Thursday, March 12, 2020

NCAAB Game Preview: Marquette vs. Seton Hall - 3/12/2020 - 9:30 PM EST

NCAAB Game Preview: Marquette vs. Seton Hall - Date: 3/12/2020 Mar 12, 2020The Big East Conference's two marquee players will get to close out the quarterfinal schedule at the league tournament on Thursday in one of basketball's most storied venues.In the pairing of Marquette and No. 16 Seton Hall late Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the side attraction of note will be Marquette's Markus Howard opposing Seton Hall's Myles Powell.The accolades already are coming as Howard and Powell, both senior guards, were named to the Sporting News' first-team All-America squad. Both also were unanimous All-Big East selections.Howard has been the top scorer in the nation for much of the season, and he enters his last Big East tournament ranked No. 1 at 27.8 points per game. Sports Bettors Email Leads. The Phoenix-area product has scored at le ast 30 points in each of his past five games while leading the sixth-seeded Golden Eagles to an 18-12 record.The Pirates have been less reliant on their No. 1 scoring option as Powell has delivered 21 points per game but has been no less effective. Free Sports Betting Picks. Third-seeded Seton Hall went 21-9 overall this season, but it enters the Big East tournament coming off a crushing 77-60 defeat at Creighton in the regular-season finale.Another defeat to Villanova last week means that while Seton Hall can still say it is a 2019-20 regular-season Big East champion, it has to share that honor with both Creighton and Villanova. Best Sports Handicapping Services. The consecutive defeats mean that the Pirates did not close out the regular season in top form."We're not done," Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said in a postgame radio interview a fter the loss to the Bluejays. "I'm going to give my team a hug, tell them how proud I am of them and get ready for March. I hope our fans understand how proud they should be of this basketball team." Powell has 2,252 points at Seton Hall, putting him 21 behind Nick Werkman for second on the schools all-time list. The school's all-time leader is Terry Dehere at 2,494.Marquette enters Thursday's game following an 88-86 defeat to St. John's on Saturday. The Red Storm tied for next to last place in the Big East. The last-place team, DePaul, also defeated Marquette 69-68 last week.The Golden Eagles not only are on a three-game losing streak, but they have dropped six of their oast seven. And they have a quick return trip to New York after playing St. John's there over the weekend."We just want to win," coach Steve Wojciechowski said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I'm not feeling pressure. Our guys are playing like there's an incredible amount of pressure on them. I wish they would just compete."The only pressure is to play hard and to try to make people better. That's it." In the most recent meeting between the teams, Seton Hall won at Marquette 88-79 on Feb. 29 when Powell scored 28 points. Howard had 37. Seton Hall also won 69-55 at home on Jan. 11 when Powell had 23 and Howard had 27.--Field Level Media


NCAAB Game Preview: Kansas State vs. Baylor - 3/12/2020 - 7:00 PM EST

NCAAB Game Preview: Kansas State vs. Baylor - Date: 3/12/2020 Mar 12, 2020No. 5 Baylor begins its run to the NCAA Tournament when it squares off against surprising Kansas State in a Big 12 Conference tournament quarterfinal game on Thursday in Kansas City.The Bears (26-4), seeded second in this championship, have dropped three of their past five games heading into the event. Baylor forged a Big 12-record 23-game winning streak this season and held down the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press poll for a school-record five straight weeks before faltering late in the campaign.The Bears are still projected by many pundits to earn a No. 1 regional seed in the NCAA Tournament, but their recent losses won't help their cause. Baylor finished second in the league."This hurts because we haven't won a conference championship since 1950," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "No team had ever won 15 games before and not won the (Big 12) conference. But we'll get refocused for the Big 12 tournament and the NCAA Tournament." Baylor's last outing was a 76-64 loss at West Virginia on Saturday, the Bears' worst loss of the season. Sports Handicapping Service Units Gained. Their three other losses were by a combined seven points.Baylor picked up four conference awards this week, when all five Bears starters earned All-Big 12 honors, making Baylor the first team in the league's 24-year history with five All-Big 12 team selections.Drew was named Big 12 Coach of the Year, and Jared Butler was one of three unanimous selections to the All-Big 12 first team while MaCio Teague and Freddie Gillespie picked up All-Big 12 second-team honors. Davion Mitchell and Mark Vital were named to the All-Big 12 third team.Gillespie was selected as the league's Most Improved Player, Devonte Babdoo earned the Sixth Man Award and Mitchell was tabbed Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.All those accolades point to a definitive favorite role for the Bears when they play 10th-seeded Kansas State in the third quarterfinal game at the Big 12 tourney on Thursday.The Wildcats earned a spot in the quarterfinals with a 53-49 victory over seventh-seeded TCU on Wednesday. Cartier Diarra scored 13 points to lead Kansas State to the win, which was secured by a layup by Makol Mawien with 1:18 to play.Mike McGuirl added two free throws with 1.2 seconds to play to cement the win the Wildcats, which led by as many as 17 points in the first half and ended the game with an 8-0 run.Kansas State coach Bruce Weber understands that there's no margin for error for his team. NHL Handicappers. The Wildcats (11-21) will have to win three more games, and capture the tournament crown, to extend its season."I think there's a lot to lose -- you're done (if you lose)," We ber said. "Our whole thing is that this is our last opportunity. You have a lot of dreams and hopes coming into the season. Basketball Picks. Things didn't work out like we had hoped. Now, you have one last opportunity to step up and leave a little bit of a special legacy." Kansas State dropped both of its regular-season games to Baylor, losing 73-67 at home on Feb. 3 and 85-66 in Waco on Feb. 25."We finally made some plays," Weber said. "We've been through games like this all year, losing six games by three points or less. We stayed focused and hit some shots down the stretch." --Field Level Media


NCAAB Game Preview: Syracuse vs. Louisville - 3/12/2020 - 9:30 PM EST

NCAAB Game Preview: Syracuse vs. Louisville - Date: 3/12/2020 Mar 12, 2020No. 15 Louisville will be the last team to take the court for the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, and it probably feels like a long wait for the Cardinals.That's because they haven't played since losing Saturday in the regular-season finale at Virginia.The Cardinals meet Syracuse on Thursday night in an ACC tournament quarterfinal game at Greensboro, N. C.It will be the nightcap of the first day of the tournament without spectators in attendance. Leading Handicappers. That decision was announced during the evening session Wednesday night in reaction to the coronavirus scare that's gripping parts of the country."We just need to play off our own energy, and it will take probably a little bit to get used to it," Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim said. "But just go out there and treat it like another game." Louisville's 57-54 loss to Virginia gave the Cardinals setbacks in two of their final three games of the regular season. It cost them a shot at holding at least a share of the ACC regular-season title."I am disappointed that we couldn't finish the deal," Louisville coach Chris Mack said.As a result, the Cardinals (24-7) slipped to the No. 3 seed for the ACC tournament. Yet their 15-5 record in ACC play reflects their best mark since joining the conference.Mack did try smaller lineups in the second half of the Virginia game. It could be something the Cardinals try moving forward."I think it is a different way to play," Mack said. "I thought we needed to change things rather than keep going punch-for-punch in the low post with our bigs and their bigs." Louisville holds a 2-4 all-time mark in ACC tournament play and it has never reached the semifinals.In the only previous Louisville-Syracuse game this season, the Cardinals rolled to a 90-66 home victory on Feb. 19.The Orange showed they could reverse a difficult February loss by the way they played against North Carolina on Wednesday night. Sixth-seeded Syracuse (18-14) handed the Tar Heels their worst loss in ACC tournament history with the 81-53 whipping in the second round."We got a great start, and then we were able to keep it up, keep going," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said.The Hall of Fame coach added that he hopes the tournament can go on as scheduled even as it's slated to exclude fans."My hope would be for the players to get to play the games that they've worked so hard to get to where they are," he said.Syracuse's Elijah Hughes scored 27 points against North Carolina, appearing fully recovered from an injury sustained in the first half at Miami on Saturday. He banged his head in that game and didn't play in the second half.This time, he found a groove."Elijah operated on the offensive end, and he had a big first half and then (we) just played off him," Buddy Boeheim said.Syracuse received 12 rebounds and 13 points from post player Bourama Sidibe in the North Carolina game."He just started playing like that," Jim Boeheim said. "I don't know what happened, honestly." --Field Level Media


NCAAB Game Preview: Notre Dame vs. Virginia - 3/12/2020 - 7:00 PM EST

NCAAB Game Preview: Notre Dame vs. Virginia - Date: 3/12/2020 Mar 12, 2020No. 17 Virginia is back in top form as it heads into the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.The second-seeded Cavaliers (23-7, 15-5 ACC) have won eight consecutive games and 11 of their past 12 entering a Thursday night quarterfinal clash with seventh-seeded Notre Dame (20-12, 10-10) in Greensboro, N. C.The Fighting Irish advanced with an 80-58 victory over Boston College in Wednesday's second-round action.Virginia is 9-2 in games decided by four or fewer points, including a 50-49 overtime win against the Fighting Irish on Feb. 11. All of the Cavaliers' past five games were decided by three points or fewer, and Virginia won each time.Notre Dame posted its lowest point total of the season in the Feb. 11 loss to the Cavaliers in Charlottesville, Va., despite playing five extra minutes of OT.Virginia's Braxton Key made a tiebreaking free throw wit h 2:04 left, the last point scored by either side on a poor shooting night for both teams. Free Sport Pick. The Cavaliers hit 37.3 percent from the field and 25 percent (5 of 20) from 3-point range while the Irish shot 32.8 percent overall and 23.1 percent (6 of 21) from deep.Mamadi Diakite was the only Cavalier to score in double figures, finishing with 20 points. Kihei Clark added nine points, Key collected 12 rebounds, and Jay Huff chipped in eight points and nine boards.Prentiss Hubb paced the Irish with 12 points. John Mooney notched a double-double (11 points, 14 rebounds), and Nate Laszewski scored 11 points off the bench.The 7-foot-1 Huff blocked Mooney's layup attempt in the final seconds of regulation to force overtime, where the Irish were held scoreless for the final 3 1/2 minutes."Give credit to Virginia," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said afterward. "Again, they're really hard to score against, and we had a couple possessions down the stretch where they just kind of shut us down, and it's kind of hard to run your stuff." Mooney had one of his worst shooting nights of the season, finishing 4 of 14 from the field and 0 of 5 from long distance."He's a heck of a player," Huff said. "To hold him to 11 points ... we take great pride in that. Best Sports Handicapping Services. The way we play defense, very rarely is it one person locking someone up." The Cavaliers are trying to reach the ACC semifinals for the sixth time in seven years. Sports Handicappers. They lost to Florida State in the semifinals last season before reeling off six straight NCAA Tournament wins to capture the school's first national championship."This year's team, it's their year, it's their team. It's not last year's team," said Virginia coach Tony Bennett, who urged his players to "try to lay it on the line and forget about what the outside is or even the internal of trying to live up to something that is not yours. 'This is our year. This is our time. Let's max out.' "Notre Dame has a 10-5 record in the ACC tournament since joining the league in 2013-14, winning it all in Greensboro in 2015 and losing to Duke in the 2017 title game."We're obviously not done yet," said Mooney, who was named to the All-ACC first team on Monday. "We're still on a mission." --Field Level Media


NCAAB Game Preview: Depaul vs. Villanova - 3/12/2020 - 7:00 PM EST

NCAAB Game Preview: Depaul vs. Villanova - Date: 3/12/2020 Mar 12, 2020Villanova will open the Big East tournament as the No. 2 seed and take on No. 10 DePaul in the quarterfinals Thursday in New York City.The Blue Demons upset No. 7 Xavier 71-67 in the opening round Wednesday night.Villanova, ranked No. 11 in the nation, finished the regular season at 24-7, and claimed a share of the conference title with Creighton and Seton Hall at 13-5.The Wildcats have won three consecutive Big East tournaments and four of the last five. Since falling 64-63 to Seton Hall in a quarterfinal matchup in 2014, the Wildcats are 14-1 in this event.Villanova, which doesn't feature one scholarship senior, concluded the regular season with a gritty 70-69 victory last Saturday at Georgetown.For young players who have never participated in the Big East tournament, the challenge can be daunting."I've just heard it's a great experience and that we've just got to stay focused on each other, the players and the coaches," freshman Jeremiah Robinson-Earl told "We have to stay focused on the task at hand." Robinson-Earl leads all Big East freshmen in rebounding, averaging 9.4 per game.Saddiq Bey leads the Wildcats in scoring, averaging 16.1 points per game overall. In Big East action, Bey is averaging 17.3 points.Collin Gillespie, another key leader for Villanova, is second on the team in scoring with 15.1 points per game overall."We're going to need a lot from him and a lot of his leadership in the tournament," Villanova head coach Jay Wright said of Gillespie.DePaul (16-16) lost both regular-season meetings to Villanova -- 79-75 in overtime Jan. 14 on the Main Line and 91-71 Feb. 19 at home.After being routed 93-55 in the regular-season finale at Providence to fall to 3-15 in the conference, the Blue Demons came back to beat Xavier for their first Big East tournament win since 2014.DePaul is 3-12 all-time in the Big East tournament.Paul Reed, an All-Big East second-team selection, led DePaul with 23 points and 12 rebounds for his 18th double-double this season. Charlie Moore added 18 points and nine assists.But the task will be extremely difficult to oust Villanova. Sports Betting Handicapping. The Blue Demons have lost 20 straight games in this series dating to 2008.For a team that started 12-1 and fell below .500 entering the Big East tournament, it sure rebounded in a big way."We can't do anything about yesterday," DePaul head coach Dave Leitao said before the tournament. "We can just be better tomorrow." Villanova awaits, but the Blue Demons remain confident they can keep winning."Those kinds of things happen, but you have to make them happen," Leitao told the Chicago Tribune of potentially winning the tournament. "We have to remain res ilient. We have got to remain positive. We've got to understand it's still out there for us." --Field Level Media


NCAAB Game Preview: Oklahoma State vs. Kansas - 3/12/2020 - 3:00 PM EST

NCAAB Game Preview: Oklahoma State vs. Kansas - Date: 3/12/2020 Mar 12, 2020A strong showing in the Big 12 tournament will not provide No. 1 Kansas much of a jolt in its dance routine.But then, neither will fan support.Big 12 administrators decided Wednesday that remaining rounds in the event will restrict followings to 125 tickets per team at Kansas City, Mo. Sports Handicapper King. That decision followed the NCAA announcement Wednesday that fans would not be permitted to attend the NCAA Tournament because of concerns over the coronavirus."It'll be the highest-rated television tournament that anyone has ever seen," Kansas coach Bill Self said of the NCAA Tournament.No matter how the No. 1 Jayhawks (28-3, 17-1 Big 12) fare without their usual partisan crowd at the Big 12's postseason gathering, they are a presumptive lock for the top seed in the NCAA T ournament when pairings are announced Sunday.They might be the only clear-cut choice for the ranking after setting a Big 12 record with 17 league wins and becoming the first team to go 9-0 in conference road games.Winners of 16 straight, Kansas drew the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 tournament for the 16th time. It will open play in the quarterfinal round Thursday against eighth-seeded Oklahoma State (18-14, 7-11), a 72-71 first-round winner Wednesday over Iowa State."If you're dominant in the regular season, that's good, and that's a good goal, but it's postseason time, so it's all back to square one," said point guard Devon Dotson, who led Big 12 scorers with an 18.1-point average and needs 14 points to become the eighth Jayhawk to record 1,000 points in his first two seasons.Oddly enough, senior center Udoka Azubuike will participate in the Big 12 tournament for the first time.He comes in with impressive credentials after being the named the confe rence player of the year, having led the Jayhawks' title run by averaging a double-double. His 74.8 shooting accuracy is tops nationally.Wrist injuries curtailed Azubuike's freshman and junior seasons, and a sprained knee kept him from playing in the Big 12 tournament as a sophomore. By remaining healthy this season, Azubuike backed up his selection as the league's preseason player of the year."I didn't know if I was going to live up to the expectations," he said. "It all comes down to my teammates and my coaches. World's Best Handicapper. They did an unbelievable job, and me winning (player of the year) wasn't just about me. It was about them too." It's possible that Self could expand his rotation and use Silvio De Sousa in Kansas City. Baseball Predictions. The 6-9 forward drew a 12-game suspension for his role in a brawl with Kansas State players on Jan. 21. He was reinstated prior to the Jayhawks' last conference game at Texas Tech.Marcus Garrett, the Big 12 defensive player of the year, twisted an ankle at practice Tuesday. He will play in the tournament but will not be at full strength.Isaac Likekele posted 21 points, including the game-winning layup in the final seconds, and nine assists as Oklahoma State rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half."We just never doubted ourselves," Likekele said. "We just kept working hard. Every Big 12 game we'll take the win. It's a credit to our staff. They never gave up." --Field Level Media


NCAAB Game Preview: West Virginia vs. Oklahoma - 3/12/2020 - 9:30 PM EST

NCAAB Game Preview: West Virginia vs. Oklahoma - Date: 3/12/2020 Mar 12, 2020When Oklahoma knocked off West Virginia on Feb. 8 in Norman, Okla., the Sooners sent the previously high-flying Mountaineers into a tailspin.West Virginia lost six of its next seven games to go from just outside the top 10 to out of the rankings in the span of three weeks.The rough stretch ended with a second loss to Oklahoma, this time in West Virginia.But entering Thursday's Big 12 tournament quarterfinal between the teams, the now No. 22-ranked Mountaineers have finally righted the ship and are playing similarly to how they were during an 18-4 start.West Virginia, the tournament's sixth seed, has momentum after wins at Iowa State and home against then-No. 4 Baylor to end the regular season."We played with a lot more enthusiasm. We had a lot more bounce in our step," Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins said of his team's recent resurgen ce. "Sometimes you put your head down, it's easier to put it down than to get it back up. We finally got it back up. We played a lot harder than we had been playing." That win over Baylor was the lone West Virginia win this season over the top three teams in this week's tournament."We can play with anybody," Huggins said. "We've got to execute. We got to play with some toughness. We're physical enough inside when we want to be. We rebound well enough when we want to. And we're starting to make shots again." The Mountaineers (21-10) haven't made very many shots against the Sooners this season, shooting a combined 32.9 percent in the two losses to Oklahoma. Selections. That includes a season-worst 31.6 percent in the road loss.The third-seeded Sooners (19-12) also have some momentum, with three wins in their last four games. Make Money Betting Sports. The loss came on a late 3-pointer by Texas on March 3.But the Sooners are trying not to take their position for granted, even going against a team they've had plenty of success against this season."It's always hard to beat a team three times, especially a really good team," Sooners guard Austin Reaves said. "They were top 25 all year. It's going to be hard, but if we do what we do -- stick to our game plan, listen to the coaches, we'll be good." West Virginia has made it to at least the semifinals in the tournament each of the last four seasons.Oklahoma hasn't won a conference tournament game since 2016, the season the Sooners made the Final Four after getting bounced by the Mountaineers in a tight Big 12 semifinal game.But this year's Oklahoma team doesn't have any players who have won a game in the event."I don't know if there's any one reason as to why," Soon ers forward Kristian Doolittle said of Oklahoma's recent struggles in the Big 12 tournament. "This is the furthest I've ever been. Having the first-day bye gives us more time to rest." --Field Level Media


NCAAB Game Preview: Oregon State vs. Oregon - 3/12/2020 - 3:00 PM EST

NCAAB Game Preview: Oregon State vs. Oregon - Date: 3/12/2020 Mar 12, 2020The Civil War rivalry heads south on Thursday when Pac-12 regular-season champion and tournament top seed Oregon faces eighth-seeded Oregon State in the conference tournament at Las Vegas.Oregon State (18-13) advanced to the quarterfinal matchup against Oregon (24-7), the 13th-ranked team in the nation, with a 71-69 defeat of Utah in a first-round game Wednesday. Jarod Lucas hit a corner 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds remaining that sealed the win.Oregon State's Tres Tinkle said after the game that the play was designed to go to Ethan Thompson, but that one of the Utah defenders played Thompson tight and kept the ball out of his hands."Six seconds left, I tried to make a play, whether it was going to be for me. I know when I drive, teams load the paint, and I saw Jarod step over, jump-stop. And told him I trust him taking that shot every single time,&qu ot; Tinkle said.Tinkle -- who became Oregon State's all-time leading scorer last week -- finished with a team-high 19 points. He was one of four Beavers to score in double figures, joined by Lucas and Kylor Kelley with 12 points apiece, and Thompson with 11.Their contributions offset the Pac-12 tournament record-setting effort of Alfonso Plummer, who hit 11 of 16 3-point attempts and 12 of 17 shots overall from the floor en route to scoring 35 points for Utah."(The) individual performance by the Plummer kid, unbelievable. Only time I've ever seen something like that was my daughter was in city league, but that doesn't really matter," Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said after the game, adding, "That's a joke." But one thing that is not a joke for Oregon State is the similar defensive challenge it faces on Thursday against Oregon.Wayne Tinkle said Plummer's shooting negated the Beavers' hopes of running a 1-3-1 zone, and they draw a nother 3-point threat in the Ducks' Payton Pritchard.Pritchard, the Pac-12 Player of the Year and a leading contender for national Player of the Year awards, shot a torrid 41.5 percent from long range in the regular season en route to a 20.5-points-per-game average."What he's meant to our team, what he's accomplished this year, he definitely is the player of the year in our league," Oregon coach Dana Altman told The Oregonian. "He's meant a great deal to our team, and we've had a little success." Oregon split the regular-season series with Oregon State, with the home team winning both games. Sports Handicapper Reviews. The Beavers held the Ducks to just 53 points in Corvallis, and although they allowed 16 points to Pritchard, only one other Oregon player hit double figures.That was Chris Duarte, a 12.9-points-per-game scorer this season, who is sidelined for the Pac-12 tourname nt due to a finger injury.Oregon won by 15 in the rematch in Eugene, the second game of an ongoing four-game winning streak for the Ducks. Pritchard hit five 3-pointers and scored 23 points in that one, with Will Richardson and Anthony Mathis adding 15 and 13, respectively.Mathis has stepped up his offensive production dramatically in Duarte's absence. He has four straight games of 11, 13, 17 and 14 points, and he made at least three 3-pointers in each of those contests.--Field Level Media