College Basketball - Marquette (-6Ĺ, 128) vs. St. Johns 9:00 PM EST
The Golden Eagles are off a feel good win against Pittsburgh at home and would play them for the second time in six days with a win. First things first as they may face the Red Storm possibly without sophomore guard Jerel McNeal, who has an injured his right thumb and Dominic James working through a balky knee.
Even with the important win, Marquette is 2-4 in last six games and on 3-6-1 ATS downer to close the regular season.
Coach Tom Crean will have McNealís thumb examined before tonightís game and just may have him sit this tournament out and instead hope the injury heals in time for the NCAA first round contest. This puts the burden on James and fellow big time performer Wesley Matthews, along with needing significant contributions off the bench. That worked fine at the Bradley Center before a raucous crowd, but how does that play in a different environment, playing day after day?
St. Johnís can be a tricky home team as evidenced this season. On the year they are 14-6 and have upset higher seeded Syracuse and Notre Dame at Madison Square Garden. The bad news for the Red Storm is they lost senior forward Lamont Hamilton, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, to a season ending knee injury in last game against Providence.
With a team lacking in scoring options at 63.7 points a game, which was next to last in the league, this poses a real dilemma. Coach Norm Roberts team will come in just 10-19 ATS after playing a game as an underdog.
With the loss of Hamilton, the home court edge is negated and Marquette is a 6.5-point choice at Sportsbook.com. The Golden Eagles can not look ahead, given their history in conference post-season events. They are just 1-9 ATS in road games in first round tournament games since 1997.
On the season St. Johnís is 4-5 and 5-4 ATS as a home underdog, being outscored by 5.8 PPG. The Red Storm has been far from reliable off a cover with 2-6-1 ATS mark in next contest this season. This plays into system that has states to play on favorites of 3.5 to 9.5 points, which are off an upset win as a home underdog against opponent off a home win by 10 points or more. This system has been correct 77.1 percent over the last decade in its forty-eight appearances.
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