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Marquette vs. Georgetown Pick NCAA – Feb 11th

It will be interesting to see who is #1 in today’s new college hoops poll.  Nearly every top ten team lost at least once last week (Kansas managed to do it twice – which should drop them from the Top Ten, but who knows…).  The only top five team NOT to lose was Duke, but I am betting their pathetic one-point win yesterday at Boston College and the lingering stench of the Miami loss three weeks ago is enough to keep them from re-ascending to the top spot.

Instead, my vote (if I had one…) would be for Indiana.  Sure, the Hoosiers lost in ridiculous fashion earlier in the week at Illinois, but their thorough dismantling of Ohio State yesterday in Columbus sure looked like the best team in the nation to me.  It will be interesting to see how the pollsters vote today.

Regardless of the polls, good fans and Vegas both know they mean relatively little.  It is often of gauge of WHEN a team has lost most recently rather than a true power ranking.  Here’s my Elite Eight Power Rankings with four weeks to play before conference tournament play.

#1 – Indiana

#2 – Michigan

#3 – Florida

#4 – Miami (FL)

#5 – Louisville

#6 – Duke

#7 – Gonzaga

#8 – Kansas

Lingering just outside would be Syracuse, Michigan State, Ohio State, Georgetown, Ohio State, Arizona, UCLA and Kentucky.  I’d put those last two ahead of teams like Butler, Kansas State, Creighton, New Mexico, UNLV and Oklahoma State on raw talent and the potential to make a run.  Are they better than the second block of teams listed?  Probably not right now, but their chances to make a run in March feel more legitimate.

That’s my take on the college landscape on Feb 11th.  Let’s see what teams handle their business over the next three weeks…

Marquette Warriors at Georgetown Hoyas -4.5

Tonight is a great litmus test for a team I have knocking on the cusp of the elite group of college teams, the Georgetown Hoyas.  G’Town introduced itself to the nation in the opening weekend, then unranked, taking #1 Indiana right down to the wire on a neutral floor and looking every bit as athletic and talented in the process.  They had a bit of a midseason lull that knocked them down and out of the rankings, but over the past three weeks they have quietly been playing as well as any team in the country.

The Hoyas have won five games in a row, including a blowout win at Notre Dame and a home win over Louisville.  They have been doing it with their trademark efficient offense (48.3% from the floor) and their vaunted stifling defense.  They have held opponents to 34.4% shooting, a staggeringly low number, in their last five games.  I expect them to play the same type of defense against a good Marquette team tonight at home.

Marquette has come back to the pack a bit after vaulting out to a surprising lead in the Big East, but one of their losses was incredibly competitive.  They lost in overtime at Cincinnati and by a single.  Their wins have been of the cardiac variety as well; an overtime win over UConn, an overtime win at Pitt and a one point win when they hosted Georgetown early in January.

The game that jumps out at me when handicapping tonight’s game is their last road game against a legitimate Top Ten caliber team, Louisville.  The Cardinals took Marquette apart with a similar defensive effort to the one Georgetown typically gives.  Their 70-51 beatdown feels like a harbinger for what could happen tonight against the smothering Hoyas defense.

I like Georgetown to win and cover the four and half tonight, and to make a legit run at next week’s Top Ten in the polls.

Free Pick:  Georgetown Hoyas -4.5