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COLORADO (-4) by 15 over Oregon State (Wednesday, March 13)
FRESNO STATE (+8) by 2 over Colorado State (Wed., March 13)
TULANE (-2) by 11 over Marshall (Wednesday, March 13)
TEXAS (-10) by 16 over Tcu (Wednesday, March 13)
Betting the Bubble: Four Teams Fighting for Field of 68
by Jason Logan
Conference tournaments are a last-gasp effort for many college basketball programs on the NCAA tournament bubble. These four teams need to put together impressive runs in their league’s postseason and possibly win it all to make the field of 68.
Illinois Fighting Illini (21-11 SU, 11-17 ATS)
Key wins: Butler, Gonzaga, Ohio State, Indiana
The Illini looked like an NCAA lock a few weeks ago, but a season-ending slide and some upsets in the smaller conference tournaments have Illinois biting its nails entering the Big Ten tournament. The Fighting Illini open the first round versus Minnesota – a game that could determine which Big Ten program gets the NCAA nod. After that, Illinois would run into Indiana and another victory over the Hoosiers would go a long way on Selection Sunday.
Stanford Cardinal (18-13 SU, 13-15-1 ATS)
Key wins: Cal x2, Oregon
Conference wins just won’t cut it in the Pac-12 this year. Top teams can fall to bottom teams on any given night. Stanford played some tough non-conference foes – NC State, Missouri, Minnesota – but didn’t come away with a resume win. The Cardinal will likely have to roll all the way to the Pac-12 tournament championship to get into the Big Dance. It’s not impossible at +700. They’ve won two in a row heading into a matchup with Arizona State in the opener before a possible meeting with UCLA in the second round.
Arkansas Razorbacks (19-12 SU, 12-11 ATS)
Key wins: Oklahoma, Florida, Missouri, Kentucky
The biggest jab against Arkansas is that it can’t win on the road. All of its marquee wins came inside Bud Walton Arena while the Hogs fell flat on the highway, going 1-9 SU. The SEC could send as few as three teams to the tournament and with Florida and Missouri locked in, that leaves Arkansas fighting Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Alabama for the final ticket. The Razorbacks are set up well as a No. 7 seed, taking on Vanderbilt before a matchup with Kentucky and possibly Ole Miss beyond that.
Temple Owls (23-8 SU, 14-15 ATS)
Key wins: Syracuse, Villanova, Saint Louis, La Salle, VCU
Want to see how good the A-10 is this season? The conference is projected to send at least five teams to the tournament. That’s on par with many major conferences and more than leagues like the ACC and SEC will likely send to the NCAA. The unfair part though, is if the mid-major leagues continue to have upset winners, the first conference getting its at-large bids chopped is the A-10. The Owls have a great resume and a ton of momentum heading into the conference tournament. Add to that the fear of not making the field of 68 and there is solid value with Temple at +600 to win the A-10 tournament.
Boise State-San Diego State: These two just ended the regular season playing each other four days ago in a game both teams needed to win, and Boise won at SDSU by four. In that game they held the Aztecs, to 3-16 from behind the arc. Both teams went to the line over twenty times and both shot well over 80% from said line. That was at Boise, and SDSU won in San Diego by one. With the Aztecs having basically no quality road wins in Conference play, I suppose the natural tendency would be to fade them, but do they lose to Boise twice in four days? Since Boise is still listed as one of the last four in and on the bubble, they've got to be more "needy" here. Perhaps the fact that SDSU beat Boise in THIS game last year by three is even more motivation. What I do love about taking a smaller team like Boise here is that they get to the line a fair bit and shoot over 75% as a team, which over the course of 40 minutes is just safer. This could be another of those games where I see the Broncos have more ways to win, at least at this point.
Cincinnati-Providence: From a distance standpoint Providence is not a long drive to MSG. Before I go any further I can almost tell you it's the Friars or nothing. Bearcats simply have too many issues scoring, except when I bet on them. If I do take Cincinnati then Wright and Kilpatrick will simply go off. Friars have won seven of the last nine, with the only real bad loss coming at Syracuse. Not BAD to lose to the Orange on the road, but they got killed. They (Providence) beat Cincinnati by four at home in a low scoring game. Bearcats have struggled with just about everyone the second half of Conference play, which is/was a bit surprising because they did play a pretty solid non-conference schedule. Technically Cincinnati is in the Dance (not really sure why) and the Friars are not, so there could be the letdown for the Bearcats here, meaning my original "night before" thought is Providence or nothing. But, on paper, Cincinnati ought to win. Whoever dictates tempo will win, and because it's easier to slow a game down rather than speed it up, perhaps the Bearcats are in play, but certainly not a GOM or anything. Yet.
Arizona State-Stanford: Arizona State need a great showing to perhaps have a SLIGHT chance of getting in, while Stanford has to be disappointed with this season, given that they had basically the whole team back that won the NIT last year, so clearly that edge (who wants to be here) has to go to ASU. But, Stanford had two great wins to close out the season, beating Utah badly and winning at Cal. ASU lost to Stanford by three at home in their only meeting this season. ASU ended the season with four straight losses, three of them predictable and on the road, so how do THEY regroup this quickly. What concerns me here is that Stanford will want to push the pace and ASU is super-thin off the bench, and seeing as how ASU simply cannot shoot free throws, it's Stanford's game to lose, I think.
Villanova-St. Johns: I look more at this as a game of Steve Lavin versus Jay Wright, actually. Villanova played some great basketball the last month of the season, while St. Johns lost seven of the last nine, five of which were on the road and the two home losses were to Marquette and Pittsburgh, so MAYBE there a little under valued. St. Johns lost in OT at Villanova way back on January 2nd in a surprisingly high scoring game (meaning this total may be too high) and one thing to remember is that this IS a home game for the Red Storm, who are about the youngest team in the nation, which gives me some pause, of course. I of course love that the Wildcats get the highest percentage of points of any team in the nation, but what we hate is that they really have turnover issues at times. And in spite of St. Johns' youth, they do not have a problem protecting the ball, just scoring when they do have it. Since 'Nova is technically in right now, I'd have to think that PERHAPS we could make a small case for taking the points. But a very small one.
Washington State-Washington: Neither of these two are going anywhere. If State loses their playing golf on Thursday (well, maybe Friday) and if Washington wins they're probably an NIT team. With that in mind and given that this is a rivalry (duh) I would, without looking, try to take Washington State. They played Washington tough both times they played, and did win their last two home games. When Washington gets out of the Alaska Airlines Arena (which I would have thought would be in Alaska) they are not the same team, at least not the second half of Conference Play. Since we know it's easier to slow a game down, this would perhaps be another reason to lean to Washington State, who plays (walks) slow. What WS will have to do to win this game is stop Washington, the number one rebounding team in the Pac-12 (they ARE big) from getting second chance points. State is not SMALL and they CAN rebound well, however. State is simply going to have to make their three's and continue to get to the line, but Washington does defend the perimeter well. State has to stop Washington, mainly N'Diaye, from scoring inside, and they've got nearly the worst interior defense in the Conference. Now, Washington HAS has some turnover issues and State CAN force some, so there's hope here yet for the "weaker sister". I do certainly look for this one to stay under the number, however.
Big 12 Conference Tournament
1st Round at Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO
Texas 69, Tcu 58
West Virginia 71, Texas Tech 64
Big East Conference Tournament
2nd Round at Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Notre Dame 65, Rutgers 59
Providence 61, Cincinnati 60
Syracuse 65, Seton Hall 55
Villanova 66, St. John's 61
Conference USA Tournament
1st Round at BOK Center, Tulsa, OK
Houston 83, Rice 69
Marshall vs. Tulane: TOO CLOSE TO CALL
Uab 68, Smu 65
Mid-American Conference Tournament
2nd Round at Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Miami (Ohio) vs. Eastern Michigan: TOO CLOSE TO CALL
Buffalo vs. Ball State: TOO CLOSE TO CALL
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Winston-Salem, NC
Norfolk State 69, Bethune-Cookman 61
North Carolina Central 57, North Carolina A&T 49
Mountain West Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals at Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV
Boise State 66, San Diego State 65
Colorado State 66, Fresno State 59
New Mexico 64, Wyoming 52
UNLV 71, Air Force 61
Pacific-12 Conference Tournament
1st Round at MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV
Colorado 70, Oregon State 63
Stanford 71, Arizona State 66
Usc 64, Utah 61
Washington 65, Washington State 63
Patriot League Tournament
Championship at Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, PA
BUCKNELL 66, Lafayette 61
Southeastern Conference Tournament
1st Round at campus sites
South Carolina 67, Mississippi State 65
1st Round at campus sites
Texas A&M 66, Auburn 60
Southland Conference Tournament
Quarterfinals at Leonard E. Merrell Center, Katy, TX
McNeese State 73, Nicholls State 71
Sam Houston State 75, Central Arkansas 70
Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament
1st Round at Special Events Center, Garland, TX
Alabama A&M 69, Grambling State 54
Big East tournament (NYC)
-- Cincinnati was 18-4 when it lost 54-50 (-4.5) at Providence Feb 6, as Friars shot 59% inside arc in game that started Bearcats on current 3-6 skid. Teams combined to go 5-30 from arc that day. UC lost in finals here LY; they're 5-3 in this tournament over last three years. Providence won seven of last nine games, losing at UConn in OT last game; since '03, they're 2-9 in this tournament, losing first game last three years.
-- Seton Hall survived awful OT game with USF last night; three of their starters played 40+ minutes- Pirates' bench played 34 minutes, took one shot. Hall lost 15 of last 18 games, including 76-65 (+9) home loss Feb 16 to Syracuse, when Pirates were 10-26 from arc, 9-18 inside it, only 17-29 from foul line. Orange are struggling, losing four of last five games and 7 of last 12- they're 6-6 in this tourney since winning it in '06.
-- St John's lost last four games by 16-3-26-2 points; throwing Harrison off team hasn't helped. Villanova (-7.5) beat St John's 98-86 in OT at home Jan 2; they were 34-42 from foul line, Red Storm 12-20 (10-20 from arc). Johnnies led by 3 with 1:58 left, couldn't hold on. Wildcats get 28.3% of their points on foul line (#1 in US); this is road game for them- they lost three of last four on road, winning at UConn. St John's is 3-4 in this tournament last seven years, despite being the home team.
-- Rutgers was 12-4 when it lost 69-66 (+12) at Notre Dame Jan 19, loss that started Scarlet Knights on current 3-11 skid; they beat DePaul by 19 last nite, playing only two guys more than 28 minutes. Notre Dame split its last six games since winning consecutive OT games last month; they lost four of last five on road, but won first game in this event last three years, by 12-38-4 points. Rutgers is 1-4 in this event since 2007.
Pac-12 tourney (MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas)
-- Arizona State lost last four games, scoring 61.8 ppg; they won twice in '09 Pac-12 tourney when they had Harden, are 0-7 otherwise in this event over last decade, losing first game last three years by 9-7-20. ASU lost 62-59 (-1) to Stanford Feb 9 at home; other than Carson, they shot 31% from floor, while Cardinal was 10 for 18 from arc. Stanford is 4-5 in last nine games; they won first tourney game four of last five years.
-- LY, Colorado won four games in four days to win Pac-12 tourney in its first year in league; road team won both Colorado-Oregon St. games, as Beavers (+10) won 64-58 at Colorado Saturday, holding Buffs to 35% from floor with Roberson out (mono). OSU lost five of last six and 14 of last 18 games; they won first tourney game last two years. Only once in last ten games has Colorado allowed more than 64 points- they split last six games, after winning six of previous seven.
-- USC has two of three 7-footers suspended here after off-court issues in Pullman last week; Trojans (+3.5) won 76-59 at Utah Jan 12, was last game for O'Neill before SC fired him. Trojans are 7-7 under Cantu, losing last three road games. Utes swept Oregon schools last week after dismal 3-13 run; they lost first conference tourney game by 12-14-12 points in last three years. Trojans have 10 transfers, interim coach, played hard (#7) schedule, have two guys suspended; too much drama?
-- Washington slipped to 9-9 in Pac-12 this year, after going 57-24 last four years, winning tourney twice; Huskies beat Washington State twice this year, by 5-4 points, making 58/60% inside arc vs Coogs, who lost first game in last three tourneys, by 2-2-5 points. State had lost nine in a row before sweeping LA schools last week, by 12-24 points. Huskies lost five of last six road games (won @ ASU) but won four of their last six games overall.
MWC tourney (@ UNLV)
-- UNLV struggled with Air Force this year, beating Falcons 76-71 Jan 12 in OT at home (-13), then losing 71-56 (-3.5) on road Feb 13. Rebels' lack of true PG has hurt them badly- they're just 4-4 in this event in last four years, but won first tourney game nine of last 10 years. From 2005-2008, AF went 39-23 in MWC but never won tourney game; this is best team they've had since then. Falcons lost last five road games, with three losses by 12+ points. Early start, smaller crowd should help Falcons.
-- Colorado State is senior-dominated team; Green got hurt in last game, unsure of status here- Rams are not deep team- they beat Fresno twice this year, by 7-11 points, are 1-4 in this event last four years. Bulldogs had lost 15 of 19 games before beating Air Force/UNLV last week; win on this court Saturday has to help their confidence. Fresno played #6 schedule in country, use lot of guys, but have only one win in last six conference tourneys.
-- San Diego State is 10-2 in MWC tourney last four years, winning its first game last five years, by 4-14-1-14-3 points. Boise State (-2) beat Aztecs by 4 Saturday, after losing by 1 in San Diego Feb 6; home teams got off to big leads in both games, barely hung on late. Boise is 1-4 last four years in this event, losing first round games by 10-24-3- they're 5-1 in last six games overall, winning more as they got healthy. Aztecs lost their last five games away from Viejas Arena.
Big X tournament (Kansas City)
-- Hard to lay any points with West Virginia squad that is only 6-12 in its first year in Big X; they swept Texas Tech, winning by 16-2 points. Mountaineers lost in first game of Big East tourney last two years, after winning it in '10- they've lost last six games since nipping Tech by hoop Feb 16. Tech is 9-45 in Big 12 play last three years, losing first tourney game last two years, by 4-16 points; they haven't won road game since Jan 5 at TCU.
-- Texas is 5-3 since Kabongo got eligible Feb 13, with three of five wins in OT; Longhorns need to win tourney to get to NCAAs- they've never won this tournament, despite strong teams they've had. Texas beat TCU by 17-9 points this year, once with Kabongo, once without; Longhorns are 8-1 in first tourney game last eight years, but six of eight wins were by 7 or less points. TCU upset Oklahoma in last game, after being up 22 at half, just its second Big X win in 18 tries.
Arizona State is a good team and they have a very respectable 20 wins on the season. They are coming off a poor performance against in-state rival Arizona and they should be able to have a strong rebound game against Stanford today. You should always play on an underdog coming off a road loss by 10 points or more like Arizona State when they are revenging a home loss against an opponent. This system is 369-266 (58.1%) over the last five seasons.
When these teams played back on February 9th Stanford squeaked off a three point victory with a 59-62 final score. Arizona State has a little more to play for now and that should help the better team prevail. You should also play on a team revenging a loss where they scored less than 60 points and they are coming off an embarrassing road loss also scoring less than 60 points. This system is 77-41 (65.3%) and proves that the majority of the time teams rebound from a poor performance. Arizona State is no ordinary team either; they are a quality team with a lot of talent which makes it even more likely for them to bounce back with a strong performance today.
On Wednesday the free NCAAB Tournament play is on Colorado. Game 634 at 5:30 eastern. The Buffaloes come into this one with a solid 36 RPI Ranking and have won 11 of 13 vs teams ranked higher than 100 in the RPI Scale, so I have no problem laying a few points here as Colorado checks in at a cool 10-0 with 9 spread wins in games after scoring 60 or less and 20-2 vs losing teams. They are 6-2 ats when the total is 130 to 140 and are 6-1 with 5 spread wins in Conference tournament play of late, They have home home loss revenge here against an Oregon St team that has lost 14 of 16 vs winning teams and is 1-4 ats after allowing 60 or less points. When playing off a conference win the Beaver are 0-3 straight up and ats and 0-4 with just 1 spread win when the total is 130 to 135. Look for Colorado to get the win and cover here today.
The PAC 12 tournament should be interesting because so many teams are desperate for wins. The Washington Huskies are definitely among that group, squandering upper echelon talent once again. They get a favourable first round draw of Washington State, the worst team in the league and a team they have beaten twice already this season.
Those wins were by 4 and 5 points which is the only reason this spread is so small. The Huskies have won 5 straight against their in-state rivals and I don’t see the streak ending anytime soon.
Take the small favourite in this one and look for signs this team might be breaking out. Their talent level is just too high.