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Midwest College Hoops Preview
by ASA - 02/03/2012
Each week we will take an inside look at the pulse of College Basketball around the Big Ten and other schools around the Midwest. We will highlight certain trends, hot streaks, cold streaks, and injury updates. A number of things caught our attention as professional handicappers this week. We’d like to share some of our insight…
Michigan State Spartans: Sparty has lost three of its last five games, all on the road (0-3 ATS). That includes Tuesday night’s loss at Illinois when MSU shot just 24% and managed 41 points. It also doesn’t bode well for the Spartans that their best player, forward Draymond Green, couldn’t finish that game because of knee problems. Green leads the team in points, rebounds, steals, and blocks and is the senior leader of the team. He remains questionable for Saturday’s game against Michigan.
Wisconsin Badgers: After a 1-3 start in the Big Ten, the Badgers have quietly won six straight and moved into a tie atop the Big Ten with Ohio State. That set up a Big Ten showdown this Saturday when OSU travels to Madison for sole possession of the Big Ten lead. The Badgers aren’t exactly shooting lights out during this winning-streak (41.4%), but defensively they are holding opponents to just 39.2% field goals and 29.8% beyond the arc. They’ve also made more free throws (87) than their opponents have attempted (83) over the last six games.
Ohio State Buckeyes: Ohio State has won and covered eight of its last 10 games. Interestingly enough, the Buckeyes eight covers were as a double digit favorite and its lone two losses were when they were favored by fewer than 10 points. We expect the Buckeyes to be a small favorite when they travel to Madison this weekend.
Penn State Nittany Lions: PSU has lost eight of its last 10 games. However, the Nittany Lions are 4-1 ATS at home over that span, each of those five games they were a home underdog. Starting forward Billy Oliver did not play Tuesday against Wisconsin as he continues to deal with concussion-like symptoms. Oliver, averaging 7.3 points per game so far this season, has missed the last four games and Penn State has not eclipsed the 54-point plateau in any of them.
Iowa Hawkeyes: Iowa has dropped five of its last six games after a promising 2-1 start to Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes are 2-4 ATS over those last six games and have been outscored by an average of 12.3 points per game. Defensively the Hawkeyes have allowed 81 points per game over the last six (just one scored fewer than 75 points while two of them scored over 90).
Northwestern Wildcats: Northwestern has dropped six of its last eight games and is just 3-6 ATS over its last nine overall. The Wildcats are 0-4 SU and 1-3 ATS on the road in the Big Ten and they’ve lost all four of those games by an average of 19.5 points per game (three of four losses by 20+ points). Northwestern is converting on just 38.8% of its field goals and allowing opponents to shoot 46.6% in those four games.
Nebraska Cornhuskers: The Huskers have won three of the last five games after dropping their first four conference game in their inaugural season as a member of the Big Ten. Nebraska is also 5-1 ATS its last six games and 4-1 ATS its last five as an underdog.
Minnesota Gophers: The Gophers are 4-1 ATS over the last five games
News & Notes from other teams around the Midwest
Iowa State Cyclones: Iowa State continues to be a valuable team against the spread. The Cyclones have covered seven of the last nine Big 12 games and own a 5-0 ATS mark as an underdog. Last Saturday they defeated 5th-ranked Kansas by eight points and bounced back with a two-point last second win over Kansas State at home. They have two road games upcoming and we wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of flat performances after two emotional wins.
Cincinnati Bearcats: Cincinnati has dropped three straight games and currently ranks in the middle-of-the-pack in the crowded Big East standings. Over the Bearcats’ last 10 games, only one has been decided by more than seven points. Seven of those games were decided by four points or fewer.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Notre Dame has won three games in a row over top-ranked Syracuse, 24th ranked Seton Hall, and 19th ranked Connecticut (3-0 ATS). The Irish held those three formidable opponents to just 33% field goals, 24% from beyond the arc, and 49 points per game. The wins against Seton Hall and Connecticut were both on the road and now the Irish return home to face Marquette Saturday.
Butler Bulldogs: Butler recently wrapped up a four-game road trip. The Bulldogs defeated Illinois-Chicago and Loyola-Chicago before falling to Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Wisconsin-Green Bay. Fatigue was apparent as the losses to UW-M and UW-GB were by 13 and 12 points, respectively. Butler is now 2-7-1 over its last 10 games and faces a steep uphill battle to make the NCAA Tournament this season.
Northern Iowa Panthers: UNI has quickly fallen out of contention in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Panthers have dropped four if their last seven games and are just 1-6 ATS over that stretch. Leading scorer Anthony James is nursing an injured tailbone and has already missed one game. Interestingly enough the Panthers won that game without him, but they could use his 13.6 PPG going forward.
Indiana State Sycamores: Indiana State ended a 0-4 SU run and 0-7 ATS run with back-to-back SU & ATS wins this past week. The normally cold-shooting Sycamores (239th in points per game and 224th in field goal percentage) shot the lights out over those last two wins. They shot 50.5% field goals (including 44% from beyond the arc) and scored 74.5 points per game.
Buffalo Bulls: Buffalo has won four straight games (4-0 ATS) and has proved to be a contender in the MAC with two of those four victories against the East and West leaders, Akron and Eastern Michigan.