The Syracuse Orange are five-point favorites on the NCAA Basketball odds for their third game of this season, Thursday night against Cal at Madison Square Garden.
Orange-Bears Betting Odds
Most of the college basketball odds market opened Syracuse as a five-point favorite over Cal, with a total of 131, and both those figures were holding steady in the early betting.
The Bears could also be played to win this game outright at +190 on the moneyline at BetOnline.
Orange-Bears: The Match-Up
Syracuse returns just two starters from a team that went 28-6 last season and lost to Dayton in the third round of the NCAA tournament. The Orange lost PG Tyler Ennis and forwards CJ Fair and Jerami Grant, a threesome that averaged 42 points and 16 rebounds per game last season. And in place of Ennis Syracuse is starting a freshman, Kaleb Joseph, at the point. Orange are very young at the moment, with just one senior, F Rakeem Christmas, in the rotation. Sunday the 'Cuse started Christmas, one junior, one sophomore and two freshmen.
Syracuse is off to a 2-0 start to this season, but 0-1 ATS. The Orange opened with an 89-42 victory over Kennesaw State last Friday, then beat Hampton Sunday 65-47. Syracuse only led the Pirates by six points, 48-42, with eight minutes to go, and came up short in trying to cover as a 22-point favorite. The Orange only shot 42 percent from the floor, and made just five of 18 shots from long range.
Syracuse held opponents to just 59 PPG last season, eighth-best in the nation, and ranked fifth-best in turnovers at just nine per game. But the Orange also shot just 44 percent from the floor and 33 percent from long range. So far this season So far this season, Syracuse has made just nine of 33 attempts from beyond the arc.
For its first season under Coach Martin, who did some good work at Tennessee, Cal returns three starters from at team that went 21-14 and had to settle for an NIT bid last season. The Bears have to replace PG Justin Cobbs, G Ricky Kreklow and C Richard Solomon, who combined to average 32 points and 13 rebounds per game last season.As a team Cal shot 46 percent from the floor last season, while compiling a 15/10 assist-to-turnover ratio, which was nice.
The Bears are 2-0 both SU and ATS so far this season, after beating Alcorn State 91-57 and Kennesaw State 93-59. Cal shot 54 percent from the field against the Braves, covering as a 22-point favorite, then shot 60 percent in covering as a 24-point favorite against the Fighting Owls. Last time out, the Bears started one senior, two juniors and two sophomores.
These teams have already met each of the last two seasons, Syracuse winning both games. Two years ago the Orange beat Cal 66-60 in the “third round” of the NCAA tournament in San Jose, but the Bears covered as seven-point dogs. And last November the 'Cuse defeated Cal 92-81 out at the Maui Invitational, covering as a six-point favorite.
The Orange led last year's meeting by just one point with 10 minutes to go, but a 13-2 run propelled them to the victory and the cash. The teams combined to shoot 53 percent from the floor, and make 42 of 49 shots from the FT line, helping that game fly OVER its total of 137.
The winner of this game will play the winner of the Texas-Iowa game Friday night.
Orange-Bears Betting Trends
Syracuse’s two games this season have averaged just 122 points.
Cal's two games have averaged 150 points.
Orange-Bears Free Pick
Syracuse should have something of a home-court advantage, playing in New York City, and can also play a little defense. But Cal has an edge on offense, and if you can throw it in the hole at an efficient rate you'll always have a chance to cover, especially as a betting underdog. So for our NCAA basketball pick we are going with the Bears tonight.
Free College Basketball Pick: Cal +5 at 5Dimes