Arizona laying 4.5 at California, Syracuse Favored by 2.5 vs. Duke

Saturday’s lineup of college hoops is highlighted by two great matchups featuring the top two ranked teams in the country. In one, No. 2 ranked Syracuse hosts No. 6 ranked Duke, while in the other No. 1 ranked Arizona visits a tough California team.

Syracuse is 20-0 SU and 13-3 ATS this season and has gone 6-0 against the number in his past six games. They will face a Duke team that is 17-4 SU and 13-8 ATS. Duke also has cashed tickets as they have covered in their past 4 games during a 5-0 SU run.

Duke is shooting over 41% from 3-point territory and has 194 treys on the season, which is sixth in the nation. The Blue Devils love an up-tempo game and average over 81 points per game.

Duke has not played since Monday, giving them ample opportunity to practice against the formidable zone defense of Syracuse.

The Orange is holding opponents to just 58 points a game on 41 % shooting overall.

The defense for Duke is no slouch, over the past five games, the defense has held its opponents to 42% shooting while forcing over 13 turnovers each game.

Jim Boeheim the Syracuse head coach said that Duke is currently playing as good as or better than any other ACC team.

The UNDER has cashed in 7 of the past 8 Syracuse games. The Orange has gone 6-1-1 over its past eight games at home.

Duke has a record of 7-3 against the number over its past 10 games versus teams with a winning percentage higher than .600.

Bovada currently has Syracuse listed as the favorite by 2.5 points.

Pick: Duke 72-69

The Arizona Wildcats are tops in the nation at 21-0 SU and 13-7 ATS. They have gone 0-3 ATS over their past three games. Tonight they face a tough California team that is 14-7 SU and 10-10 against the number.

Sportsbooks like topbet, betonline and sportsbook.com have Arizona favored by 4.5 points.

Arizona has struggled against the Golden Bears of California. Last season Arizona lost at home 77-69 to California and is 1-3-1 ATS over the past five games versus California.

On Wednesday, Arizona showed why it is number one in the nation holding the Stanford Cardinal to just a single field goal in its last 16 possession to earn a big 60-57 victory.

Arizona however was just 18 of 29 from the free throw line. Stanford also outrebounded the Wildcats.

While Arizona has played well of late, Cal is 0-3 SU as well as 0-3 ATS over its past three games including a loss at home 89-78 in overtime to Arizona State. Cal is now 10-1 SU at home this season.

The Wildcats are 5-1 ATS over their last six games on the road and 14-5 against the number in their past 19 games against a team with a winning percentage above .500.

Cal has a record of 11-5 ATS over its past 16 games versus teams that have a winning percentage higher than .600.

The underdog has a record of 3-0-1 ATS over the past four games between the two schools.

Pick: Arizona 73-65

Pac-12 North Win Totals for 2013

Mariota
Mariota
Mariota and the Ducks will be looking to take the Pac-12 title back from Stanford in 2013.

The Pac-12 once again enters the college football season with hopes of being the conference that finally puts an end to the reign of dominance of the SEC when it comes to national championships. Today I’m focusing on the Pac-12 North which should once again come down to a meeting between Stanford and Oregon in Palo Alto this fall.

California 4 (EVEN over/-130 under) – The Golden Bears have some rebuilding to do and they hope Sonny Dykes is the man to do it. Dykes comes in from Louisiana Tech to replace Jeff Tedford. While the wide-open offense will be exciting, it may need another season before any results come. Cal has all three non-conference games at home, but two of three are against Northwestern and Ohio State who are both contenders for the Big Ten title. They must also play at Oregon, at Stanford, at UCLA and at USC. Take the under and run.

Oregon 10.5 (-250 over/+170 under) – The Ducks rare loss at home last year was their only one and cost them a trip to the national championship game. Chip Kelly is in the NFL but there are lots of talented guys still on this roster. The Ducks have Nicholls State and rebuilding Tennessee at home and travel to Virginia in non-conference play which should be three wins. They get UCLA and Oregon State at home but have road games at Stanford and at Arizona. I like the over for the Ducks.

Riley
Could Riley's Beavers pull off a Pac-12 North title?

Oregon State 8.5 (-115 over/-115 under) – The Beavers were an impressive 9-4 last year and look to improve upon that mark. The non-conference should provide three wins with only at San Diego State being a possible road block. OSU gets Stanford, USC and Washington at home and must travel to rival Oregon for the finale. The Beavers could very well start off 7-0 before the slate gets tough. I’m taking the Beavers for the over this year.

Stanford 9.5 (-105 over/-115 under) – Not a bad first season for Head Coach David Shaw who captured a Pac-12 title and then a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin. The Cardinal have some guys to replace, but they have a lot of talent back too especially at quarterback. The non-conference schedule features San Jose State and Notre Dame (in the season finale) at home and an away game at Army. The conference schedule has road games at USC and at Oregon State but they get Oregon, Washington and UCLA at home. I like the Cardinal to go over.

Washington 7.5 (-115 over/-115 under) – The Huskies were very up and down last year. They scored 312 points and gave up 314 to tell you just how goofy the season was. Keith Price returns for his senior season and looks to avoid another 7-6 year. He must learn to get rid of the ball quicker and not take so many sacks. The Huskies open the season hosting Boise State but then have two winnable games against Illinois and Idaho State. The conference schedule features road games at Stanford, Oregon State and UCLA. The Huskies do get Oregon and Arizona at home. Head Coach Steve Sarkisian has gone 7-6 the last three years and I see little reason that changes.

Washington State 4.5 (EVEN over/-130 under) – The Cougars and Head Coach Mike Leach look to improve on a 3-9 season a year ago but it won’t be easy. They open at Auburn where anticipation will be high with a new head coach in place. Then they travel to USC in week two. They also have road games at Oregon, Arizona and rival Washington. This was an interesting hire from the get-go with Leach and I don’t think it works. Go with the under.

Pac-12 Not Doing Itself Any Favors

The Huskies' win over Stanford has cast some serious shadows over the Pac-12's National Championship hopes.

Thursday night’s 17-13 loss to Washington has cast a cloud over not only #8 Stanford and its chances of being selected to play in the BCS National Championship Game, but also the Pac-12’s chances as a conference.

For a conference that was considered the only viable competition to the dominant SEC ahead of the season, things are looking less than clear now.

Decoding the Pac-12

Just two weeks ago, the Cardinal upset USC, denting the Trojans’ own chances of going to the Championship Game. In the process, Stanford staked a claim to be the team that would head to Miami Gardens in January. Admittedly, it was a loose claim. Stanford after all struggled to beat San Jose State in Week 1.

Ahead of Week 4, UCLA looked to be putting their names forward for consideration, but a loss to Oregon State suggested that it’s a little too early to consider the Bruins as serious contenders.

Oregon State meanwhile has gone 2-0 with two wins over ranked opposition. Not a bad start. But can the Beavers keep that pace up? Probably not, although oddsmakers have slashed odds of a BCS championship from 500/1 in the preseason to 75/1 this week.

So that leaves Oregon. Having been considered second fiddle to USC during all of the preseason, the Ducks are now considered the Pac-12’s best chance for a national title. Preseason odds of 10/1 have steadily shortened to 13/2 heading into this week’s action.

The Ducks have looked solid so far this season, averaging close to 53 points per game. But critics could argue that Oregon has yet to play anybody of merit. Sure, they defeated Arizona 49-0 last week, but Arizona’s inclusion on the AP poll was less than solidified. Had the likes of Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska played better this season, it’s hard to imagine the Wildcats appearing on that list.

For Oregon, the big challenge comes on November 3, with a visit to USC. That is of course if the Ducks can get by Washington next week. A loss to the Cougars would effectively write off National Championship hopes this year.

Week 5 Pac-12 Schedule

After Washington’s upset win over Stanford, here’s what else is on tap this Saturday. Both USC and Utah are on a bye week.

Arizona State (3-1, 0-1 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ California (1-3, 1-1 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

4:00 PM ET / 1:00 PM PT

The Sun Devils will be looking to continue their strong start to the season with a win over a struggling Golden Bears team. Arizona State currently leads the South division by way of USC’s loss to Stanford and Arizona’s loss to Oregon. Still, the team opened as underdogs in this one, before odds flipped in their favor. The Sun Devils are currently narrow favorites (-1) with the over/under set at 58. There’s certainly money to be made on this game.

UCLA (3-1, 1-0 road, 0-1 Pac-12) @ Colorado (1-3, 0-2 home, 1-0 Pac-12)

6:00 PM ET / 3:00 PM PT

A loss to Oregon State last week saw UCLA’s two week tenure in the AP Polls come to an end. A win against Colorado this week could, but probably won’t, see the Bruins return to the rankings. UCLA enters the game as favorites (-21) and are expected to make easy work of a Colorado team that has looked poor this season. Only a 35-34 win over Washington State last week prevented the Buffaloes from starting the season 0-4. The over/under is 60, with UCLA expecting to accumulate most of those points.

#18 Oregon State (2-0, 1-0 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ Arizona (3-1, 3-0 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

10:00 PM ET / 7:00 PM PT

Arizona enjoyed two weeks in the AP Poll before losing big to Oregon last week. Oregon State may have only played two, but the Beavers have knocked off two ranked teams (Wisconsin, UCLA) and is sitting pretty heading into this game.

Oddsmakers have the Wildcats as favorites (-3) heading into this one, so they’ve yet to be bowled over by the Beavers’ performances. This games figures to be a close one. The over/under is 61. A win for Arizona will see the Wildcats flirting with the AP poll once again. A win for Oregon State will cement the team’s AP approved credentials.

#2 Oregon (4-0, 0-0 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ Washington State (2-2, 1-1 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

10:30 PM ET / 7:30 PM PT

Whether Oregon remains the Pac-12’s last remaining hope against the dominance of the SEC remains to be seen. This week the Ducks head out on the road for the first time. Despite the travel north, Oregon are big favorites (-32) over the Cougars. The over/under is 74. Oddsmakers are expecting this to be a high-scoring one-sided affair, just like Oregon’s previous four.