Fairfield at Virginia – NCAA Basketball Free Pick

Let’s start with the obvious; I’m grateful for our veterans on this Veteran’s Day, and certainly appreciate the blanket of freedom I so comfortably live under.  Ok, with that said, let’s also state the obvious: these aircraft carrier games are atrocious.  I mean, really, really terrible to view on television.

I rarely apologize for missing a pick.  Afterall, there’s a reason Vegas ain’t closing a lot of sportsbooks and it’s because they set really good lines. Add a little juice and the house usually beats the average less-than-informed better in the long run.  (That’s why you read our column and practice good money-management betting strategies!)  Anyhow, it’s a tried and true business model, and despite my personal success, you are going to lose 40% of your wagers even if you are amazingly good.  That’s the way it goes.  So I rarely apolgize for a miss.  It happens to all pros…. But I do need to apologize for yesterday’s whiff on the the Syracuse vs. San Diego State game.

I’m not sure how I missed that one.  Syracuse packing in a 2-3 zone, a zone that teams look lost against every NCAA Tournament, add in a swirling wind on an AIRCRAFT CARRIER, and how on Earth was SDSU going to score any points??  It was a no-brainer, and I went “no-brain”.  Mea culpa my dear readers, mea culpa.

Phew.  Enough whining.  Let’s get back to winning.

Fairfield Stags at Virginia Cavaliers -8

This game is a mismatch to the casual observer, and is the primary reason I am convinced college basketball is your best bet to consistently beat Vegas.  The lines get pushed early by people betting on the name program facing off against an “unknown” midmajor.  However, in cases like today, the two teams are a heck of a lot more evenly matched than most betters realize.

Virginia opened up the season in sparingly disappointing fashion, getting beat 63-59 by George Mason.  Another one of those “name recognition” games, only in reverse, as the mid-major is the overrated one with the big name.   Mason isn’t quite as strong as usual this year.  It’s not a good loss for the Cavaliers as they get set to face an improved ACC slate in 2013.

Fairfield had some struggles of their own in their opener, eeking out a one-point win against Central Connecticut State.  Suffice it to say both teams should have their opening game jitters out of the way and should play a better, cleaner ballgame tonight.

Fairfield should battle with Iona most of the season for MAAC supremacy.  It is a long shot that either will be NCAA At-Large worthy, but certainly both are strong NIT candidates at worst.  They have a good ballclub, despite the loss of their leading scorer to graduation and a key transfer (Jamal Fields).

However, they have the rest of their core lineup in tact and will be more fluid playing together at this stage in the season than will Virginia. This game will be closer than most people expect.  I am not sure Fairfield pulls off the stunner, ala Bucknell’s opener against Purdue, but I do like them a ton getting eight points.

Free Pick:  Fairfield Stags +8