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Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Pittsburgh Panthers (-10.5, 125)
Barring a major collapse, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh can expect to be two of the 68 teams to have their names announced during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on March 17. Monday's meeting in Pittsburgh, though, could prove crucial as the winner would likely have the inside track to a better seed. But first, the Fighting Irish and Panthers are tied for fifth at 8-5 in the congested and competitive Big East, where a top-10 finish earns a first-round conference tournament bye and winding up in the top four comes with a double bye.
Both teams lost Saturday, with weary Notre Dame losing 71-54 at Providence and Pittsburgh falling at Marquette 79-69. The Fighting Irish have played three overtime games in their last five contests, including their epic five-OT victory over Louisville on Feb. 9, so Monday's quick turnaround - their third game in six days - is sure to test their fitness. The Panthers, who have won four straight Big East games at home, prevailed 62-52 at Cincinnati on Feb. 9 in their previous game prior to Saturday.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT NOTRE DAME (20-6, 8-5 Big East): Coach Mike Bray summed up Saturday's loss in which his team trailed by as many as 24 points: “That was the varsity versus the JV a little bit today.” Notre Dame lost its previous road game 63-47 at Syracuse on Feb. 4 after winning two straight away from home against DePaul and South Florida, who are a combined 3-22 in Big East games. Conference player of the year candidate Jack Cooley, a 6-9 senior forward, leads the team in scoring (14.6) and rebounding (11.2), and has recorded six consecutive double-doubles. Notre Dame, which has won four straight over Pittsburgh, has also received strong guard play from Jerian Grant (13 points, 5.8 assists) and Eric Atkins (11.7, 5.9).
ABOUT PITTSBURGH (20-6, 8-5): The Panthers can be excused somewhat for Saturday's loss, as Marquette has won 23 straight at home, and Pittsburgh certainly understands what it's like to dominate at home. The Panthers are 178-21 at their Petersen Events Center since it opened in 2002, including 10-2 this season. Pittsburgh averages 71 points, but hasn't scored more than 69 in its last five games. On Monday, the Panthers wrap up a stretch where they will have played five ranked opponents in their last six contests. Pittsburgh, though, sports the No. 1 scoring defense in the Big East at 55.4 points. Guard Tray Woodall (10.9 points), and forwards Lamar Patterson (10.5) and Talib Zanna (10.3) lead a balanced scoring attack.
* Fighting Irish are 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.
* Under is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Panthers are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games following a S.U. loss.
* Underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.
1. Ten of the 15 teams in the Big East are 7-6 or better in conference games.
2. Notre Dame is second in the country in assists at 17.9 per game, while Pittsburgh is tied for seventh at 17, led by Woodall's 5.5.
3. Pittsburgh and Notre Dame are 1-2 in the Big East in field goal percentage at 48.02 to 47.96.
On Monday the free Big East Totals Play is on the Under in the Notre Dame at Pittsburgh game. Rotation numbers 703/704 at 7:00 eastern. Notre Dame has stayed under 12 of the last 25 times as a dog and 5 of the last 6 times on the road when the posted total is 120 to 130. They have also stayed under 75% of the time in the 2nd half of late vs teams that allow 65 or less points per game. Pittsburgh has played under 4 of their last 5 games and 3 of the last 4 times with 1 or less day of rest. The last 4 in the series between these two have played under the total and The Panthers will look to clamp down defensively as they are coming off their worst defensive effort this season allowing a season high 56% shooting in their loss at Marquette. Look for this one to stay under.
-- Drexel (-7) won 55-52 at Hofstra Jan 23, game they trailed 44-36 with 8:42 left to play, Dragons' 4th straight series win. Hofstra lost three of last four visits here, losing by 18-13-11 points. CAA double digit home favorites are 3-4 vs spread. Drexel is disappointing 6-7 in CAA, losing three of last four home games, but four of their six CAA wins are by 11+ points. Hofstra is 3-3-1 as CAA road dog, with five losses by 11+.
-- Notre Dame won last four games vs Pitt, allowing 52 ppg; Irish lost four of last five visits here, losing by 3-2-3-13 points. Three of ND's last five games went to OT; they lost last two road games by 16-17 points. Pitt is 4-3 SU at home in Big East, 2-4 as home favorite, winning home games by 8-38-10-10 points. Four of Panthers' last five games stayed under total. Big East double digit home favorites are 6-10 vs spread.
-- Georgia State is 8-3 in last 11 games, beating Wm&Mary 74-58 (-5) Jan 16, Panthers' third straight series win, by 32-4-16 points. Dogs are 6-1 vs spread in State's CAA road games; Panthers are 4-3 SU on road in CAA after hammering George Mason Saturday. Tribe is 4-3 in its last seven games after starting 1-6 in conference games. CAA home teams are 12-17 when the pointspread is 4 or less points.
-- Villanova won five of last six games vs Rutgers, winning last three at home, by 23-10-16 points; Wildcats won three of its last four games, are 4-2 SU at home in Big East, 2-1 as home faves, winning home games by 12-9-4-28 points. Rutgers lost seven of last eight games; they're 3-3 as a Big East road dog, losing away games by 25-3-12-8-6 points. Big East single digit home favorites are 16-29 against the spread.
-- Kansas State shot 59% inside arc, nipped West Virginia 65-64 (-1) Jan 12 in Morgantown; WV was just 12-22 on foul line. Favorites covered last four WV road games; Mountaineers are 3-3 on Big X road, losing on road by 2-14-20 points. K-State is 4-0 as Big X home favorite, winning in Little Apple by 9-26-9-20 points, losing only to Kansas. Big X home favorites of 10+ points are 10-4 against the spread.
-- Iona lost four of last five games, with three OT losses and fourth loss by 3 points; Gaels (-5.5) beat Fairfield 84-73 Jan 18, making 21-31 free throws (Stags were 9-13). Gaels won four of last five series games; they lost five of last six visits here, losing by 3-9-2-17-4 points. Stags are 4-1 vs spread in last five games as a home favorite. MAAC home favorites of 5 or less points are 8-14 against the spread.
-- Eastern Washington (-2.5) shot 56% inside arc, beat Portland State by 11 at home Jan 28, just second EW win in last ten series games- they've lost last six visits here, by 19-22-2-23-16-5 points. Nine of last 11 PSU games went over total. Eastern snapped its 8-game losing skid Saturday; they're 0-8 on Big Sky road. Big Sky home favorites of 6 or less points are 22-11 vs spread. Vikings are 3-2 vs spread as Big Sky favorite.
Big 12 Conference
KANSAS STATE 70, West Virginia 57
Big East Conference
PITTSBURGH 70, Notre Dame 59
VILLANOVA 71, Rutgers 57
Big Sky Conference
PORTLAND STATE 74, Eastern Washington 73
Colonial Athletic Association
DREXEL 62, Hofstra 48
Georgia State 70, WILLIAM & MARY 68
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
FAIRFIELD 75, Iona 72
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
BETHUNE-COOKMAN 58, Howard 51
Coppin State 64, UMES 62
DELAWARE STATE 62, Morgan State 61
Norfolk State 66, HAMPTON 65
North Carolina Central 69, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE 53
SAVANNAH STATE 57, North Carolina A&T 45
LEHIGH 65, Bucknell 60
Southwestern Athletic Conference
ALCORN STATE 64, Alabama State 60
Arkansas-Pine Bluff 65, PRAIRIE VIEW A&M 61
SOUTHERN 71, Alabama A&M 53
TEXAS SOUTHERN 76, Mississippi Valley State 58
The Spartans look to build on their 9-3 ATS record in their last 12 games versus MEAC opponents. Norfolk State is the pick (-1) according to Dunkel, which has the Spartans favored by 3. Dunkel Pick: Norfolk State (-1). Here are all of today's games.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 18
Time Posted: 8:00 a.m. EST
Game 701-702: Hofstra at Drexel (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Hofstra 45.368; Drexel 59.403
Dunkel Line: Drexel by 14; 122
Vegas Line: Drexel by 12 1/2; 117 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Drexel (-12 1/2); Over
Game 703-704: Notre Dame at Pittsburgh (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Notre Dame 61.435; Pittsburgh 74.705
Dunkel Line: Pittsburgh by 13 1/2; 117
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh by 10; 123 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Pittsburgh (-10); Under
Game 705-706: Georgia State at William & Mary (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Georgia State 56.948; William & Mary 52.726
Dunkel Line: Georgia State by 4
Vegas Line: Georgia State by 1
Dunkel Pick: Georgia State (-1)
Game 707-708: Rutgers at Villanova (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Rutgers 58.660; Villanova 64.415
Dunkel Line: Villanova by 6; 126
Vegas Line: Villanova by 10; 130 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Rutgers (+10); Under
Game 709-710: West Virginia at Kansas State (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: West Virginia 61.982; Kansas State 69.567
Dunkel Line: Kansas State by 7 1/2; 133
Vegas Line: Kansas State by 11; 127
Dunkel Pick: West Virginia (+11); Over
Game 711-712: Iona at Fairfield (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Iona 55.627; Fairfield 55.799
Dunkel Line: Even; 138
Vegas Line: Fairfield by 2; 143
Dunkel Pick: Iona (+2); Under
Game 713-714: Eastern Washington at Portland State (10:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Eastern Washington 44.945; Portland State 48.091
Dunkel Line: Portland State by 3
Vegas Line: Portland State by 4 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Eastern Washington (+4 1/2)
Game 721-722: Norfolk State at Hampton (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Norfolk State 52.967; Hampton 50.018
Dunkel Line: Norfolk State by 3; 136
Vegas Line: Norfolk State by 1; 132
Dunkel Pick: Norfolk State (-1); Over
Game 723-724: Bucknell at Lehigh (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Bucknell 58.464; Lehigh 58.331
Dunkel Line: Even; 126
Vegas Line: Lehigh by 2 1/2; 131
Dunkel Pick: Bucknell (+2 1/2); Under
Play Under - Road teams against the total in a game involving two horrible offensive teams (<=63 PPG), after scoring 50 points or less.
46-18 over the last 5 seasons. ( 71.9% 26.2 units )
1-0 this year. ( 100.0% 1.0 units )
CBB BUCKNELL at LEHIGH
Play On - Road teams with a money line of +135 to -155 (BUCKNELL) very good team - outscoring their opponents by 8+ points/game, after allowing 25 points or less in the first half last game.
176-119 over the last 5 seasons. ( 59.7% 49.0 units )
27-30 this year. ( 47.4% -6.2 units )
CBB BUCKNELL at LEHIGH
Play Under - Home teams where the first half total is 60.5 to 65.5 making 8 or more 3 point shots/game on the season, in February games.
89-45 over the last 5 seasons. ( 66.4% 39.5 units )
2-2 this year. ( 50.0% -0.2 units )
Bucknell at Lehigh: Few people (well, JRO does) realize what a rivalry this is, outside of the area. Had my daughter not gone to Bucknell, I probably wouldn't either. I was only magnified two years ago in the Conference Championship when Bucknell won on a bit of a dicey home non-call. Lehigh guard and likely NBA first round pick, C.J. McCollum, broke his foot earlier in the year and may not risk further injury and return. So, this IS their GOY and then won at Bucknell earlier this season by by holding Bucknell to only 2-14 from behind the arc, while shooting 10-18 from deep themselves. They were horrid from inside, which is not entirely surprising since the Bison's interior defense is one of the best in the nation, as well as the most experienced. Lehigh is, even without McCollum, one of the most efficient and best shooting teams in the nation, Their only real weakness is rebounding, but Bucknell simply won't want to run with them. I look for more of the same here as Muscala and Wilman (for Bucknell) should have their way inside, while Lehigh will hit their shots. The wild card in this game is probably Lehigh's Gabe Knutson. If he can stay out of foul trouble and hit a few outside shots, they win, of not, the Bison do. It's almost that simple. I look for this game to go over, if not sooner then later. If Lehigh gets ahread they won't worry about running it up, and if not then there will be free throws to the bitter end.
Iona at Fairfield: Big game in terms of Conference seeding as both teams want to get into the top four. Right now, Iona has a one game lead over Fairfield, who have one six of seven but have not played a decent team in a month. The Gaels looked pretty bad in that double OT game at Manhattan, and I really wonder if they didn't peak a bit too early. Clearly that took a ton of energy, both physical and mental, from them. And, they've got a BB game against Indiana State, Saturday, on the road. They did beat Fairfield earlier this season at home. I still have to lean to the Stags here. I think they'll slow this game down (who doesn't against Iona when they can) and I simply cannot trust Iona's offense to make up for their total lack of defense on the road. Add to that that the Stags defense is number one in the MAAC in terms of efficiency and they lead the MAAC in steals as well as offensive rebounding. With that in mind, and should there be a total, I lean under.
Notre Dame at Pittsburgh: Two teams that irked me, or should I say I irked myself with on Saturday. I had said I thought that the Panthers were the most over rated team in the Top 25 and should have been all over Marquette, and I had said that the Friars were favored for a reason, and failed to play either of them. Both teams probably played themselves out of a top four, hence bye, in the Big East Conference Tournament, so perhaps the focus has changed. Interesting thing here is that Notre Dame has played the worst Big East SOS while the Panthers have played the best SOS. That in and of itself might make me lean Pittsburgh, but at home they're tough, losing only to Cincinnati way back when we thought Cincinnati was good. I really think the Irish are falling victim to not only that weak Big Easy schedule, but one of the worst non-conference schedules in the nation. Clearly Pitt will be laying a lot of points, especially with people figuring that they'll bounce back from that Marquette game. They might, but with both teams being extremely methodical and a low scoring game expected, it may behoove us to consider taking the points. Pitt's NOT going to pile up three pointers, and they are not a great free throw shooting team. Notre Dame can match their size, and in a slower paced game the lack of a bench may not hurt Notre Dame as much as it might against a quicker team. Not to mention that these schools really don't like each other. However, the Irish beat them badly in South Bend last year, so we've got that to consider as well. Panthers SHOULD be seriously motivated here because they SHOULD win their remaining games, and if that put them at 25-6 for the season and 13-5 in the Big East, with no real bad losses, then they may get a decent seed in spite of how the Tournament goes.
Rutgers at Villanova: Villanova off a huge win at Uconn (one we did get right) but that was predictable after Uconn's big game against Syracuse. I suppose that would make people want to hop on the Wildcats train here, and I can understand that. But, even though Rutgers has an awful W/L record, they've played the middle of the pack Big East teams reasonable tough, so this may be an inflated number. Rutgers has been known to play some defense and both teams have been known to turn it over, which gives me an immediate lean to the under in this one. What might scare me off Rutgers is that fact that 'Nova is a great rebounding team and should control both ends of the glass. With them coming off that huge win in Storrs and not really facing a team that might motivate them, I really could make the case for the dog here. It'd probably have to be Rutgers, given that they've got the third best three point % in the Big East, while Villanova's weakness, if there is one on defense, is defending the perimeter. This looks like a sloppy game to me, and that total does like enticing. I see it probably around 132 or so. We'll see what happens.
West Virginia at K-State: The Wildcats were another team I said in Saturday's thread we liked but neglected to play. Hopefully it steered someone in the right direction. Having said that and convincing win over Baylor, this will be a big number, especially given that WVU barely squeaked by Texas Tech at home, and the fact that K-State already beat them in Morgantown. Both teams shot well over 50% from the floor in that game, and if K-State hadn't committed ten more fouls, hence sending WVU to the line a lot, they may have won that going away. However, if WVU hadn't shot 55% from the charity stripe, then THEY might have won. K-State is tied for the Conference lead, so there's really no reason they shouldn't me motivated. This one comes down to turnovers. WVU leads the conference in creating them, and K-State's offense leads the Conference in not turning it over. So, if the Wildcats are not 100% focused, WVU will be. And if they can NOT turn it over against a team that does create them, they can stay within range provided they continue to hit three's.
Notre Dame’s roster has been shrinking and that lack of depth really showed in their last outing against Providence. Now they play on the road against Pittsburgh which will be their second road game in three days. The Fighting Irish looked winded for most of their game against the Friars and that lack of conditioning is what makes Pittsburgh the value play in this game.
A tired team is a team that will shoot poorly and lose the turnover margin, and the Irish did just that in their last game. They shot an abysmal 7% from beyond the three point line and 39 percent from the field. The had three more turnovers and three more fouls than the Friars and in return received a 17 point beat down.
This matchup against Pittsburgh falls into a system that is 29-12 (70.7%) ATS over the last five seasons. You want to play against road underdogs of 10 to 19.5 points when they are playing with one or less days rest in a game involving two teams that have won between 60-80% of their games.