Huskies, Dons meet in Seattle

By: Chuck Harter | Saturday, December 26, 2009

Guard Isaiah Thomas leads the Huskies with 21 three-pointers this season.

For years I’ve had to refrain from using the words Isaiah and Thomas and betting in the same sentence (for fear of a stage-five lawsuit), but the Washington Huskies’ sophomore point guard has enabled me to do so once again without the possibility of retribution.

I know the former Detroit Pistons’ great spelled his first name without the first ‘A’, but I couldn’t resist linking the two players. After all, with the way Isaiah Thomas is currently performing, he might find himself in the NBA just like the retired leader of the Bad Boys.

Thomas is averaging 18.8 points per game for the No. 22 Huskies (8-2, 2-6 ATS), who host the San Francisco Dons (4-9, 3-7 ATS) on Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Arena. This isn’t the most glamorous matchup on the college football betting board this week, but there are some angles for hoops bettors to make handicapping it worthwhile.

The line and total had not yet been set as of press time, but expect Washington to be giving at least 20 points to San Francisco on Sunday.

As well as the speedy 5-foot-8-in-stilts Thomas has performed early in the season, Quincy Pondexter (21.8 PPG, 8.6 RPG) has been the man for the Huskies. Pondexter has stepped out from underneath the large shadow of the departed Jon Brockman to become arguably the best frontcourt player in the Pac-10.

Pondexter went for 25 points and 12 rebounds in Washington’s 73-64 win as 7 ½-point home chalk over No. 19 Texas A&M on Tuesday night, as the Huskies improved to 8-0 SU but only 2-4 ATS at home this season. Washington (-11) also covered in its 89-54 pounding of Portland last Saturday, so it has cashed in two straight games after dropping five in a row ATS (3-2 SU).

The Huskies’ win over the Aggies was marred by an ugly injury to A&M senior forward Derrick Roland, who went down with a Joe Theismann-style broken leg in the first half. If Roland had not left the game, it’s doubtful if Washington would have defeated Texas A&M – let alone cover the number.

Washington has a nice national ranking, but they haven’t fared particularly well against decent opposition thus far. The Huskies looked tired in getting past the Roland-less Aggies, and they also have SU and ATS losses to both Georgetown and Texas Tech to their discredit.

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Another reason Washington could be ripe for fade bait is that it’s sure to overlook San Francisco on Sunday. The Huskies invite Oregon State to town to begin Pac-10 play on New Year’s Eve; you couldn’t blame Washington for looking past the Dons. That alone won’t be enough for San Fran to win the game outright, but it could be the difference in underdog bettors cashing a winning ticket.

To paraphrase current Louisville head coach Rick Pitino (when he was leading the Boston Celtics), Bill Russell isn’t walking through that door at San Francisco. The Dons were the toast of college basketball when Russell led them to back-to-back national titles in the mid-1950s, but now they’re hardly on the radar.

San Francisco isn’t even among one of the upper-crust teams in the West Coast Conference, so I understand if you’re trepidacious about spending money on this also-ran. Looking at their three games against power conference opponents (South Florida, Colorado and Arizona State) this season, the Dons haven’t covered the spread in any of them.

San Fran is 3-1 ATS (2-3 SU) in its last five contests, but is only 3-6 against the number in losing nine of its last 11 games outright.

To overcome their dismal 7-19-1 ATS record dating back to last season, the Dons will need a big game from All-WCC forward Dior Lowhorn. The 6-foot-7, 230-pound senior led the WCC with 20.1 PPG last season, and is putting up 18.5 points and 5.4 rebounds a night through 12 games in 2009-10.

If there’s a sharp play on the total, it’s on the 'under.' San Francisco has played 'under' the number in five of its last six games (1-5 SU, 3-3 ATS), while Washington is 2-3 'over/under' in the five games in which there’s been a total available for the Huskies.

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