Conference tournaments are in full swing with several more bids on the line and the start of the first major tourney, the ACC. Over the next three days, true college basketball lovers should be in heaven. I agree, the Tournament is the best three weeks in sports, but if you love the sport (and wagering on it) it doesn’t get much better than the sheer volume of high quality, intense, meaningful games that are on tap over the next five days.
We took the L last night with Wofford winning but getting a closer fight than expected from tenth-seeded Furman. Manhattan earned a return to the NCAA Tourney as did Northeastern in the other bids resolved last night. So far no real true longshot small conference team has earned their way into the Dance, which could bode well for some high-quality opening round games and makes the 2/15 and the 3/14 matchups a dicey as they have been in recent memory. Wofford, Manhattan, North Florida, Belmont, Northeastern – these schools can all play and will likely not capitulate without a tough fight.
Several more Cinderellas-in-waiting are looking to punch their tickets tonight. Let’s see if we can discern which one in today’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
BYU Cougars vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs -8
BYU handed the Zags one of their two losses just last week, and a home loss at that, joining Arizona as the only team to knock off Gonzaga this year (and ‘Zona beat them by a single point in the McHale Center). Suffice it to say the Zags will be revenge-minded tonight – but will it be enough to cover a pretty large spread on a neutral floor?
BYU is a sneaky dangerous team. They are one of the most explosive offensive teams in the country. They have an All-American candidate in dynamic scorer Tyler Haws. They have a triple-double machine in Kyle Collinsworth, and they’ve covered in seven of their last eight games.
I wouldn’t want to see BYU as my 11 or 12 seed if I’m Iowa State or Oklahoma or Butler. This team can play and they play fast and dynamically. It will be interesting to see if they can get the jump on Gonzaga the same way they did in the Kennel now that they have the Zags full attention. I think this is a good game either way – and I wouldn’t be stunned if the Cougars get them again. Either way, I’m not laying eight.