February 17, 2012
We’re getting down to crunch time for bubble teams looking to bolster their respective resumes in hopes of garnering at-large invites to the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Teams like UConn, Tennessee, Iowa St., Saint Mary’s, Davidson, Arizona, Northwestern, Illinois and others are in dire need of victories.
Let’s take a look at a pair of the televised night games before discussing a slew of topics in Bonus Nuggets.
**Ohio State at Michigan**
--Crisler Arena will be rocking Saturday night for this Big Ten showdown on ESPN at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. BetOnline.com opened Ohio State (22-4 SU, 13-9 ATS) as a five-point favorite with a total of 125.
--Michigan (19-7 SU, 13-8-1 ATS) has won four of its last six games both SU and ATS, including Sunday’s 70-61 home win over Illinois as a five-point home ‘chalk.’ The 131 combined points sailed ‘over’ the 119-point total. Tim Hardaway Jr. led four UM scorers in double figures with a team-high 15 points. Zack Novak enjoyed another stellar performance, finishing with 12 points, nine rebounds, three assists, one steal and only one turnover on 3-of-4 shooting from the field and 5-of-5 shooting at the charity stripe.
--Thad Matta’s squad saw its 39-game home winning streak snapped in last Saturday’s 58-48 loss to Michigan St. However, the Buckeyes bounced back by going to Minnesota on Tuesday and capturing a 78-68 win to hook up their backers as 8 ½-point road favorites. William Buford turned in another strong effort with 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Jared Sullinger added 23 points and eight boards.
--Ohio St. has been a road favorite seven times this season, posting a 4-3 spread record. As for Michigan, it owns a 5-4-1 spread record in 10 underdog situations.
--John Belein’s squad is unbeaten in 14 home games with a 7-4 spread record.
--Ohio St. has beaten Michigan six consecutive times, but the Wolverines are 6-1 ATS in the last seven encounters. The lone non-cover was the last meeting in Columbus on Jan. 29 when Ohio St. pulled away late to win a 64-49 decision as a 14-point home favorite. Lenzelle Smith Jr. led the winners with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Hardaway finished with a team-high 15 points in the losing effort.
--Totals have been an overall wash for Michigan (11-11-1), but the ‘under’ is in the midst of a 9-2 surge in its last nine games.
--The ‘over’ is 10-9-2 overall for the Buckeyes.
**Long Beach State at Creighton**
--BetOnline.com opened Creighton (22-5 SU, 14-9 ATS) as a five-point favorite with a total of 152.
--Creighton snapped a three-game losing streak both SU and ATS by spanking Southern Illinois on Valentine’s Day by a 88-69 count as a 6 ½-point road favorite. Doug McDermott made all seven of his shots from the floor en route to scoring a team-high 18 points. Antoine Young added 15 points, eight assists and three rebounds, while Gregory Echenique tallied 12 points, nine boards and two blocked shots.
--McDermott is one of the nation’s most prolific scorers, averaging 22.7 points per game while shooting at a 61.3 percent clip from the field. He’s draining 50 percent of his treys with 44 triples on 88 attempts.
--Creighton owns a 3-2 record against RPI Top 50 teams and can notch another victory here against Long Beach St., which is No. 45 in the RPI Rankings. The Bluejays are 5-4 against RPI Top 100 schools. They are 12-2 SU and 6-4 ATS at home for the year.
--Long Beach State (19-6 SU, 12-11 ATS) hasn’t tasted defeat since losing to Kansas State on Christmas Day. Since then, the 49ers have won 12 in a row. They played a brutal non-conference schedule, winning at Pittsburgh before beating Auburn and Xavier in holiday tournament in Hawaii. LBS lost by six at North Carolina, by eight at Kansas, by four at San Diego St. in overtime and by 13 at Louisville.
--Long Beach St. owns a 3-2 spread record in five underdog situations.
--The 49ers are led by senior point guard Casper Ware, who averages a team-high 17.1 PPG. Senior guard Larry Anderson is scoring at a 14.1 PPG clip, while senior forward T.J. Robinson averages 12.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per contest.
--Tip-off on ESPN2 is slated for 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--I’m of the belief that we will soon have two SEC job openings at Ole Miss and South Carolina. When Vanderbilt hangs 102 on your team that’s at home and on the bubble, you know you’re in trouble. That’s what happened to Andy Kennedy’s Rebels on Thursday night when the Commodores captured a 102-76 victory at ‘The Tad Pad.’ Unless Ole Miss wins the SEC Tournament, Kennedy is going to be 0-for-6 in terms of NCAA Tournament invites. He’s recruited extremely well while in Oxford, the results just haven’t been good enough.
-Saint Mary’s star guard Matthew Dellavedova is ‘doubtful’ for Saturday’s game at Murray St. due to a sprained ankle. Dellavedova averages 15.5 points and 6.4 assists per game. The Gaels opened as 2 ½-point favorites against the Racers. They need to win this game after getting beaten at home by Loyola-Marymount earlier this week. Remember, Randy Bennett’s team has been snubbed on Selection Sunday two of the last three seasons.
--The Wynn in Las Vegas opened Wichita St. as a two-point favorite for Saturday’s game at Davidson. ESPN2 will televise this BracketBuster matchup at noon Eastern.
--Alabama will be without its two leading scorers, senior power forward JaMychal Green and junior small forward Tony Mitchell, for Saturday’s game vs. Tennessee. Also, starting sophomore point guard Trevor Releford is ‘questionable’ after suffering a blow to the head at Thursday’s practice. According to the Birmingham News, Releford wasn’t expected to practice Friday. And finally, freshman Nick Jacobs had to have a root canal this week after developing an infection in his mouth. Nevertheless, The Wynn opened Alabama as a five-point favorite, but that quickly moved to four when CRIS opened the number at three. UT is also without a key player as Cuonzo Martin suspended Kenny Hall indefinitely before Wednesday’s home win over Arkansas.
--Speaking of the Razorbacks, they are in desperate need of a victory when they host Florida at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2. Arkansas will be welcoming back former head coach John Pelphrey, who is now an assistant on Billy Donovan’s staff at UF. As of early Friday evening, most books had the Gators as 4 ½-point favorites with a total of 146. Mike Rosario (hip) and Will Yeguete (concussion) were cleared to practice on Friday and how they performed would determine whether or not they’d make the trip to Fayetteville. Both key reserves sat out Tuesday’s win at short-handed Alabama.
--Ga. Tech has suspended Glen Rice Jr. (13.0 PPG) for Saturday's game at Va. Tech.
--The 'under' owns an incredible 17-3 overall record in Virginia games this year. The Cavs are 10-point home favorites Saturday vs. Maryland. The total is 120. The Terrapins have taken the cash in five of their last six games.