Wednesday’s Tip Sheet

Published on Dec. 7 at 2:05 a.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

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There are several interesting non-conference matchups on tap in college hoops tonight. Let’s start at The O-Dome, where Florida (5-2 straight up, 2-1 against the spread) will take on Arizona on ESPN at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

As of early this afternoon, most betting shops had the Gators listed as 11-point favorites with a total of 145. The Wildcats are available to win outright for a lucrative plus-550 return (risk $100 to win $550).

Billy Donovan’s team has cruised to five easy victories against cupcake competition and has gone down twice on the road against top-five teams. UF is coming off Friday night’s 72-68 loss at Syracuse as a seven-point underdog. Erving Walker buried a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer to hook up bettors backing his team.

Kenny Boynton scored a team-high 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting, while Walker finished with 17 points and five assists. Filling in for the injured Erik Murphy, Will Yeguete played well with 10 points (5-of-8 from field), seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and one blocked shot.

Murphy, who missed his third straight game against the ‘Cuse, is set to return tonight after suffering a bone bruise on his knee at practice two weeks ago. The injury was initially thought to be a torn meniscus that could keep the junior power forward out for an extended period of time.

That would’ve been very bad news for the Gators, who have great guards but are thin on depth in the frontcourt. They are in dire need of Murphy’s size, not to mention his smooth perimeter jumper that brings opponents’ ‘bigs’ outside to contest him. This makes life much easier for UF sophomore center Patric Young.

Murphy averages 10.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

Arizona (6-2 SU, 2-6 ATS) has won back-to-back games since dropping consecutive contests to San Diego St. and Mississippi St. On Nov. 29, the Wildcats captured an 83-76 win at New Mexico St. as 3 ½-point underdogs. Next, they downed Northern Arizona 53-39 in a non-cover as 21-point home ‘chalk.’

Sean Miller’s team is led by junior forward Solomon Hill, who averages 12.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Kyle Fogg is one of three other players scoring in double figures with an 11.0 points-per-game average, but he has just as many turnovers (14) as assists (14) and is shooting only 39.1 percent from the floor.

Miller has suspended freshman guard Josiah Turner (7.1 PPG) for tonight’s game due to an unspecified violation of team rules.

The ‘over’ is 2-1 overall for UF, 1-0 in its lone home game that had a total. Totals have been an overall wash for Arizona (4-4), but the ‘under’ is 3-1 in its last four outings.

Georgia (4-4 SU, 3-4 ATS) is another SEC team in the home ‘chalk’ role tonight, hosting Ga. Tech as a 3 1/2-point favorite. This number was five earlier this morning, but the action so far has come in on the Yellow Jackets. The total is now 121.

Mark Fox’s team has lost three in a row to Xavier, Colorado and Cincinnati. Ga. Tech (4-4 SU, 2-4 ATS) has endured similar struggles in its first year under new head coach Brian Gregory, who replaced Paul Hewitt after a successful stint at Dayton. The Yellow Jackets have lost four of their last six games both SU and ATS.

The ‘under’ is 6-1 overall for UGA, 3-0 in its home games at Stegeman Coliseum. The Dawgs have prevailed in three of their last four head-to-head meetings against G-Tech, taking the money in each instance.

Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m. Eastern on The ESPN Game Plan (channel 720 on DirecTV).

As of early this morning, Alabama (7-1 SU, 3-2 ATS) was installed as a five-point favorite for tonight’s game at Dayton. This contest, with a total of 125 1/2,  is slated for a 7:00 p.m. Eastern tip but will not be televised.

Anthony Grant’s squad is looking to bounce back from its first loss of the year, a 57-55 setback to Georgetown as a seven-point home favorite. Tony Mitchell had 20 points and nine rebounds in the losing effort. For the year, Mitchell is averaging 15.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

Dayton (5-3 SU, 3-4 ATS) is hoping to avoid a third consecutive loss. Archie Miller’s team has taken woodshed treatment its last two times out, losing 84-55 at home to Buffalo and 75-58 at Murray St. The Flyers also lost at Miami (OH.) but they collected wins over Wake Forest, Fairfield and Minnesota in Orlando over the Thanksgiving holidays.

The ‘over’ is 5-2 overall for the Flyers, cashing in their last three games. Meanwhile, ‘Bama has seen the ‘under’ go 3-2 overall.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

–Florida is notorious for being a good free-throw shooting team during Donovan’s incredible tenure in Gainesville. However, the Gators currently rank 284th in the nation at the charity stripe with a mediocre 62.1 percentage.

–UCLA’s Ben Howland suspended Reeves Nelson for a second time this year on Tuesday, releasing a statement that said, “This continues a trend of very disappointing behavior by Reeves. I personally have worked hard with him to illustrate the importance of the code of conduct for our student-athletes, as well as the ramifications for violating it. I am disappointed that he has continued to fall short of my expectations.” Nelson was the Bruins’ leading returning scorer and rebounder who was an All Pac-10 selection last year.

–In last night’s doubleheader at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Marquette won a 79-77 thriller over Washington and Missouri cruised to an 81-71 victory over Villanova. The Huskies covered the spread in their loss, while the Tigers cashed tickets as eight-point favorites in the win over ‘Nova.

–Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports sent out this tweet from MSG last night: Watched Bob Knight give Missouri athletic director Mike Alden The Heisman in the bowels of Madison Square Garden after the game.

–Xavier will go on the road tonight and take on Butler as a 5 1/2-point favorite. This game will feature a great matchup when the Bulldogs’ Ronald Nored, the nation’s premier on-the-ball defender, checks Tu Holloway, perhaps the country’s best point guard (although I’ve backed off that notion since his horrendous NCAA Tourney showing in last year’s loss to Marquette). The total is in the 123-124 range.

–Iona leads the nation in scoring with a 92.0 PPG average. The Gaels, who don’t have anyone overly attractive left on their non-conference schedule (with exception of BracketBuster Weekend), have the country’s leading assist man in Scott Machado, who dishes out 11.4 dimes per game. Machado also averages 15.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest.

–I like two games tonight — Vandy -1.5 at Davidson and Princeton +8 at Rutgers.

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