Friday Sweet 16 Games

College hoops fans and bettors were treated to four incredible Sweet 16 games yesterday and the tournament will provide four more for them today, completing the Elite Eight. Which four teams will advance to play this weekend and which four will fall? Let’s take a look at the match-ups and figure it out.

(12) Oregon Ducks +10.5 at (1) Louisville Cardinals -10.5

The Cardinals have proved why they were named the tournament favorite before all this madness began and they’ll have a significant edge again today in their Sweet 16 match-up against the Ducks.

Oregon has also impressed by winning each of its first two games – which were technically upsets – by double digits, but it hasn’t encountered a team with the type of athleticism that Louisville possesses.

Based on what we’ve seen from each squad in the tourney so far, Oregon should be able to compete, but as a team that turns the ball over too frequently, the Ducks will likely struggle against the ball-hawking Cardinals, who lead the nation in turnovers forced.

The Ducks may fall behind early and if they do, look for the Cardinals to continue to apply the pressure and stretch the lead. Look for Louisville to cover -10.5 in this one.

(4) Michigan Wolverines +2 at (1) Kansas Jayhawks -2

Michigan has passed the eye test with flying colors through its first two games, while the Jayhawks have certainly not looked like a No. 1 seed.

Still, the Jayhawks bring a talented, experienced and more than capable team of winning a title into this match-up with the streaky Wolverines.

Both teams have strong inside games, although the Wolverines found theirs most recently, and both teams also can hit outside shots. Kansas was thought to have the edge defensively, but as we’ve seen during the tournament, Michigan can turn the screws tight on the defensive side of the ball as well.

This game should come down to the wire, but stick with the hotter team and take Michigan to cover +2 in the win.

(3) Michigan State Spartans+2 at (2) Duke Blue Devils -2

Though the match-up above is expected to be extremely close, the hardcourt war between Michigan State and Duke will undoubtedly be the most highly contested game of the day.

Both teams play the inside-out game extremely well, so the game will likely come down to who outshoots the other and who has the least unforced turnovers. Duke has looked a little bit sloppier in its first two games, but it has shot the ball fairly well, while Michigan State has been effective in all areas of the game.

Both teams are very experienced and well-coached, so there likely won’t be any surprises or tricks up the sleeves. Look for Michigan State to barley edge out Duke in what will likely be the closest game of the day. This one might even go to overtime, but take the Spartans to cover +2.

(15) Florida Gulf Coast Eagles +14 at (3) Florida Gators -14

The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles have enjoyed an incredible run and we’ve enjoyed watching them dance their way through the first three rounds of the tournament, but we have to be realistic about their chances in this match-up against the Florida Gators.

With one of the best defenses in the country and an athletic, balanced offensive attack, the Gators will undoubtedly have the upper hand today against the Eagles. Still, based on what we’ve seen from FGCU so far during the tournament, we can reasonably expect it will come out swinging and give its new in-state rivals a good game.

Look for Florida to earn the win, but for Florida Gulf Coast to cover +14 in defeat.

 

This Week’s Unmissable College Hoops

Having suffered a first conference loss on Saturday, Miami faces a tough trip to Duke this coming weekend.

This season of college basketball continues to throw surprises at us from every direction. Last weekend alone we were railroaded by Miami’s first conference defeat and Georgetown’s Big East-topping win over Syracuse.

Monday night saw both #6 Kansas and #13 Kansas State take care of business in the Big 12, while #22 Marquette unexpectedly handed #12 Syracuse a second consecutive loss.

Here at Casino Review, we’ve scoured the remainder of this week’s schedule to pick out 10 of the most unmissable games out there. Our findings? This Saturday really is going to be a super Saturday.

Read on to find out which games you need to be following.

#7 Georgetown @ Connecticut (Wed)

If #7 Georgetown (21-4, 11-3 Big East) is to hold on to the Big East top spot it snatched this past weekend, John Thompson III’s side will need to handle a tough Connecticut (19-7, 9-5 Big East) team. Marquette served a notice of intent by defeating Syracuse on Monday night, so the Hoyas have to win to stay atop the conference.

San Diego State @ #14 New Mexico (Wed)

Having handed Colorado State a loss last weekend, #14 New Mexico (23-4, 10-2 MWC) controls its own destiny. Thanks to a tiebreaker advantage over the Rams, the Lobos need just two wins from four games to lock-up the Mountain West regular season title, and with MWC bottom-feeders Wyoming and Nevada on the schedule, that looks a dead cert. A win over San Diego State (20-7, 8-5 MWC) on Wednesday might not be essential, but it would go a long way in the eyes of the selection committee.

#2 Gonzaga @ Brigham Young (Thu)

Having leapt into second place on the AP poll, Gonzaga (27-2, 14-0 WCC) has just two games left to impress. A trip to Brigham Young (20-9, 9-5 WCC) represents the toughest remaining game on the schedule for the side from Spokane. The Cougars would like nothing more than to avenge an 83-63 loss on Jan. 24, putting a big dent in the Zags’ season in the process.

#5 Miami (FL) @ #3 Duke (Sat)

Undoubtedly the biggest game of the week, and one nobody is going to want to miss, takes place in Durham on Saturday. Having succumbed to a first conference loss of the season this past weekend, all eyes will be on #5 Miami (22-4, 13-1 ACC) and whether or not the side can rebound. The Hurricanes will get a first chance to do at home to Virginia Tech on Wednesday, before a trip to #3 Duke (24-3, 11-3 ACC) on Saturday. The Blue Devils will be looking to make amends for a 90-63 loss in Coral Gables, and with an unbeaten home record, could well make this year’s ACC race even more interesting.

#10 Louisville @ #12 Syracuse (Sat)

Back-to-back losses for #12 Syracuse (22-6, 10-5 Big East) all of a sudden has the Orange looking vulnerable. Louisville (22-5, 10-4 Big East) meanwhile is slowly ascending the Big East standings thanks to a favorable schedule. That schedule takes a turn for the wicked this weekend, beginning with this trip to the Carrier Dome and followed by home games against Cincinnati and Notre Dame. Winning on Saturday is essential for both schools.

#21 Notre Dame @ #22 Marquette (Sat)

Thanks to its streaky record this season, #21 Notre Dame (22-6, 10-5 Big East) needs wins to impress as well as climb the Big East ladder. The Irish has fared well of late but #22 Marquette (20-7, 11-4 Big East) has proved a tricky opponent. Whichever side loses will be out of the regular season picture and the road to a Big East title will be that much tougher.

Alabama @ #8 Florida (Sat)

#8 Florida (22-4, 12-2 SEC) has been the class of the SEC this season but losses to Arkansas and Missouri means the conference is still there to be lost. After traveling to Tennessee on Tuesday, the Gators will host Alabama (18-9, 10-4 SEC) on Saturday. The Crimson Tide is currently two games back of Florida (and tied with Kentucky) so a win this weekend would be huge. In all likelihood, the regular season title will go to Florida, but with a trip to Kentucky still on the schedule, the Gators can’t afford to lose.

#11 Arizona @ UCLA (Sat)

A win for UCLA (20-7, 10-4 Pac-12) on Wednesday night against Arizona State would see the Bruins enter this game with an identical record to Arizona (23-4, 11-4 Pac-12). That record could be – depending on Oregon’s result against Oregon State on Friday – enough to top the Pac-12. Add to that the fact that the Bruins defeated the Wildcats 84-73 on Jan. 24 and you have the recipe for a game Arizona must not lose. If the Wildcats do drop this one, it’ll be tough to win the regular season title.

#20 Butler @ Virginia Commonwealth (Sat)

Losing to Saint Louis for a second time this season this past Friday was a huge blow for #20 Butler (22-6, 9-4 A10). Now the Bulldogs face a Virginia Commonwealth (22-6, 10-3 A10) side that, along with the Billikens, sits above them in the Atlantic 10 standings. A Butler loss on Saturday would be fatal.

#9 Michigan State @ #4 Michigan (Sun)

We have to wait until Sunday to enjoy the second biggest game of the week, when Michigan State (22-6, 11-4 Big Ten) travels to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan (23-4, 10-4 Big Ten). Back-to-back losses to Indiana and Ohio State last week means the Spartans are only one-half game ahead of their bitter rivals, while Michigan has won two straight since falling to Michigan State. Michigan will need to avoid a slip-up against Penn State on Wednesday before taking to the court on Sunday. The Wolverines are unbeaten at home, which adds another dimension to this one. It’s not quite winner takes all, but it’s not far off.

 

Worth Keeping an Eye On

If we’ve learned nothing else this season, we’ve certainly learned that nothing can be taken for granted in college basketball. Here’s a choice selection of games that could prove interesting this week. Whilst we expect the ranked sides to come out of these games with the ‘W’, that upset bug could strike at any time.

  • #1 Indiana @ Minnesota (Tue)
  • #19 Memphis @ Xavier (Tue)
  • Wichita State @ Creighton (Sat)
  • #6 Kansas @ West Virginia (Sat)
  • #13 Kansas State @ Baylor (Sat)
  • #19 Memphis @ UCF (Sat)

Spartans Visit Buckeyes in Big Ten Showdown

Keith Appling and the Michigan State Spartans will look to rebound from a midweek loss to Indiana with a trip to Ohio State on Sunday afternoon.

#4 Michigan State travels to Columbus on Sunday to take on #18 Ohio State in a must win game for both schools. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 PM ET from Value City Arena.

Michigan State’s 72-68 loss at home to #1 Indiana on Tuesday leaves the Spartans one game back of the Hoosiers at the top of the Big Ten standings. With a season sweep of the East Lansing side, Indiana holds a decisive tie-breaker.

A win over Minnesota on Wednesday put an end to a streak of three losses in four games for Ohio State, but that downturn now has the Buckeyes looking up at four other Big Ten schools. In danger of being swallowed into the mid-level tournament berths, Ohio State needs to put together some wins to improve its standing.

The two schools met on Jan. 19 at Breslin Center in East Lansing, with the Spartans scoring a 59-56 win.

Last season, the two sides split a pair of regular season games, each winning on the other’s home court. Michigan State earned the last laugh though, defeating Ohio State 68-64 in the Big Ten championship game.

Since 1979-80, Michigan State leads the head-to-head series 37-26.

Ohio State (14-2 home) enters the game favored over Michigan State (6-3 road). The Buckeyes however have fared poorly against teams ranked in the AP top 25, going 1-7 in such games. The school’s only win against a ranked opponent came on Jan. 13, against the Spartans’ bitter rival, Michigan. Michigan State has gone 4-4 against ranked opponents this season.

The spread opened at 4½ points. Neither school has been particularly good at covering the spread this season, which will make things that much more awkward for bettors trying to separate these sides.

Ohio State is 13-11-0 ATS all told this season, with a 9-6-0 ATS record at Value City Arena and a 11-9-0 ATS record when entering  the game as the favorite.

Michigan State is 11-12-1 ATS in all games this season, with a 5-5-1 ATS record on the road and a 4-2-0 ATS record as the underdog.

The total opened at 129. Like the spread, bettors will have a tough time picking over or under in this one. Ohio State (10-12-1) favors the under while Michigan State (12-11-0) favors the over. Neither is particularly decisive though.

After Sunday’s game at Ohio State, Michigan State will have three games left on the schedule: a trip to Michigan (Mar. 3) followed by home games against Wisconsin (Mar. 7) and Northwestern (Mar. 10).

Meanwhile, Indiana still has four games on the schedule. The Hoosiers will face Minnesota (Feb. 26) and Michigan (Mar. 10) on the road, and Iowa (Mar. 2) and Ohio State (Mar. 5) at home.

It’ll be a tall task for the Spartans to overtake the Hoosiers to finish with the top berth heading into the Big Ten tournament, but it’s not yet impossible. One thing is for sure; the Spartans need to win in Columbus on Sunday afternoon.

 

In Brief…

The Spartans’ rivals, #7 Michigan (22-4, 9-4 Big Ten) will also look to improve its position in the Big Ten standings. The Wolverines will face a resurgent Illinois (20-8, 7-7 Big Ten) side that has won five straight games, ending a dreadful streak of six losses in seven games. The hometown Wolverines are favorites (-11) with the total at 138.

With #2 Miami (FL) suffering its first conference loss of the season on Saturday, #6 Duke (23-3, 10-3 ACC) can sneak one game closer to the Hurricanes at the top of the ACC standings with a win over lowly Boston College (12-14, 4-9 ACC) on Sunday afternoon. The Blue Devils bounced back from last weekend’s loss to Maryland with a 88-56 win over Virginia Tech on Thursday and will enter this one as the favorite (-16½).

With a win over #8 Syracuse on Saturday and #17 Marquette slipping up against Villanova, #11 Georgetown is now in sole possession of the Big East lead. At two games back, #25 Notre Dame (21-6, 9-5 Big East) will look to make up some ground as the Irish hosts Cincinnati (19-8, 7-7 Big East), losers of four of the last five. The Irish is a one-point favorite in this one, with the total at 124.

#20 Pittsburgh (20-7, 8-6 Big East) will also be looking to make up ground in the conference. With two losses in a row, the Panthers are in danger of losing their AP status, so a win over St. John’s (16-10, 8-6 Big East) is essential at lunchtime on Sunday. Pittsburgh is the favorite (-7) with the total at 124½.

 

Saturday’s AP Top 25 Results

#2 Miami (FL) 65, Wake Forest 80

San Diego 50, #3 Gonzaga 81

Arkansas 54, #5 Florida 71

#11 Georgetown 57, #8 Syracuse 46

TCU 48, #9 Kansas 74

Seton Hall 61, #10 Louisville 79

Washington State 56, #12 Arizona 73

#13 Kansas State 81, Texas 69

#14 Oklahoma State 73, West Virginia 57

#16 New Mexico 91, #22 Colorado State 82

#17 Marquette 56, Villanova 60

Southern Miss 73, #21 Memphis 89

Stanford 66, #23 Oregon 77

#24 Virginia Commonwealth 75, Xavier 71

 

Sunday’s AP Top 25 Schedule

#4 Michigan State @ #18 Ohio State

Boston [email protected] #6 Duke

Illinois @ #7 Michigan

#20 Pittsburgh @ St. John’s

Cincinnati @ #25 Notre Dame

Florida Tops Futures, Falls to Mizzou

Missouri's upset win over Florida on Tuesday night spoiled the mood for the bookmakers' favorite.

Bookmakers declared Florida favorites to win an NCAA title on Tuesday. Hours later the Gators fell to conference rivals Missouri.

Whilst Indiana held on to the top spot on the AP poll this week, it was #5 Florida that held tight to the No. 1 spot on bookmakers’ lists of NCAA tournament favorites.

Odds of the Gators winning the tournament currently stand at 5/1. That makes it two weeks in a row that Billy Donovan’s side has impressed bookmakers enough to be considered the best team in college basketball.

But as has been the case so often this season, Tuesday held one more twist in the tale. The Gators traveled to Columbia, Mo., looking to follow up an 83-52 victory over the Tigers in Gainesville, Fla., by handing the side its first home loss of the season.

Missouri had other ideas and mounted a comeback from 13 points down. With 1:15 left on the clock, senior forward Laurence Bowers hit the go-ahead shot and the Tigers never looked back. Missouri (19-7, 8-5 SEC) edged Florida (21-4, 11-2 SEC) by a final score of 63-60.

It appears that the Gators may not top the futures list for much longer.

#1 Indiana (24-3, 12-2 Big Ten) may not have topped bookmakers’ list this week, but the Hoosiers put one foot forward in its bid to secure that very spot when that list is next released, defeating conference rival #4 Michigan State (22-5, 11-3 Big Ten) 72-68 on Tuesday night.

The win was that much more impressive when you consider that the Hoosiers defeated the Spartans in East Lansing, Mich., where Tom Izzo’s side had previously been unbeaten this season.

Indiana currently has odds of 11/2 to win the NCAA tournament. Those odds are likely to fall in the wake of Tuesday night’s win, whilst the top spot in the AP poll is all but a guarantee come Monday with the Hoosiers now idle until next Tuesday.

Michigan State meanwhile saw its odds shorten from 12/1 last week to 10/1 this week. Those odds may be lengthening again after this huge loss. Sunday’s game at Ohio State now becomes very important.

Alongside Indiana, #2 Miami (22-3, 13-0 ACC) is also considered 11/2 to win the tournament. Those odds have shortened from 9/1 this time last week. The Hurricanes held off Virginia 54-50 on Tuesday night, and with a trip to Wake Forest this weekend, the side looks good to hold firm both in the AP poll and on the futures list.

After three losses in four games, #7 Michigan (22-4, 9-4 Big Ten) may have defeated Penn State on Sunday but the Nittany Lions played it close for much of the game. That wasn’t lost on bookmakers. The Wolverines saw their odds of winning the championship slip slightly, dropping from 7/1 to 15/2. With Illinois and Penn State up next, John Beilein’s side has the opportunity to impress again.

In losing to Maryland on Saturday, #6 Duke (22-3, 9-3 ACC) saw its stock drop slightly, with odds of winning the NCAA tournament falling from 17/2 to 9/1. The Blue Devils will remain a popular bet with the public, while nobody will deny that this team has the potential to go all the way, despite three losses in the ACC this year. A visit to Virginia Tech (Thurs.) and a home game against Boston College (Sun.) will give Coach K’s side a chance to bounce back.

Elsewhere on the futures list, #3 Gonzaga (25-2, 12-0 WCC) not only climbed up two places on the AP poll but also saw its tournament odds cut from 18/1 to 12/1. The Zags are one of only three teams in the futures’ top 10 that saw their odds shorten (Miami, Michigan State). With home games against Saint Clara and San Diego scheduled for this week, those odds may be coming down again next week.

The dominance of the Big Ten and Big East this season reverberates through the futures’ top 25, with both conferences having six sides listed.

In addition to Indiana, Michigan State, and Michigan, the Big Ten is represented by: #18 Ohio State (18-7, 8-5 Big Ten) at 30/1; #19 Wisconsin (18-8, 9-4 Big Ten) at 50/1; and Minnesota (18-8, 6-7 Big Ten) at 60/1.

The Big East is represented by: #10 Louisville (21-5, 9-4 Big East) at 12/1; #8 Syracuse (21-4, 9-3 Big East) at 20/1; #20 Pittsburgh (20-7, 8-6 Big East) at 40/1; Cincinnati (19-7, 7-6 Big East) at 50/1; #11 Georgetown (19-4, 9-3 Big East) at 60/1; and #17 Marquette (19-6, 10-3 Big East) at 60/1.

Marquette is one of three sides to have entered the futures’ top 25 this week. The others are #14 Oklahoma State (19-5, 9-3 Big 12) at 50/1 and #13 Kansas State (21-5, 10-3 Big 12) at 60/1.

 

Odds to Win NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

Florida 5/1

Indiana 11/2

Miami (FL) 11/2

Michigan 15/2

Duke 9/1

Michigan State 10/1

Gonzaga 12/1

Louisville 12/1

Kansas 14/1

Arizona 20/1

Syracuse 20/1

Ohio State 30/1

North Carolina State 40/1

Butler 40/1

Pittsburgh 40/1

Cincinnati 50/1

New Mexico 50/1

Oklahoma State 50/1

UCLA 50/1

VCU 50/1

Wisconsin 50/1

Georgetown 60/1

Kansas State 60/1

Marquette 60/1

Minnesota 60/1

All odds supplied by Bovada.

Tuesday College Hoops: Indiana vs. Michigan

Indiana knows better than any other team in the country, that it’s not always easy being number one. The Hoosiers have spent much of the 2012-2013 season as the No. 1 ranked team and each of their three losses have come when they’ve been top dog. Today, they will once again put that No. 1 ranking on the line against a very talented and fourth-ranked Michigan State team in East Lansing. And that’s not the only big game going on today in the college ranks. Two other top five squads will suit up for action in what should be a fun-filled Tuesday in college hoops. Check out the three biggest games of the day.

#1 Indiana Hoosiers +2 at #4 Michigan State Spartans -2

In what some of hailing as the biggest regular season game of the year – at least so far, and especially in the Big Ten – the Hoosiers will take on the Spartans in East Lansing, putting not only their No. 1 ranking at risk, but also their top standing in the conference. Michigan State enters today’s game just one game back of the Hoosiers, with a chance to claim the number one spot for themselves.

Both teams enter the ballgame with winning steaks (Hoosiers 3, Spartans 5) and the Spartans will look stay perfect at home this season (15-0). Of course, Indiana beat the Spartans just a few weeks ago on Jan.27 by a score of 75-70, but that game was in Bloomington.

Hoosiers star guard Victor Oladipo expects to play, even after he limped off the court in the win against Purdue last week. They will certainly need him, as he was integral to the win last month, scoring 21 points against Sparty.

However, the home court advantage should be huge in this game. With an undefeated record on their home floor and considering Indiana has struggled with the burden of being No. 1, Michigan State should be able to fend off a slightly banged up Indiana squad. Take the Spartans to cover -2 and shake up the Big Ten.

Virginia Cavaliers +8 at #2 Miami Hurricanes -8

If the Hoosiers do go down, Michigan State may leap up to the No. 1 spot, but a win for Miami over a very good Virginia team would give it a strong argument as well. The Hurricanes will look to extend their impressive winning streak 14 games, while hoping to stay perfect at home as well, as the Canes are 11-0 on their court this season.

Everything seemingly is pointing to the Canes to get the job done, but the Cavaliers have proved to be more than capable  in the ACC this season with wins over Florida State, N.C. State and Maryland. They come in averaging just four points fewer per game than Miami, but they also allow four fewer points per game.

Even if the Canes earn the win, this game should be close. That’s why I like Virginia to cover +8 on the road today.

#5 Florida Gators -5 at Missouri Tigers +5

The Gators also will not have things easy on the road against an 18-7 Tigers squad, especially considering Missouri is also unbeaten on their home floor this season. The Tigers are just three home wins away from perfection and they would love nothing more than to get one step closer by knocking of the fifth ranked Gators.

Florida is beating teams by more than 20 points on average this season, but the SEC has not been the strongest conference in the land this year. However, considering the Gators have already defeated the Tigers once this year – and by 31 points mind you – they should be able to at least cover five today even on the road. Take Florida to cover -5 here.

 

 

 

This Week’s Best: College Hoops Preview

Indiana travels to Michigan State on Tuesday, a battle that will decide who is tops in the Big Ten.

It’s become tradition this season for at least one of the high-placed title contenders to unexpectedly lose over the weekend. Duke was this week’s victim, so to speak. With Maryland taking an 83-81 victory, the Blue Devils will now look to bounce back, taking on Virginia Tech on Thursday.

Whilst there’s no doubting that came in Blacksburg will be a big game, it hasn’t made the Casino Review list of the top 10 games on this week’s college basketball schedule. Surprising? Not when you take a look at what lies ahead.

We’re at the point where every game becomes important, but some are that little bit more important than others. Here’s our pick of the unmissable action coming your way over the next seven days.

As publication time falls ahead of this week’s AP poll being released, the AP rankings quoted are those unveiled last Monday (Feb. 11).Expect a fair amount of change in wake of this past week’s results.

 

#21 Notre Dame @ #16 Pittsburgh (Mon)

Pittsburgh (20-6, 8-5 Big East) and Notre Dame (20-6, 8-5 Big East) both suffered tough losses this past weekend but both remain just two games in the loss column behind the Big East leading pack of Georgetown, Marquette and Syracuse. The side that comes out of this one with a win still has a shot at winning the Big East regular season. The loser will have to play very well in the Big East tournament if it’s to head to the NCAA tourney.

Virginia Commonwealth @ Saint Louis (Mon)

#11 Butler has been the talk of the Atlantic 10 this season but the Bulldogs currently trail both Virginia Commonwealth (21-5, 9-2 A10) and Saint Louis (19-5, 8-2 A10) in the conference standings. Those two sides play Monday night to decide who is really top of the pops in the A10, at least for the time being. Both sides will be playing Butler over the next fortnight (see below).

#1 Indiana @ #8 Michigan State (Tue)

It was something of a surprise that Indiana (23-3, 11-2 Big Ten) held on to the #1 spot in the AP poll last week. This week there’s no surprise about it. The Hoosiers downed Nebraska and Purdue to keep atop of the Big Ten standings. The Bloomington side isn’t alone though.

Michigan State (22-4, 11-2 Big Ten) took a share of the conference lead with wins over Michigan and Nebraska. Now the Spartans have a shot at upsetting the top team in the country. The Hoosiers scored a 75-70 win when the two sides met in Indiana, but the Spartans are unbeaten at home this season. This is looking like the Game of the Week already.

#14 Kansas @ #17 Oklahoma State (Wed)

Indiana and Michigan State might have to hold off on that Game of the Week honor though as there are some big rumblings coming from the Big 12.

Kansas (21-4, 9-3 Big 12) got back to winning ways this past week, defeating both Kansas State and Texas in Lawrence, but this revival could be short-lived. Oklahoma State (19-5, 9-3 Big 12) defeated Kansas 85-80 on Feb. 2, sending the Jayhawks spiraling to a first of three losses.

Winners of seven straight and with just one home loss this season, the Cowboys will be looking to take down Kansas again on Wednesday night. Doing so would give Oklahoma State the top spot in the Big 12, not to mention some serious kudos with the AP voters.

California @ #23 Oregon (Thu)

After wowing fans and AP voters alike at the start of the Pac-12 campaign, Oregon (21-5, 10-3 Pac-12) now finds itself having to prove itself. The Ducks have won three straight since a three-game losing streak put an end to their unbeaten conference record, but a 79-77 overtime win over last-place Washington State on Saturday was hardly convincing.

California (16-9, 8-5 Pac-12) finds itself just two games back of the Ducks. Three straight wins and five from six have seen the Golden Bears claw their way up the Pac-12 standings. That stint has included quality wins over UCLA, Arizona and Oregon. A win for California on Thursday would not only complete the season sweep but also set the cat amongst the pigeons as far as the conference standings go.

Saint Louis @ #11 Butler (Fri)

Saint Louis, along with Virginia Commonwealth, has the power to wreck the rest of the season for Butler (21-5, 8-3 A 10). The Bulldogs will need to fend off the Billikens on Friday night, before visiting the Rams on Mar. 2. Butler lost to Saint Louis on Jan. 31, so nothing short of a win will be acceptable in this one.

#19 New Mexico @ #24 Colorado State (Sat)

The top two teams in the Mountain West take to the hardwood on Saturday in what might be the conference’s best game of the season. New Mexico (22-4, 9-2 MWC) defeated Colorado State (21-4, 8-2 MWC) in Albuquerque on Jan. 23 and doing likewise this weekend will give the Lobos are decisive advantage going forward.

A Lobos win won’t come easy though. Since losing to in the desert, the Rams have gone unbeaten. The side knocked-off San Diego State and Air Force this past week, wins that have turned a four horse conference race into a two horse affair.

North Carolina State @ North Carolina (Sat)

Make no bones about it, both North Carolina State (18-7, 7-5 ACC) and North Carolina (17-8, 8-5 ACC) have been disappointing this season. The two sides should have been contending for high AP rankings at least. Instead, they both sit in the middle of the ACC pack.

Both will need to take a win from this rivalry game, or face slipping further down the list in the minds of the NCAA tournament selectors. The sides shouldn’t need any motivation to get up for this game, but there it is right there. The Wolfpack will be buoyed by a 91-83 win back on Jan. 26, while the Tar Heels will use it to fuel a revenge win.

#15 Georgetown @ #6 Syracuse (Sat)

With a win over Cincinnati on Friday, Georgetown (19-4, 9-3 Big East) reached the summit of the Big East. Syracuse (21-4, 9-3 Big East) took a share of top spot on Saturday with a win over Seton Hall. This Saturday’s game will have huge implications at the top of the Big East. Of course, with the sides facing DePaul and Providence respectively during the week, they’ll need to be on upset alert beforehand.

#8 Michigan State @ #13 Ohio State (Sun)

After Tuesday’s home game against Indiana, Michigan State will face a tough trip to Columbus. If the Spartans arrive with a win over the Hoosiers, this one will be about maintaining momentum. If Tom Izzo’s side comes up short though, it’ll need to take home a victory here to stay ahead of Wisconsin, Michigan and the Buckeyes.

Nothing comes easy in the ultra-competitive Big Ten this season, but Ohio State (18-7, 8-5 Big Ten) has had a nightmare schedule of late. Losses to Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin in a four game span has seen the Buckeyes slip down the standings, which makes Michigan State’s visit so very important. Ahead of this game, the Buckeyes host Minnesota on Wednesday.

Florida First on Futures List

Scottie Wilbekin and the Florida Gators are considered the favorite to win the NCAA tournament next month, at least for this week.

Florida is the new favorite to win the NCAA tournament in March.

The SEC side picked up home wins over Mississippi and #25 Kentucky over the last seven days which – combined with some high-profile losses elsewhere in college basketball – was enough to secure the bookmakers’ top spot.

Odds of the Gators winning the tournament stand at 5/1.

This marks the first time this season that #7 Florida (20-3, 10-1 SEC) has been considered the favorite.

Billy Donovan’s side will look to continue its strong run – which includes 12 wins in 13 games – this weekend with a trip to Auburn (9-15, 3-8 SEC) on Saturday.

#1 Indiana (22-3, 10-2 Big Ten) is right behind the Gators with odds currently standing at 11/2.

The Hoosiers rebounded from last Thursday’s shock loss to Illinois with a decisive win over then-#10 Ohio State on Sunday and then an even more decisive win over Nebraska on Wednesday night.

The Bloomington side is currently edging out #8 Michigan State (21-4, 10-2 Big Ten) in the Big Ten standings by way of a 75-70 win back on Jan. 27. The two sides meet again in East Lansing next Tuesday, right in time for next week’s futures list. The Spartans are currently considered 12/1 to win the tournament, making the side seventh on the bookmakers’ list.

Ahead of that game, the Hoosiers will host Purdue (12-13, 5-7 Big Ten) this coming Saturday while the Spartans will travel to Nebraska (12-13, 3-9 Big Ten).

Three losses in four games has #4 Michigan (21-7, 8-4 Big Ten) reeling. Despite the Wolverines coming up short against Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan State (all on the road), bookmakers aren’t about to bail on the team just yet.

Odds of Michigan winning the tournament currently stand at 7/1, third on the futures list.

The Wolverines have a good shot at bouncing back this weekend; the side welcomes Penn State (8-15, 0-11 Big Ten) – a side still in search of its first conference win – to Ann Arbor on Sunday.

Losses to North Carolina State and Miami still appear to be foremost in the bookies’ minds as far as #2 Duke (22-2, 9-2 ACC) is concerned.

The Blue Devils had won five straight following that loss to the Hurricanes when this week’s futures list was released, but odds makers list the Durham side as 17/2 to win the tournament.

Wednesday night’s win over North Carolina gives Duke some bragging rights but it will take an additional win on the road in Maryland (17-7, 5-6 ACC) to further impress the bookmakers.

The futures top five is rounded out by this season’s surprise package, #3 Miami (20-3, 11-0 ACC). Odds of the Hurricanes winning the tournament currently stand at 9/1.

Unbeaten in conference play, Miami continued its success with wins over Boston College and North Carolina last week, to advance to #3 in the AP poll and #5 on the bookies’ list. The side scored a win at Florida State on Wednesday night to further stake a claim to being the best team in college basketball. A win over Clemson (12-11, 4-7 ACC) on Sunday would go even further to impressing everybody.

Elsewhere, #25 Kentucky (17-7, 8-3 SEC) continues to slip down the list. Two weeks ago the Wildcats were considered 25/1 to win the title. Now the side from Lexington is considered 40/1, and that’s before you factor in Nerlen Noel’s season-ending injury.

North Carolina (16-8, 6-5 ACC) is another high-profile casualty. The inconsistent Tar Heels’ odds dropped to 60/1 (down from 40/1 two weeks ago) and Wednesday night’s loss to Duke isn’t about to help matter.

#14 Kansas (20-4, 8-3 Big 12) snapped a three-game losing skid on Monday with a win over instate rivals, #10 Kansas State (19-5, 8-3 Big 12). That win will have prevented the Jayhawks from slumping even further down the futures list, where the team currently resides in eighth-place at 14/1.

#11 Butler (20-5, 7-3 A 10) is a team trending upwards. At least, it was until Wednesday’s upset loss to Charlotte. Odds of the Bulldogs winning the tournament currently stand at 33/1, shortened from 50/1 two weeks ago.

#15 Georgetown (18-4, 8-3 Big East) is also trending upwards. With six straight wins – including three over opponents ranked in the AP top 25 – the Hoyas have moved into a virtual tie with #6 Syracuse (20-4, 8-3 Big East) atop the Big East. Bookmakers have slashed the team’s odds from 75/1 to 50/1. Wins over Cincinnati and DePaul this week would see those odds drop further.

 

Odds to Win NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

Florida 5/1

Indiana 11/2

Michigan 7/1

Duke 17/2

Miami (FL) 9/1

Louisville 10/1

Michigan State 12/1

Kansas 14/1

Arizona 16/1

Gonzaga 18/1

Syracuse 20/1

Ohio State 28/1

Butler 33/1

North Carolina State 35/1

Pittsburgh 35/1

Kentucky 40/1

Cincinnati 50/1

Creighton 50/1

Georgetown 50/1

Minnesota 50/1

New Mexico 50/1

UCLA 50/1

UNLV 50/1

VCU 50/1

Wisconsin 50/1

All odds supplied by Bovada.

Tuesday Betting Tips: College Hoops

Michigan State will look to remain top of the Big Ten with a win over Wisconsin on Tuesday, while Kansas looks to knock-off rivals Kansas State over in the Big 12.

If you didn’t get your fill of basketball action on Martin Luther King Day yesterday, fear not. College basketball serves up an extensive slate of games on Tuesday, including six involving teams ranked in this week’s AP Top 25.

Casino Review has filtered through these and brings you a preview of two of the biggest on the schedule, starting with the Spartans hitting the road.

 

#13 Michigan State @ Wisconsin

7:00 PM ET

How do you follow up a win over Indiana? Wisconsin (13-5, 4-1 Big Ten) answered that question with a loss to Iowa on Saturday, which may be proof enough that the Badgers aren’t quite ready to contend in a loaded Big Ten just yet.

Michigan State (16-3, 5-1 Big Ten) meanwhile is riding a five-game winning streak into Madison, Wis. That streak makes up part of an 11-1 run since the beginning of December. The Spartans now look to retain their spot at the top of the conference.

Both sides have been defensively-minded this season. Michigan State has conceded 58.4 points per game while Wisconsin has allowed just 55.8. The two sides matchup evenly in scoring and on the boards, as well as in assists and blocks.

The Spartans have the advantage in field goal percentage, shooting 46.8 percent, good enough for 39th in the nation. But Wisconsin is better from beyond the arc as well as looking after the ball. The Badgers have turned the ball over just 163 times this season, which puts the side third in the nation.

Michigan State has posted a 41-28 record over the Badgers since 1979.

Last Season: Michigan State scored a triumvirate of wins over Wisconsin, beating the Badgers twice during the regular season and then again in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.

Odds: Wisconsin is a 4½-point favorite at home, with the over/under at 123.

Take: MICHIGAN STATE – Bookmakers have taken a look at the Spartans’ 3-2 road record and considered the team unlikely to defeat the Badgers, who are 10-1 at home. Michigan State however outranks Wisconsin on enough levels to make this less clear-cut than a 4½-point spread would suggest. Take the Spartans to score the road victory and upset the spread. Take the total to go under behind both sides’ tough defense.

 

#3 Kansas @ # 11 Kansas State

8:00 PM ET

It’s the biggest game of the season so far, and perhaps the biggest the Big 12 has seen so far, so both Kansas (16-1, 4-0 Big 12) and Kansas State (15-2, 4-0 Big 12) will be eager to score a victory on Tuesday night.

The two sides have both impressed this season, with just three losses between them, and all to AP-ranked opposition. The Jayhawks dropped a very early game to Michigan State, but has won 15 straight since. The Wildcats fell to Michigan in December and Gonzaga in January, and are looking to extend an eight-game winning streak.

Kansas has owned the Wildcats in this series historically, running-up a 68-17 record.

Both sides have performed well defensively this year, with the Jayhawks giving up just 59.3 points per game, and ranking second in the nation with 136 blocks. The Wildcats have been even stingier on defense, giving up a paltry 57.3 points per game. Don’t expect this to be a shootout.

Kansas will look to take advantage of a superior record when it comes to shooting, scoring, and rebounding.

Last Season: Kansas won both meetings between the sides last season, including a 59-53 win in Manhattan.

Odds: Kansas is favored (-2½) heading into this one. The total stands at 127.

Take: KANSAS – The Jayhawks have had the Wildcats’ number of late, so take the side to remain unbeaten on the road whilst handing Kansas State its first home loss. Neither side is stellar against the spread so take Kansas (7-9-0 ATS) to edge out Kansas State (6-7-0 ATS) and the spread. Take the low total to go under, as is prevalent with both these sides.

 

AP Top 25 Schedule (Tuesday)

#3 Kansas @ #11 Kansas State

#5 Louisville @ Villanova

#13 Michigan State @ Wisconsin

Iowa @ #14 Ohio State

#18 North Carolina State @ Wake Forest

South Carolina @ #22 Missouri

Weekend College Hoops: Betting Tips

C.J. Fair and the Syracuse Orange will look to hand top-ranked Louisville its first Big East loss of the season on Saturday.

To say this is a busy weekend on the sporting calendar doesn’t even cut it. It’s beyond busy.

The NFL has reached its conference championship stage and offers up a pair of intriguing matchups on Sunday. The NHL (finally) returns on Saturday with a 13-game slate. The NBA is heating up as we approach All-Star weekend. The Australian Open is underway. UFC on Fox 7 comes live from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Saturday. And college basketball’s conference play is in full swing.

To give you a head start in the betting stakes, here’s our look at the best three games on the college basketball slate this weekend, starting with a big one in the Big East.

NOTE: Because lines have yet to be released on these games, Casino Review is holding off on letting you know who’ll cover the spread and whether the total will go over or under. We’ve given you a hint in terms of the spread though.

 

#6 Syracuse @ #1 Louisville

Saturday, 4 PM ET

Top-ranked Louisville (16-1, 4-0 Big East) will face a stern test in its first week at the top of the AP poll. #6 Syracuse (16-1, 4-0 Big East) is looking to stake a claim for the Big East crown and usurp the Cardinals on the way. A win on Saturday would be a good start.

Syracuse has one of the best offenses in the county. Ranked 16th in points scored (79.0 PPG), the Orange is terrific at rebounding the ball – a category it ranks fourth in the nation in (43.2 RPG) – which makes up for some lower-ranked, if not poor, shooting. Louisville’s defense will be in for a tough run of things.

But Louisville’s defense can handle itself. The Cardinals allow just 56.4 points per game (14th) and have registered 194 steals (4th), on the way to 16 wins.

Syracuse’s defense is no slouch either. The Orange allows just 57.8 points per game (24th), whilst recording 182 steals (7th) and 127 blocks (4th). Like Syracuse, the Louisville offense – which averages 76.9 points per game (33rd) – could be up against it on Saturday afternoon.

Louisville leads the head-to-head series 9-5.

Last Season: Syracuse took both games last season, defeating the Cardinals 58-49 at home and 52-51 on the road.

Take: SYRACUSE – Undefeated in true road games this season, the Orange will look to hand Louisville its first home loss, something it is more than capable of. These teams matchup very closely on paper, but take the Orange to ride the momentum of last season’s pair of wins.

FYI: Louisville (10-6-1 ATS) has been slightly better at covering the spread than Syracuse (8-4-1 ATS).

 

#21 Oregon @ #24 UCLA

Saturday, 4 PM ET

Oregon’s 76-74 victory over USC on Thursday night means the Ducks will go into Saturday’s game in Los Angeles with a six-game winning streak and an unbeaten record in conference play.

#24 UCLA (15-3, 5-0 Pac-12) won’t be intimidated. The Bruins are on their own 10-game winning streak and are also undefeated in Pac-12 play. That sets this game up nicely.

While plenty have been raving about #21 Oregon (15-2, 4-0 Pac-12) since the side handed Arizona its first loss of the season, there’s no denying that this team still has huge room for improvement. That starts with looking after the basketball; the Ducks have given up 247 turnovers (14.5 per game) this season. Whilst scoring points will win you games, giving up the ball will eventually catch up with you.

Expect this game to be a high-scoring affair. Oregon averages 76.4 points per game (36th) while UCLA scores 78.5 per game (21st). Both sides are efficient on the boards, and rank in the top 50 in field goal percentage. The Ducks are slightly better on the defensive end, but this could turn into a display of matador defense. However, be warned against taking the total to go over, something that has only happened in eight (out of 20) games involving these teams this season. Unless, that is, bookmakers throw you a bone with a ridiculous 115 points.

UCLA is 10-1 at home this season. That one loss came against Cal Poly on Nov. 25. Oregon is 2-1 in true road games, having lost in triple overtime to UTEP on Dec. 19.

UCLA leads the head-to-head series 48-20.

Last Season: Oregon defeated the Bruins in the only game between the sides last season, a 75-68 victory in Eugene, Ore.

Take: UCLA – The Bruins will find it tough, but take the side to make the most of home court advantage against a Ducks side that is still a little rough around the edges. Expect this to be an exciting game though.

FYI: Oregon (8-6-1 ATS) is superior to UCLA (7-10-0 ATS) when it comes to covering the spread.

 

#11 Ohio State @ #18 Michigan State

Saturday, 6 PM ET

With a win over Michigan on Sunday, Ohio State (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten) staked a claim as a serious contender, not just in the Big Ten either. To maintain these credentials, the Buckeyes will need to defeat a Michigan State (15-3, 4-1 Big Ten) side that has its own eye on the prize.

Saturday’s meeting will mark the first time the sides have met since last season’s Bit Ten Championship Game, a game in which Michigan State was victorious. Ohio State got the last laugh however, advancing to the national semifinals of the tournament.

The Buckeyes will enter the game with an advantage in scoring. The side averages 74.6 points per game opposed to Michigan State’s 70.9. The Buckeyes have also done a better job holding opponents, giving up just 57.8 points per game (23rd). The Spartans aren’t far behind though, as they allow 58.5 points per game (30th).

The Buckeyes have been much better at looking after the ball, giving up just 175 turnovers (18th), whilst the Spartans have gotten after teams, forcing 155 steals (25th). We could be in for a real catch as catch can encounter on Saturday.

Last Season: The two sides split a pair of regular season games last season, each winning on the road. More importantly, the Spartans defeated the Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship Game, by a score of 68-64.

Take: MICHIGAN STATE – The Buckeyes have struggled on the road (1-2) so far this season, while the Spartans are unbeaten at home. Unlike last season, take the home team to come out of this one alive, just.

FYI: Ohio State (9-5-0 ATS) is much better than Michigan State (5-10-0 ATS) at covering the spread.

 

This Weekend’s Top 25 Schedule

Saturday

#6 Syracuse @ #1 Louisville

#4 Kansas @ Texas

#7 Arizona @ Arizona State

#8 Gonzaga @ #13 Butler

#17 Missouri @ #10 Florida

#11 Ohio State @ #18 Michigan State

#12 Creighton @ Wichita State

#15 San Diego State @ Wyoming

Oklahoma @ #16 Kansas State

Rutgers @ #20 Notre Dame

#21 Oregon @ #24 UCLA

#22 Virginia Commonwealth @ Duquesne

#25 Marquette @ Cincinnati

Sunday

#2 Indiana @ Northwestern

Clemson @ #14 North Carolina State

Duke Tops College Hoops Futures

Mike Kryzewski's Duke side remains at the top of the NCAAB Futures list, but without forward Ryan Kelly the Blue Devils will face a tough time hanging on to that top spot.

Despite suffering an 84-76 defeat at the hands of North Carolina State on Saturday, Duke remains the bookmakers’ choice to win the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.

Currently ranked No. 3 by the Associated Press, Duke (15-1, 2-1 ACC) has been given 11/2 odds of winning the tournament, keeping the side ahead of the victorious NC State (14-3, 3-1 ACC), considered 18/1 to successfully navigate March Madness, a figure good enough for joint eighth on the NCAAB Futures.

Mike Krzyzewski’s side returns home to Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., on Thursday night to host a Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-5, 0-3 ACC) side still looking for its first ACC win of the season.

Odds makers have Indiana – ranked No. 2 in this week’s AP polls – nipping at the heels of the Blue Devils. Odds of the Hoosiers (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten) winning the tournament stand at 6/1, although Tuesday night’s home loss to Wisconsin could change a lot of opinion regarding the Bloomington side come this time next week.

Indiana is one of six Big Ten sides to feature in bookmakers’ top 25 list this week, making the conference the most represented in the list. The Big East is a close second with five sides represented.

The first of those Big East representatives is Louisville (16-1, 4-0 Big East). The Cardinals secured a No. 1 AP ranking this week following losses for Duke, Michigan, and Arizona, and are now considered third favorite to win the NCAA tournament.

Odds of Louisville winning it all currently stand at 8/1. The Cardinals host a huge game this Saturday as Syracuse (16-1, 4-0 Big East) makes the trip southwest to the ‘Ville.

The sixth-ranked Orange currently ranks behind Louisville in the Big East standings, AP polls, and NCAAB Futures, with odds of 14/1 – sixth on the list – to win the tournament. This game could have huge implications in all of those categories.

Florida (12-2, 2-0 SEC) – ranked No. 10 by the AP but fourth by bookmakers – has 12/1 odds to win the tournament. The Gators are the highest ranked SEC side on the list, heading off Kentucky (16/1) and Missouri (20/1).

The Gators will travel to Texas A&M (12-3, 2-0 SEC) on Thursday night before hosting Missouri (13-3, 2-1 SEC) in a big clash on Saturday.

The bookmakers’ top five is rounded out by Michigan (16-1, 3-1 Big Ten). The Wolverines’ 56-56 loss to Ohio State (13-3, 3-1 Big Ten) saw the side slip to No. 5 in the AP poll. Odds makers have the team tied with Florida at 12/1 to win the tournament.

Sunday’s result also saw the Buckeyes stake a claim for being a contender in the Big Ten. Ohio State has been assigned 18/1 odds of winning March Madness. That figure is identical to that given to Arizona (15-1, 3-1 Pac-12). The Wildcats – the highest rated Pac-12 side – bounced back from last week’s loss to Oregon with a win over Oregon State on Saturday.

Kansas (15-1, 3-0 Big 12) is the highest ranked Big 12 school, both in the standings and polls, but bookmakers currently think little of the side’s No. 4 AP ranking. The Jayhawks are considered 20/1 to win the tournament, 11th on the list. The side’s nearest conference rival, Baylor (11-5, 3-1 Big 12), is 25th on the list with odds of 40/1.

At 20/1, UNLV (15-3, 2-1 MWC) has the shortest odds of any side playing ball outside of the Power Six conferences. San Diego State (14-3, 2-1 MWC) also represent the conference in the bookmakers’ top 25, with odds of 33/1.

Two other non-power conference sides currently reside on the bookmakers’ top 25; Creighton (17-1, 6-0 MVC) at 22/1 (14th) and Gonzaga (16-1, 3-0 WCC) at 33/1 (21st).

 

Odds to Win the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

Duke Blue Devils 11/2

Indiana Hoosiers 6/1

Louisville Cardinals 8/1

Florida Gators 12/1

Michigan Wolverines 12/1

Syracuse Orange 14/1

Kentucky Wildcats 16/1

Ohio State Buckeyes 18/1

Arizona Wildcats 18/1

Kansas Jayhawks 20/1

Missouri Tigers 20/1

UNLV Rebels 20/1

North Carolina State Wolfpack 18/1

Creighton Bluejays 22/1

Michigan State Spartans 25/1

North Carolina Tar Heels 25/1

Georgetown Hoyas 25/1

Cincinnati Bearcats 28/1

UCLA Bruins 33/1

Pittsburgh Panthers 33/1

Gonzaga Bulldogs 33/1

Wisconsin Badgers 33/1

San Diego State Aztecs 33/1

Illinois Fighting Illini 33/1

Baylor Bears 40/1

Odds supplied by Uwin.com (formerly Sportsbook.com)