This stat is a bit mind-boggling. Last night, Kansas and Bill Self clinched their TENTH straight Big 12 (or at least partial Big 12) regular season crown. Ten years in a row. That’s crazy when it happens in a mid-major league with a Gonzaga. TO do it in a BCS conference that has produced dozens and dozens of NBA players and Top Ten teams during that span in incomprehensible.
So a tip of the cap to one of the most underrated coaches in all of basketball, Bill Self. Give it another few years and a couple more Final Fours and it’ll be hard to leave his name out of the discussion that generally includes Coach K, Boeheim, Izzo, Pitinio and Roy Williams. I’d put Self on that list NOW, with a bullet towards third IF they can cut down the nets this season (and don’t count them out. Did you SEE what they did to Texas this weekend??!?)
There are some good games tonight, and some intruiging possibilities for pick of the day. Do I pull the trigger on Mizzouri FINALLY getting their act together on the road and beating a Georgia team the should beat? Do we ride the hot hand of New Mexico (look at their profile without the name in front of it – they look a lot like a #4 or #5 seed to me…) at home against a Utah State team that is just 15-12? I’m not sure I can swallow the 12 or 13 points… How about Wichita State? They are laying 11 on the road against a lousy Bradley team, but we’ve been seeing lately how much strain the pressure puts on top tier teams in some of these close calls against sub-Top 100 RPI teams.
Those are all interesting possibilities, but for tonight’s free pick, let’s stick to the heartland a good ole’ Big Ten classic battle.
Tonight’s Free Pick:
Indiana Hoosiers at Wisconsin Badgers -11
Let’s be frank. There’s not much to like about Indiana’s 15-11 record and their 2-6 mark in true road games. Add in a trip to the always-tough Kohl Center, and it is fair to see why they are prohibitive underdogs tonight.
However, it has been just these type of “dire” situations when they have been able to muster an exceptional effort and be at their best. They’ve knocked off Michigan and Wisconsin at home already this year as big underdogs, and went on the road and gave Michigan State everything they could handle. They seem to play up to the level of the competition.
I don’t think they will win, but I can easily see another game that comes down to the buzzer, just like Yogi Ferrell’s heroics in the first tilt between these two rivals.
Wisconsin has failed to cover in their last five games at home and is just 1-6 ATS at home in Big Ten play. That tells me that the Kohl Center mystique is creeping into the lines, but in reality, isn’t quite so strong this season.
That fact and 11 points send me the Hoosiers’ way tonight.