Your Saturday Night Elite Eight Games Could Both Be Classics

Kaminsky
Kaminsky

Frank Kaminsky and the Badgers face a rematch with the Arizona Wildcats in the Elite Eight.

I have one number one seed going down. Which one is it? Read on.

Arizona (-1.5) vs Wisconsin – This is a rematch of last year’s Elite Eight classic which saw the Badgers edge the Wildcats 64-63 in overtime. Obviously it can’t get much closer than that and this one has the makings of being just as close. Offensively, Arizona scores four more points per game than does Wisconsin while defensively the Badgers give up two points less per game than do the Wildcats.

In essence, these two are pretty darn even.

The Wildcats hold advantages in offensive and defensive rebounding as well as steals per game while Wisconsin is better from three-point land and at the foul line (76%-71%). This game will be a war and I believe this game will be decided in the paint. Whichever team can control the glass will ultimately come out victorious.

The only caveat to that thought is of course three-point shooting. In the college game, nothing can nullify an advantage down low like the ability to drain threes. Both teams have guys more than capable of getting hot and if either team isn’t careful, a quick run can happen tipping the balance of the game.

Trends: The Badgers are 19-17-1 against the spread this season… Arizona is 23-14 ATS in their 37 games this season.

The Pick: Don’t forget this game is being played in Los Angeles which should allow for the Wildcats to have a better crowd. Whether that holds true or not is hard ot say because Wisconsin travels well. Either way, I like the Wildcats to cover and advance.

JC

Calipari's Wildcats continue their chase for perfection against Notre Dame.

Notre Dame (+11) vs Kentucky – This is a classic match-up of a team that does a ton of work in the paint versus one that does its’ damage on the perimeter. The Wildcats hold advantages in both offensive and defensive rebounding as well as points in the paint. Notre Dame meanwhile holds a significant advantage from three-point land.

Those facts shouldn’t be surprising considering the Wildcats will hold a tremendous size advantage over the Irish. In order for Notre Dame to have a chance, I see them having to accomplish three things.

First, they must shoot the ball well from beyond the arc. Shooting 30-40% won’t do it either. They’ll need to be closer to the 50% range. Secondly, they must be aggressive offensively and get to the foul line. As a team they shoot about 75% from the charity stripe so if they are aggressive and don’t settle for mid-range jumpers they could pick up some easy points. Lastly they must take advantage of their quick hands defensively. They collect almost seven steals per game and they’ll need to better that mark.

For Kentucky, it comes down to handling the pressure and creating pressure. John Calipari’s team took a big step in beating West Virginia Thursday night. Many felt the Mountaineers would be their most serious challengers but they passed that test going away. The pressure only intensifies with each step.

As for the other type of pressure, they must not let the Irish have uncontested looks at the basket especially from downtown. Because of their size advantage, I can see the Wildcats being very aggressive on the perimeter. They will hope to force Notre Dame to drive where the big men will be waiting.

Trends: Kentucky is 20-15-2 against the spread in their last 37 games… Notre Dame is 16-13 ATS this season…

The Pick: I thought WVU would keep it close Thursday and that sure was wrong so I feel equally uneasy when I tell you to take the Irish and the points.

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Tonight’s Games in the Sweet Sixteen

Bob Huggins
Bob Huggins

Can Bob Huggins and his Mountaineers pull off the upset of Kentucky?

Here are my thoughts on tonight’s Sweet Sixteen action.

West Virginia (+13.5) vs Kentucky – In case you didn’t notice, this kind of a big game. It’s not your ordinary Sweet Sixteen game simply because of what’s at stake. The Kentucky Wildcats are four wins away from the first unbeaten season since the mid-‘70’s Indiana Hoosiers.

If I’m the Mountaineers, I look at this line and immediately I’m playing the “disrespect” card. Bob Huggins’ team has beaten some good clubs this year including fellow Sweet Sixteen teams NC State and Oklahoma as well as Kansas.

WVU will dial up the heat with pressure defense but will Kentucky’s guards crack?

Trends: UK is 8-3-1 against the spread in their last 12 games… West Virginia has gone 19-13 ATS this season… The Mountaineers rebound better offensively by a margin of 16.5 to 12.9.

The Pick: I like West Virginia getting a bunch of points.

Brey

Mike Brey has to put his emotions aside and get his Irish focused on the Shockers.

Wichita State (-1.5) vs Notre Dame – This is easily my most difficult game to pick for tonight. Wichita State is so tough and they get every loose ball while Notre Dame can shoot the lights out if you aren’t careful.

I’d be remiss if I ignored the fact that ND Coach Mike Brey is dealing with the loss of his mother who passed away just prior to their game this past weekend. Will it factor in? I don’t think so but certainly his attention isn’t 100% on the Shockers.

At the same time, WSU Head Coach Gregg Marshall has to know his name has been tossed about for several openings or “potential” openings. Will this distract him? Hard to say.

Trends: The Shockers are 18-14-1 against the spread this year… The Irish are 15-13 ATS this season… Notre Dame has won five in a row.

Xavier (+10.5) vs. Arizona – The Musketeers are probably the team flying lowest below the radar in the Sweet Sixteen but any basketball fan knows this is a very good program. In both wins of the tournament, Xavier had to defeat teams with momentum. In the opener they beat an Ole Miss team that hung 90+ points on BYU and then had to beat the feel good story of week one Georgia State.

As good as Xavier is, they will need near perfection to beat Arizona. The Wildcats have won 20 of their last 21 games and are riding a very talented group of starters and role players. If the Musketeers will have a chance, they need to limit Arizona’s field goal shooting. The Wildcats are 6th in the country at just a shade under 49% on the season.

Trends: The Wildcats have won five straight games… The Musketeers are 17-17-1 against the spread this year… Arizona is 23-13 ATS this season.

The Pick: Give me Xavier and the points as they give the Wildcats some trouble early.

North Carolina (+6) vs Wisconsin – The Big Ten Champs got a bit of a wake-up call from Oregon in the round of 32. While I don’t think the Badgers were ever in harm’s way, it was a good dose of reality for them heading into a game with a traditional power. Wisconsin will go as Frank Kaminsky goes.The seven-footer is a match-up nightmare because of his ability to shoot from the outside and he’s an excellent passer as well.

Tar Heels’ Head Coach Roy Williams has already said the team will play tonight without sophomore center Kennedy Meeks who’s dealing with a knee problem. He reportedly practiced in Los Angeles during the team’s first practice there. Despite him being in a slump recently, his presence on the court is important.

Trends: The Badgers are 18-17-1 against the spread this season… The Tar Heels are 20-16-1 ATS in the 2014-2015 season.

The Pick: I like the Badgers to cover behind some stifling defense.

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Some are Still in, While Some are Certainly Out as …

Winston
Winston

Head Coach Jimbo Fisher and his star QB once again escaped by beating the Irish.

I seem to recall a lot of people thinking out loud that the new college football playoff wouldn’t create the excitement that the Bowl Championship Series did. Regular season games wouldn’t mean as much and the usual suspects would continue to box-out the wannabes.

While the last part may end up holding true, the lack of excitement and less meaningful games couldn’t be further from the truth. Look no further than yesterday and last night for your examples.

In Tallahassee, Florida the defending national champions fought off the Fighting Irish with the help of a pass interference call to win 31-27. Despite another week of turmoil, Jameis Winston again saved the Seminoles despite his poor play at times. The Irish defensive line battered the Florida State offensive line in the first half but they made the proper adjustments and protected Winston better in the second half.

Kelly

Kelly's Irish were valiant in defeat but the pass interference call was legit and Kelly needs to admit it.

The Irish actually went ahead with :12 left but they were called for offensive pass interference on what was deemed a ‘pick-play.’ To be honest, it was the right call. The offensive player made no effort to even look as if he were going to be a receiver and instead blocked the defender allowing his teammate Corey Robinson to catch the game-winner. It really was the right call because it was so blatant.

Because Florida State is in the relatively week ACC and because Notre Dame is an independent, a loss by either was going to be tough to deal with in terms of the playoff. The Irish still have road trips to Navy, Arizona State and USC and should they win those plus their two remaining home games, they could still get in.

The Seminoles have a much easier path to stay unbeaten but do have road trips to Louisville and Miami. Right now I can only say this about both teams; Still in.

In Norman, Oklahoma yesterday the Sooners hosted conference rival Kansas State. Both teams had one loss and another loss for either would eliminate any chance for them to make the college football playoff. K-State’s loss this year was to Auburn and the Wildcats missed three field goals that would have given them the win.

How ironic was it that Oklahoma’s Mr. Automatic Michael Hunnicut missed a literal chip-shot that would have given the Sooners the lead? K-State ran the remaining three plus minutes off the clock to preserve the 31-30 win. Wildcats still in. Sooners out.

In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the Crimson Tide hosted Texas A&M. The Aggies already had two losses but if they could run the table in the powerful SEC, a playoff shot would not have been impossible. Bama was still feeling the effects of their loss at Ole Miss and they played angry in demolishing the Aggies 59-0. Crimson Tide still in. Aggies out.

In Fort Worth, Texas yesterday the TCU Horned Frogs entertained the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Both teams had just one loss each and if things could break just right could find themselves in the college football playoff. The winner would still be alive while the loser would have other things to think about.

After TCU’s 42-9 drubbing of the Cowboys, it might be OSU who is doing the thinking and smarting. The Frogs have date with Kansas State in two weeks and both teams should enter with their one loss each. Horned Frogs still in. Cowboys out.

Also staying alive with one-loss was Michigan State, Ohio State, Oregon, Nebraska and Georgia.

Stay tuned for more craziness next week.

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This Week’s Unmissable College Hoops

Having suffered a first conference loss on Saturday, Miami faces a tough trip to Duke this coming weekend.

Having suffered a first conference loss on Saturday, Miami faces a tough trip to Duke this coming weekend.

This season of college basketball continues to throw surprises at us from every direction. Last weekend alone we were railroaded by Miami’s first conference defeat and Georgetown’s Big East-topping win over Syracuse.

Monday night saw both #6 Kansas and #13 Kansas State take care of business in the Big 12, while #22 Marquette unexpectedly handed #12 Syracuse a second consecutive loss.

Here at Casino Review, we’ve scoured the remainder of this week’s schedule to pick out 10 of the most unmissable games out there. Our findings? This Saturday really is going to be a super Saturday.

Read on to find out which games you need to be following.

#7 Georgetown @ Connecticut (Wed)

If #7 Georgetown (21-4, 11-3 Big East) is to hold on to the Big East top spot it snatched this past weekend, John Thompson III’s side will need to handle a tough Connecticut (19-7, 9-5 Big East) team. Marquette served a notice of intent by defeating Syracuse on Monday night, so the Hoyas have to win to stay atop the conference.

San Diego State @ #14 New Mexico (Wed)

Having handed Colorado State a loss last weekend, #14 New Mexico (23-4, 10-2 MWC) controls its own destiny. Thanks to a tiebreaker advantage over the Rams, the Lobos need just two wins from four games to lock-up the Mountain West regular season title, and with MWC bottom-feeders Wyoming and Nevada on the schedule, that looks a dead cert. A win over San Diego State (20-7, 8-5 MWC) on Wednesday might not be essential, but it would go a long way in the eyes of the selection committee.

#2 Gonzaga @ Brigham Young (Thu)

Having leapt into second place on the AP poll, Gonzaga (27-2, 14-0 WCC) has just two games left to impress. A trip to Brigham Young (20-9, 9-5 WCC) represents the toughest remaining game on the schedule for the side from Spokane. The Cougars would like nothing more than to avenge an 83-63 loss on Jan. 24, putting a big dent in the Zags’ season in the process.

#5 Miami (FL) @ #3 Duke (Sat)

Undoubtedly the biggest game of the week, and one nobody is going to want to miss, takes place in Durham on Saturday. Having succumbed to a first conference loss of the season this past weekend, all eyes will be on #5 Miami (22-4, 13-1 ACC) and whether or not the side can rebound. The Hurricanes will get a first chance to do at home to Virginia Tech on Wednesday, before a trip to #3 Duke (24-3, 11-3 ACC) on Saturday. The Blue Devils will be looking to make amends for a 90-63 loss in Coral Gables, and with an unbeaten home record, could well make this year’s ACC race even more interesting.

#10 Louisville @ #12 Syracuse (Sat)

Back-to-back losses for #12 Syracuse (22-6, 10-5 Big East) all of a sudden has the Orange looking vulnerable. Louisville (22-5, 10-4 Big East) meanwhile is slowly ascending the Big East standings thanks to a favorable schedule. That schedule takes a turn for the wicked this weekend, beginning with this trip to the Carrier Dome and followed by home games against Cincinnati and Notre Dame. Winning on Saturday is essential for both schools.

#21 Notre Dame @ #22 Marquette (Sat)

Thanks to its streaky record this season, #21 Notre Dame (22-6, 10-5 Big East) needs wins to impress as well as climb the Big East ladder. The Irish has fared well of late but #22 Marquette (20-7, 11-4 Big East) has proved a tricky opponent. Whichever side loses will be out of the regular season picture and the road to a Big East title will be that much tougher.

Alabama @ #8 Florida (Sat)

#8 Florida (22-4, 12-2 SEC) has been the class of the SEC this season but losses to Arkansas and Missouri means the conference is still there to be lost. After traveling to Tennessee on Tuesday, the Gators will host Alabama (18-9, 10-4 SEC) on Saturday. The Crimson Tide is currently two games back of Florida (and tied with Kentucky) so a win this weekend would be huge. In all likelihood, the regular season title will go to Florida, but with a trip to Kentucky still on the schedule, the Gators can’t afford to lose.

#11 Arizona @ UCLA (Sat)

A win for UCLA (20-7, 10-4 Pac-12) on Wednesday night against Arizona State would see the Bruins enter this game with an identical record to Arizona (23-4, 11-4 Pac-12). That record could be – depending on Oregon’s result against Oregon State on Friday – enough to top the Pac-12. Add to that the fact that the Bruins defeated the Wildcats 84-73 on Jan. 24 and you have the recipe for a game Arizona must not lose. If the Wildcats do drop this one, it’ll be tough to win the regular season title.

#20 Butler @ Virginia Commonwealth (Sat)

Losing to Saint Louis for a second time this season this past Friday was a huge blow for #20 Butler (22-6, 9-4 A10). Now the Bulldogs face a Virginia Commonwealth (22-6, 10-3 A10) side that, along with the Billikens, sits above them in the Atlantic 10 standings. A Butler loss on Saturday would be fatal.

#9 Michigan State @ #4 Michigan (Sun)

We have to wait until Sunday to enjoy the second biggest game of the week, when Michigan State (22-6, 11-4 Big Ten) travels to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan (23-4, 10-4 Big Ten). Back-to-back losses to Indiana and Ohio State last week means the Spartans are only one-half game ahead of their bitter rivals, while Michigan has won two straight since falling to Michigan State. Michigan will need to avoid a slip-up against Penn State on Wednesday before taking to the court on Sunday. The Wolverines are unbeaten at home, which adds another dimension to this one. It’s not quite winner takes all, but it’s not far off.

 

Worth Keeping an Eye On

If we’ve learned nothing else this season, we’ve certainly learned that nothing can be taken for granted in college basketball. Here’s a choice selection of games that could prove interesting this week. Whilst we expect the ranked sides to come out of these games with the ‘W’, that upset bug could strike at any time.

  • #1 Indiana @ Minnesota (Tue)
  • #19 Memphis @ Xavier (Tue)
  • Wichita State @ Creighton (Sat)
  • #6 Kansas @ West Virginia (Sat)
  • #13 Kansas State @ Baylor (Sat)
  • #19 Memphis @ UCF (Sat)
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Spartans Visit Buckeyes in Big Ten Showdown

Keith Appling and the Michigan State Spartans will look to rebound from a midweek loss to Indiana with a trip to Ohio State on Sunday afternoon.

Keith Appling and the Michigan State Spartans will look to rebound from a midweek loss to Indiana with a trip to Ohio State on Sunday afternoon.

#4 Michigan State travels to Columbus on Sunday to take on #18 Ohio State in a must win game for both schools. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 PM ET from Value City Arena.

Michigan State’s 72-68 loss at home to #1 Indiana on Tuesday leaves the Spartans one game back of the Hoosiers at the top of the Big Ten standings. With a season sweep of the East Lansing side, Indiana holds a decisive tie-breaker.

A win over Minnesota on Wednesday put an end to a streak of three losses in four games for Ohio State, but that downturn now has the Buckeyes looking up at four other Big Ten schools. In danger of being swallowed into the mid-level tournament berths, Ohio State needs to put together some wins to improve its standing.

The two schools met on Jan. 19 at Breslin Center in East Lansing, with the Spartans scoring a 59-56 win.

Last season, the two sides split a pair of regular season games, each winning on the other’s home court. Michigan State earned the last laugh though, defeating Ohio State 68-64 in the Big Ten championship game.

Since 1979-80, Michigan State leads the head-to-head series 37-26.

Ohio State (14-2 home) enters the game favored over Michigan State (6-3 road). The Buckeyes however have fared poorly against teams ranked in the AP top 25, going 1-7 in such games. The school’s only win against a ranked opponent came on Jan. 13, against the Spartans’ bitter rival, Michigan. Michigan State has gone 4-4 against ranked opponents this season.

The spread opened at 4½ points. Neither school has been particularly good at covering the spread this season, which will make things that much more awkward for bettors trying to separate these sides.

Ohio State is 13-11-0 ATS all told this season, with a 9-6-0 ATS record at Value City Arena and a 11-9-0 ATS record when entering  the game as the favorite.

Michigan State is 11-12-1 ATS in all games this season, with a 5-5-1 ATS record on the road and a 4-2-0 ATS record as the underdog.

The total opened at 129. Like the spread, bettors will have a tough time picking over or under in this one. Ohio State (10-12-1) favors the under while Michigan State (12-11-0) favors the over. Neither is particularly decisive though.

After Sunday’s game at Ohio State, Michigan State will have three games left on the schedule: a trip to Michigan (Mar. 3) followed by home games against Wisconsin (Mar. 7) and Northwestern (Mar. 10).

Meanwhile, Indiana still has four games on the schedule. The Hoosiers will face Minnesota (Feb. 26) and Michigan (Mar. 10) on the road, and Iowa (Mar. 2) and Ohio State (Mar. 5) at home.

It’ll be a tall task for the Spartans to overtake the Hoosiers to finish with the top berth heading into the Big Ten tournament, but it’s not yet impossible. One thing is for sure; the Spartans need to win in Columbus on Sunday afternoon.

 

In Brief…

The Spartans’ rivals, #7 Michigan (22-4, 9-4 Big Ten) will also look to improve its position in the Big Ten standings. The Wolverines will face a resurgent Illinois (20-8, 7-7 Big Ten) side that has won five straight games, ending a dreadful streak of six losses in seven games. The hometown Wolverines are favorites (-11) with the total at 138.

With #2 Miami (FL) suffering its first conference loss of the season on Saturday, #6 Duke (23-3, 10-3 ACC) can sneak one game closer to the Hurricanes at the top of the ACC standings with a win over lowly Boston College (12-14, 4-9 ACC) on Sunday afternoon. The Blue Devils bounced back from last weekend’s loss to Maryland with a 88-56 win over Virginia Tech on Thursday and will enter this one as the favorite (-16½).

With a win over #8 Syracuse on Saturday and #17 Marquette slipping up against Villanova, #11 Georgetown is now in sole possession of the Big East lead. At two games back, #25 Notre Dame (21-6, 9-5 Big East) will look to make up some ground as the Irish hosts Cincinnati (19-8, 7-7 Big East), losers of four of the last five. The Irish is a one-point favorite in this one, with the total at 124.

#20 Pittsburgh (20-7, 8-6 Big East) will also be looking to make up ground in the conference. With two losses in a row, the Panthers are in danger of losing their AP status, so a win over St. John’s (16-10, 8-6 Big East) is essential at lunchtime on Sunday. Pittsburgh is the favorite (-7) with the total at 124½.

 

Saturday’s AP Top 25 Results

#2 Miami (FL) 65, Wake Forest 80

San Diego 50, #3 Gonzaga 81

Arkansas 54, #5 Florida 71

#11 Georgetown 57, #8 Syracuse 46

TCU 48, #9 Kansas 74

Seton Hall 61, #10 Louisville 79

Washington State 56, #12 Arizona 73

#13 Kansas State 81, Texas 69

#14 Oklahoma State 73, West Virginia 57

#16 New Mexico 91, #22 Colorado State 82

#17 Marquette 56, Villanova 60

Southern Miss 73, #21 Memphis 89

Stanford 66, #23 Oregon 77

#24 Virginia Commonwealth 75, Xavier 71

 

Sunday’s AP Top 25 Schedule

#4 Michigan State @ #18 Ohio State

Boston College@ #6 Duke

Illinois @ #7 Michigan

#20 Pittsburgh @ St. John’s

Cincinnati @ #25 Notre Dame

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This Week’s Best: College Hoops Preview

Indiana travels to Michigan State on Tuesday, a battle that will decide who is tops in the Big Ten.

Indiana travels to Michigan State on Tuesday, a battle that will decide who is tops in the Big Ten.

It’s become tradition this season for at least one of the high-placed title contenders to unexpectedly lose over the weekend. Duke was this week’s victim, so to speak. With Maryland taking an 83-81 victory, the Blue Devils will now look to bounce back, taking on Virginia Tech on Thursday.

Whilst there’s no doubting that came in Blacksburg will be a big game, it hasn’t made the Casino Review list of the top 10 games on this week’s college basketball schedule. Surprising? Not when you take a look at what lies ahead.

We’re at the point where every game becomes important, but some are that little bit more important than others. Here’s our pick of the unmissable action coming your way over the next seven days.

As publication time falls ahead of this week’s AP poll being released, the AP rankings quoted are those unveiled last Monday (Feb. 11).Expect a fair amount of change in wake of this past week’s results.

 

#21 Notre Dame @ #16 Pittsburgh (Mon)

Pittsburgh (20-6, 8-5 Big East) and Notre Dame (20-6, 8-5 Big East) both suffered tough losses this past weekend but both remain just two games in the loss column behind the Big East leading pack of Georgetown, Marquette and Syracuse. The side that comes out of this one with a win still has a shot at winning the Big East regular season. The loser will have to play very well in the Big East tournament if it’s to head to the NCAA tourney.

Virginia Commonwealth @ Saint Louis (Mon)

#11 Butler has been the talk of the Atlantic 10 this season but the Bulldogs currently trail both Virginia Commonwealth (21-5, 9-2 A10) and Saint Louis (19-5, 8-2 A10) in the conference standings. Those two sides play Monday night to decide who is really top of the pops in the A10, at least for the time being. Both sides will be playing Butler over the next fortnight (see below).

#1 Indiana @ #8 Michigan State (Tue)

It was something of a surprise that Indiana (23-3, 11-2 Big Ten) held on to the #1 spot in the AP poll last week. This week there’s no surprise about it. The Hoosiers downed Nebraska and Purdue to keep atop of the Big Ten standings. The Bloomington side isn’t alone though.

Michigan State (22-4, 11-2 Big Ten) took a share of the conference lead with wins over Michigan and Nebraska. Now the Spartans have a shot at upsetting the top team in the country. The Hoosiers scored a 75-70 win when the two sides met in Indiana, but the Spartans are unbeaten at home this season. This is looking like the Game of the Week already.

#14 Kansas @ #17 Oklahoma State (Wed)

Indiana and Michigan State might have to hold off on that Game of the Week honor though as there are some big rumblings coming from the Big 12.

Kansas (21-4, 9-3 Big 12) got back to winning ways this past week, defeating both Kansas State and Texas in Lawrence, but this revival could be short-lived. Oklahoma State (19-5, 9-3 Big 12) defeated Kansas 85-80 on Feb. 2, sending the Jayhawks spiraling to a first of three losses.

Winners of seven straight and with just one home loss this season, the Cowboys will be looking to take down Kansas again on Wednesday night. Doing so would give Oklahoma State the top spot in the Big 12, not to mention some serious kudos with the AP voters.

California @ #23 Oregon (Thu)

After wowing fans and AP voters alike at the start of the Pac-12 campaign, Oregon (21-5, 10-3 Pac-12) now finds itself having to prove itself. The Ducks have won three straight since a three-game losing streak put an end to their unbeaten conference record, but a 79-77 overtime win over last-place Washington State on Saturday was hardly convincing.

California (16-9, 8-5 Pac-12) finds itself just two games back of the Ducks. Three straight wins and five from six have seen the Golden Bears claw their way up the Pac-12 standings. That stint has included quality wins over UCLA, Arizona and Oregon. A win for California on Thursday would not only complete the season sweep but also set the cat amongst the pigeons as far as the conference standings go.

Saint Louis @ #11 Butler (Fri)

Saint Louis, along with Virginia Commonwealth, has the power to wreck the rest of the season for Butler (21-5, 8-3 A 10). The Bulldogs will need to fend off the Billikens on Friday night, before visiting the Rams on Mar. 2. Butler lost to Saint Louis on Jan. 31, so nothing short of a win will be acceptable in this one.

#19 New Mexico @ #24 Colorado State (Sat)

The top two teams in the Mountain West take to the hardwood on Saturday in what might be the conference’s best game of the season. New Mexico (22-4, 9-2 MWC) defeated Colorado State (21-4, 8-2 MWC) in Albuquerque on Jan. 23 and doing likewise this weekend will give the Lobos are decisive advantage going forward.

A Lobos win won’t come easy though. Since losing to in the desert, the Rams have gone unbeaten. The side knocked-off San Diego State and Air Force this past week, wins that have turned a four horse conference race into a two horse affair.

North Carolina State @ North Carolina (Sat)

Make no bones about it, both North Carolina State (18-7, 7-5 ACC) and North Carolina (17-8, 8-5 ACC) have been disappointing this season. The two sides should have been contending for high AP rankings at least. Instead, they both sit in the middle of the ACC pack.

Both will need to take a win from this rivalry game, or face slipping further down the list in the minds of the NCAA tournament selectors. The sides shouldn’t need any motivation to get up for this game, but there it is right there. The Wolfpack will be buoyed by a 91-83 win back on Jan. 26, while the Tar Heels will use it to fuel a revenge win.

#15 Georgetown @ #6 Syracuse (Sat)

With a win over Cincinnati on Friday, Georgetown (19-4, 9-3 Big East) reached the summit of the Big East. Syracuse (21-4, 9-3 Big East) took a share of top spot on Saturday with a win over Seton Hall. This Saturday’s game will have huge implications at the top of the Big East. Of course, with the sides facing DePaul and Providence respectively during the week, they’ll need to be on upset alert beforehand.

#8 Michigan State @ #13 Ohio State (Sun)

After Tuesday’s home game against Indiana, Michigan State will face a tough trip to Columbus. If the Spartans arrive with a win over the Hoosiers, this one will be about maintaining momentum. If Tom Izzo’s side comes up short though, it’ll need to take home a victory here to stay ahead of Wisconsin, Michigan and the Buckeyes.

Nothing comes easy in the ultra-competitive Big Ten this season, but Ohio State (18-7, 8-5 Big Ten) has had a nightmare schedule of late. Losses to Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin in a four game span has seen the Buckeyes slip down the standings, which makes Michigan State’s visit so very important. Ahead of this game, the Buckeyes host Minnesota on Wednesday.

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Saturday Betting Tips: College Hoops

Having squeaked by Ohio State midweek, Tim Hardaway Jr. and the Michigan Wolverines will look to fend off a tough Wisconsin side on Saturday.

Having squeaked by Ohio State midweek, Tim Hardaway Jr. and the Michigan Wolverines will look to fend off a tough Wisconsin side on Saturday.

With just five Saturday’s left on the college basketball regular season, every single game is taking on a bigger importance. Don’t believe us? Just ask any of those ranked teams that came unglued this past week.

With the top spot in the AP poll up for grabs, the likes of Michigan, Duke, and Miami (FL) will be gunning to make an upwards move, and impress the selection committee along the way. What they’ll be looking to avoid is ending up on the wrong end of the score line, a la Indiana, Florida, and Kansas.

Here at Casino Review we’ve filtered through Saturday’s gargantuan college hoops schedule to bring you some betting tips in games that really matter.

 

#3 Michigan @ Wisconsin

12:00 PM ET

Kicking-off Saturday’s lunchtime slot in style, #2 Michigan (21-2, 8-2 Big Ten) will travel to Wisconsin (16-7, 7-3 Big Ten) in one of this weekend’s Big Ten crunch games.

The Wolverines scored a nail-biting victory over Ohio State in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, taking the game 76-74 in overtime. Some have suggested that the Buckeyes – having already beaten the Wolverines once this season – may be better than Michigan. John Beilein’s side will look to prove the doubters wrong.

Wisconsin has proven to be a tough out in the Big Ten this season. With wins over Illinois, Minnesota, and Indiana – all ranked at the time – the Badgers have played hard and appear to be on the cusp of infiltrating the AP poll themselves.

The Badgers will look to command a slow pace, and limit the scoring of the fifth best shooting team in the league. Michigan has shot .503 from the field, and .412 from behind the arc (6th). Stopping this efficient offense will be the only way Wisconsin can win.

This Season: This is the only regular meeting between the two schools this year.

Last Season: Michigan downed the Badgers 59-41 at the Crisler Center in the only meeting between the sides last season.

Favorite: Michigan Spread: 1 Total: 122

Take: MICHIGAN – No doubt there’s a serious upset opportunity here, but Wisconsin has yet to prove itself capable of beating one of the Big Ten’s top sides in Madison. The closest the side got was a two-point loss to Michigan State. This will be a close one, but with the spread at one, take the Wolverines (13-8-1 ATS) to cover also. Take the total to go under, as is the trend with the very deliberate game plan Wisconsin brings to the table.

 

North Carolina @ #8 Miami (FL)

2:00 PM ET

Are the Hurricanes for real? Will the Tar Heels turn this season around? Those are just two of the questions that we’d like answers to, and preferably sooner rather than later.

#8 Miami (18-3, 9-0 ACC) will put its undefeated ACC record on the line as North Carolina (16-6, 6-3 ACC) comes to town. The Tar Heels looked to have turned things around until falling to North Carolina State two weeks ago. With three wins since, it’ll take a win in Miami to prove to anybody that this season can be turned around for good.

Ranking in the top 10 in points, rebounds, and assists this season, North Carolina will need to improve its defense if it’s to get past Miami, a team that is very good on the defensive end.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes simply need to play their own game and shoot the ball well to get a win out of this one.

This Season: Miami defeated UNC 68-59 in Chapel Hill on Jan. 10, the third win on the side’s current 10-game winning streak.

Last Season: The Tar Heels handed a pair of losses to Miami last season, winning 73-56 at home and 73-64 in Miami.

Favorite: Miami (FL) Spread: Total: 136½

Take: MIAMI – Two weeks ago we had UNC to defeat NC State. The Tar Heels let us down that week, and now we’re hesitant to back them in any big game. Still, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Roy Williams’ side hand the Hurricanes a first ACC loss. Still, take the Hurricanes to hold on to this undefeated streak and, with a 13-4-1 ATS record, cover the spread as well, something North Carolina hasn’t done well on the road (4-4 ATS) or as the underdog (1-3 ATS). Take the total to fo under, a it has in 12 Miami games this season.

 

#11 Louisville @ #25 Notre Dame

After ‘celebrating’ a top-ranking in the AP polls with three straight losses, #11 Louisville (19-4, 7-3 Big East) has secured three straight wins, and will look to add a fourth on Saturday night.

#25 Notre Dame (18-5, 6-4 Big East) has yo-yo’d in and out of the rankings thanks to an inconsistent season. The Fighting Irish are one of the best shooting teams in the country – shooting .487 from the field (11th) and .391 (19th) from three-point range – yet poor shooting defense has seen the side struggle. Never was this more evident than in Monday’s 63-47 loss in Syracuse. With five of the last eight games against teams currently ranked in the AP top 25, Notre Dame needs to find a way to win here.

The Irish are 13-2 at home, with only Connecticut and Georgetown scoring wins at Purcell Pavilion. Meanwhile, Louisville is 5-2 in true road games. Two of those losses came in the three-game skid following the top ranking. The Cardinals handled Rutgers on Wednesday night, handing the Scarlet Knights a 63-47 beating.

This Season: This is the first of two meetings between the schools this season. They will meet again on Mar. 9, in the final game of the season.

Last Season: Notre Dame scored a 67-65 double-overtime win over the Cardinals in last season’s regular season fixture (at Louisville), before the Cardinals gained a measure of revenge in the Big East tournament, defeating the Irish 64-50 in the semifinals.

Favorite: Louisville Spread: Total: 131

Take: LOUISVILLE – Another game with upset potential, but expect Louisville to come out of this one unscathed. The Cardinals (12-9-1 ATS as the favorite) should cover the spread also. Take the total to go under.

Come back to Casino Review tomorrow for a full preview of #1 Indiana’s crunch Big Ten showdown with #10 Ohio State.

 

This Weekend’s AP Top 25 Schedule

Saturday

Mississippi State @ #2 Florida

#3 Michigan @ Wisconsin

#5 Kansas @ Oklahoma

Loyola Marymount @ #6 Gonzaga

North Carolina @ #8 Miami (FL)

#11 Louisville @ #25 Notre Dame

#12 Michigan State @ Purdue

Iowa State @ #13 Kansas State

#14 Butler @ George Washington

#15 New Mexico @ UNLV

Illinois State @ #16 Creighton

#23 Pittsburgh @ #17 Cincinnati

Utah @ #19 Oregon

#20 Georgetown @ Rutgers

Ole Miss @ #21 Missouri

#22 Oklahoma State @ Texas

DePaul @ #24 Marquette

Sunday

#1 Indiana @ #10 Ohio State

#4 Duke @ Boston College

California @ #7 Arizona

St. John’s @ #9 Syracuse

Illinois @ #18 Minnesota

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