It was another wacky night in college hoops. We got back to a winning night after a rough week, but for some teams across the country, the week just got a whole lot rougher. Take the Pac-12 for instance. Oregon was threatening to run away with the league after beating both Arizona and UCLA. They turned around and got absolutely hammered by a mediocre Stanford team that is suddenly pumping life into seemingly-dead NCAA Tourney hopes.
Was beginning to look like the Final Four contender many thought them to be preseason. They got beat at home last night by 9-14 USC – a rivalry, yes, but a bad, bad loss nonetheless. The Pac-12 is back to being a complete mess, but at least unlike in past years, it is because there is a handful of good teams and a bunch of decent ones rather than an unappealing lump of mediocrity. I expect at least four Pac-12 teams to get invites to the Big Dance, with as many as seven or eight teams still entertaining notions of earning a bid.
It will be a good weekend of west coast hoops, so be sure to check back this weekend for some more Pac-12 picks.
Let’s head back east for tonight’s pick, for the best conference no one is [aping enough attention to, the Atlantic 10.
Butler Bulldogs at St. Louis Billikens -2.5
St. Louis has quietly built a pretty good program in the wake of Coach Majerus’s untimely death. They went to the tournament last year, and at 14-5 they have a great chance to vault themselves into serious tourney consideration with a win over Top Ten Butler tonight.
However, I am not so sure they are going to pull it off. Yes, they are favored and we have seen what an influence home court advantage has been in conference play this season at times, but Butler is not the type to be easily fazed. They took an odd loss; a one-pointer at a better-than-advertised La Salle team (Yahoo Sports had them IN as a #10 seed in this week’s projections), but in general Butler plays well away from home. They have already gone to Temple and grabbed a win, as well as a conference win at Dayton. They are 6-1 in A-10 play.
Meanwhile, St. Louis’s record is slightly inflated on poor competition. Aside from a win over New Mexico, they have no Top 50 wins, and their conference wins have been close games at St. Bonnie and Duquesne. It is a HUGE game for them tonight, but would anyone bet against Butler in a big game? Not if you are an Indiana, Marquette, Gonzaga, Temple…etc. fan. They’ve witnessed first-hand what happens when you do…
I am not betting against Brad Stevens and his Bulldogs tonight either. Give me Butler on the road to win and cover tonight in St. Louis.
Free Pick: Butler Bulldogs +2.5