Saturday’s Road Traps
Published on Dec. 16 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Updated on Dec. 17 at 2:01 a.m. Eastern.
By Brian Edwards
**Ohio State at South Carolina**
–Ohio State (9-1 straight up, 3-2 against the spread) lost for the first time this season last Saturday when Kansas won a 78-67 decision as a 1 ½-point home favorite. We should note, however, that OSU was without one of its premier players in sophomore center Jared Sullinger.
–After missing a pair of games with back spasms, Sullinger came off the bench in Wednesday’s 82-58 home win over South Carolina Upstate in a non-lined affair. Sullinger played 24 minutes and posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Deshaun Thomas scored a game-high 23 points for the Buckeyes.
–South Carolina (4-5 SU, 2-5 ATS) has responded to a 1-5 stretch by winning back-to-back games, including a 58-55 win at Clemson as a 10-point road underdog. Nevertheless, the pressure is on fourth-year head coach Darrin Horn, who has yet to take the Gamecocks to the NCAA Tournament.
–South Carolina is 3-2 SU at home, 1-2 ATS. The Gamecocks will be home ‘dogs for the first time this year in this spot.
–Thad Matta’s squad will be playing just its second road game of the year in this spot. When these schools met in Columbus last year, the Buckeyes cruised to a 79-57 win as 18-point home ‘chalk.’
–Sullinger is averaging a double-double, scoring 18.2 points per game while pulling down 10.2 rebounds per contest. Senior guard William Buford is scoring at a 16.3 PPG clip, while Thomas is averaging 14.5 PPG. Aaron Craft, OSU’s sophomore point guard, is an outstanding defender who plays a great floor game. Craft isn’t the best shooter but makes up for it by doing everything else well. He averages 9.5 PPG and has a 54-to-21 assist-to-turnover ratio. Craft also averages 3.0 steals per game.
–The ‘under’ is 4-3 overall for the Gamecocks, but the ‘over’ is 3-1 in their last four contests. The ‘over’ is 3-2 overall for the Buckeyes.
–As of early this morning, most books were listing Ohio St. as a 15-point favorite with a total of 129.
–Tip-off is scheduled for noon Eastern on ESPN.
**Mississippi State at Detroit**
–Mississippi St. (10-1 SU, 6-5 ATS) has won nine consecutive games and has posted a 6-2 spread record in its last eight outings. The Bulldogs are getting solid play from senior point guard Dee Bost, who is averaging team-highs in scoring (18.5 points per game), assists (4.5 APG) and steals (2.5 SPG). UTEP transfer Arnett Moultrie is also making a major impact, averaging a double-double (17.1 PPG, 11.2 RPG), while freshman Rodney Hood has been ‘as advertised,’ contributing 12.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
–Moultrie sat out MSU’s non-covering win Tuesday over FAU due to tendonitis in his knee. Moultrie is expected to return to the lineup in Motown.
–Detroit (5-7 SU, 3-6-1 ATS) has won two of its last three games, taking the cash in each instance, including Sunday’s 62-54 loss at Alabama as a 14-point underdog. Ray McCallum scored a team-high 13 points against the Crimson Tide and also had six rebounds and four assists compared to zero turnovers.
–Detroit has been a home underdog twice this year, going 1-1 both SU and ATS. The Titans beat St. John’s 69-63 as 1 ½-point home ‘dogs on Dec. 5, but they dropped a 66-61 decision to Cleveland St. as 2 ½-point puppies on Dec. 3.
–Senior guard Chase Simon leads Detroit in scoring with a 16.2 PPG average. Doug Anderson is the Titans’ premier post presence, averaging 9.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest. McCallum is the squad’s best overall player, averaging 14.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
–Detroit has been negatively impacted by a pair of developments. After averaging 15.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in the Titans’ first two games, Eli Holman was indefinitely suspended after an incident at a fraternity house led to an injury that allegedly resulted from Holman’s actions. Also, senior forward Nick Minnerath is out for the season with a knee injury. Minnerath averaged 12.0 PPG in the first five games.
–These schools met in Starkville last year with MSU capturing an 82-76 win. However, the Titans hooked up their backers as 7 ½-point road underdogs.
–The ‘over’ is 6-5 overall for MSU, cashing in its last three games. On the flip side, the ‘under’ is 6-4 overall for Detroit, 3-1 in its home games.
–BetOnline.com was the first book to post a number for this game Friday afternoon. The website opened the Bulldogs as 4 ½-point favorites with a total of 149 ½. As of early this morning, most spots had MSU favored by 3 ½ with a 146-point total.
–This untelevised game is slated to tip at noon Eastern.
Memphis at Louisville**
–A pair of former Metro Conference rivals will collide Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Eastern when unbeaten Louisville (9-0 SU, 4-2 ATS) takes on Memphis. Most books, as of early this morning, were listing the Cardinals as eight-point favorites with a total of 136.
–Memphis (5-3 SU, 3-4 ATS) saw its three-game winning streak end last Sunday when Murray St. came to town and won by a 76-72 count as a 10 ½-point road underdog. The Tigers’ two other losses have came against Michigan (73-61) and Georgetown (91-88 in overtime) at the Maui Classic.
–Rick Pitino’s team hasn’t played much of a schedule to date. The Cards’ best wins are at Butler (69-53) vs. Long Beach St. (79-66) and vs. Vandy (62-60) in overtime. They are 3-2 ATS at home.
–These old-school adversaries haven’t met since its days in Conference USA that ended when U of L bolted to the Big East for the 2005-2006 campaign. In the eight most recent head-to-head meetings from 2002-2005, Memphis cashed tickets for its backers at a 7-1 ATS clip.
–The ‘over’ is 5-1-1 overall for Memphis. On the flip side, U of L has seen the ‘under’ go 5-1 overall, 4-1 in its home outings.
–CBS will have the telecast at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.
**Alabama at Kansas State**
–As of early this morning, most spots had Alabama (8-2 SU, 3-4 ATS) favored by one with a total of 125.
–Kansas State (6-1 SU, 2-2 ATS) won its first five games, including a 69-61 triumph at Va. Tech as a four-point underdog. The Wildcats suffered their first loss on Dec. 8 when they dropped an 85-80 decision to West Va. in a game played in Wichita. They bounced back to beat North Florida at home Tuesday, but needed OT do so in a non-lined matchup.
–With All-American guard Jacob Pullen no longer in the mix, Frank Martin’s squad has a more balanced scoring attack with four players scoring in double figures. Freshman forward Thomas Gipson is averaging 14.0 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Will Spradling is K-St.’s second-leading scorer with a 12.6 PPG average.
–Anthony Grant’s team raced out to a 7-0 start with wins over the likes of Oakland, Maryland, Wichita St., Purdue and Virginia Commonwealth. But the Crimson Tide dropped its first two games of December before beating Detroit 62-54 last Sunday. The losses came at home to Georgetown (57-55) and at Dayton (74-62).
–After finishing as the runner-up in the NIT last season, Alabama looks like an NCAA Tournament team this year. The Tide has one of the SEC’s best post players in LaMychal Green, who is averaging 15.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, but its best player is junior forward Tony Mitchell, who averages 15.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
–ESPNU will provide television coverage at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
–The ‘under’ is cashing at a lucrative 8-1 clip for a pair of Horizon League squads in Cleveland St. and Loyola-Chicago.
–As of early this morning, Syracuse was favored by seven for its 6:30 p.m. Eastern showdown at North Carolina St. The total was in the 145-146 range for tonight’s tilt on ESPN2.
–In Sunrise on Saturday afternoon where the NHL’s Florida Panthers play, there will be a college hoops doubleheader. In the lidlifter at noon Eastern, Miami will take on Florida Atlantic. Most spots had the Hurricanes as eight-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 132. The second game will come off the board at 2:30 p.m. Eastern, as Texas A&M will square off against the Gators in South Florida. I’ve attended this event several times and there’s always a strong UF presence in the stands. The Gators are 9 ½-point favorites with a total of 130 ½.
–Purdue and Butler will collide at 2:00 p.m. Eastern on CBS at Conseco Fieldhouse. The Boilermakers opened as 8 ½-point favorites with the total marked as 124 ½.
–Gonzaga is a four-point ‘chalk’ vs. Arizona in a 4:00 p.m. matchup at Key Arena in Seattle. CBS will have the telecast.
–Marquette will be without junior center Chris Otule for the rest of the season after he tore his ACL. Otule started all 35 games for the Golden Eagles last year, finishing ninth in the Big East in blocked shots. He was averaging 5.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game through Marquette’s first eight contests.