Good thing Kentucky doesn’t play hard… Insert foot in mouth and replace with giant size-22 sneaker in the backside. West Virginia got the brakes beat off them something ridiculous last night, and the funny thing about it was that Kentucky didn’t appear to expend a ton of energy in the process. It wasn’t an emotional “how dare you insult us” chest-thumping extravaganza, instead it was a calm, methodical beat-down. It was even more dismissive by how little the ‘Cats had to push themselves.
You can bet Notre Dame will do no similar taunting before Saturday’s Regional Final, but will instead be trying to conjure someway, any way, to contend with the most dominant show in college hoops.
We notched a pair of easy winners last night with both Kentucky and Notre Dame winning and covering with ease. Let’s try to replicate the success tonight with the second half of the Sweet Sixteen matchups.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Utah Utes vs. Duke Blue Devils -5
SO far it has been a weekend for the favorites, and I don’t think this game will reverse the trend. Duke has looked fantastic so far in the tournament, peaking at the right time and seemingly at great peace with running their offense through the most dominant big man in the country and to get their three-pointers as a result of the collapsing defense. It is a pretty good recipe, and one that not just Okafor, but the trio of Winslow, Jones and Cook seem to benefit from as well.
Utah has some talent and Delon Wright is a legit pro. They have an interesting big in Bachinski who can at least bang a bit with Okafor. But I just don’t think Utah has enough offense to hang with the Blue Devils. I am a little surprised that Utah is only a five point dog. They have a nice record, but have failed in most of their tests against top competition. They lost to SDSU, the lost to Kansas, and they got their butts kicked by Arizona twice. Their only real marquee wins are Wichita State and UCLA WAY before they got their act together.
I think Duke similarly overwhelms them tonight and advances to the Regional Final with less trouble than this line predicts.
North Carolina State vs. Louisville Cardinals -2.5
It’s not often we get a conference matchup this early in the tournament (and it’s possible most people don’t even realize this IS an ACC game with Louisville’s recency to the league), but tonight will feature two conference opponents who are familiar with each other.
A lot of people thought Louisville was over-seeded a bit after the loss of point guard Chris Jones. However, since his dismissal, the Cards have actually played pretty well, knocking off Virginia and cruising into the Sweet Sixteen after picking apart Northern Iowa. Freshman replacement Quentin Snyder should feel at home tonight; he made his career debut as a starter in the same building, the Carrier Dome, a month ago and has been good in the tournament scoring 26 points with 9 rebounds in two games.
North Carolina State will also be confident, having already beaten the Cardinals this season. However, tonight is on a neutral floor, and despite the Cards shooting woes, I doubt they’ll shoot 33% again tonight and get outscored 32-16 in the paint.
Plus, do you really want to try to make a living betting against Pitino in March??