Yesterday was a good day, going 3-1 ATS in four Battle 4 Atlantis picks. Today, we go right back to the island with a full slate of games. Why fight the crowds at Black Friday? Grab your laptop, plop down in front of some college hoops and make it a much better day….
Battle 4 Atlantis Picks:
1PM EST: Memphis Tigers vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers -3
It would be unfair to just dismiss Minnesota based on yesterday’s performances. They likely played the best team in the field as of today (Mizzou and Louisville have a TON of upside) in Duke. The Blue Devils used their precision offense loaded with shooters as a compliment to Mason Plumlee’s dominant game (National POY, anyone?) to blowout the Gophers.
They will face a similar test defensively from Memphis, but with nowhere NEAR the shooting and discipline. Memphis looked ragged against VCU, committing way too many turnovers and shooting far too poorly to knock off a good Rams team.
Both these teams have a ton of weaknesses and some real offensive shortcomings, however I like the scrambling frenetic play of Memphis to speed up Minnesota and lead to some easy buckets for Memphis. That should be just enough to grab a win.
Free Pick: Memphis Tigers +3
3:30PM EST: Northern Iowa Panthers vs. Stanford Cardinal -2
Man, this tournament is awesome. These are probably the two worst teams in their field, and this is a fantastic game. Northern Iowa showed me a ton last night, handling the talent of Louisville and hanging in that game until the final minute before falling 51-46. They are a smart basketball team, and have some big-game moxy with two key players remaining from the miracle Sweet Sixteen team that clipped #1 Kansas in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Stanford played Missouri tough, especially if you believe as I do that Mizzou is a legit Final Four sleeper. However, I am troubled that it is the same old story out in Palo Alto this season; tough team, an improved team, but still not able to knock off top flight competition. Today’s opponent, Northern Iowa, is very, very similar to another smaller conference stalwart that knocked them off earlier in the week, Belmont.
I like the Panthers today to leave the island with a win under their belt that many experts didn’t see happening.
Free Pick: Northern Iowa +2
7PM EST: VCU Rams vs. Duke Blue Devils -5.5
Suffice it to say that Duke fans are quite familiar with the VCU Rams. It has been more than five years since the Rams and Eric Maynor dealt the Devils a stunning early exit from the Big Dance, and may pundits saw that game as the start of some chinks in the Coach K armor. Since then, he has won a national championship and lost to #15 seed Lehigh in the opening round – so about as mixed results as one can get.
This season, the more I watch this Duke team, the more I like them. They hammered Minnesota yesterday behind the best senior tandem in the nation, Plumlee and Seth Curry. The handled Kentucky on a neutral floor, and I don’t think there is ANY chance they overlook VCU tonight. The days of Shaka Smart’s teams sneaking up on anyone are LONG gone.
I like Duke tonight, but am still very impressed with how much better VCU is this season than I thought they’d be. I’ve seen them, Butler, St. Joe’s, Xavier and Temple all play, and think VCU will emerge as the class of the A10. However tonight they might be playing the class of the country. Duke is legit, and as Sulaimon continues to emerge, this team gets more and more lethal; the best inside-out offense in the nation.
Free Pick: Duke Blue Devils -5.5
9:30PM EST: Missouri Tigers vs. Louisville Cardinals -5.5 (Total: 135)
Now we are talkin! This is about as interesting in early season hoops get as we pit two Top Ten-ish teams together in a stark contrast of styles. Louisville won last night scoring 51 points. It won’t be the last time this season they earn a solid win, look good doing it, and the score remains in the 50’s. They are that stifling defensively (and some would counter, also limited in a half-court offense at times).
Missouri like to play at a break-neck pace, as well as pressuring the ball for a full 94-feet. Tonight gives us one of the best point guard matchups at the season when Louisville’s Peyton Siva squares off against Missouri’s Phil Pressey.
This is my favorite game of the day, and I’m looking forward to watching it. I have TWO picks on this game, the total UNDER 135 and Missouri covering the 5.5 point spread.
Free Picks: Missouri Tigers +5.5, TOTAL UNDER 135