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Gonzaga vs. BYU Pick NCAA Hoops – Feb 20th

This is the way the streak ends; not with a bang but a whimper.

Perhaps a butchered t.s. eliot semi-quote is a bit dramatic for a college basketball recap, but it seems an apropos way to describe Syracuse’s dream-season evaporating with an inexplicable home loss to lowly Boston College.  How bad is BC?  After this improbable win, they are STILL ranked 168th in the RPI rankings.  This makes Syracuse the ONLY team in the Top 20 to have a loss to a team ranked outside of the RPI Top 150.  A really, really odd loss.

So much for the Duke game of the millennium (obvious sarcastic hyperbole) this weekend.  This loss, coupled with Syracuse’s string of recent struggles, leads me to believe Duke will be a prohibitive favorite this weekend (perhaps 5.5 or more?) and it will be Syracuse looking to answer questions and allay fears far more than Duke clamoring for the respect they lost in early January.

It’s a shame in the sense it deprives us hardcore fans of some fantastic drama over the final weeks, but it does make for an incredible interesting national landscape.  Only Florida has been an unblemished major conference power since Christmas, but I’m not sure anyone is ready to hand them the trophy over Syracuse, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan State, Duke, Creighton, Louisville, Wichita State, San Diego State… stop me when you get bored – Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa State, St. Louis, Kentucky…. You get the point.

It was a weird night of college hoops.  Syracuse lost, Florida squeeked at home against Auburn, St. Louis needed OT to beat George Mason, Arizona struggled in a win at Utah.  This year this thing is WIDE open.

Fortunately, my top play on the board was an easy winner, with Creighton handling their business on the road against a hot ballclub in Marquette.  A good win for the Jays and a nice easy cover for us.  Let’s keep it rolling tonight with a pair of top picks.

Today’s Free Picks:

Gonzaga Bulldogs at BYU Cougars -1.5

Gonzaga has ruled the WCC for more than a decade, and it is no different this year in what was supposed to be a “down” year for the vaunted Zags.  They are 12-1 in conference and have only lost once in the last month; a loss at Memphis.  They have beaten BYU four straight times heading into tonight’s contest.  However, that success doesn’t always translate to cashing  winning wager.  The perception of Gonzaga tends to spread the lines a little wide, particularly because they are generally playing lesser-known opponents.  They are just 4-4 against the spread in their last eight games.

Meanwhile, BYU entered the season with high hopes but had a disastrous start to the season.  However, they’ve won seven of ten to get to 18-10 and back on the fringe of at-large consideration, given their relatively strong schedule.  They MUST win tonight at home against Gonzaga.  I think they will.  Tyler Haws should be able to score against Gonzaga’s talented but smallish backcourt, and I think the BYU defensive pressure will wear on the Zags.  They are a little bigger and a little deeper, and at home, it should be a nice advantage.

BYU is every bit as talented as Gonzaga, they simply didn’t perform well early in the season.  They are 12-1 at home on the year, and are shooting an efficient 49.2% from the floor.

I like the Cougars to grab a big, important win tonight on their home floor.

Free Pick:  BYU Cougars -1.5