We got back to our winning ways last night with Baylor’s cover (and win straight up) over favored Kentucky. Kudos to any of you on the East Coast who actually watched the game in its entirety, as is didn’t end until nearly 1:30 AM thank to the opening act between the two respective winning teams going to quadruple overtime.
First of all, I am not going to gloat over the win yesterday, but that game went nearly exactly as predicted. Kentucky has more talent, but Baylor had more poise, made more jump shots and played like the veteran home team in a big game. Kentucky is still going to be very, very good. Close losses on neutral floors to Michigan State and Baylor certainly don’t mean this is a bad ballclub. It simply exposed some of the flaws that could have been reasonably predicted for anyone not on the “40 and 0” crazy train.
If Kentucky shares the ball and plays through Julius Randle, they are nearly unstoppable. They assisted on 16 of their first 18 baskets and built a decent lead on Baylor. But in the second half their deficiencies in outside shooting began to be exposed, as well as their inability to defend well in the half court situation. It isn’t surprising that a team full of great athletic scorers is struggling to play out long half court situations defensively considering NONE of them (with the exception of the Harrison twins) have played together for more than six weeks. This is still one of the six or eight best teams in the country, and I’d be surprised if they won less than 12 or 13 games in the SEC.
OK, let’s get to today’s picks. While most of the sporting world will be focused on the final day of the college football regular season, there are more than a few great hoops matchups on the docket.
Today’s Free Pick:
Kansas Jayhawks at Colorado Buffaloes -1
Even though Colorado left the Big 12 for the Pac 12 several years ago, it is difficult to understate how much this matchup means to the Colorado faithful. For decades, they were the inferior little brother to the Jayhawks. And it bothers the Buffalo faithful. Last year they were primed to finally have a chance with one of their better teams in years – and promptly lost 90-54 in Lawrence. Ouch.
Kansas enters with all the hype and acclaim, as well as the presumptive first pick in the draft in Andrew Wiggins (I’d take Jabari – but Wiggins has been the consensus #1). However, they were exposed a bit in Atlantis, losing to Villanova and struggling with UTEP. If they play the same way tonight, they’ll lose by double-digits in their first TRUE road game.
Colorado enters at 8-1 with solid wins over Colorado State and Harvard, but nothing even close to the caliber of Kansas. They opened the season with a loss at Baylor, but other than that, no elite competition. Kansas meanwhile, is significantly more tested. They took the loss to ‘Nova, but still own that win over Duke. They also dismantled a decent Towson squad by 30 and Iona by 20.
I am going to roll the dice that Kansas got the wake-up call in the Bahamas and comes out focused and sharp. They have a way of dashing the Colorado dreams with stunning alacrity. After all, they’ve won 19 straight against the Buffs. I’ll take them on the road tonight to do the same for the 20th time.