If last night's Big 12 thriller between Kansas and Missouri was any indication of things to come this week, then we're in for one heck of a Rivalry Week on the college hardwood. On tap tonight is a Big East battle as No. 12 Marquette travels to meet No. 13 Villanova. And Wednesday's ACC tilt is the Granddaddy of college hoops as No. 3 North Carolina and No. 5 Duke get it on.
Boys will be boys. Three college hoops players are in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
New Mexico State guard Terrance Joyner was arrested and charged with marijuana possession, Oklahoma guard Ray Willis was suspended after a DUI-related arrest, and Indiana guard Devan Dumes was also suspended after throwing an elbow at Michigan State center Tom Herzog. Dumes is the Hoosiers’ leading scorer and one of only eight players on the team with a scholarship. Sign up for a night course and maybe you can play for Indiana.
Kansas at Missouri (-4, 152½)
Tuesday, Jan 9, 9:00 p.m. (ET) ESPN
Life is pretty good right now in Lawrence, where the Jayhawks (19-4 SU, 12-5 ATS, No. 13 Pomeroy) are making money hand over fist in defense of their national championship. They’ve plowed through a competitive Big 12 field with eight wins at 7-1 ATS, including a 75-65 upset at Baylor (-1½). Now comes the hard part: beating Missouri on the road as a 4-point road dog. Some books had Kansas getting 4½ points on the early betting odds.
The Tigers (20-4 SU, 10-7 ATS, No. 9 Pomeroy) have dropped a pair of Big 12 matchups at Nebraska (+3) and Kansas State (+3). Despite this, Missouri is the highest-ranked team in the conference in terms of efficiency, running opponents ragged with a pace that has the over at 11-6 on the season and 5-1 in the last six games. Compare that to the much slower Jayhawks and an under record of 6-2 in Big 12 action. Monday’s total opened at 153 points before dipping as low as 151.5.
Marquette at Villanova
Tuesday, Feb 10, 7:30 p.m. (ET) ESPN2
The betting public might finally be warming up to Marquette (20-3 SU, 10-7-1 ATS, No. 23 Pomeroy). According to market surveys, the Golden Eagles are No. 25 in Division I betting action over the past month, compared to No. 42 for the entire season. It’s not easy for a 20-win team to remain anonymous, even in a Big East with so many marquee programs. However, the Eagles had their 12-game winning streak cut off on the road by the short-handed USF Bulls (+8½) in Friday’s 57-56 final.
The Wildcats (19-4 SU, 12-7 ATS, No. 14 Pomeroy) are one of five teams in the Big East with a higher efficiency rating than Marquette – that’s by Ken Pomeroy’s advanced stats. The folks at Basketball Prospectus see it a little differently, measuring points per possession for and against and ranking the Eagles second in the conference to UConn, three spots ahead of Villanova. The ‘Cats are on a 7-0 ATS streak with just one loss (at UConn) and are looking for revenge after losing 79-72 at Marquette (-3) on New Year’s Day.
North Carolina at Duke
Wednesday, Jan 11, 9:00 p.m. (ET) ESPN
This is the Big One. North Carolina (21-2 SU, 9-12 ATS, No. 3 Pomeroy) and Duke (20-3 SU, 11-10-1 ATS, No. 1 Pomeroy) are tied atop the ACC, which leads Division I in conference efficiency. The key difference right now between these Tobacco Road rivals: The Tar Heels have won seven straight (3-4 ATS), while Duke has fallen on hard times, splitting the last four games SU and going 3-6-1 ATS this past month.
The real money for either team has been made betting the under on Duke. This is the No. 3-ranked defensive team in the nation with a fairly slow tempo and a 10-2 record for the under since Dec. 31. But the Tar Heels will mess that up with their incredibly fast offense (second in efficiency) and the over cashing in four times in the last five games. UNC has a much better shooting team – Duke makes up for it somewhat with excellent offensive rebounding, and the Devils are one of the few teams that can hang with the Heels in the paint. Duke is also looking for revenge after losing last year’s regular season finale 76-68 to North Carolina (+1.5) in front of the Cameron Crazies.