We made it five straight college winners last night with Utah doing something they had never done before in Pac-12 play; beat Arizona. Not only was it a ground-breaking win for the program, but it was also a HUGE win for their chances to win the Pac-12 as they are remain just a game behind reeling Oregon who hosts Washington today and then closes with trips to Cali, UCLA and USC. Perhaps more importantly, a team that had slipped to bubble status about a month ago now projects all the way up to a #4 seed.
In other big games, top teams fell everywhere with Oklahoma losing their sixth games in as many weeks, Maryland falling at Purdue, North Carolina falling at Virginia (not an upset – one of them had to lose and both were top ten) and Miami toppled Louisville to pull tied in the insane ACC race.
We are just two weeks away from Selection Sunday – so it is a good time to get dialed in and stay hot. Let’s see if we can make it a half dozen straight today.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Duke Blue Devils at Pitt Panthers -1
Say what you want about Grayson Allen, the dude has taken this game from “decent game on a crowded schedule” to “gotta watch.” After his second tripping incident in as many weeks, Duke officially has its next great villain. I don’t feel like talking about the racial component of the discussion or any of the other interesting social issues that make this fascinating – but instead I’d rather focus on how much more interesting sports are when we have a polarizing player who also happens to be GREAT. Grayson Allen is GREAT. He’s a legit first-team All American candidate and he is playing for one of the marquee brands in college sports. It makes for really good television.
But will it make for a road win in a tough venue this afternoon?
Pitt has designs of being an NCAA Tournament team, and at 19-8 and 8-7 in the ACC, it seems they’d have a strong case. But digging deeper into the resume you’ll find a pretty pedestrian non-con slate and also notice that they have eight ACC wins but are still 0-6 against Top 25 teams this season. In fact, they’ve lost those games by an average of more than 12 points.
Their two games after today are road games at Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, games which not only provide an opportunity for a resume-building win, but also provide a reasonable opportunity for a LOSS; double-whammy. It makes today’s game VITAL for the Panthers. If they lose today, I think they are going to drop one more game, finish 9-9 in conference and 20-10 without a single marquee win. That spells N-I-T.
Duke, despite all the flurry of controversy around Allen, has been really good lately. They’ve won at UNC, they lost a gutty effort at Louisville where they ran out of bodies (Matt Jones is back today, so that should get them through the game today, even with their still-thin bench), and have won six of seven overall since falling out of the Top 25 in early January.
I think Duke wins this game today, and frankly I am surprised that what opened as Duke -1.5 flipped all the way to Pitt -1 (on 5dimes and a few others) this morning. I went back to make sure Grayson Allen hadn’t been suspended by Coach K, and as of this morning, no such announcement has been made. ASSUMING he is playing, and there is no reason to think they’d make a last-second reversal, I like Duke to win this game by a few more than people expect.