There is one thing I know as both a basketball fan and analyzer of game lines. Wisconsin does not lose in the Kohl Center. Wager against them in Madison at your own peril, as fans of Purdue, Michigan State and Illinois have learned over the past few years. Regardless of how excellent the opponent, odds are real good they are leaving Madison with their head’s hung low.
That makes Indiana’s effort last night even more impressive. No, they didn’t pull off the upset, but they were in the game until the final few minutes, even leading at times in the second half.
There has been very little to cheer about in Bloomington since the Kelvin Sampson disaster, but perhaps things are finally turning the corner in Year Three of the Tom Crean Era. The signing of Luke Zeller, the 7-foot younger brother of UNC’s Tyler will help next season – and it is pretty safe to assume they won’t tolerate a fourth in row…
Today’s Free College Basketball Picks:
Siena @ St. Peter’s -2
Here is a classic Vegas trap. The line is tilted because most college basketball fans have no idea how good/bad either of these teams are this year. What they might know is the name “Siena.” It’s recognizable from the past twp NCAA tournaments, including the double OT thriller with Ohio State two years ago.
Um, that team is NOT this team. Kenny Hasbrooke os gone, and this team is not very good at all. They are 7-10 overall, and only 4-3 in the pedestrian Metro Atlantic Conference (MAAC). They have lost to some good teams; Minnesota, Butler; and they have lost to some really bad teams; Albany, St. Joseph’s, Niagara, Canisius.
Not much in their profile suggests they are capable of going on the road and beating a team that is even remotely decent. St. Peter’s knocked off Alabama earlier this season. Granted the Tide’s recent strong play was nowhere evident in November, but the point is there is some athletic talent on this St. Peter’s team.
In conference games, it is important not to underestimate the importance of the home court. When all other things are relatively equal (as in this game), take the home team and relax…
Milwaukee @ Valparaiso -9
Valpo has been on the most pleasant surprises in the Horizon League, entering tonight’s game at 14-5 and a 6-1 first-place league record. They have also been very strong at home, beating similar caliber foes by an average of around 13 points per game.
The Crusaders chances of dethroning Butler in the Horizon league are legit; they have already gone on the road and knocked off Wright State and Detroit and hammered Cleveland State at home. Yes, they got pummeled in their trip to Butler, but still hold a one game edge overall.
Milwaukee, on the other hand is a very disappointing 9-10 (4-4). Three weeks ago the decimated Butler 76-52 and made a statement that resonated throughout the league; this season’s crown is up for grabs. They followed up that effort with losses to Wisconsin Green Bay and a home loss to Loyola (IL). Not very impressive.
Perhaps the Panthers can get up for Valpo like they did for Butler, but I wouldn’t count on it. Valpo is a good and focused team playing in their home barn for some Friday Night Lights. Expect the Crusaders to roll and continue their surprising run at a first Horizon League title.