The talk of the college basketball world has been anywhere BUT where fans and wagerers would like it to be this week. Instead of talking about Final Four matchups and a really interesting and NBA-talent laden NIT Final Four, we are instead talking about referee (potential) scandals in the Pac 12 and coaching abuses at Rutgers.
It is a unpleasant diversion from the games and athletes, but what went on at Rutgers is simply absurd. Administration SAW this video months ago and though the coach only deserved a suspension?? Gene Hackman got fired from a college for punching a player in HOOSIERS and that (admittedly fictitious) incident occurred in the LATE 1940’s!! Eighty years later you have to debate whether or not a coach can strike players and call them the ridiculous slurs like Mike Rice did??
Anyhow, good riddance to that guy. Let’s get back to what is GOOD about college sports, namely seeing amazing teams battle on the hardwood for trophies. It may not be the glamour of the Big Dance, but there is a fantastic game taking place in New York City, and a good wagering opportunity as well.
Baylor Bears vs. Iowa Hawkeyes -2 (NIT Championship Game)
I have been big on Iowa, though I wrongly picked Maryland to cover in the Semifinal, and I’ve liked Iowa for good reason. I thought from the outset their resume merited NCAA Tourney inclusion (especially since they finished ahead of Minnesota and Illinois and conference and notched non-con wins over Northern Iowa and Iowa State). This is a good ballclub and the way Roy-Devyn Marble has played the last four weeks is making him into the front-runner for 2014 Big Ten POY; assuming Burke, Oladipo, Zeller and a few other Michigan youngsters like Hardaway all take their talents to the NBA.
Marble has averaged 24.3 points and nearly five rebounds and assists in the NIT. He has easily been the best player in a tournament that includes future pros like Alex Len and Isaiah Austin (whom he will face tonight). He is the main reason why Iowa has been dominant lately against the spread, covering in TEN straight contests, six of which were Big Ten games.
Baylor has also played well in the NIT, taking out quality teams like BYU, Providence and Arizona State. However, they are going to meet the toughest and most physical team they’ve seen in a while tonight in Iowa. The Hawkeyes hold their opponents to under 39% shooting from the floor, and apply the kind of pressure that Pierre Jackson and the Bears have struggled against. Their only Big Ten foe they’ve faced this season, Northwestern, beat them in their own gym. Iowa is a much more talented team than Northwestern.
I am going to ride the hot team and the hot player with Iowa. They’ve covered ten in a row, winning nine of those games outright with the only loss being a brutal 59-56 loss to Michigan State whom they led for more than 38 minutes.
Give me Iowa butting down the nets in a nice stepping stone victory to bigger things to come in 2014.
Free Pick: Iowa Hawkeyes -2