Gonzaga (+3) over Illinois - In short, Illinois must cool off Gonzaga from behind the arc. The Bulldogs are shooting 44 percent from deep in their last two games, and Matt Bouldin appears to have fully recovered from a concussion he suffered a few weeks back. What's interesting to note is that this line has dropped significantly since opening at 5.5. Bettors are not so confident in the Illini, 3-8 ATS this season, to cover at the United Center this afternoon.
Marquette (+1) over Villanova - One of the more pleasant surprises this season, the Golden Eagles have performed nicely despite losing more than 60 percent of their scoring from a year ago. Lazar Hayward is a bonafide stud, accounting for 40 percent of his team's shots while posting a respectable 44 percent FG percentage. Nova is guard heavy, but has yet to establish a true inside presence. If Buzz Williams team can prevent the Wildcats from getting out into the open court early, look for a back-and-forth grinder that results in undergrads prancing all over the court celebrating a Marquette upset win.
#3 Kentucky (-7.5) over Louisville - Had it not been scheduled amidst a weekend full of bowl games, Winter Classics and late night revelry, this highly anticipated Bluegrass battle would probably be receiving far more national attention leading up to tip-off. In the epicenter, however, the game remains a Huge. Frieken. Deal. This is not a game to preview based on numbers. Instead, you just have to consider all the emotion brewing in Lexington and stretching in every direction to the state's borders. Pitino will press like crazy, looking to hijack what is Coach Cal's most important game of the season, but there's no way UK doesn't win big in front of their devout followers...or at least by eight points.
New Years Eve 3-2