Bet Syracuse -4.5 vs. St. John's

Willie Bee

Sunday, December 15, 2013 4:36 PM GMT

Can Syracuse give us a profitable betting opportunity when they face St. Johns. Let's see the college basketball odds and find out.

Their rivalry as Big East foes may be history, but the games continue for the Syracuse Orange and St. John's Red Storm who collide in Sunday's marquee college basketball contest. SBR's live college basketball odds have Syracuse favored by 4.5, up a half-point from the overnight spread. A total is due to be released later this morning.

Eighty-seven previous meetings between the two schools have resulted in Syracuse building a 50-37 all-time record against St. John's. The Orange won and covered the only matchup last season with a 77-58 decision at the Carrier Dome as 14 point home favorites. It was Syracuse's eighth consecutive win -- and sixth straight cover -- over the Red Storm, and the final just slipped past the 133.5 barrier to give 'over' bettors the cash for a fifth straight time.

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'Cuse Feels At Home In The Garden

Madison Square Garden might be the official home of the Red Storm, but Syracuse is certainly no stranger here with so many Big East Tournament appearances in the building.  This is the first time the Orange have visited MSG this season, and they went 3-2 on this floor in 2012-13, including 3-1 in their final Big East tourney.

Sunday will also be just the second time they have left home for a game, the other trip being to Hawaii and won the Maui Invitational by defeating Minnesota, California and Baylor.  Jim Boeheim's bunch has enjoyed a little more than a week off since taking out Binghamton in an unlined contest, 93-65.  Syracuse had to overcome an early 8-point deficit, and while the 93 points was a season-high for the Orange, it definitely wasn't a pretty win.

Expect the intensity to return a bit in this matchup vs. St. John's, especially on the defensive end of the floor.  As is usually the case for a Boeheim team, the Orange are among the top 10% in the country in fewest points allowed (62.9) and rank 15th in steals (4.4).  CJ Fair and Trever Cooney, 1-2 in the scoring department for the Orange with 17.8 and 15.3 averages respectively, each recorded four thefts against the Bearcats, and six players blocked shots.

Cooney has been the only legitimate 3-point threat, and while they don't have to necessarily hit from beyond the arc in this one, the Orange will have to convert medium jumpers since getting inside on St. John's is going to be difficult.

Red Storm Look To Build On Last Two Performances

Steve Lavin's lads got off on a losing note when they dropped an 86-75 season-opener to Wisconsin as 5 point underdogs.  St. John's would win the next four before an overtime loss to Penn State as 3-point chalk in the Barclay's Center Classic left the Red Storm 0-4 against the spread at that point.

But they have bounced back since then with two wins and covers, and played well in all areas but one eight days ago on this floor vs. Fordham.  Laying 11.5 points at the closing bell, St. John's had it going at both ends of the court in a 104-58 laugher.  The Red Storm shot a season-best 66.1%, their first game above 49%, and held the Rams to just 19-of-80 from the field (23.8%).

Yes, I said 80 FG attempts for Fordham.  The Red Storm outrebounded the Rams 46-40, but Fordham got extra shots thanks to 27 offensive boards.  St. John's will be once again facing a team that rebounds well on the offensive end as Syracuse grabs 15.6 per game (11th), and the Red Storm won't have a chance if they give the Orange too many extra looks.

One thing the Red Storm have been doing well all season is getting in your face anywhere near the paint.  St. John's leads the nation with 10.5 blocks a night, more than half of those by center Chris Opeka.  The sophomore's 5.5 rejects per game are more than 310 teams are averaging.

One of these days, a total will be available for me to kick around for my free college basketball pick, but until then I'll have to pick a side and the Orange get my nod in this one.

NHL Pick: Syracuse -4.5