Syracuse at Duke (-5)
If you have not heard, Duke's forward Matthew Hurt is on fire.
Over the last three games, Duke's leading scorer recorded 22 points at Wake Forest and 22 versus Virginia, plus a casual 24 at NC State. That is 22 or more points in three straight games for 68 total points, the most in his career over any three-game stretch at Duke. Hurt's career-high is 26 points at home versus Wake Forest this season and he has almost eclipsed that each time in the past three games.
The 6-foot-9 sophomore has gone 24-of-32 (75%) from the field in that stretch, posting two games of 8-of-9 (88.8%) and 8-of-10 (80%). Hurt is also hitting the triple at 73.6% in that span, making 14-of-19 three-pointers.
Jalen Johnson recently left the team to focus on training for the NBA. Since then, Hurt has played two games and scored 22 points in both of them, playing 31 and 38 minutes. He is now averaging 18.5 points per game on the season and Syracuse is a favorable matchup in his second meeting.
Hurt scored 12 points on Syracuse in the lone meeting last season. Hurt played 26 minutes, going 3-of-6 (50%) from the field, 5-of-6 (83.3%) from the charity stripe and 1-of-4 from deep (25%).
The Orange allowed a scorer to hit 17 or more points in seven of the last 10 games, with two players scoring 16. NBC's model projects Hurt at 17.1 points tonight, but I like him to surpass 20 points versus Cuse. He is shooting lights out and he will have his fair share of three-pointers playing against this zone. The last two teams to play Syracuse (Boston College and Notre Dame) each attempted 31 three-pointers versus this defense and Duke attempted 23 and 25 in their previous two.
Syracuse has allowed quite a few forwards to score 20-plus points or hover around that mark. Pitt's Justin Champagnie scored 24 points, Virginia's Jay Huff 21, NC State's Jericole Hellems scored 24 and Clemson's Aamir Simms recorded 18 points. Hurt has averaged 18.3 PPG in ACC play and 16.4 at home because of a seven-point outlier performance versus UNC. Excusing that game, Hurt is averaging 18.0 points per game at home with four games of 17 points or more total in conference play.
I would play Hurt up to 19.5 for 1u and 20.5 for 0.5u or less. NBC's model also fathoms the game total Over 150, which is a positive sign in backing Hurt.
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Sam Houston State (-9.5) at Lamar
Here is a little Southland Conference action to kick-start your Monday. You are welcome. Sam Houston State and Lamar already met this season, on Jan. 13, with Sam Houston State winning decisively 96-71. Since then, Sam Houston State is 6-1 SU (85.7%) and 4-2 ATS (66.6%), Lamar is 1-6 SU (14.3%) and 2-5 ATS (28.5%).
Versus teams ranked outside the top 200 in Kenpom rankings, Sam Houston State is 9-0 SU (100%). Since conference play began, the Bearkats have gone from 299th to 171st in Kenpom.
Sam Houston State opened the season with five tough DI opponents, all ranked inside the top 56, resulting in five losses. Sam Houston State played three of their Non-DI opponents between those losses, so a 3-5 SU (37.5%) record with three Non-DI wins deserved the 299th ranking. Now, Sam Houston State is 13-1 SU (92.8%) since Dec. 19.
Sam Houston State ranked third or better in conference play in all these categories, both offensive and defensive: Efficiency, effective field goal percentage, two-point percentage, three-point percentage, and turnover percentage. The Bearkats also rank fourth in offensive rebounding percentage (31.8%) and fourth in free-throw percentage (72.4%).
On the other hand, Lamar is 4-16 SU (20%) on the season and lost five straight by an average of 8.6 points. In the last four games, they have allowed their opponent to score at least 76 points. Sam Houston State has scored 75 or more in four of the previous five games. Lamar ranks near the bottom of a ton of categories in the 14-team Southland Conference.
The Cardinals are shooting 45.7% from two (13th), 30.8% from three (11th) and 45.9% effective field goal percentage (12th). Defensively, Lamar allows 40.9% from deep (12th) and holds a 547% effective field goal percentage (12th). Overall, Lamar ranks 10th in both offensive efficiency (96.8) and defensive efficiency (108.5). Sam Houston State ranks second in both. Lamar also posts underwhelming rebounding numbers, ranking ninth in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentages.
In the Southland Conference, Sam Houston State is tied for first with Abilene Christian at 10-1. Stephen F. Austin (9-1) and Nicholls State (10-2) are not far behind either school. Sam Houston State beat Abilene Christian 64-57 at home, Nicholls State 78-71 at home and on the road 84-81. They lost to Stephen F. Austin on the road 78-68 on Jan. 31, Sam Houston State's last loss.
Sam Houston State still has three games remaining after this matchup with Lamar, two of those contests coming against Stephen F. Austin (home) and Abilene Christian (away). Sam Houston State has gone 4-2 SU (66.6%) in the last six meetings with Lamar, winning by 10, 15 and 25 points in the last three wins.
Sam Houston State has been off since Feb. 13 with two games postponed, so look for them to be excited about this matchup. Expect the Bearkats to try and run the score up in a decisive win. NBC Edge's top trend for this matchup is Sam Houston State ATS. The Bearkats are 12-2 (85.7%) ATS in its last 14 games, coming off a rest day.
They need to finish the season strong for a chance at the No. 1 seed. Sam Houston State has a realistic chance with conference punching bags Lamar (2-9) and Texas A&M-CC (1-9) on the schedule. Sam Houston State has to win both two games to be in contention, so a full-effort should come in the first road game after three straight at home for the Bearkats.
Game Pick: Sam Houston State -9.5 (1.5u)
Top Three Games to Bet This Week:
Illinois at Michigan State: Tuesday at 7:00 PM ET
Illinois is coming off a total destruction of Minnesota's morale, beating them in Minnesota 94-63. Next in line are the Michigan State Spartans fresh off a huge road win over Indiana, 78-71. Illinois has won seven straight games in conference play, all coming by four or more.
Michigan State is 3-5 SU (37.5%) over the last eight games returning from a COVID break. They are 3-2 SU (60%) in the past five games and 2-1 (66.6%) SU at home. Despite the win over Indiana, Illinois is moving different right now and have their eyes on the Big Ten crown and beyond.
Michigan State has beaten Illinois two consecutive games, the last a one-point victory at Illinois. The Fighting Illini have lost three straight in East Lansing and this feels like the one where they breakthrough. Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu recorded his first triple-double of his college career in the previous game, 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists at Minnesota. Illinois is hot and hard to fade, while Michigan State is not right now.
Kansas at Texas: Tuesday at 9:00 PM ET
Kansas has won five straight games, getting hot at the right time. The Jayhawks travel to Texas to take on the Longhorns fresh off their disappointing loss to West Virginia. Kansas beat two ranked teams during this winning streak and Texas is 3-5 SU (37.5%) over the last eight games, all five losses coming to ranked opponents.
Stepping in front of the Jayhawks right now is hard to imagine as they held their last five opponents to 66 or fewer points. This is Texas' final home game, so expect them to play with motivation, especially senior night. The spread should open up -2 or -3 in favor of Kansas and that is what side I lean as they are getting hot heading into March, while Texas is not.
Marquette at North Carolina: Wednesday at 7:00 PM ET
What an odd and interesting game as North Carolina and Marquette get an out of conference meeting late in February. The Tar Heels are winners of two straight, covering in both matchups over Northeastern and Louisville. Louisville was on a 19-day break and Northeastern, well, come on. North Carolina is starting to get some national attention, but there is still much that remains to be seen with four games left.
Marquette got a much-needed win over Butler in their last outing but lost three straight before that. Now that Marquette beat Butler twice in the past five games, Marquette is 0-6 SU (0%) in the last six games, excluding Butler. With the game being in Chapel Hill, expect a spread of -6 to -8 range for North Carolina.
The only meeting between the two schools came in 2011, a UNC win, 81-63. The Tar Heels have scored 82 or more points in three of the last four games, all wins. Marquette has allowed 57 (Seton Hall), 71 (Creighton) and 96 points (Villanova) to their opponents during this road trip. Both squads rank 192nd or worse from three this season and defend it worse, ranking outside 250th. Whoever dominates the boards or gets hot outside will be the victor of this matchup, both favoring the Tar Heels.