With 17 of the nation's Top 25 teams taking to the hardwood today, and 102 lined games on the SBR scoreboard, there's more than enough action for the hoops junkie in all of us. One of those contests finds Tyler Hansbrough and the North Carolina Tar Heels making the short trip to Raleigh to meet their ACC rivals from North Carolina State in an ABC telecast at 3:30 p.m. (ET).
Of course this was going to happen. The Wake Forest Demon Deacons beat the then-No. 1 Duke Blue Devils (-2) 70-68 at home on Wednesday, one week after the Deacs had fallen out of top spot in the AP poll with a 78-71 loss to Virginia Tech (+13). Wake Forest’s reign atop the college basketball rankings also lasted just seven days. This is going to go on all year – that’s how good the competition level is in the ACC.
Valparaiso at No. 13 Butler (-17½, 121½)
Friday, Jan 30, 7:00 p.m. (ET)
And then there’s the Horizon League. Not to say it’s all bad for the former MCC; the Butler Bulldogs (18-1 SU, 12-4-1 ATS, No. 24 Pomeroy) are at the top of a very profitable upper bracket against the betting odds. It’s the people in the lower classes of the Horizon that need help, especially the Valparaiso Crusaders (6-15 SU, 6-10 ATS, No. 242 Pomeroy). Butler was a 17½-point favorite on the early line with a total of 121½.
This might be too much chalk for Butler to swallow. The Bulldogs scraped out a 54-50 victory over Detroit (+18½) in their only other game this year with a spread this big. Then again, that was the only time Butler’s dropped the cash all month: 7-0 SU and 6-1 ATS in January. That includes the Jan. 3 game in Valparaiso that the Bulldogs (-8) took 75-62 after going into the locker room tied.
The Crusaders have been a bigger money-losing scheme than sub-prime mortgages. But they happen to be 2-0 ATS this year as dogs of more than 12 points. Last year’s final at the Hinkle Fieldhouse ended 73-65 for Butler (-10).
No. 6 North Carolina at North Carolina St.
Saturday, Jan 31, 3:30 p.m. (ET) ABC
The North Carolina Tar Heels (18-2 SU, 8-10 ATS, No. 2 Pomeroy) are one of this year’s fallen idols; it’s been a month since they last held down top spot in the rankings. They’re not making it easy on themselves either at 5-2 SU and 3-4 ATS this month. If you believe in zigzags, the Heels are due for a payday after scraping by 80-77 at Florida State (+11) on Wednesday.
Not even the power of Sidney Lowe’s red jacket can help the North Carolina State Wolfpack (11-7 SU, 8-5-1 ATS, No. 92 Pomeroy) in this matchup. Granted, the Wolfpack are coming off Tuesday’s 84-81 overtime thriller against the visiting Miami Hurricanes (-2). And they are 3-0-1 ATS this year when getting at least eight points, which is very likely going to be the case on Saturday. But actually winning the game is going to take something special. The Pack aren’t very good on offense, turning the ball over 21.2 percent of the time despite playing an achingly slow tempo, and they don’t get many steals on defense.
Penn State at No. 9 Michigan St.
Sunday, Feb 1, 12:00 p.m. (ET)
This has already been a banner year on the hardwood for the Penn State Nittany Lions (16-5 SU, 9-4-1 ATS, No. 67 Pomeroy). They were on the verge of something good last season before injuries ruined everything; now the Lions have wins over Georgia Tech (-7) and Purdue (-2.5) on their resume. Penn State nearly took a matador cover off the Michigan State Spartans (17-3 SU, 9-7-1 ATS, No. 21 Pomeroy) when they met at Bryce Jordan on Jan. 14, but MSU (-5) prevailed 78-73 to create a push.
I haven’t been very kind to the Spartans this year, but they had managed to put together a nice 11-game winning streak at 5-3-1 ATS. And then it all came crashing down at home, to Northwestern of all people. MSU is 3-5-1 ATS in East Lansing this year and 5-0-1 ATS everywhere else. Defense has been a problem for the Spartans, as have turnovers – Chris Allen had seven in 26 minutes against Northwestern. Tom Izzo has already shortened his bench, but someone has to play those minutes if Allen can’t find his smile.