It was a great day in college hoops; both across the national landscape and for us here at the sportsgeek.com. We capped off a perfect 3-0 ATS day yesterday with two underdog straight-up winners, none more impressive than the young Kentucky Wildcats using a huge second half spurt to take down hated rival Louisville.
I had a few panicky texts and posts yesterday after my Syracuse pick looked shaky early with Villanova taking a 25-10 lead. I wasn’t ever too worried, but must admit, I didn’t see them outscoring them by 31 points in the final 30 minutes. Two things are evident from that game. First, Villanova is about what I thought they were a good, but certainly not elite team. They played better than the final score indicates, and MOST teams are going to leave the Carrier Dome unhappy this season, but ‘Nova is not a legit National Title contender; and that’s OK. Fans should be happy if they win a tourney game or two given this season’s initial expectations. And my second take-away – Syracuse is REALLY good. Tyler Innis is legit at the point. Couple him with the athletic wings, good size and depth, a smothering defense and the veteran leadership of CJ Fair and this is a title-worthy team. I’d have them 1A with Arizona in my final review of the 2013 non-con portion of the season.
Today is a much lighter slate of college hoops, but there is one game I really like. You might not be able to find it on TV, but the line jumps off the page.
Today’s Free Pick:
Davidson Wildcats at Wichita State Shockers -16.5
I know I have been higher on Wichita State than most hardcore experts all season. Yes, they play in a mid-major league and will have a less-than-challenging remaining schedule. But they DID go to the Final Four last year and return five of their top six players, including their best shooter (Baker) and best player (Cleathony Early). This team is REALLY good.
For Davidson, as Rick Pitino might say, Steph Curry ain’t walking through that door. This Wildcat team enters at 4-8 and LOOKS like a low-major once again. However, let’s not murder them for their record. As part of their eight losses they have dropped games to Duke, Virginia, Clemson, New Mexico and North Carolina. If you are keeping score at home, they are now in last place in the ACC. Those losses don’t bother me a ton. However, in their last three games they have also lost to Niagara and Drexel by a combined 25 points. (For anyone with a lingering ‘did you see Drexel against Arizona, they aren’t bad’ bias, they have since lost by 20 to St. Joe’s and needed overtime to beat Cleveland State. They are average at best).
Davidson has the recent overtime loss to North Carolina to hang their hat on, but aside from them, they have not acquitted themselves particularly well against good teams. They lost by 31 to Clemson, 36 to Duke, and 21 to New Mexico. They’ve been getting simply throttled and it is because they cannot defend high-major talent. They simply lack the speed, size and athleticism.
Forget conference labels – Wichita State has high-major talent. And they have an INSANE home gym advantage. Even with students on Christmas Break, I expect this heavily community-supported team to come out and play well in front of the home faithful. The spread is huge, but I think Wichita State can get over top of it and cover.