Articles

Ness Notes: Wednesday Jan 27

by Larry Ness

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

This column will be available Monday through Friday (posted no later than 1:00 ET), EXCLUSIVELY at BigAl.com. I like to call it my daily 'random thoughts' on the sports betting world, although I'll pass along that my therapist refers to it as "thoughtful commentary."Handicapping is a 365 day a year job. Sometimes, one just needs a break.  I'll be back with the next edition of Ness Notes on Monday Feb 1.Good luck...Larry

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NFL Super Bowl LV: Chiefs/Buccaneers Preview

by Big Al Staff

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

Tampa Bay will be the first team in NFL history to play at home as the host of the Super Bowl. Their Raymond James Stadium is the site of Super Bowl 55. The Buccaneers earned this honor by defeating Green Bay in Lambeau Field in the NFC Championship Game, 31-26, as a 2.5-point underdog. Tampa Bay won all three games in the playoffs on the road while pulling off upsets in their last two games after they defeated New Orleans, 30-20, as a 2.5-point dog. They are 14-5 this season.Tom Brady completed 20 of 36 passes for 280 yards against the Packers with three touchdown passes but three interceptions. In three games this postseason, Brady completed 60 of 109 passes for a 55.0% completion percentage for 860 yards with seven touchdown passes and three interceptions. In his first regular-season away from New England, the 43-year old completed 65.7% of his passes of 4633 yards with 40 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. The Buccaneers are 5-3 at home with a +4.6 net point differential. They scored 28.5 points-per-game while averaging 349.6 yards-per-game in those eight home games. Their defense gave up 23.9 points-per-game along with 381.0 yards-per-game. The Bucs' three losses at home were against New Orleans, the Los Angeles Rams, and these Kansas City Chiefs. Tampa Bay's 38-3 loss to the Saints was the low-point of their season. They later avenged that setback in the NFC Divisional Round of the playoffs. Kansas City followed up their Super Bowl campaign last year with a 16-2 record to earn the opportunity to defend their championship. After defeating Cleveland in the AFC Divisional Round, the Chiefs dominated Buffalo in the AFC Championship Game by a 38-24 score. Kansas City rebounded from a Week 5 loss at home to the Las Vegas Raiders by winning 12 of their next 13 games to reach this pinnacle. Their lone loss was to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 17, with Patrick Mahomes and other starters taking the game off for rest.Mahomes completed 29 of 38 passes for 325 yards with three touchdown passes and no interceptions against the Bills with no setbacks from the head injury that knocked him out the previous week against the Browns. He did not appear to be 100% with his injured left toe. He ran the ball five times for only five yards. Mahomes completed 66.3% of his passes in the regular season for 4740 yards with 38 touchdown passes and six interceptions. He added 308 rushing yards with another two touchdowns. Mahomes completed 50 of his 68 passes for a 73.5% completion percentage with four touchdown passes and no interceptions in his two playoff games. He also ran the ball eight times of 19 yards with a touchdown. The Chiefs are 8-0 when playing away from Arrowhead Stadium this season. They scored 31.6 points-per-game while averaging 443.1 yards-per-game. Their defense allowed 23.0 points-per-game and 344.6 yards-per-game. These two teams played on November 29th in Tampa Bay. Kansas City won, 27-24, as a 5-point favorite with a total of 59. The Chiefs went into the fourth quarter with a 27-10 lead before holding off the Bucs’ late rally. Tampa Bay pulled within a field goal with just over four minutes remaining in the game, but those were the final points scored in the game. Kansas City was on offense for almost 37 minutes. Mahomes completed 37 of 49 passes for 462 yards with three touchdown passes. Brady countered with 27 of 41 completions for 345 yards with three touchdown passes and two interceptions. The Chiefs expect to have wide receiver Sammie Watkins and running back Le’Veon Bell available for the Super Bowl. Watkins missed both playoff games with a calf injury and a nagging hamstring issue. Bell did not play in the AFC Championship Game due to a knee injury. However, Kansas City does not expect to have either of their starting tackles on their offensive line. Left tackle Eric Fisher suffered an Achilles’ injury late in the Buffalo game. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz is on the Injured Reserve with a back injury that head coach Andy Reid does not think will heal enough in two weeks.The Buccaneers anticipate that both wide receiver Antonio Brown and safety Antoine Winfield will be healthy to play in the Super Bowl after missing the Green Bay game. Safety Jordan Whitehead underwent an MRI on his shoulder the day after the NFC Championship Game with head coach Bruce Arians saying it is too early to determine if he can take the field after suffering that injury against the Packers. BookMaker lists Kansas City as a 3-point road favorite, with the total set at 56. CBS has the broadcast on Sunday, February 7th, with the kickoff at 6:30 PM ET.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: EPL, NBA, NHL, and NCAA Basketball Preview

by Big Al Staff

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

The Wednesday sports card features action in college basketball, the NBA, the NHL, and the English Premier League.The college basketball card tips off at 3 PM ET, with BYU visiting Pepperdine as a 6-point road favorite with the total set at 147.5 (all odds from BetOnline).The nationally-televised college basketball card begins at 7 PM ET. Creighton travels to Seton Hall on FS1. The Bluejays rank 17th in the nation by the Associated Press poll with an 11-4 record. They have won seven of their last nine games with their 74-66 win against UConn as a 3.5-point favorite on Saturday. The Pirates are 9-6 after they lost at Villanova, 76-74, as a 9-point underdog back on January 19th. Creighton is a 1-point road favorite with an over/under of 147.5.Providence hosts Marquette at 7 PM ET on the CBS Sports Network. The Friars fell to 8-7 with four losses in their last five games after their 71-56 loss at Villanova as an 11-point underdog on Saturday. Marquette dropped to 8-7 with their 68-61 upset loss to DePaul as an 8.5-point favorite on Saturday. Providence is a 1.5-point favorite with a total of 138.5.South Carolina plays at home against Georgia on ESPN2 at 7 PM ET. The Gamecocks fell to 3-5 with their third straight defeat in an upset loss to Auburn, 109-86,  as a 1.5-point favorite on Saturday. The Bulldogs are 9-5 after they lost to Florida, 92-84, as a 4.5-point underdog on Saturday. South Carolina is a 5-point favorite with an over/under of 160.Baylor is at home against Kansas State on ESPN2 at 9 PM ET. The Bears remain second in the nation with a 14-0 record. They last played on Saturday when they won at Oklahoma State, 81-66, as an 11.5-point favorite. The Wildcats are 5-11 with their sixth straight loss in a 69-47 setback to West Virginia on Saturday as an 11-point underdog. Baylor is a 24.5-point favorite with the total at 136.5.DePaul hosts St. John’s on FS1 at 9 PM ET. The Blue Demons are 3-5 with two wins in their last three games after they upset Marquette, 68-61, on Saturday. The Red Storm won their third game in four to raise their record to a 9-7 mark with their 96-78 victory against Utah Valley State as a 14.5-point favorite. DePaul is a 1-point favorite with an over/under of 151.5. Colorado plays at home against Washington State on ESPNU at 9 PM ET. The Buffaloes are 12-4 with five wins in their last six games after they defeated the Cougars on the road, 70-59, as a 6.5-point road favorite on Saturday. Washington State has lost five in a row to fall to 9-5. Colorado is a 14.5-point favorite with a total of 137 in tonight’s rematch.Boise State visits Colorado State on the CBS Sports Network at 9 PM ET. The Broncos rose to 12-1 after their 73-51 win against Fresno State as an 11.5-point favorite last Wednesday. The Rams have won five of their last six games to improve their record to 11-3 with their 84-76 upset victory at Utah State as a 7.5-point underdog last Thursday. Boise State is a 2.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 148.Utah State plays at UNLV on FS1 at 11 PM ET. The Runnin’ Rebels pulled off a 59-56 upset on Monday between these two teams as a 6.5-point underdog. The Aggies have lost two in a row to fall to 12-5 with that setback. UNLV has won five in a row to raise their record to 6-6. Utah State is a 6-point road favorite with the total at 136.The NBA has 12 games on the docket. An ESPN doubleheader tips off at 7:35 PM ET with the Los Angeles Lakers playing at Philadelphia. The Lakers are 14-4 after they defeated Cleveland on the road by a 115-108 score as a 12-point favorite on Monday. The reigning NBA champions are 10-0 on the road. The 76ers fell to 12-6 with a 119-104 upset loss at Detroit as a 4.5-point favorite on Monday.The nightcap on ESPN has Golden State hosting Minnesota in a rematch of the Warriors’ 130-108 victory as an 8.5-point favorite on Monday. Golden State is now 9-8. The Timberwolves have lost five of their last six games with a 4-12 record. Minnesota will likely still be without Karl Anthony-Towns, who is out indefinitely after his positive COVID test. Two games are on the NHL schedule. Nashville hosts Chicago on the NBC Sports Network at 7:30 PM ET.Matchweek 20 in the English Premier League continues with five matches. Manchester United hosts Sheffield United on the NBC Sports Network at 3:15 PM ET as a -1.5 goal line favorite with the total set at 2.75.

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Super Bowl Betting Trends

by Al McMordie

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2021

Super Bowl LV will feature a terrific match-up between the Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks from the previous two seasons, with Patrick Mahomes' Chiefs taking on Tom Brady's Buccaneers.  The Chiefs have been installed as an early 3-point favorite, with a total of 56.5 (all odds from BetAnySports).Let's take a look at some historical trends.Dating back to 1981, there have been 41 Super Bowls.The underdogs have gone 21-17-2 ATS, including 6-4 at +3 or +3.5.And there have been 23 Overs against 17 Unders, but with games in the 55 to 57-point range, the Under is 2-1.There have been 12 meetings between teams that played earlier in the season.The revenge-minded team (here, Tampa Bay) has gone 7-5 SU and 6-5-1 ATS, including a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS when installed as an underdog of +7 points or less.  And the team which covered the point spread in the previous meeting (here, also, Tampa Bay), has gone 7-3 SU and 7-2-1 ATS.With regard to rematches from earlier in the season, the Super Bowls have gone Under eight of 12 times.  When the previous match-up went Over the total, the Super Bowl was 3-1 Under; and if the first meeting went Under the total, the Super Bowl was 5-3 Under.  There have been eight games that involved a defending Super Bowl champion.  Those eight teams have gone 4-4 SU and 3-5 ATS, including 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS when not favored by more than 7 points.The team which averaged more points on offense (here, Tampa Bay), has gone 17-23 SU and 14-24-2 ATS, while the team which gave up less points on defense (here, also Tampa Bay) has gone 26-14 SU and 21-17-2 ATS.The team with the better win percentage (here, Kansas City) has gone 17-17 SU and 13-19-2 ATS, including 3-4 SU/ATS when favored by 3 or 3.5 points.The team with the better ATS win percentage (here, Tampa Bay) has gone 23-13 SU and 21-13-2 ATS, including 2-1 SU/ATS when installed as an underdog of +3 or 3.5 points.I am wrapping up my 9th straight winning NFL season, and have released a play in this game, as I look to stay red-hot (currently 82-37 my last 119 selections, as of this writing).  Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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Ness Notes: Tuesday, Jan 26

by Larry Ness

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2021

This column will be available Monday through Friday (posted no later than 1:00 ET), EXCLUSIVELY at BigAl.com. I like to call it my daily 'random thoughts' on the sports betting world, although I'll pass along that my therapist refers to it as "thoughtful commentary."CBB; The new AP poll was released on Monday and for the 10th consecutive week, 15-0 Gonzaga was No. 1 and 14-0 Baylor No. 2. Villanova got back on the court last week for the first time since Dec 23 and remains No. 3 with a 10-1 record. Cracking the top-5 for the second time in his first two seasons as Michigan's head coach, Juwan Howard's 13-1 Wolverines are ranked No. 4. However, Michigan's rise comes on the heels of the school announcing a two-week pause in all sports activities due to concerns about a new COVID-19 variant believed to spread at a higher rate. That has led to the postponement of the Wolverines' next four games through at least Feb. 11. It remains to be seen how much their ranking will fluctuate during that time. Florida State can relate, as the Seminoles fell out of the poll from No. 25 in the midst of having three straight January games postponed. However, FSU's won FOUR straight games since returning (THREE by double-digit margins) and re-entered the poll Monday at No. 16. Rounding out the top-10 are 11-2 Texas (No. 5), 13-1 Houston (No. 6), 12-3 Iowa (No. 7), 10-2 Virginia (No. 8), 13-3 Alabama (No. 9) and 11-4 Texas Tech (No. 10). Let's hear it for the Tide, who have won NINE in a row and jumped from No. 18 to No. 9, the school's highest ranking since January 2007. Missouri moved up to No. 12 (from 19th), while joining FSU as new to the current poll were No. 24 Oklahoma and No. 25 Louisville. Falling out were No. 20 Clemson (see Monday's Notes regarding the Tigers' collapse), No. 21 Oregon and No. 23 UConn. Kansas remained ranked for the 230th straight week (longest-active streak by far) but the Jayhawks have lost THREE straight for the first time since 2013. Kansas checks in at No. 15 (?) but fell out of the top-10 for the first time in two years. Tennessee lost twice, falling from No. 6 to No. 18 and  Illinois (No. 8 in the preseason) is ranked 19th (??), despite its 10-5 record.15-0 Gonzaga (just 7-7-1 ATS) and 14-0 Baylor (11-3 ATS) are joined by two 'over-looked' schools, which remain unbeaten and unranked. Winthrop (Big South) is 15-0 and owns a program-record 20 straight wins (Gonzaga has won 19 straight), while Drake (MVC) is not only 13-0 but is 11-0 ATS! FIVE schools (with 10-plus wins) have just one loss. The list includes No. 3 Villanova (10-1), No. 4 Michigan (13-1) and No. 6 Houston (13-1) but also 16-1 Belmont (OVC) and 13-1 Boise St (MWC). Note that Drake will play at 9-1 Missouri St (which is 7-1 ATS, itself) tonight. (Bulldogs are favored by  3 1/2-points).There was just one game between ranked opponents on Monday, as No. 10 Texas Tech lost 88-87 at No. 11 West Va. Both teams held double-digit leads and lost them. West Virginia trailed 75-63 with 7:11 to go but Miles McBride drove for a leaning bank shot with 5.9 seconds to go, allowing the Mountaineers to escape with the one point wins. Higher ranked teams are now 29-17 (.630) SU but just 21-25 (45.7%) ATS on the season. There are FIVE ranked teams in action on Tuesday, with No. 5 Texas (11-2) hosting No. 24 Oklahoma (9-4). The Longhorns have not played since Jan 16, when their shorthanded squad (because of COVID-19) overwhelmed Kansas State 82-67 at home. Texas' ensuing two games, at Iowa State and at TCU, were postponed because of COVID-19 and player availability protocols among the Cyclones and Horned Frogs, respectively. Oklahoma heads to Austin with plenty of momentum after a 75-68 home win over then-No. 9 Kansas on Saturday. The Sooners have won their last three games overall but have lost their last three road games, at then-No. 6 Kansas, at No. 2 Baylor and at Xavier. Texas is favored by 4 1/2-points. No. 19 Alabama will put its nine-game winning streak on the line when it hosts 5-9 Kentucky ('Bama is favored by seven points). No. 18 Tennessee (down from No. 6) will look to break a two-game slide when it hosts 9-7 Mississippi St. The Vols are favored by  9 1/2-points and when head coach Rick Barnes was asked to explain his team's back-to-back losses by a collective 35 points, replied "We have turned the ball over 36 times, and you can't do that" The man has a point! Last but not least, No. 22 St Louis (7-1) takes the court for the first time since Dec 23 when it hosts 8-4 Dayton (Billikens are favored by nine points).NBA: The Lakers improved to 10-0 on the road this season with a 115-108 win at Cleveland on Monday night. The East's top record still belongs to the 12-6 Philadelphia 76ers but they lost 119-104 at Detroit. The Celtics got Jayson Tatum back (hadn't played since Jan 8, missing four games) at Chicago and he scored 24 points in a 119-103 Boston win (Celtics are 10-6). The Nets improved to 11-8 by beating Miami 98-85, for a second time in three days. The Heat made the NBA Finals last season but currently are 6-10. The season tipped off back on Dec 22 and Monday's games concluded FIVE full weeks of play. Here's a five-week "look-back!"The Lakers' 14-4 record is a league-best, although they are a more modest 10-8 ATS. That said, their plus-9.8 point differential is also an NBA-best. The Lakers' Staples Center co-tenants, the Clippers, have won SEVEN straight and check in at 13-4 (10-7 ATS). The Clippers will play tonight in Atlanta against the 8-8 Hawks but Kawhi Leonard and Paul George did not join the team on its flight to Atlanta, as both were ruled out on Monday due to the NBA's health and safety protocols. With no Kawhi or PG, the Hawks are favored by five points. The Utah Jazz own the NBA's longest active winning streak at EIGHT in a row (also 8-0 ATS) and will host the 8-10 NY Knicks on Tuesday at 12-4. In this 'Year of COVID,' the Jazz have started the same five players in each of their 16 games (amazing!). Utah is favored by 11 1/2-points. In the early going, the Lakers, Clippers and Jazz have seemed to establish themselves as the West's top-echelon. At the other end of the spectrum, the 6-10 Kings, the 5-10 Pelicans and the 4-12 Timberwolves are all playing sub-.400 basketball. Is it notable that the Pelicans, led by 'Zion the Magnificent,' are winning one-third of their games? Over in the East, I noted above that 12-6 Philadelphia owns the best record but very little separates the conference's top-five (just 1 1/2-games between No. 5 and No. 1), as Boston and Milwaukee are 10-6, Indiana is 10-7 and Brooklyn is 11-8. The Bucks have sure NOT looked like the team that's owned the NBA's best regular season record in each of the last two years but they can't be dismissed after just 16 games. I guess the 76ers and Celtics will be near the top of the East standings for most of the season, health permitting. The 'wild card' is the Nets, after Harden forced a trade from Houston. Harden produced  a triple-double in his Brooklyn debut (32-12-14) and through six games (Nets are 4-2), is playing 40.2 minutes, averaging 23.0-7.3-11.3. KD is averaging 30.4 PPG on the season and since Harden's arrival, has averaged 32.2 PPG (missed one  of the six games to 'rest'). Everyone's favorite teammate, Kyrie Irving, has graced the Nets by returning these last four games. He averaged 37.5 PPG in back-to-back losses to the Cavs but 22.0 PPG and 5.5 APG in two wins over Miami (see anything in those numbers?). Speaking of Miami, the Heat made the NBA Finals against the Lakers in the Orlando 'bubble,' ending their postseason by going 14-7 SU and with a playoff-best 16-7 ATS record. However, the current edition of Miami looks nothing like last summer's team, going just 6-10 SU and 6-9-1 ATS. In fact, just two teams in the East own a worse record than the Heat, the Pistons and Wizards. Detroit is a NBA-worst 4-13 but a respectable 9-7-1 ATS. Then there is 3-9 Washington. The Wizards got back on the court Sunday night for the first time since beating the visiting Phoenix Suns 128-107 back on Jan 11. Head coach Scott Brooks and the Wizards were simply happy to be back on the court but the San Antonio Spurs used their depth to beat Washington 121-101. The Wizards are back in action tonight, when they visit the 6-9 Rockets. Houston is favored by 3 1/2-points. Russell Westbrook returned to the court on Sunday, for the first time in more than two weeks due to a left quadriceps injury. He finished with nine points, eight rebounds and six assists in 25 minutes. That got me thinking (always a frightening proposition). Remember the 2011-12 season when KD, Westbrook and super-sub Harden made the NBA Finals with OKC? I'll make it part of my Wednesday Notes, along with some "thoughtful commentary" on Aaron Rodgers.Good luck...Larry

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Big Al's Daily Angle: EPL, NHL, NBA and NCAA Basketball Preview

by Big Al Staff

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2021

The Tuesday sports card features action in college basketball, the NBA, the NHL, and the English Premier League in the afternoon.The college basketball card tips off at 2 PM ET, with Tulsa visiting Temple as a 1-point road favorite with the total set at 143 (all odds from BetOnline).The nationally-televised college basketball games begin at 7 PM ET. Texas hosts Oklahoma on ESPN2 in a battle of ranked Big 12 foes. The Longhorns raised their record to 11-2 with an 82-67 win against Kansas State as a 17-point favorite on January 16th. They rank fifth in the nation in the Associated Press poll. The Sooners won three in a row with their 75-68 upset victory at home against Kansas as a 1.5-point underdog on Saturday. They are ranked 24th by the AP with a 9-4 record. Texas is a 4.5-point favorite with an over/under of 143.Alabama plays at home against Kentucky on ESPN at 7 PM ET. The Crimson Tide have won nine straight after they defeated Mississippi State on Saturday, 81-73, as a 9.5-point favorite. Alabama ranks 9th in the nation with a 13-3 record. The Wildcats ended a three-game losing streak on Saturday with their 82-69 win against LSU as a 1-point favorite. Yet John Calipari’s team is just 5-9 this season. Alabama is a 7.5-point favorite, with the total at 147. Memphis is at home against SMU on ESPNU at 7 PM ET. The Tigers won their second straight game to raise their record to 8-5 with their 80-53 win at East Carolina as a 7-point favorite on Sunday. SMU is 8-2 after their 78-65 win at Central Florida, 78-65, as a 5-point favorite on Saturday. Memphis is a 1.5-point favorite with an over/under of 140.Saint Louis plays for the first time since December 23rd when they host Dayton at 8:30 PM ET on the CBS Sports Network. The Billikens rank 22nd by the AP with a 7-1 record. The Flyers’ three-game winning streak ended on Saturday in a 66-43 upset loss at VCU as a 6.5-point favorite. Saint Louis is a 9.5-point favorite with a total of 135.5. UConn plays at home against Butler on FS1 at 8:30 PM ET. The Huskies fell to 7-3 with their second-straight loss on Saturday in a 74-66 setback at Creighton as a 7.5-point underdog. The Bulldogs are 5-7 with two straight wins after their 67-53 upset win at DePaul as a 2-point dog last Tuesday. UConn is a 6-point favorite with an over/under of 125.5.Auburn is at home against Missouri on ESPN2 at 9 PM ET. The Tigers are 9-7 with three wins in their last four games after their 109-86 upset victory at South Carolina as a 1.5-point underdog on Saturday. The Tigers upset Tennessee in Knoxville, 73-64, as a 6.5-point underdog on Saturday. That victory improved Mizzou’s record to 10-2 while placing them 12th in the AP poll. Auburn is a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 148.5.Duke hosts Georgia Tech on ESPN at 9 PM ET. The Blue Devils have lost three in a row falling to 5-5 after their 70-65 loss at Louisville as a 2-point underdog. The Yellow Jackets’ five-game winning streak ended on Saturday in a 64-62 loss at Virginia as an 8.5-point underdog. Georgia Tech is now 7-4. Duke is a 6-point favorite with an over/under of 142.Three games are on the NBA slate. The card begins with Los Angeles Clippers visiting Atlanta at 7:35 PM ET. Utah plays at home at 9:05 PM ET to conclude the card. The Jazz are 11-point favorites with the total at 213.Fourteen games are on the NHL docket. The New York Islanders visit Washington on the NBC Sports Network at 7:08 PM ET. The Islanders are 3-2-0 after losing at New Jersey by a 2-0 score on Sunday. The Capitals are 3-0-3 after losing to Buffalo, 4-3, on Sunday. New York is a -143 money line road favorite with an over/under of 5.5.Matchweek 20 in the English Premier League begins with four matches on Tuesday. Two games start at 1 PM ET, with Leeds United visiting Newcastle United on the NBC Sports Network as a -0.5 goal line road favorite with a total of 2.75. The final two matches start at 3 PM ET. Manchester City visits West Bromwich on the NBC Sports Network as a -2 goal line road favorite with an over/under of 3.25.

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NCAA Monday Night Basketball: West Virginia/Texas Tech Preview

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Jan 25, 2021

A college basketball doubleheader on ESPN concludes at 9 PM ET in a battle between two Big 12 teams nationally ranked in the top fifteen.Texas Tech ranks 12th in the nation in the Associated Press poll with an 11-4 record. The Red Raiders last played on January 16th when they lost at home to Baylor as a 4.5-point underdog. Head coach Chris Beard’s team has not played since facing the number two ranked team in the nation due to the COVID issues with TCU and Iowa State that led to the postponement of those two games last week. Beard said he used the week off to get his players rest while keeping them sharp with some practice time and video sessions. This group is likely Beard’s most talented team in his five years as head coach of this program. While he lost three starters from the team that finished 18-13 last season, he was aggressive in attracting some high-level transfers while bringing in a good freshman class to join junior Kyler Edwards and sophomore Terrence Shannon. Some of the depth Beard had established diminished when five-star freshman Nimari Burnett decided to leave the team to transfer to another school. He was averaging 17.7 minutes-per-game but only scoring 5.3 points-per-game. Georgetown transfer Mac McClung has adapted to Beard’s system to lead the team with a 16.3 points-per-game scoring average. Shannon is second on the team by scoring 12.8 points-per-game. Once again, Texas Tech is an outstanding defensive team under Beard. They are fifth in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to kenpom. The Red Raiders are also seventh in the country by forcing turnovers in 26.7% of their opponent’s possessions. This team also thrives in getting second-chance shots. Texas Tech rebounds 35.1% of their missed shots, 23rd in the country. They also get to the free-throw line as they rank fifth in free throw rate. The weakness of this team is shooting the basketball. The Red Raiders make only 32.6% of their 3-pointers and 49.2% of their shots inside the arc, ranking 213th and 201st, respectively. kenpom ranks their adjusted offensive efficiency at 37th. In their loss to Baylor, they shot just 35.5% from the field while going 6 of 24 from 3-point land.Texas Tech’s three other losses were to Houston, Kansas, and Oklahoma State. Their highest-profile wins are against Texas and Oklahoma. Beard’s team could use another resume-building victory after compiling several wins against lesser competition. West Virginia went on hiatus for two weeks after a COVID outbreak within their program. They returned to the court on Saturday in a 69-47 win at Kansas State as an 11-point favorite in their first game since January 9th.The Mountaineers are 2-2 since losing two players in their frontline rotation at the beginning of the month. Isaiah Cottrell suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in their game against Northeastern. The four-star freshman was averaging only 5.6 minutes-per-game, but he gave the Mountaineers’ depth at forward with potential upside as the team’s highest-rated freshman. The more significant loss was Oscar Tshiebwe, who stepped away from the program for personal reasons. The sophomore led the team with a 10.2 points-per-game scoring average last season but had taken a step back this year by scoring 8.1 points-per-game while adding 3.8 rebounds-per-game. West Virginia ranks 14th in the current Associated Press pill with an 8-3 record. They have resume-building wins against Western Kentucky, Richmond, and Oklahoma. The Mountaineers' three losses were against Gonzaga, Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma, with those first three teams ranked in top-15 in the new AP poll and the Sooners ranking 25th.Huggins still has plenty of talent on his roster. Sophomore Miles McBride leads the team with a 15.3 points-per-game scoring average, and junior forward Derek Culver is adding 13.4 PPG with 10.3 rebounds-per-game. Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil are also both averaging at least 9.6 PPG.West Virginia hosts this game in Morgantown, where they are 4-1 this season. Texas Texas Tech is undefeated in their three road games in the rugged Big 12. While the Mountaineers opened as a small favorite, the Red Raiders will likely be the favorite by the 9 PM ET tipoff on ESPN. BookMaker lists Texas Tech as a 1.5-point road favorite with the total set at 134.

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Ness Notes: Monday, Jan 25

by Larry Ness

Monday, Jan 25, 2021

This column will be available Monday through Friday (posted no later than 1:00 ET), EXCLUSIVELY at BigAl.com. I like to call it my daily 'random thoughts' on the sports betting world, although I'll pass along that my therapist refers to it as "thoughtful commentary."NFL: Super Bowl is set and while it's not a rematch of the first-ever Super Bowl (Kansas City/Green Bay), one would be hard-pressed to argue against the fact that this is going to be one of the most-anticipated matchups of all-time. Tom Brady left New England and Bill Belichick in his rearview mirror and while the Pats failed to win the AFC East for the first time since 2008 by going 7-9 (Belichik's only other losing season in New England came in his first season with the Pats in 2000), Brady led one of the NFL's biggest losers (Tampa Bay) to its second-ever Super Bowl. Sunday was NOT a vintage Brady performance, as he passed for 280 yards with three TDs but also threw three INTs, all coming on THREE consecutive possessions, after the Bucs led the Packers 28-10 early in the third quarter. Rodgers threw for 346 yards with three TDs and one INT (had a QB rating of 101.6 to Brady's 73.8) but the Tampa Bay D sacked Rodgers (the likely MVP) FIVE times. The Bucs never trailed in snapping Green Bay's seven-game winning streak but were aided by a strange (I'm being kind here!) decision from Packers head coach Matt LaFleur with just over two minutes remaining in a 31-23 game. After three straight incompletions had the Packers facing fourth-and-goal from the 8, the Packers elected to kick a field goal to get within five. Green Bay NEVER saw the ball again in the 31-26 loss. LaFleur can explain all he wants but there was NO excuse. However, I want to point out this. Imagine if the Packers had been a SIX-point dog? You think you wouldn't heard cries of a "FIX" coming from every direction? Let's face the facts. Coaches and players (in ALL sports) often make "INCONCEIVABLE" choices (a shout out to Princess Bride fans) just like our politicians, on a regular basis!Brady is now off to his 10th Super Bowl (six wins in his first nine tries), where the G.O.A.T. will take on the defending champion Chiefs, led by Patrick Mahomes who many (most?) believe is the "G.O.AT. in waiting!" Mahomes left last week's win over the Browns in the 3rd quarter with a concussion and he wasn't cleared to play until Friday. The Bills led 9-0 after one quarter but all will remember that Kansas City fell behind by double digits in all THREE of its postseason wins last season. It was "deja vu all over again," as the Chiefs would outscore the Bills 38-6 to take a commanding 38-15 lead by the mid-4th quarter. Mahomes threw for 325 yards with three TDs and zero INTs, giving him an 15-0 TD-to-INT ratio in his six career playoff home contests. Brady becomes the first QB to play a Super Bowl on his team's home field, as the Bucs will face the Chiefs at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium on Feb 7. That's never happened in 54 previous games. However, the G.O.A.T and his team are early three-point underdogs to the "G.O.A.T. in waiting" and the defending champion Chiefs. The over/under is 56. CBB (Fri-Sun recap):There were just three top25 matchups over the last three days (all on Saturday. The higher ranked teams had a bad run of it, as No. 6 Tennessee lost 73-64 at home to No. 19 Missouri, No. 10 Wisconsin (which allowed 52 and 53 points its previous two games) lost 74-62 at home to No. 15 Ohio St and while No. 11 Creighton won 74-66 at home to No. 23 UConn, the Huskies covered by a half-point! Higher ranked teams are now 29-16 (.644) SU but just 21-24 (46.7%) ATS on the season. The nation's top-two teams were in action on Saturday, as No. 1 Gonzaga moved to 15-0 (but just 7-7-1 ATS) by beating Pacific 95-69 and No. 2 Baylor to 14-0 (11-3 ATS) with an impressive 81-66 win at Oklahoma St.While it was smooth sailing for the Bulldogs and the Bears, 11 other ranked teams were in action on Saturday vs unranked teams and were able to go just 5-6 SU plus combined for a money-burning 3-8 ATS mark. The highest-ranked team to lose was No. 9 Kansas, which lost 75-68 at Oklahoma. The Jayhawks are now 10-5, having dropped three consecutive games for the first time since 2013. Kansas has been ranked for 229 consecutive weeks and while the Jayhawks won't drop out of Monday's new poll, their season is sure headed in the WRONG direction. Also losing on Saturday were No. 16 Va Tech, No. 17 Minnesota, No. 20 Clemson, No. 21 Oregon and No. 24 UCLA.The Maryland/Minnesota and Clemson/Florida St games deserve special mention. The Terps are just 3-6 in the Big Ten this season but all THREE wins have come on the road against ranked teams. Maryland's three road wins have come at Wisconsin, at Illinoi and now at Minnesota. Wisconsin was ranked 6th, Illinois 12th and Minnesota 17th at the time of each win. Maryland becomes the first team to have such success on the road while being unranked in the last five seasons. The Terps are now the first Division I program to have three or more top-17 road wins in the same season as an unranked team since Wisconsin did so 2015-16, It's also the first time in program history that Maryland has won three road games against ranked teams. As for Clemson, the Tigers were 9-1 (and ranked No. 12) after a 74-70 win over NC State on Jan 5. The Tigers then had a forced 11-day break (COVID) and returned to the court on Jan 16 at home, only to lose for an 11th straight time to UVa, 85-50. The Tigers followed with an 83-65 loss at Ga Tech and then Saturday's 80-61 loss at FSU. Clemson was allowing 57.6 PPG in its first 10 games (was 5th-best in the nation at the time) but in its three straight losses, has allowed 82.7 PPG. Teams can often lose their 'shooting touch' after a layoff but I don't remember a team losing its ability to play defense! Monday's card features a game between No. 12 Texas Tech (11-4) at No. 14 West Va (10-4) but the only other ranked team in action will be No. 13 Virginia (13-2) at home against 9-4 Syracuse. This will be Texas Tech's first game since Jan 16 after both of the Red Raiders' scheduled matchups last week were postponed due to COVID-19 protocols at TCU and Iowa State. West Virginia just returned from a two-week pause on Saturday with a 69-47 road victory at Kansas State. Prior to the shutdown, the Mountaineers lost two of three games, all decided by four points or fewer. West Va is favored by  1 1/2-points. Syracuse's win against No. 16 Virginia Tech on Saturday was its first against a ranked opponent in more than a year (last was a 63-55 overtime win at Virginia on Jan 11, 2020). The Orange get a chance to win at Charlottesville again tonight but note that Virginia is riding a six-game winning streak and has won 14 consecutive ACC games dating back Feb 8, 2020.  UVa is favored by seven points. The new AP poll comes out Monday afternoon and will be one of the features of Tuesday's Notes. NBA: The season tipped off back on Dec 22 and Monday's games will conclude FIVE weeks of play. My Tuesday Notes will take a five-week "look-back." Sunday highlights were the Clippers winning their SEVENTH in a row to match the Lakers at 13-4 for the league's best record in the league. The Celtics snapped a three-game slide with a 141-103 win over the Cavs and the Bucks ended a two-game skid with a 129-114 win over the Hawks. The Wizards got back on the court last night for the first time since beating the visiting Phoenix Suns 128-107 back on Jan 11. Head coach Scott Brooks and the Wizards were simply happy to be back on the court but the San Antonio Spurs used their depth to beat Washington 121-101 on Sunday night (Wizards). It also marked Russell Westbrook's return to the court in more than two weeks due to a left quadriceps injury. He finished with nine points, eight rebounds and six assists in 25 minutes. Remember the 2011-12 season when KD, Westbrook and super-sub Harden made the NBA Finals with OKC? As part of Tuesday's NBA report, I'll delve into a "Where are they Now" comment?It's a busy 10-game NBA card on Monday. The 13-4 Lakers will try to keep their perfect 9-0 road record in tack with a visit to Cleveland to play the 8-8 Cavs (LA is favored by 10 1/2-points). The East's top record belongs to the 12-5 Philadelphia 76ers, who are in Detroit for a second straight night to take on the Pistons. Detroit owns the NBA's worst record (3-13) but is 8-7-1 ATS. Philly is favored by  6 1/2-points. The 9-6 Celtics are hoping that Jayson Tatum (26.9 PPG) can play tonight, as he hasn't played since Jan 8 after being placed in the league's COVID-19 protocol. The Bulls welcome Boston to Chicago with a 7-9 record but also happen to own the NBA's best ATS mark at 11-5 (Jazz are also 11-5). Boston is favored by four points.Good luck...Larry

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, NHL and NCAA Basketball Preview

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Jan 25, 2021

The Monday sports card features action in college basketball, the NBA, and the NHL.The college basketball card tips off at 3 PM ET, with UNC-Asheville hosting Radford. The nationally-televised college basketball games begin at 7 PM ET. Virginia plays at home against Syracuse on ESPN. The Cavaliers won their sixth straight games against Georgia Tech, 64-62, as an 8.5-point favorite on Saturday. They rank 13th in the Associated Press poll with a 10-2 record. The Orange are 9-4 after their 78-60 victory against Virginia Tech as a 1-point favorite on Saturday. Virginia is a 6.5-point favorite with the total set at 131.5 (all odds from BetOnline).Furman plays at home against UNC-Greensboro on ESPNU at 7 PM ET. The Paladins suffered their second-straight upset loss with their 71-62 defeat at East Tennessee State on Saturday as a 4-point favorite. They are now 10-5. The Spartans have won four straight games after defeating UT-Chattanooga, 74-66, as a 3.5-point favorite on Saturday. UNC-Greensboro is 10-5 on the season. Furman is a 5.5-point favorite with an over/under of 137.5. Bradley is at home against Loyola-Chicago on the CBS Sports Network at 7 PM ET.  The Braves had their three-game winning streak end on Wednesday to fall to 9-5 with their 71-65 upset loss at Illinois State as an 8.5-point favorite. Loyola-Chicago is 9-5 this season. The Ramblers won their fourth straight game on Wednesday to raise their record to 11-3 after defeating Valparaiso on the road, 75-39, as an 11.5-point favorite. Western Virginia plays at home against Texas Tech on ESPN at 9 PM ET. The Mountaineers have won two of their last three after defeating Kansas State on the road, 69-47, as an 11-point favorite. They rank 14th in the nation by the AP with a 10-4 record. The Red Raiders are 12th in the AP poll with their 11-4 mark. They had their three-game winning streak snapped on January 16th in a  68-60 loss to Baylor as a 4.5-point underdog. West Virginia is a 2-point favorite with the total at 137.5.Utah State visits UNLV on the CBS Sports Network at 9 PM ET. The Aggies are 12-4 with 11 straight victories after they beat Colorado State, 84-76, as a 7.5-point favorite on Thursday. The Runnin’ Rebels have won their last four to improve to 5-6 with a 99-45 victory against Benedictine-Arizona on Thursday in an off-the-board game. Utah State is a 6.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 137.Oklahoma State travels to Iowa State on ESPN2 at 9 PM ET. The Cowboys dropped to 9-4 after an 81-66 loss to Baylor as a 1-point favorite on Saturday. The Cyclones are 2-7 with three straight losses after they lost to Texas Tech, 91-64, as an 8.5-point underdog in their last game back on January 9th. Oklahoma State is a 3-point favorite with the total at 145.The Monday college basketball card concludes with Arizona hosting Arizona State on ESPN2 at 11 PM ET. The Sun Devils will want to avenge their 84-82 loss in Tuscon on Thursday as a 2-point underdog. That was their fifth straight loss, which lowered their record to 4-7. The Wildcats improved to 11-3 with the victory. Arizona is a 7-point favorite with the over/under at 156.Ten games are on the NBA schedule. Three games tip-off the card at 7 PM ET, with the two games concluding the night at 10 PM ET. None of the games are on national television.The NHL has only one game on the Monday docket, with Vancouver playing at home against Ottawa at 10:08 PM ET. The Canucks are a -145 money line favorite with the total at 6.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, NHL, NFL and NCAA Basketball Preview

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Jan 24, 2021

The Sunday sports card features the NFC and AFC Championship Games in the NFL. Action in college basketball, the NBA, and the NHL also provide plenty of opportunities for sports bettors.Green Bay hosts Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship Game. The Packers won their seventh game in a row with their 32-18 victory over the Los Angeles Rams last Saturday as a 9.5-point favorite. The Buccaneers have won six in a row after their 30-20 upset win at New Orleans as a 2.5-point underdog on Sunday. Green Bay is a 3-point favorite with an over/under of 53 (all odds from BetOnline). Kickoff is at 3:05 PM ET on Fox.The AFC Championship Game has Kansas City playing at home against Buffalo. The Chiefs defeated Cleveland last Sunday, 22-17, as a 7.5-point favorite. The Bills are on an eight-game winning streak after their 17-3 victory against Baltimore last Saturday. Kansas City is a 3-point favorite with an over/under of 54.5. The CBS broadcast has the 6:40 PM ET kickoff.The NHL has 11 games on its schedule. Chicago hosts Detroit at 12:30 PM ET on NBC. The Blackhawks ended their four-game losing streak to begin their season with a 4-1 victory over the Red Wings on Friday in the opener of a two-game series in Chicago over the weekend. Detroit is off to a 2-3-0 start. The Blackhawks are a -127 money line favorite with the total at 6. The NHL card concludes with Edmonton playing at Winnipeg at 9:08 PM ET. The Oilers are a -125 money line road favorite with the over/under at 6.5.Seven games are on the NBA schedule. The card tips off at 1 PM ET with Indiana plays at home against Toronto. The Pacers are a 1.5-point favorite with the total at 219. The nightcap is in Portland, with Trail Blazers playing New York as a 4-point favorite with an over/under of 214. None of the seven games are on national television. The college basketball card tips off at noon ET. Davidson visits UMass on the CBS Sports Network. The Wildcats are 2.5-point road fairies with the total at 145.5. Western Kentucky plays at Middle Tennessee at 2 PM ET on the CBS Sports Network. The Hilltoppers are 10.5-point road favorites with an over/under of 141.At 4 PM ET, Utah travels to Washington on ESPNU. The Utes are 4.5-point road favorites, with the total at 141. Memphis visits East Carolina on ESPN2 with the Tigers a 6-point road favorite with an over/under of 133. Nevada plays at Wyoming on the CBS Sports Network as a 4.5-point road favorite with the total at 146.Lafayette plays at home against Boston at 6 PM ET on the CBS Sports Network as a 6-point favorite with an over/under of 148.The college basketball card concludes at 10 PM ET with San Diego State visiting the Air Force on FS1. The Aztecs are a 16-point road favorite, with the total set at 126.5.

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AFC Conference Championship: Chiefs/Bills Preview

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Jan 24, 2021

The AFC Conference Championship Game features a rematch of Kansas City’s 26-17 victory in Buffalo against the Bills as a 5.5-point favorite on October 19th.Buffalo responded to that setback in mid-October by winning eleven of their next twelve games to earn this opportunity to play in the Super Bowl. The Bills were perhaps just a Hail Mary play by Arizona on November 15th from being on a twelve-game winning streak going into this opportunity to avenge their loss to the Chiefs. Buffalo defeated Baltimore at home last Saturday, 17-3, as a 2.5-point favorite. The Bills only gained 220 yards in that game in what was a defensive struggle. Yet Josh Allen and the Buffalo offense was on the field for just 24:27 minutes in that game. The Ravens were on offense for over 35 minutes in that game. They gained 340 total yards of offense, but the Bills held them to only 4.9 yards-per-play. Baltimore was poised to tie the game in the second half, but a 100-yard interception touchdown return flipped the script from an imminent 10-10 score to a Buffalo 17-3 lead. Allen completed 23 of 37 passes last week for 206 yards with a touchdown pass. He completed 69.2% of his passes in the regular season for 4544 yards with 37 touchdown passes and ten interceptions. He also rushed for 421 yards with eight touchdowns. In his two playoffs games this postseason, Allen completed 49 of 72 passes at a 68.1% clip for 530 yards with three touchdown passes and no interceptions. He has rushed the ball 18 times in this postseason for 57 yards with a touchdown.Kansas City earned the opportunity to defend their Super Bowl championship by defeating Cleveland by a 22-17 score last Sunday as a 7.5-point favorite. The Chiefs raced out to a 19-3 lead at halftime before hanging on to win the game after Patrick Mahomes left the game after entering the concussion protocol. He was cleared for the concussion protocol on Friday to play in this game. However, Kansas City’s star quarterback may not be at 100% given the turf toe injury he incurred on his left foot in that game.Mahomes completed 21 of 30 passes for 255 yards with a touchdown pass before leaving the game. He also rushed for 14 yards with another touchdown. He completed 66.3% of his passes during the regular season for 4740 yards with 38 touchdown passes and six interceptions. He added 308 rushing yards with two touchdowns.Besides Mahomes’ toe, Kansas City has a sizable injury list for this game. Linebacker Willie Gay is out with a high ankle sprain. The following players are questionable but did participate in limited practice on Friday: cornerback Bashaud Breeland, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, cornerback Rashad Fenton, wide receiver Sammie Watkins. Running back Le’Veon Bell is questionable with a knee injury after not practicing on Thursday and Friday.Buffalo has only two players questionable in defensive tackle Vernon Butler and wide receiver Gabriel Davis. Both players participated in their first practice of the week on Friday. Wide receivers Cole Beasley and Stefon Diggs were both full participants in the Friday practice after being on the injury report earlier in the week. The temperature will be 38 degrees for the 6:40 PM ET kickoff with winds at 7 MPH. The precipitation chance is at a low 5% at game time and increasing to 15% throughout the night. BetAnySports lists Kansas City as a 3-point favorite, with the total set at 54.5. CBS has the broadcast.

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NCAA Saturday Afternoon Basketball: Wisconsin/Ohio State Preview

by Big Al Staff

Saturday, Jan 23, 2021

CBS features a high-profile showdown between two nationally-ranked teams from the Big Ten at 4 PM ET.Wisconsin was embarrassed on January 12th in a 77-54 loss at Michigan. That was likely the worst defensive effort from head coach Greg Gard’s team this season. The Badgers have not allowed more than 77 points, and the Wolverines’ 51.6% field goal percentage was the highest mark that they had allowed an opponent to shoot all season. Gard has successfully had his team tighten things up on defense since that setback. They held Rutgers to 37.3% shooting three days later in a 60-54 victory on the road. Wisconsin then kept Northwestern to 41.2% shooting on Wednesday in a 68-52 win over the Wildcats. D’Mitrik Trice scored 12 points in the win. He leads the team with a 14.8 points-per-game scoring average. Micah Potter added 10 points, and he is scoring 12.1 points-per-game while leading the Badgers with a 6.7 rebounds-per-game average. Trice and Potter are two of the five seniors back from the group last year that was co-champion of the Big Ten conference with a 14-6 mark.Wisconsin is tied in second place in conference play with a 6-2 mark. They trail Michigan, who is alone in first place with an 8-1 record. The Badgers have impressive wins against Michigan State, Minnesota, Indiana, at Rutgers in conference play, plus a high-profile victory against Louisville from their non-conference schedule. Wisconsin’s three losses are to Maryland, Marquette, and the Wolverines. The Badgers rank 10th in the nation in the Associated Press poll with a 12-3 record. Ohio State had their three-game winning streak end on Tuesday in a 67-65 upset loss at home to Purdue. The Buckeyes led that game late before the Boilermakers made a 3-pointer with five seconds left to seal the victory. That loss spoiled the effort of Duane Washington, who made six 3-pointers and scored 21 points. The junior makes 39.3% of his 3-pointers, and he leads Ohio State with a 15.7 points-per-game scoring average.The Buckeyes are 5-4 in Big Ten play this season with losses at Northwestern and Minnesota and two defeats against Purdue. They have defeated Rutgers twice with a signature victory against Illinois to help place them in sixth place. Head coach Chris Holtmann’s team bolsters their NCAA Tournament resume with a quality win over UCLA. With an 11-4 record for the season, Ohio State ranks 15th in the AP poll.Wisconsin is 10-1 at home at the Kohl Center, where they are outscoring their opponents by 17.2 points-per-game. The Badgers hold their opponents to 58.8 points-per-game on 38.0% shooting when playing at home. Ohio State is 4-3 on the road with a +0.6 net point differential per game. Ohio State guard C.J. Walker got upgraded to probable with his thumb injury. Jimmy Sotos is doubtful with a shoulder, and Ibrahima Diallo is out the season with a knee injury. Wisconsin is not at full strength either, with freshman Ben Carson out indefinitely with an upper-body injury and freshman Carter Gilmore questionable with an undisclosed issue. BookMaker lists Wisconsin as a 5.5-point favorite with the total set at 132.5.

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