We haven’t talked much college hoops lately, with the schedule completely shutting down the last three days for the Christmas Holiday. Today is also a VERY light slate, with only one “real” game on the docket, but tomorrow college hoops gets a jump on the New Year with a fantastic Saturday.
We will be back tomorrow with at least one, and probably two, picks (let’s see where the lines take us) – but in the meantime, here’s a quick rundown of the loaded schedule. The day starts off with a nice warm-up game, an interesting matchup of Cincinnati and Nebraska, then kicks into earnest at 2pm with a battle of unbeaten – former conference foes Syracuse and Villanova. I am real curious to see Villanova in their first real test since their neutral court upset of Kansas catapulted them into national attention. That is followed by one of the most fervent and vitriolic rivalries in all of basketball – Louisville and Kentucky. That right there is 4 ½ hours of appointment television! For nightcaps, enjoy the Skip Prosser Classic between Xavier and Wake Forest and an interesting rivalry matchup between Providence and UMass. It’s gonna be a great day.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at a renewed Chicago rivalry for tonight’s free pick.
DePaul Blue Demons at Northwestern Wildcats -4.5
Northwestern isn’t off to a start that gives one any indication their infinite streak of NCAA Tournament misses is ending anytime soon, but there is still optimism surrounding first-year coach Chris Collins and the Wildcats long-term prospects for success. Northwestern has won three straight, albeit over lesser opponents, after dropping three straight to quality programs; North Carolina State, UCLA and Missouri. They have gotten great play out of senior Drew Crawford who has netted 50 points in his last two games (and played an insane 79 of 80 total minutes). I expect Collins to leave him on the floor for the duration yet again and for him to have another big night.
Meanwhile, the DePaul glory days of the 70’s and 80’s seem nearly impossible after watching this program flounder for the last ten years without even a hint of mediocrity. It’s the same ole’ same ole’ this season, as the Demons are off to a 7-5 start with only one quality performance (a win over Oregon State) and non-competitive losses to nearly every other quality team they have played. How bad is it for DePaul? They needed overtime to beat Chicago State. Ugh.
Let’s be honest, neither team is very good this season and both will finish near the bottom of their difficult conferences. However, for tonight, Northwestern has a little better roster, and has the advantage of playing at home. I like them to win and cover the four and half points tonight.