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NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Jan. 6 Opening Lines
by Alan Matthews

Good news for the San Diego State basketball team on Tuesday. The NCAA examination of potential rules violations by the program has ended without any finding of violations. Apparently it never got to the formal stage under the NCAA’s definition because the university never received a letter of inquiry that allows enforcement officers to visit campus and interview coaches, players, staff or other personnel. It had been reported in some media outlets in September that SDSU was under investigation for rules violations that included possible improper benefits to recruits. So no worry about SDSU being banned from postseason play, although the Aztecs don’t look much like an NCAA Tournament team yet. They still might win the Mountain West, however, and were preseason favorites.

Seton Hall at No. 11 Villanova (-14.5)

A 7 p.m. ET tip at Fox Sports 1. What does Seton Hall (12-2, 2-0 Big East) have to do to get ranked? Certainly a win here should do the trick. The Pirates, who haven’t played a ranked team yet this season (best win likely vs. Wichita State), beat visiting DePaul 78-74 on Saturday. Isaiah Whitehead had 14 of his team-high 18 points in the second half and finished with nine assists, while Angel Delgado recorded his seventh-straight double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. It’s the longest double-double streak by a Pirates player since Eddie Griffin had 10 in a row in 2000-01 (whatever happened to that guy?). Seton Hall is on a seven-game winning streak. It allows just 63.9 points per game, second in the Big East to Villanova’s 60.3.

Villanova (12-2, 2-0) has won four straight blowouts since at loss at ranked Virginia. The Wildcats won 85-71 in Creighton on Saturday. Josh Hart had 25 points and Daniel Ochefu 19 points (9-for-10 shooting) and nine rebounds. Villanova shot an absurd .680 from the field. At home, Nova has won 34 straight games at the on-campus Pavilion. The last loss there was Feb. 3, 2013 to Providence, 55-52. The Pirates and Wildcats have split the past four meetings, with Seton Hall’s two wins coming at home and over ranked Villanova teams. The Wildcats opened last season 13-0 before losing at Seton Hall 66-61 in overtime. Nova has won 13 straight at home in this series and blew out the Pirates last season there, 80-54. SHU has held the Wildcats under 70 points in each of its last eight wins in the series.

Key trends: SHU is 4-1 against the spread in its past five vs. teams with a winning record. The home team is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings.

I’m leaning: Seton Hall won’t end that losing streak at Villanova but will cover.

Texas Tech at No. 13 Iowa State (-9)

Tips off at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU. Might this be a bit of a letdown game for the Cyclones (11-2, 0-1 Big 12)? I ask because ISU played an excellent Oklahoma team very tough Saturday in Norman but lost 87-83. The Cyclones led most of the second half and had a chance to win down 85-83 but Monte Morris missed an open 3-pointer with 5.8 seconds remaining. Iowa State shot .563 in the second half but was outscored 50-42. Georges Niang had 29 for ISU. The senior all-American is averaging 24.5 points on 61.9 percent shooting over the past four games. He’d be the Big 12 Player of the Year if not for Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield.

Hard to know if Texas Tech (11-1, 1-0) is a fraud or not. The Red Raiders’ only loss was in Puerto Rico to a ranked Utah club. But TTU hasn’t played anyone else, either. It opened Big 12 play with an 82-74 home win over Texas on Saturday, going wire-to-wire, but the Horns were without arguably their best player in senior center Cameron Ridley. TTU’s 10-game winning streak is the school’s longest since 2003-04. It’s the first time since the 2002-03 athletic year that Texas Tech has defeated Texas in both football and men’s basketball during the same season. Iowa State has won six of the past eight meetings in this series and four straight at home. It was 75-38 last year. Tech did win in Lubbock vs. ISU.

Key trends: TTU is 7-0 ATS in its past seven games. ISU is 5-0-1 ATS in its past six vs. the Big 12. The home team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings.

I’m leaning: I do think Texas Tech is overrated, but I’ll take the points as ISU might be flat.

UNLV at Colorado State (+3)

A 10 p.m. ET start on the CBS Sports Network. Since I wasn’t doing these daily stories during nonconference play, and perhaps you weren’t paying too much attention to college basketball then, sometimes it’s good to get a reminder of a key injury. And that’s the case with Colorado State. The Rams lost guard and leading scorer Gian Clavell a few weeks ago to a season-ending hand injury. Bit surprised it’s the season since it was a broken bone in his non-shooting hand. He was playing 36.9 minutes per night and led the team in scoring (20.8 ppg) and was second in rebounding (6.9 rpg) and assists (3.1 apg). The Rams (8-6) are 2-2 without him following an 84-80 loss at Boise State on Saturday in the Mountain West opener for both. CSU was down 14 at the half and got it down to two points five times but could never get even. The Rams shot 50.9 percent from the field. Senior guard Antwan Scott had a career-high 24 points. CSU leads the MW in scoring at 83.4 ppg.

UNLV (9-5) looked like an NCAA Tournament team for a while there but has dropped three of four. It opened Mountain West play with a 69-66 home loss to Fresno State on Dec. 30. The Rebels had a potential tying 3-pointer blocked. It was only UNLV’s second-ever home loss to FSU. Sophomore guard Patrick McCaw leads the Runnin’ Rebels in scoring this season (13.5 ppg). Freshman forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr., who averages 9.6 points and a team-best 7.8 rebounds, has been battling a thigh injury and missed the game before Fresno State. He played vs. the Bulldogs but didn’t start. Zimmerman was a highly-touted recruit. Colorado State won the only meeting with UNLV last year 83-82 at home and has won four straight in the series there.

Key trends: UNLV is 6-1 ATS in its past seven after a loss. CSU Is 1-5 ATS in its past six at home. The favorite is 9-4 ATS in the past 13 meetings.

I’m leaning: UNLV.