the 28th-best team in the country.

As far as the matchup is concerned, I think that Virginia has the size inside to be able to limit Vernon Carey’s effectiveness, and their Pack-Line defense forces opponents to have to settle for jumpers over the top of the defense, and Duke’s shooting is not exactly a strong-suit.

BEST BET: I will be on the Virginia side here without a doubt. If the line is +2.5 or below, I will be on the UVA moneyline. If it’s +3 or above I will take the points.

*SATURDAY UPDATE: This line has been bouncing between Virginia (+3.5) and (+4). Iowa and UCLA are my favorite bets of the day, but this is not all that far behind.

No. 1 South Carolina tops fifth-ranked UConn 81-77

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

HARTFORD, Conn. – In a rematch of last season’s national championship game, South Carolina came out on top again over UConn thanks to a strong fourth quarter by Aliyah Boston.

Geno Auriemma stepping onto the court to spike a water botte, that helped them, too.

Boston scored 23 of her 26 points in the second half, including 14 in the final period, to help the No. 1 Gamecocks beat the fifth-ranked Huskies 81-77 on Sunday in front of a sellout crowd.

“Aliyah is just relentless, she plays relentlessly although she had a subpar (first half) as far as statistics, she impacted the game,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “She doesn’t get flustered. she knew she didn’t play up to her standards. What does she do? Raise her standard. Bad first half or not she’s going to continue to play.”

While there wasn’t as much on the line as the title game last April, there was a high intensity to it, including Auriemma getting the technical late in the fourth quarter after getting frustrated by the officiating enough to throw the bottle.

“I thought there were a lot of things being overlooked. It was difficult for some of our guys to move out on the floor,” said Auriemma, UConn’s coach. “I didn’t think it was one key play, I just couldn’t keep quiet any longer. It was bad. … Dumb mistake by me. Bad decision.”

The Gamecocks (23-0) have won 29 consecutive games since losing to Kentucky in the SEC Tournament title game last year. They’ve won four of the past five meetings with the Huskies, including a victory in the NCAA championship game last season. That ended UConn’s perfect 11-0 record in title games.

“This was a national championship-like game. I wanted us to feel what it takes to do this,” Staley said.

Now South Carolina finally has a win in Connecticut after winning there before.

South Carolina used its size again to top the Huskies. The 6-foot-7 Kamilla Cardoso and Boston, the reigning AP Player of the Year helped the Gamecocks have a 42-30 advantage on the boards, including grabbing 25 offensive rebounds.

Boston finished with 11 rebounds for the 76th double-double of her career. Cardoso added 17 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out.

With her team leading by four in the fourth quarter, Boston took over. She scored the next 12 points for South Carolina, two of those came when Auriemma tossed the water onto the court and was charged with the technical foul.

Boston hit the two free throws. She then hit a jumper, a 3-pointer and another basket to give the Gamecocks a double-digit advantage.

“I’m kind of in attack mode. In the second half I made more shots then I did in the first half,” Boston said.

Despite seeing their starting backcourt foul out, the short-handed Huskies (21-3) wouldn’t go away. They whittled the lead down to 80-77 with 10.8 seconds left on Aubrey Griffin’s three-point play.

Raven Johnson hit the first of two free throws a second later and UConn couldn’t convert to close out the game

“They have a lot to feel good about once they get past what it feels like to lose,” Auriemma said. “I feel better at 3 o’clock today then I did at 12 o’clock. I didn’t know how we’d respond. I knew we’d play hard and compete like hell. I didn’t know who was going to make a big play, who was going to get a big rebound, make a big shot. I know now more than I did at noon and I feel better about my team.”

Aaliyah Edwards led UConn with 25 points.

UConn got off to a solid start, outscoring South Carolina 25-14 in the opening period. Lou Lopez Senechal capped the strong start, hitting a running 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

South Carolina asserted its size in the second quarter with Cardoso scoring 11 points in the period. Her putback with just under 10 seconds left tied the game at 34 heading into the half.

TIP-INS:

UConn is 8-10 against No. 1 teams all time. … The Huskies are still missing guards Azzi Fudd (knee), Caroline Ducharme (concussion) as well as Paige Bueckers (knee) and Ice Brady (knee), who are both out for the season. … Many former UConn players were in the crowd including Sue Bird, Jen Rizzotti, and Napheesa Collier sitting a few rows behind the Huskies bench. … South Carolina has gone 41-6 against ranked teams since the start of the 2019-20 season.

DEPTH:

The Gamecocks reserves outscored UConn’s 37-0. The Huskies only had eight healthy players.

UP NEXT:

South Carolina: visits Auburn on Thursday before a showdown with No. 3 LSU on Feb. 12

UConn: visits Marquette on Wednesday.

No. 16 Duke tops No. 9 Notre Dame 57-52 for 1st place in ACC

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Celeste Taylor scored 14 points and No. 16 Duke came from behind for a 57-52 victory at No. 9 Notre Dame on Sunday to move into first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Trailing for most of the game’s first 28 minutes, the Blue Devils (20-3, 10-2 ACC) took the lead for good in the final minutes of the third quarter to knock off the Fighting Irish (18-4, 9-3) before a sellout crowd of 9,149 at Purcell Pavilion.

A jumper by Jordyn Oliver put Duke ahead 45-44 with 1:20 left in the third quarter and the visitors never trailed after that.

“I’m proud of my players for finishing the game,” Duke coach Kara Lawson said.

Duke led 48-46 going into the fourth quarter after trailing Notre Dame by as many as five points in the third quarter. A steal by Elizabeth Balogun in the final 15 seconds helped seal the win.

A 13-4 run helped Notre Dame take its biggest lead of the first half for either team at 31-23. The Irish led 31-25 at halftime.

“We fell short, but you know it’s a part of our growth,” Irish coach Niele Ivey said. “It’s part of our journey.”

Taylor scored 10 points for Duke in the second half. Balogun and Shayeann Day-Wilson finished with 9 points apiece and Taya Corosdale and Oliver had 8 each.

Maddy Westbeld, playing all 40 minutes, led Notre Dame with 15 points, Sonia Citron scored 14 and Olivia Miles added 11.

“She’s one of the best players in the country,” Lawson said of Miles, who logged just over 31 minutes. “We didn’t have to go against her for a quarter of the game.”

COLD SHOOTING

Neither team shot well in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame made just 2 of 13 shots from the floor and Duke was 3 of 13.

“We just talked about staying disciplined defensively and making it hard,” Lawson said. “I though we challenged shots.”

Ivey also addressed that stretch of the game.

“Some of those opportunities were in transition and we didn’t get a chance to capitalize,” she said. “We did a good job of finding the open person, we just didn’t nail the shots.”

SUPERB SUBS

Led by Corosdale and Oliver, Duke enjoyed a 21-4 edge in reserve scoring.

“I’m really proud of my players off the bench,” Lawson said. “Jordyn Oliver was really good.

“We needed to have that depth in scoring. Not only did they score but they were efficient from the field.”

The Blue Devils’ bench shot 9 of 15.

SHORT-HANDED IRISH

Notre Dame graduate student Dara Mabrey was lost for the season in the Jan. 22 game against Virginia.

Lauren Ebo, a 6-foot-4 graduate student, has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury.

“Ebo does a great job of being a precence on the block with her size and ability to rebound and play post defense,” Ivey said. “She’s been working really hard (at rehabilitation).

“It’s kind of day to day.”

BIG PICTURE

Notre Dame: The Irish fell out of a first-place tie with Duke in the ACC standings.

Duke: The Blue Devils are now alone atop the conference standings.

UP NEXT

Notre Dame: The Irish meet Pitt in two of the next four contests – on Thursday in South Bend and on Sunday, Feb. 19 at Pittsburgh.

Duke: The only regular-season meeting between the Blue Devils and Boston College is Thursday at Boston.

Colorado State sorry for ‘Russia’ chant at Ukrainian player

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Colorado State has apologized for a group of fans who chanted “Russia” at a player on an opposing team who is from Ukraine during Saturday’s game.

Utah State’s Max Shulga is from Kyiv and was shooting free throws when TV cameras picked up the chant from the student section during the game in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago.

“On behalf of Colorado State, we apologize to the student-athlete and Utah State. This is a violation of our steadfast belief in the Mountain West Sportsmanship Policy and University Principles of Community,” Colorado State said in a statement.

“Every participant, student, and fan should feel welcomed in our venues, and for something like this to have occurred is unacceptable at Colorado State.”

Utah State beat CSU 88-79.

Duke edges North Carolina 63-57 behind Roach, Lively

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

DURHAM, N.C. — Jeremy Roach scored 20 points, Dereck Lively II had career highs of eight blocks and 14 rebounds and Duke defeated North Carolina 63-57.

Kyle Filipowski added 14 points and Tyrese Proctor 11 for the Blue Devils (17-6, 8-4 ACC), who won their third straight and beat the Tar Heels (15-8, 7-5) for the first time in three meetings, including in last year’s Final Four in the NCAA Tournament.

North Carolina’s Armando Bacot had 14 points and 10 rebounds for his 63rd career double-double, extending his own program record, Leaky Black had 13 points and 10 rebounds, Caleb Love added 12 points and RJ Davis 11.

Roach scored eight of Duke’s final 10 points, including the last four after Lively’s tiebreaking dunk with 1:35 to go. North Carolina missed its last five shots, including a trio of 3-point tries in the final minute.

The Blue Devils’ six-point winning margin matched their largest lead.

Neither team reached 40% shooting but Duke outscored North Carolina 20-2 off fast breaks and was 11 of 15 at the free-throw line to only 2 of 3 for the Tar Heels.

The stat sheet was fairly even at halftime when Duke led 33-32 except for one telling stat, a 16-0 advantage for the Blue Devils on fast-break points as they scored repeatedly off transition.

A 14-5 run erased a seven-point North Carolina lead — the Tar Heels’ largest — and put Duke in front 26-24 with just under four minutes left in the half. A Proctor 3-pointer broke the fourth tie before Bacot cut it to the one-point margin at the break. Bacot had 12 points in the first half. Roach had 10.

The game matched two men who played in this rivalry and are now leading the programs they played for: first-year Duke coach Jon Scheyer and Hubert Davis, in his second year for North Carolina.

The teams will meet again in their regular-season finale at Chapel Hill on March 4. Duke plays at No. 23 Miami on Monday. North Carolina is at Wake Forest on Tuesday.

No. 13 Iowa State rolls past eighth-ranked Kansas 68-53

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

AMES, Iowa – Jaren Holmes scored all 15 of his points in the second half as No. 13 Iowa State rolled past No. 8 Kansas 68-53 on Saturday.

Osun Osunniyi added 13 for the Cyclones (16-6, 7-3 Big 12), who stayed within at least a game of front-running Texas in the conference standings. Tamin Lipsey added eight rebounds and 10 assists.

“Today, we came out and played desperate,” Holmes said.

Jalen Wilson led the Jayhawks (18-5, 6-4) with 26 points for his sixth straight game with at least 20. No other Kansas player had more than 8 points.

“It’s not a formula for success for us,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “We need balance from our starting five. If one guy feels like he’s got to go do it all on his own, it crashes the offense.”

The Cyclones led for all but 1:14 of the game, building a 34-16 scoring edge in the paint. Kansas struggled early, making just two of their first 10 shots and committing 11 turnovers in the first 20 minutes.

Iowa State shot 46% for the game.

“From the beginning, we gave them some easy buckets,” Wilson said. “That’s something we’ve struggled with (defensively) … the easiest way to get comfortable is easy buckets, layups, stuff like that.”

Iowa State was up 33-21 at the break.

Holmes missed all four shots in the first half, but after getting sick at halftime, he helped the Cyclones stretched the lead to 42-31 early in the second half with a 3-pointer and layup.

“I felt a little nauseous the whole day,” he said. “I’ve been dealing with some sickness over the past week and a half.”

BIG PICTURE

Kansas: The Jayhawks dropped to 3-4 during a stretch in which six of its seven opponents were ranked. The lone unranked foe was Kentucky. … Kansas committed a season-high 20 turnovers Saturday. … The loss to Iowa State was Self’s first in five meetings with second-year Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger.

Iowa State: Improved to 12-0 at home this season and 5-0 in the Big 12. It was also the Cyclones’ fifth win over a top-10 opponent in the past two seasons.

UP NEXT

Kansas: Hosts No. 10 Texas on Monday.

Iowa State: Travels to West Virginia on Wednesday.