It’s a busy weekend of college hoops coming up. Small conference tournaments are almost all underway and a ton of rivalry games in the BCS leagues are on tap. For many teams it is a final chance to either forge or destroy a tournament resume. Two teams took HUGE steps backwards last night. LSU dropped a home game they simply could not afford to lose, and they lost it in embarrassing fashion, getting boatraced 78-63 to a really poor Tennessee team. The Tigers are still 21-9, but with the way they’ve played of late (and I know the committee says that doesn’t matter) it’s easy to see them on the outside looking in without a nice SEC Tournament run.
Elsewhere, UMass’s bubble all but officially burst last night with a tough 56-53 home loss to Richmond. Lastly, I am seeing most outlets with Purdue on the bubble or even OUT after last night’s loss. I know I have been banging this drum a lot, but at 11-6 in the Big Ten they are still IN on any bracket I’d build. Close losses at Ohio State and Michigan State strengthen that perception for me rather than weaken it. I am really looking forward to seeing how the Committee treats them come next Sunday as it will be an interesting barometer if gaming the RPI system is really more beneficial than playing really well in a really good league.
Our bubble burst too thank to a great shooting effort from Notre Dame (53% FG) and a big road win at Louisville. The win probably moves each team a solid seed; Notre Dame all but locked in to the #3 and Louisville a #5 with a further drop still possible if they don’t prove they can play well with Chris Jones.
We will try to get back on track with a nice bounce-back winner today.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Arkansas Razorbacks -2 at South Carolina Gamecocks
Arkansas failed their big test, getting flattened in their show-me game against Kentucky. But just like North Carolina, Kansas, Providence and Louisville before them, there isn’t tremendous shame in losing to the NBA team known as UK. This is still a good ball club with a legit star in Bobby Portis and a lot of athleticism. They are 12-4 in the SEC and easily in second place in the conference. They’ve won 8 of 10 games with their only other loss coming over a month ago by a single point at Florida pre-suspensions.
Meanwhile, South Carolina tantalized in the early pre-conference play but has been a disappointment in conference play. The ‘Cocks enter at just 5-11 in conference and have dropped six of their last ten. Their win have come over Mississippi State, Missouri, and an odd sweep over a good Georgia team. Even at home tonight, Arkansas feels like a little more than they can usually handle. Frank Martin will be bug-eyed and screaming, but I don’t think it’ll be enough. Arkansas has had a full week to stew over getting embarrassed by Kentucky. Expect them to come up focused and to play far quicker than South Carolina wants.
Arkansas has failed to cover in four straight games, but on the season has been a +.500 wager. USC is a dismal 10-16, largely because of games like tonight where they are slimmer dogs than they probably should be based on talent discrepancies.