Published on Feb. 2 at 11:22 a.m. Eastern.
By Brian Edwards
**South Carolina at Florida**
–Most betting shops opened Florida (17-4 straight up, 9-7 against the spread) as a 15-point favorite with a total of 136 ½. As of late this morning, most spots had the Gators as 14 1/2-point favorites with a total of 134 1/2. The Las Vegas Hilton has the Gamecocks available at 10/1 odds to win outright (risk $100 to win $1,000).
–Billy Donovan’s club has won five in a row since losing at Tennessee, improving to 5-1 in SEC play. The Gators dropped Mississippi St. by a 69-57 count as 8 ½-point home favorites this past Saturday afternoon at the O-Dome. Bradley Beal scored a game-high 19 points to lead four Florida players in double figures. Erik Murphy scored 14 points and Patric Young finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Young had several crown-igniting dunks and limited MSU’s Arnett Moultrie to just 12 points.
–UF is unbeaten in 13 home games, compiling a 5-4 spread record in the nine lined contests. The Gators have been double-digit home favorites seven times, going 3-4 versus the number.
–South Carolina (9-11 SU, 7-8 ATS) got its first SEC win last week over Alabama, but the Gamecocks are still in the conference cellar with a 1-5 record in league play. This has fourth-year head coach Darrin Horn on a serious hot seat.
–USC is coming off a 66-62 loss at Ole Miss as a five-point underdog. Malik Cooke scored 17 points in the losing effort, while Brenton Williams chipped in with 15 points.
–When these SEC East rivals met in Columbia on Jan 14, Florida overcame a one-point halftime deficit by draining 12-of-24 attempts from 3-point range en route to a 79-65 win as a seven-point road ‘chalk.’ Kenny Boynton knocked down four of those treys and finished with a team-high 15 points. Bruce Ellington had a game-high 17 points for the ‘Cocks.
–The ‘over’ is 11-5 overall for UF, 8-2 in its home games. However, the ‘under’ has cashed at a 4-2 clip in the Gators’ last six outings.
–The ‘under’ is 8-7 overall for South Carolina, but the ‘over’ is 4-3 in its road games.
The ‘over’ has hit in four straight head-to-head meetings between these schools.
–Tip-off is slated for 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.
**Gonzaga at Brigham Young**
–Most books opened BYU (18-6 SU, 10-10 ATS) as a three-point favorite with a total of 147 ½. As of late this morning, the opening numbers really hadn’t budged at all with the exception of a few books moving the Cougars to 3 1/2. Gamblers can take Gonzaga on the money line for a plus-150 return (risk $100 to win $150).
–Dave Rose’s team needs this victory badly to bolster its hopes of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, especially after suffering an embarrassing 80-66 home loss to Saint Mary’s this past Saturday night as a 2 ½-point favorite. Noah Hartsock and Matt Carlino scored 15 points apiece and Brandon Davies finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.
–Gonzaga (17-3 SU, 9-11 ATS) has won four consecutive games since getting trounced at Saint Mary’s, but the Bulldogs are mired in a 0-5 ATS slide. They are coming off a 74-62 win at Portland as 15-point road favorites. Gary Bell Jr. scored a team-high 18 points, while Elias Harris had a double-double with 17 points and 10 boards.
–Mark Few’s squad has been an underdog three times, going 1-2 both SU and ATS. The ‘Zags lost to Illinois and Saint Mary’s, but they won outright at Xavier.
–BYU is 10-3 SU and 5-4 ATS at home.
–The ‘under’ is 14-5-1 overall for Gonzaga, cashing in eight of its last nine games. Meanwhile, the ‘under’ is 12-8 overall for BYU although the ‘over’ is 5-4 in its home outings.
–When these teams met in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year, Jimmer Fredette led BYU to an easy 89-67 win to advance to the Sweet 16. The Cougars won in blowout fashion as one-point favorites.
–BYU’s Stephen Rogers, who averages 7.2 points per game, is ‘doubtful’ tonight after injuring his knee in Saturday’s loss to Saint Mary’s.
–ESPN2 will have the telecast at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
—Best BracketBuster Matchups:
1-Saint Mary’s at Murray St.
2-Long Beach St. at Creighton
3-Wichita St. at Davidson
4-Nevada at Iona
5-No. Iowa at VCU
–Manhattan and Middle Tennessee are now sporting the nation’s best ATS records with 16-5 ATS marks. The Blue Raiders took the cash in a seven-point loss at Vandy this past Saturday as nine-point ‘dogs.
–Take Kentucky off of the fade list. The ‘Cats have bounced back from an atrocious 0-13-1 ATS slump to cover the number in four of their last five games.
–I went 3-0 in college hoops last night, cashing winners with Michigan, So. Miss and Maryland. The Golden Eagles finally beat Memphis for the first time since 2004 to improve to 20-3 on the season. You can check out my picks for tonight on VegasInsider.com if you wish.
–Syracuse’s Fab Melo will return to the lineup Saturday versus St. John’s. Melo has sat out the last three games due to academic issues. Melo averages 7.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.