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College Basketball Picks and Predictions for January 18th

Two of the nation’s lone unbeaten teams faced severe tests last night and though the scoreboard reflected two very different outcomes; both passed.

Kansas was simply dominant in their first true road test, building an 18 point half-time lead and cruising to a 20-point beatdown over somewhat-disappointing Baylor. The integration of Josh Selby has been seamless and gives the Jayhawks the component they were lacking to be national champion contenders; if not the favorite.

For Syracuse, it was a slightly different story. The fell to their first defeat last night at Pittsburgh, but displayed the kind of toughness and mettle champions are built from.

Pitt electrified the home crowd with a 19-0 start that saw Syracuse fail to score for the first eight minutes of the game. Most teams would pack it in at this point, take their road defeat in a building Pitt is 50-1 in over the last four seasons and get ready for their next game. Not the ‘Cuse. They responded with a 15-0 run of their own and battled Pitt tough the remainder of the way, leading at several points in the second half before falling to the eight point defeat (a winner we gave you here as part of yesterday’s perfect 2-0).

The Orange lost the game, but the valiant effort they put up without leading scorer Kris Joseph was a valuable learning experience that will serve them well come tourney time.

Before we get to today’s college basketball picks I want you to check out this crazy sports betting system (it will open up in a new tab or window)!

Today’s Free College Basketball Picks:

Colorado @ Nebraska -4.5 (-110 @ BetED.com)

Both teams have been pleasant surprises so far this season. If they played in any other league they’d likely be garnering more attention, alas in the loaded Big 12, despite their improvements they are still likely second tier teams.

Nebraska played mighty Kansas to a three point loss over the weekend, a far superior effort to Baylor’s, while the Buffs knocked off Missouri in a thriller. Both teams are far better than they have been most of the past decade, though they may not end up with the wins to show for it.

That makes tonight’s game an absolute must-win for both teams.

The difference maker is Alex Burks from Colorado. Jordan Hamilton, Josh Selby and the Morris twins get most of the headlines, but Burks is in the conversation for Big 12 POY, and is a likely first round draft pick when he chooses to enter the draft.

The Buffs have some tough losses (Georgia, Texas A&M) that have them more suited for a road win than does Nebraska, whose lofty record is largely inflated with cupcakes and signature moment is “staying close” with Kansas.

I like Colorado going on the road and getting a huge win, and feel even better getting four and a half points.

Free Pick: Colorado +4.5

Kentucky -4 @ Alabama (-110 @ BetED.com)

Alabama is one of the worst teams in one of the worst halves of any major conference in recent memory. The SEC West is a complete train wreck, and Anthony Grant has a real mess on his hands in Tuscaloosa.

Kentucky, meanwhile, is starting to play more cohesively as their trio of standout freshman, led by All American candidate Terrance Jones, are blossoming nicely for Coach Cal. In their last outing, they absolutely pounded SEC foe LSU 82-44.

So how on Earth are they only laying four at Bama?!? I sat down to write this column fully expecting to have to lay between 10 and 12 to get Big Blue tonight; and I was eager to do it.

Kentucky is far superior in every facet of the game; guard play, rebounding, defensively, coaching – they even wear nicer sneakers. OK, that last one was a joke, but so is this line.

Gimme Kentucky in one you won’t have to sweat until the final buzzer.

Free Pick: Kentucky -4

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