While the snow and the bitter cold sweep the country, the action on the NCAA Men’s collegiate hardwood is heating up as we approach March Madness.
The Saturday slate offers some great betting investment opportunities, highlighted by Mike Krzyzewski’s final trip to Chapel Hill when he brings No. 9 Duke to face North Carolina. The Hall-of-Fame head coach, who has a 49-46 record against the Tar Heels, will be in search of snapping a two-game losing streak to their biggest rival.
Sports bettors will also find two other great rivalries when No. 12 Villanova hosts No. 17 UConn in a Big East showdown, as well as No. 8 Baylor heading to Lawrence to square off with No. 10 Kansas in a Big 12 clash of titans.
Spread: Duke -3 (-110) | North Carolina +3 (-110)
Total: 148.5 – Over (-110) | Under 148.5 (-110)
Venue: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Game Info: Saturday, Jan. 5, 2022 | 6 p.m. ET | ESPN
Editor's Note - Odds are subject to change.
The line has shifted one point since opening in favor of No. 9 Duke (18-3 straight-up (SU); 12-7-1 against the spread (ATS)) as a 2-point road favorite over North Carolina (16-6 SU; 10-12 ATS) at SI Sportsbook.
The Blue Devils remain the only ranked ACC team. Freshman Paolo Banchero leads the club in scoring (17.8 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 pg) and is the latest superstar in the Blue Blood program.
Duke, who is 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS in its last seven games, enters Saturday’s tilt fresh off a 57-43 road win at Notre Dame on Monday as a 5.5-point favorite. Duke, who sits atop the ACC standings, will face the Tar Heels for the first time this season.
North Carolina is riding a four-game winning streak and has rewarded bettors with a 3-1 ATS mark over that span.
Junior forward Armando Bacot has been a double-double machine this season, leading the team in scoring (16.5 ppg) and rebounding (12.5 rbg). Bacot leads a cast of four Tar Heels averaging in double-digits, including star sophomore guard Caleb Love (15.3 ppg). He's led the club’s leading scorer three times during the winning streak.
Although Duke will have arguably the best player on the court in Banchero, the home court advantage of a raucous crowd in Coach K’s last visit to Chapel Hill makes the points too attractive to pass up in a rivalry of this magnitude. Upon a deeper dive, we also discover that North Carolina is an impressive 8-2 ATS in the last 10 matchups with the Blue Devils, including 5-0 ATS in the last five meetings at the Dean Center.
BET: North Carolina +3 (-110)
Spread: Baylor +2 (-110) | Kansas -2 (-110)
Total: 147.5 – Over (-110) | Under 147.5 (-110)
Venue: Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kan.
Game Info: Saturday, Jan. 5, 2022 | 4 p.m. ET | ESPN
Editor's Note - Odds are subject to change.
The line has held steady since opening in favor of No. 10 Kansas (18-3 SU; 9-11-1 ATS) as a 2-point home favorites over No. 8 Baylor (19-3 SU; 12-9-1 ATS) at SI Sportsbook.
The defending National Champion Bears, who started off the year on a 15-game winning streak, have since suffered losses in three of their last seven games. That uneven play over the last month has burned sports bettors investing in the Bears as the club has posted a disappointing 4-6 ATS mark over their last 10 games.
The Bears, who beat West Virginia, 81-77, earlier in the week, failed to cover as 12-point home favorites. However, it should be noted that Baylor was extremely short-handed against the Mountaineers playing without leading scorer LJ Cryer (foot) and Adam Flagler (knee). Cryer (13.9 ppg), Flager (12.7 ppg), James Akinjo (13.6 ppg) and Kendall Brown (10.0 ppg) all average in double-figures.
Playing without two key starters, Akinjo carried the load for the Bears scoring a game-high 25 points in the victory over West Virginia. The Bears will clearly need Flager against Kansas on Saturday as he has been the club’s leading scorer on the road this season averaging a team-high 14.3 points per game away from Waco.
Kansas, who is 6-1 in its last seven games, has not been kind to bettors over that span by posting a 2-5 ATS mark. Despite the Jayhawks winning eight of their last 10 games, they have only covered the spread three times over that span. Kansas owns a half-game lead over Baylor for first place in the Big 12 and is 14-2 SU since late November.
The Jayhawks beat No. 20 Iowa State on the road earlier this week despite playing without the Big 12’s leading scorer Ochai Agbaji (20.9 ppg) due to COVID-19. In his absence, David McCormack and Dajuan Harris stepped up for the Jayhawks, pouring in a team-high 14 points each.
Kansas will need Agbaji (21.3 ppg, 5.0 rbg) to hopefully be cleared from protocols on Saturday to pair with Christian Bruan (15.1 ppg, 5.7 rbg) against a Bears squad that is averaging 78.8 points per game.
The respected money in Vegas immediately backed the Jayhawks when this line opened Friday afternoon and that likely means one thing. Either Cryer—who ranks among the leaders in the country in 3-point shooting—or Flager—or perhaps both—will be forced to miss the game due to injuries. Playing short-handed on the road at Allen Fieldhouse is simply too much to ask. Rock Chalk has won four of the last five at home against the Bears, as well as boasting an impressive 5-1 ATS mark in the last six meetings overall with Baylor. Expect those records to improve Saturday.
BET: Kansas -2 (-110)
Spread: UConn +5 (-110) | Villanova -5 (-110)
Total: 130 – Over (-110) | Under 130 (-110)
Venue: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Penn.
Game Info: Saturday, Jan. 5, 2022 | 12 p.m. ET | Fox
Editor's Note - Odds are subject to change.
The line has held steady since opening in favor of No. 12 Villanova (16-6 SU; 12-10 ATS) as a 5-point home favorite over No. 17 UConn (15-5 SU; 10-10 ATS).
The Wildcats, who are 9-2 in their last 11 games, have only lost twice since late December—both times to a surging No. 24 Marquette squad. Villanova, who has won four of the last six Big East Tournaments, finds itself two games behind No. 15 Providence in the conference’s regular season standings.
The Wildcats have burned sports bettors by posting a 1-4 ATS mark over their last five games. This disappointing betting skid follows an extremely profitable 6-0 ATS stretch.
Villanova is favored to win the Big East Tournament next month at SI Sportsbook, but in order for that to occur Cousy Award finalist Collin Gillespie (17.1 ppg) will need more consistent support from his teammates. Shooting guard Justin Moore (15.1 ppg) has struggled of late, scoring only 15 points combined against St. John's and Marquette. Versatile forward Jermaine Samuels has inhibited the club’s spacing in its offensive sets due to his struggles from shooting beyond the arc. The senior has only connected on 6 of his last 45 (13.3%) three-point attempts.
The Wildcats needs to get healthy as Bryan Antoine (ankle) has missed the last several games and that has limited the club’s bench rotation.
The Huskies head into this showdown looking to rebound from a surprising 59-55 loss to Creighton as 10.5-point home favorites. Connecticut is led in scoring by senior guard R.J. Cole (16.0 ppg). UConn will need solid production from guard Tyrese Martin (13.2 ppg) and forward Isaiah Whaley to supply a balanced offensive attack against a Villanova club that ranks 22nd in the country only, allowing 61.1 points per game.
Sophomore big man Adama Sanogo will be the key to a Huskies win. Sanogo, averaging 15.6 points and 11.9 rebounds per game over his last seven games, could pose serious issues for Villanova on the block. It will be upon improving Villanova big man Eric Dixon to defend his position while limiting Sanogo's post-up work.
UConn is 0-2 against Villanova since it's return to the Big East last season and has lost four consecutive games to the Wildcats dating to 2018. Both teams will be looking to rebound off losses earlier this week, but the respected money in early wagering believes that Villanova, who is 8-1 SU at home this season, will improve that mark.
BET: Villanova -5 (-110)
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Frankie Taddeo is a successful high-stakes fantasy football player who created the first-ever DFS program ever offered in a Las Vegas sportsbook. Frankie is SI Betting's Senior Analyst and provides his significant experience and resources in the sports betting scene. You can follow Frankie on Twitter @Frankie_Fantasy for his latest betting and fantasy insights from Las Vegas.
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