If Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is to reach an eighth career Final Four, it will be without one of his best players. Junior guard and team captain Joshua Langford has been ruled out the rest of the season – he was originally injured in late December. Langford was averaging 15.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists before the injury. Here’s a look at two intriguing NCAA basketball matchups this week. Check back for NCAAB odds.
Top NCAA Basketball Betting Picks of the Week – February 4th
No. 23 NC State at No. 9 North Carolina
- When: Tuesday, 8 PM ET (ACC Extra)
The Wolfpack probably fall out of the Top 25 on Monday because they have lost two straight and four of six. They were truly horrendous on Saturday in a 47-24 loss to Virginia Tech – no, that wasn’t the halftime score.
NC State’s 24 points were the fewest scored by a ranked team in more than three decades of the shot-clock era. It also flirted with the all-time low total — 20 points by St. Louis against George Washington in 2008 — since the shot clock began in the 1985-86 season. The ACC said it surpassed the previous low mark for a league team set by Georgia Tech in a 57-28 loss to Virginia in January 2015. And NC State’s 16.7-percent shooting (9 of 54) also now stands as the lowest percentage in the history of a league founded in 1953.
NC State shot just 13 percent in the second half and finished the game 9-of-54 shooting. No Pack player reached double figures as CJ Bryce led the team with seven points.
The Heels won their fifth straight Saturday, 79-69 at No. 15 Louisville. Luke Maye had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Cameron Johnson finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds. The victory came three weeks after UNC was beaten by 21 points by Louisville, its worst defeat at home under coach Roy Williams. Saturday’s victory was the first time the Tar Heels beat a team by 10 or more points on its home floor after losing to it by at least 20 at home.
UNC looks for the season sweep as it won at NC State on Jan. 8, 90-82. The Tar Heels scored the game’s first 12 points and never trailed. The Wolfpack twice managed to tie the game in the second half, yet kept coming up a shot or stop short. It was UNC’s sixth straight road win in the series. The Tar Heels went 6 for 6 at the line in the final 32.1 seconds to seal the win. Williams is now 29-4 against North Carolina State in 16 seasons as UNC coach, including 14-2 in Raleigh.
No. 19 LSU at No. 22 Mississippi State
- When: Wednesday, 9 PM ET (ESPN2)
LSU is a half-game out of first in the SEC at 7-1 in conference play. The LSU Tigers do come off that loss, though, 90-89 at home to Arkansas on Saturday. The Tigers’ loss snapped a 10-game winning streak overall and an 18-game home winning streak that is tied for the second longest in the Maravich Center’s 48 years as the home of LSU basketball.
Arkansas shot 58.3 percent for the game, 35-of-60 attempts and an impressive 13-of-24 from the arc (54.2%). LSU shot 26-of-59 overall, 44.1 percent, and just 5-of-24 from the arc (20.8%). The Tigers had a great game again at the line, making 32-of-38, for 80 percent. This is just the 46th time in 402 games since 1966-67 that LSU has lost when making more free throws than the opponent attempts.
The Tigers have scored 80 or more points 12 times this season and are 11-1 in the process (6-1 when scoring in the 80s and 5-0 when scoring in the 90s). LSU is 24-4 in the Will Wade era when scoring 80 or more and 10-0 in the Wade era when scoring 90 or more.
MSU is 4-4 in SEC play. The Bulldogs were 81-75 winners at rival Ole Miss on Saturday. Ole Miss led for a big portion of the second half before Mississippi State used a 9-0 run to take a 66-60 lead with eight minutes left. The Rebels pulled even at 73 on Breein Tyree’s 3-pointer but never could regain the lead.
In the process, the Bulldogs picked up their first win in Oxford since 2010-11 to end a seven-game skid and registered their fourth comeback victory this season. It marked Mississippi State’s first SEC road home halftime comeback going back to 2011-12 when the Bulldogs erased a 39-28 deficit to win 78-77 in overtime at Vanderbilt on Jan. 21, 2012. The four halftime comeback wins also are the most for the program in a single season dating back to 2010-11.
Quinndary Weatherspoon had 27 points. Mississippi State moved to 22-2 and has won 14 straight games over the last two seasons when Weatherspoon provides 20-plus points.
Expert NCAA Basketball Betting Predictions
Back the Heels and Bulldogs.