The year of parity madness is apparently not simply confined to the big boys. Upsets abound in the small conference championships with two top-seeds and potential glass-slipper candidates already being summarily dismissed. North Florida got rolled by 31 on their home floor by Florida Gulf Coast (#4 seed) two nights ago, and last night, the Ohio Valley’s top seed got stunned by #8 seed Austin Peay who pulled off their third upset win in as many nights to reach the OVC final. The game was in Nashville to boot, making the upset even more stunning.
And in true One Shining Moment fashion, the game was a beautiful blend of basketball, drama and emotion. The Bruins appeared to win the game on a buzzer-beating tip-in, only to have the call reviewed on the monitor and waived off. The Governors celebrated wildly while their 30-year veteran head coach Dave Loos sat down for a postgame interview with the ESPN broadcast team. With tears in his eyes, he said hello to his five-year old granddaughter in Sloan-Kettering Memorial and wished her well in her battle with pediatric cancer.
Just a reminder how shining these One Shining Moments can be come March…
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Today’s Free Pick:
Cal Bears -3.5 at Arizona State Sun Devils
Sure, Cal collapsed in the final minutes at Arizona this week, turning a huge win into a crushing defeat in the blink of an eye (or Gabe York 3-point explosion), but it shouldn’t obscure the fact that a team many though could contend for a Final Four berth preseason has finally begun to gel and look like a major player in March. Are they Final Four good? Probably not. Do they have a roster with more NBA talent than all but 8-10 teams in the country? Yes.
Cal, even with the Arizona defeat, has won seven of their last eight games and nine of their last twelve. They’ve covered their last five games in a row as well, as they were underdogs at ‘Zona. They are playing as good of basketball as just about anyone in the country. Frankly, I am STUNNED they are only laying 3.5 at a dreadfully cratering Sun Devils squad.
Arizona State has lost four of five, seven of nine and nine of twelve. They have gotten beaten by double digits in six straight losses including a few insane pummelings like the 81-46 debacle at Utah or the 99-61 trouncing at Arizona. I’d put Cal on the same talent plane as the two aforementioned teams, and despite being at home tonight, I’d give them little chance of winning the game.
I understand the close line from the sense that Cal is just 3-8 on the road and 5-6 ATS away from home. But keep in mind this is a VERY young team that struggled early. They’ve grown up and matured and are playing really, really good basketball. They recently won at Washington and outplayed Arizona in Tuscon for 38 minutes. I like them to control the game tonight and to pile on Bobby Hurley’s woes at Arizona State.