The new polls will be out shortly, and I expect Duke will rebound back to the number one spot in the country. But the polls can only tell us so much; they are a factor of WHEN the most recent big win/loss was more than an accurate rating of just how dangerous a particular team really is. In fact, the polls are probably Vegas’s best friend, because it can tip the amateur money heavily and create some real distinct advantages for the sharps.
My personal rankings would have seven teams in the top elite category (national championship contenders) with another dozen or so in the second tier. Most Vegas handicapping rankings agree. Here is a quick consensus of the top ten as blended from five different computerized ranking systems.
The Top Five: Duke, Florida, Kansas, Louisville, Indiana
The Second Five: Michigan, Ohio State, Syracuse, Minnesota, VCU
The only two that surprise me are Ohio State at #7, ahead of Syracuse – I disagree there. And VCU in the top 10. I like VCU and find them a blast to watch. But I need to see a few top flight games and watch them go TO Butler later this season before lumping them in that elite group.
Before today’s picks, a few teams lower in the rankings that I often find great wagering value in would be: #24 St Mary’s, #28 UCLA, and #31 Marquette (been killing in with Marquette and UCLA most of this season, and the rankings and rating still lag…)
Alas, we are getting to the final six week sprint of the college basketball season and things are starting to really heat up, so let’s see if we can get back on track after a loser yesterday and highlight a good winner tonight.
Georgetown Hoyas at Notre Dame Fighting Irish -6
The Irish have had a rough couple of weeks. Football (and Manti Te’o) and basketball have taken a few lumps. But I like their chances of not just getting on track but covering tonight against Georgetown. The Hoyas have been one of the more disappointing teams lately, going just 1-2 on the road, and looking dreadful in losses to Pitt and lowly South Florida. Tonight they play in a tough place against a highly disciplined team with tons of good shooters who should have little trouble adapting to the Hoyas slower tempo.
Notre Dame has also endured a rough recent stretch, losing at St. John’s and UConn, and most recently struggling to a 69-66 win over Rutgers. Neither team has good momentum, but the matchups and tempo favor Notre Dame, especially at home. I like Jerian Grant to have a big game as the athletic penetrator who can help breakdown the defense while sharpshooters like Scott Martin get some clean looks in patient offensive sets.
This won’t be the prettiest game of the season, but I like the Irish to handle their business at home and send Georgetown into territory few thought they’d be in as the calendar flips to February; on the bubble.
Free Pick: Notre Dame Fighting Irish -6