The shake-up atop the college basketball polls continued yesterday as Ohio State edged out a narrow three-point win over Michigan on the strength of a 22-4 start. Michigan had open looks in the last two minutes but a pair of Trey Burke threes and a Tim Hardaway Jr. clean look rimmed out – and Michigan’s brief dalliance with the top spot in the country was over.
Over the last three days the #1, #2 and #3 teams in the country all lost. It begs the question, who IS the #1 team in the country right now?
I imagine the polls will say Louisville (quite possibly true) and Indiana (even more possibly true), but the most honest statement about the national college hoops landscape is that the world is flat; meaning there are about six teams who could make the claim to be the best and about 25-30 more that can at least entertain reasonable dreams of getting hot and playing well beyond the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
It is going to be a fantastic six weeks leading up to March Madness, so be sure to check back daily for game breakdowns and wagering advantages!
Let’s get to tonight’s free pick…
Louisville Cardinals -7 at Connecticut Huskies (Total: 132.5)
Speaking of the nation’s (presumptive) new number one team, Louisville gets very little time to bask in their rise with a tremendously difficult road game tonight in Storrs. UConn gets overlooked this season by the mainstream hoops media; partially because of the retirement of iconic coach Jim Calhoun, and partially because of the postseason ban the team is serving this season. However the lack of March Madness glory at the end of the rainbow has done little to dampen the enthusiasm of Kevin Ollie’s squad.
UConn enters tonight at 12-3, with quality wins over Michigan State, Harvard, Washington, and this weekend’s impressive road win at Notre Dame. They have done it with excellent guard play, and the boast one of the nation’s most underrated backcourts with Ryan Boatwright and Shabazz Napier who are averaging a combined 35.6 ppg with a nearly 2.5:1 assist to turnover ratio.
That reliability with the basketball will be key tonight hosting the nation’s best defensive team. Louisville has an incredible ability to pressure the basketball and create scrambling tempo. It is a tough matchup for UConn, but the past few weeks have taught me to be careful laying a ton of points on a road favorite (or ANY favorite) in the Big East. UConn has only three losses, and all are by less than six points to ranked opponents. I am not sure they become the latest to slay a top ranked team tonight, but seven points is a lot to lay against a good team playing an emotional game at home.
Give me the Huskies making for an interesting ballgame tonight.
Free Pick: UConn Huskies +7