After a long week of college hoops idling, we finally get an explosive slate of awesome action. There are at least a dozen good games today, starting as early as noon with Villanova v. Virginia and Duke v. Utah and rolling all the way until 11:30pm EST with the Texas and Stanford clash. In between we get UCLA and North Carolina, and a double-header at Banker’s Life Arena pitting all four major Indiana schools; Indiana v. Notre Dame and Butler v. Purdue on a neutral floor back to back.
It is going to be a ridiculous day of great action, so let’s not waste any time getting to a great matchup (and hopefully winning pick!)
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Today’s Free Pick:
Indiana Hoosiers vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish -1.5 (@ Indianapolis, IN)
This is an interesting battle of teams with plenty of talent, yet disappointing early season results. There could be as many as six future pros on the court today (not all NBA, but James Blackmon and Zach Auguste will get paid to play somewhere), and the stakes are especially high as well as both teams have suffered damaging pre-conference profile losses. Indiana famously flamed out in Maui, getting blasted by Wake Forest and UNLV and having their terrible defense (and defensive effort) put on national blast. Notre Dame had lower expectations, so their loss to Monmouth (which looks better every week, mind you) went a little less-noticed.
The Irish enter today at 7-2 and also have a one-point loss to Alabama. They balance it out with wins over Illinois and an impressive win over Iowa, but still the resume is severely lacking. A win today would be huge before embarking on a dangerous ACC slate. Demetrius Jackson vs. Yogi Ferrell is about as good a college point guard matchup as we will see all year. Both are electric-quick. Both can score. Both can defend. I’ll give a slight edge to Jackson, especially on a “next level” basis, but for today, expect both to largely cancel each other out. It’s going to be spectacular to watch.
From there, I’d give the supporting cast edge to Indiana. Zach Auguste will have his hands FULL with Troy Williams and Thomas Bryant. Indiana has too much size, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Auguste in some foul trouble today. It isn’t that Indiana CAN’T defend. It’s that they HAVEN’T. I think there is a big difference. Look for today to be the first day the Hoosiers put it together a little bit as some pride at stake evokes a more inspired effort.
This is still a devastatingly talented team once it all clicks. I am not sure they are quite THERE yet, but I think they take a big step this afternoon in Indy.