Notre Dame, Pitt highlight NCAA betting slate

By: David Schwab | Sunday, January 23, 2011
Tim Abromaitis

Tim Abromaitis’ 10-game double-digit points streak was snapped Saturday.

Monday’s men’s basketball schedule features a big showdown in the Big East when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish travel to the Petersen Events Center to tangle with the Pittsburgh Panthers. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

Notre Dame appears to be back on track after losing three of five games earlier in the month with a 66-58 victory over Cincinnati this past Wednesday as a 4 ½-point home favorite and an 80-75 win over Marquette as a 3 ½-point home favorite on Saturday.

The Fighting Irish are now 16-4 straight-up and 8-7 against the spread, and 5-3 SU in Big East play.

Senior’s Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis have provided the bulk of the offense for Notre Dame this season. Hansbrough is averaging 15.8 points per game, leads the team with 3.8 assists, and is shooting 42.6 percent from three-point range, while Abromaitis is averaging 15.2 points and a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game. A third senior, forward Carleton Scott rounds out a very experienced lineup with 11.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

The Irish are averaging 75 points a game and shooting 44.9 percent from the floor. They have been efficient from the foul-line, converting 72.8 percent of their attempts and are hitting 36.7 percent from beyond the three-point line. Notre Dame is averaging just below 38 rebounds per game.

Pittsburgh put itself in position to move up in the rankings with a huge 74-66 win over the current No. 3 team Syracuse this past Monday. The Panthers closed as a 6 ½-point home favorite and the total went ‘over’ the 138 point line. They followed this up with an 80-50 rout of DePaul as a 16-point road favorite to run their record to 19-1 SU overall and 8-7 ATS. Pitt is currently the only undefeated team in conference play at 7-0 SU.

The Panthers are an extremely deep team with nine players averaging over 10 minutes of playing time a game. Junior guard Ashton Gibbs is the team’s leading scorer with 16 points per game. Senior guard Brad Wanamaker leads the team in assists with 5.4 per game and is averaging 12.9 points and senior center Gary McGhee is the big man underneath the boards with 7.7 rebounds per game.

Pitt is ranked 19th in the nation is scoring with an average of 80 points per game and is ranked first in team assists with an average of 19.9 per game. What makes the Panthers extremely effective is their 43 rebounds per game which is also ranked first in the country. Add in the fact they are shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from three-point range and you can easily see why they are one of the current favorites to win it all this year.

Notre Dame is 3-4 ATS in its last seven road games and 3-2 ATS in its last five games overall. The total has stayed ‘under’ in three of last its last four games.

Pittsburgh is 3-1 ATS in its last four games at home and 4-1 ATS in its last five games overall. The total has stayed ‘under’ in three of its last four games as well.

Head-to-head, the Irish have actually won three out of the last four games both SU and ATS. Last season they knocked Pitt out of the Big East Conference Tournament with a 50-45 victory as a two-point underdog and beat the Panthers 68-53 in the regular season as a one-point home underdog.

This time around, these teams are not that closely matched. The Irish should open as a double-digit road underdog and will need every point possible to keep things close enough to cover. Unless the line breaches the low-teens mark, the Panthers remain the pick in this one.

 
 
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