Thursday’s Prime-Time Tips

Published on Wednesday, 3/20/13, at 6:13 p.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

**North Carolina A&T vs. Louisville**

–Louisville (29-5 straight up, 20-14 against the spread) and its fans will revel in taking over Rupp Arena this weekend, especially since the host school in Lexington saw its season end with an embarrassing loss at Robert Morris in the NIT. The Cardinals are the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament although the Midwest region looks like the toughest with power programs and Hall of Fame coaches (Duke and Michigan St.), not to mention dangerous and athletic teams like Memphis and Missouri.

–Most books have made U of L the +450 ‘chalk’ to win its first national championship since 1986. The Cardinals are the even-money favorites to win the Midwest region.

–Most shops have installed Louisville as a 26-point favorite with the total in the 123-124 range. 5Dimes has issued the Aggies with 75/1 odds to win outright (risk $100 to win $7,500).

–Louisville owns a 13-7 spread record in 20 games as a double-digit favorite.

–Rick Pitino’s team rolled through the Big East Tournament with wins over Villanova (74-55), Notre Dame (69-57) and Syracuse (78-61). Trailing the Orange 35-22 at halftime of the finals, U of L poured it on in the second half to capture the victory as a 5.5-point ‘chalk.’ Montrezl Harrell enjoyed a monster game from off the bench, scoring 20 points and grabbing seven rebounds in 24 minutes of playing time. Peyton Siva added 11 points, eight assists and four steals.

–The Cardinals are led by junior guard Russ Smith, who averages 17.9 points per game. Siva dishes out a team-high 5.9 assists per contest, while Gorgui Dieng averages a double-double (10.3 PPG, 10.1 RPG) and provides a defensive presence in the paint.

–North Carolina A&T (20-16 SU, 7-1 ATS) advanced with Tuesday’s First Four win over Liberty by a 73-72 count as a three-point favorite in Dayton. The Aggies got a defensive stop as time expired. Jeremy Underwood exploded for a team-high 19 points, making all six of his shots from the field and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe. Bruce Beckford added 16 points and nine rebounds on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor.

–Totals have been an overall wash (3-3) for the Aggies in their six games with a total.

–Totals have also been an overall wash (14-14) for the Cardinals, but they have seen the ‘over’ hit in each of their last four games.

–Tip-off is scheduled for 6:50 p.m. Eastern on TBS.

**South Dakota St. vs. Michigan**

–This is a 4/13 matchup that will be played at The Palace of Auburn Hills (obviously favoring the fourth-seeded Wolverines). Most spots are listing Michigan (26-7 SU, 14-16-1 ATS) as an 11.5-point favorite with the total in the 138-139 range. The Jackrabbits are +550 on the money line (risk $100 to win $550).

–John Beilein’s team is mired in an abysmal 2-10 ATS slump, losing six of those games outright. Michigan dropped a 68-59 decision to Wisconsin as a two-point favorite in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals. Trey Burke had 19 points and seven assists, but he made only 8-of-22 shots and committed four turnovers. Tim Hardaway Jr. shook off a turned ankle to score 14 points and grab nine boards despite getting only nine looks from the field.

–Burke and Hardaway lead the way for the Wolverines, but they get solid contributions from a trio of freshmen in Mitch McGary (57% FGs, 5.5 RPG), Glenn Robinson III (10.6 PPG) and Nik Stauskas (45% 3’s, 87% FTs).

–Since allowing a big lead to get away in a loss at Murray St. on BracketBuster Saturday, South Dakota St. (25-9 SU, 16-13 ATS) has won four in a row while going 3-1 versus the number. Scott Nagy’s squad beat North Dakota 73-67 as a one-point underdog in the Summit League Tournament finals. Nate Wolters scored a game-high 27 points while also pulling down six rebounds, dishing out six assists and making four steals. Jordan Dykstra added 18 points and seven boards.

–Wolters is one of the nation’s most underrated players, averaging 22.7 points, 5.8 assists and 5.6 rebounds per contest. Dykstra is also a terrific player. The six-foot, eight-inch power forward can bang in the lane and step out and stroke it from 3-point land. Dykstra, who averages 12.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, drains 3’s at a 43.0 percent clip. In his freshman and sophomore seasons, Dykstra made 51.5 and 47.3 percent of his treys, respectively.

–Michigan is 8-7-1 ATS in 16 games as a double-digit favorite.

–South Dakota St. owns a 7-3 spread record as an underdog this year, going 1-1 ATS as a double-digit ‘dog. The Jackrabbits won outright (70-65) at New Mexico as 15-point ‘dogs with Wolters producing 28 points, seven assists and five rebounds. They got drilled 88-64 at Minnesota but Wolters did not play due to a sprained ankle.

–The ‘over’ is 19-12 overall for Michigan.

–The ‘over’ is 10-9-1 overall for the Jackrabbits.

–CBS will have the telecast at 7:15 p.m. Eastern.

**Belmont vs. Arizona**

–This 6/11 matchup will be played in Salt Lake City. Most books are listing Arizona (25-7 SU, 14-16 ATS) as a 4.5-point favorite with a total of 140. Gamblers can take the Bruins to win outright for a +170 return (risk $100 to win $170).

–Arizona beat Colorado 79-69 as a 4.5-point favorite in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals behind a team-high 18 points from Nick Johnson. In the semifinals, the Wildcats allowed a double-digit second-half advantage to get away in a 66-64 loss to UCLA.

–Belmont (26-6 SU, 14-15 ATS) played from behind nearly the entire game but still found a way to capture a 70-68 overtime win over Murray St. in the Ohio Valley Tournament finals. However, the Racers took the cash as 7.5-point underdogs. Kerron Johnson was the hero, hitting a jumper to force OT at the end of regulation before scoring the game-winner with 1.2 seconds remaining in the extra session. J.J. Mann produced a team-high 18 points and seven rebounds for the winners.

–Belmont has been an underdog three times this season, going 1-2 both SU and ATS. The Bruins won 70-62 at Stanford as seven-point ‘dogs, but they lost 75-65 at VCU and 89-60 at Kansas.

–Rick Byrd’s squad had its best wins over South Dakota St. (76-49), Middle Tennessee (64-49) and Ohio (81-62).

–Sean Miller’s team is mired in a 7-14 ATS slide in its last 21 games. The Wildcats have lost outright in five of their last 10 games after getting off to a 20-2 start.

–Arizona has been a single-digit favorite 15 times this year, posting a 6-9 spread record.

–The ‘under’ is 17-9-1 overall for Arizona.

–Although the ‘under’ has connected in four of its last six games, the ‘over’ is 13-9 overall for Belmont.

–Tip-off is scheduled for 7:20 p.m. Eastern on TNT.

**California vs. UNLV**

–This 5/12 matchup in San Jose is a rematch of a regular-season game played in Berkley, where UNLV captured a 76-75 win on Quintrell Thomas’s tip-in with 1.2 seconds remaining. However, California took the cash as a 1.5-point home underdog, while the 151 combined points slithered ‘over’ the 147-point total. Anthony Bennett led the way for the Runnin’ Rebels with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Allen Crabbe finished with a team-high 18 points for the Golden Bears.

–Most books are listing UNLV (25-9 SU, 13-20 ATS) as a three-point favorite with a total of 131. Bettors can take Cal to win outright for a +135 payout (risk $100 to win $135).

–California (20-11 SU, 12-16-1 ATS) carried a seven-game winning streak into its regular-season finale at home against arch-rival Stanford. But the Cardinal took it to the Bears in an 83-70 victory as a 5.5-point road underdog. Then at the Pac-12 Tournament, Mike Montgomery’s squad suffered a 79-69 loss to Utah in overtime as an eight-point ‘chalk.’ Justin Cobbs scored a game-high 26 points in the losing effort.

–UNLV has won seven of its last nine games, beating Air Force and Colorado St. by double-digit margins to make the Mountain West Conference Tournament finals on its home floor at the Thomas & Mack Center. But New Mexico won the MWC Tourney by collecting a 63-56 win as a 2.5-point underdog. Bryce Dejean-Jones had a team-high 19 points for the Rebels, while Bennett finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

–Bennett, the 6’8” 240-pound freshman, averages team-highs in scoring (16.1 PPG), rebounding (8.1 RPG) and field-goal percentage (53.8%).

–Crabbe and Cobbs are Cal’s leading scorers, averaging 18.7 and 15.5 PPG, respectively.

–California has been an underdog nine times this season, compiling a 3-6 record both SU and ATS.

–UNLV has been a single-digit favorite 14 times this year, going 6-8 ATS.

–Since 2003, UNLV has won four of five head-to-head meetings against Cal both SU and ATS.

–The ‘under’ is 16-9 overall for California.

–The ‘under’ is on a 7-2 run for the Rebels to improve to 17-9 overall.

–Tip-off is slated for 7:25 p.m. Eastern on TruTV.

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