It was a really interesting night in college basketball, and yet another great illustration of the parity that exists this season. Michigan State needed overtime to survive their first game without do-everything senior star Denzel Valentine, downing Oakland 99-93 in one of the more entertaining college games you will see this season. Oakland’s 5’9’’ star Kay Fielder was a blast (the nation’s second leading scorer) but in the end, Sparty was too much. Meanwhile, Iowa State and Cincinnati played another ridiculously entertaining game (unfortunately, way over the total score handing me a loss), and got their second win over a ranked opponent when a last-second shot went begging.
Xavier needed a massive second half to come back to beat Wake Forest and stay unbeaten and Purdue notched a really impressive win over Vanderbilt (though Vandy makes my “five most disappointing teams” list), and #5 Virginia notched their second impressive win rallied to beat Cal in overtime. Cal may be unranked but they have a pair of future NBA’ers on the roster and that win will look a lot better in two months…
So much for a boring Holiday, huh? Awesome night of hoops, and while tonight can’t match it, there are a few good games and west coast holiday tournaments wrapping up tonight. So let’s see if we can make up for yesterday’s loss and balance the books tonight with a winner.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Wisconsin Green Bay Phoenix at Wisconsin Badgers -12
Raise your hand if you feel confident laying a dozen points on the Bo Ryan-less Badgers? Um. Me neither. They have already lost home games to Western Carolina (yuck) and Milwaukee and Marquette, and they get another hungry instate little brother who smells the chum in the water. Green Bay isn’t great by any stretch, but the Badger vulnerability is undeniable right now.
Green Bay enters at just 6-4 with losses to East Tennessee and Toledo. However, their opening loss to Stanford was a two-point overtime road loss and the loss to Toldeo was by a single bucket as well. Aside from the boat race at Georgia Tech, they’ve been a pretty decent team. They enter today winners of five of six games and are starting to adjust to life without Keifer Sykes.
Meanwhile, the Badgers foibles have been well documented. The three aforementioned losses plus double-digit losses to Georgetown and Oklahoma have the Badgers at just 7-5 and in real danger of missing the NCAA Tournament. I think they will play with an appropriate sense of urgency tonight and wounded pride – after all, they have already loss twice in state and once to a team that really shouldn’t EVER beat them. A third loss tonight, all at home, would be really embarrassing.
I think Wisky wins the game, but I am not laying double digits points unless they are playing the local JuCo. Wisconsin is just 4-8 ATS, and tonight’s line tells me the betting public is still not quite caught up. Look for Green Bay to keep things fun and interesting tonight and make Bucky sweat out a game they are used to winning in their sleep…