Friday's college basketball betting board is bubbling
with good games for out wagering pleasure. Let's see if we can't tease out at
least a couple of NCAA basketball odds winners before heading off to play a little holiday poker
down at our local watering hole.
VCU vs. Duke (7 pm
ET, NBC Sports)
Those upstart Rams get another shot at knocking off one of
college basketball's big boys when they play the Dukies in the semi-finals of
the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.
VCU has four starters back after going 29-7 and reaching the
second weekend of the NCAA tournament again last year, although it did lose its
The Rams are off to a 3-1 start, after beating Memphis
Thursday 78-65. VCU shot 48 percent from the floor and went 13-for-22 from
3-point land. So, over their last two games, the Rams are 26-for-47 from long
range. However, by no means do we expect them to continue that kind of
Duke, also with four starters back after going 27-7 last
year, is 4-0 this season, including a win over Kentucky and an 89-71 victory
over Minnesota Thursday. Led by 6-10 Mason Plumlee, who went for 20 points/17
boards vs. the Gophers, the Blue Devils shot 55 percent from the floor and hit
eight of 10 from beyond the arc.
The Rams will try to create havoc with their pressure, which
might negate Plumlee. And we give them a good chance of hanging tough, if not
pulling the upset.
We'll take VCU plus the 5.5 points being offered at
Missouri (9:30 pm ET, NBC Sports)
The Cardinals and Tigers, both off to 4-0 starts to this
season, also meet in the semi-finals of that tournament in the Bahamas.
Louisville has three starters back from its Final Four team
of a season ago, led by PG Peyton Siva, and breezed through its first three
games. But, Thursday the Cardinals won ugly, beating Northern Iowa, 51-46, despite
shooting just 31 from the floor and committing 20 turnovers. Louisville led
that game by 18 at one point, only to go cold and have the Panthers rally to
within two, before securing the victory.
Mizzou, meanwhile, only has one starter back from last
year's 30-5 team. Fortunately, that one guy is PG Phil Pressey. But the Tigers
are also playing without senior G Michael Dixon, Jr., who's serving an
Missouri opened this season with victories over three
inferior foes, then Thursday stopped Stanford 78-70. The Tigers only shot 37
percent, but held Cardinal to 38 percent shooting, committed just 10 turnovers
while forcing 18 and hit 22 of their 25 free-throws.
Louisville didn't look too good Thursday, and couldn't cover
eight points. But we expect a reversal Friday.
So we'll take the Cardinals at
the -5.5 at Pinnacle, which is offering the best price on the grease at -106.
Wisconsin -1 vs.
Creighton (10 pm ET, ESPN2)
The Badgers and Blue Jays get together in the first round of
the Las Vegas Invitational.
Wisconsin returns four starters this season from a team that
got to the Sweet 16 last March, including three seniors. The one guy they lost,
though, was PG Jordan Taylor, and he'll be hard to replace.
The Badgers have beaten three inferior opponents this year,
but in their one game so far vs. a quality foe they got their dinner stuffed
down their throat in a 74-56 loss at Florida. The Gators shot the lights out,
making 18 of their first 24 shots from the floor, and that kind of thing rarely
happens to a Coach Bo team.
Creighton also returns four starters from a team that got to
the second round of the NCAA tournament last season, led by the coach's kid,
Doug McDermott, one of the very few go-to guys in college basketball right now.
The Jays are off to a 4-0 start, although their toughest foe so far has been
UAB, which led Creighton at the half before the Jays came back big.
We love match-ups
like this, pitting a great mid-major team against a pretty good power
conference outfit. The pointspread says everything; this should be a close game
on the court, and bettors seem to be splitting the action. We're also
interested in how this game plays out because it could tell us something about
how the these two teams might perform down the line. As for our pick, we saw
Wisconsin settle all-too-often for jump-shots vs. Florida, while Creighton has
a guy it can go to for a bucket when needed.
So we'll go with the Blue Jays at
the -1 being offered at Legends sportsbook.