It’s always fun to take stock of the unbeaten in college hoops right before the turn of the calendar. You generally have a few big time blue bloods and power conference teams, though many are on a collision course and will eventually knock each other off short of perfection, and there are always a few unexpected unbeatens in the St. Joes/Wichita State/Murray State mold. This year, that team is Colorado State. I don’t think they’ll run the Mountain West table, but they could remain unbeaten for a little while.
Of course there are Kentucky and Duke, but also worth mentioning are Villanova and Virginia. Both are in balanced and deep conferences so there is next to no chance they are running the table, but both are legitimate top one or two seeds come March. And of course a few pretenders get exposed along the way as well – so much for #13 and unbeaten Washington after their loss to 8-6 Stony Brook…
It’s been a winning start for us to the 2014 college hoops season so let’s closeout the year with a few last winners. Conference play kicks off today, so lots of games worth tuning into – let’s dive in.
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Today’s Free Picks:
Maryland Terrapins at Michigan State -6
Welcome to the Big Ten Terps! I can’t think of a much more challenging introduction to a new conference than a trip to East Lansing and a date against Tom Izzo, but that is exactly what awaits Maryland tonight. However, if you ARE going to have to go to Michigan State, perhaps now isn’t the worst time to do so…
Michigan State enters the game at just 9-4. Three of the losses are no big deal; Duke, Kansas and a better-than-expected (by most, they were one of my three preseason sleepers in our preview column) Notre Dame. But the most recent loss to Texas Southern was a little concerning. Tonight will be a real test for the veteran Spartans who are still looking to replace the scoring and leadership of Adrian Payne.
Maryland has leading scorer Dez Wells back in the lineup, and his brief absence might have been a good thing as younger players like Melo Tremble seemed to find some rythym and confidence in his absence. The result is the highest ranking in ten years for Maryland and Mark Turgeon. They are 12-1 with quality wins over Arizona State, Iowa State and Oklahoma State. They’ll look to add Michigan State to their “State” bounty tonight. I’m not sure they win on the road, but I do know to this point they have been the second best team in the Big Ten and they are getting a big fat six points. That’s a lot to give the teams that appears to be better. I’ll take the points and bank on that line being a bit skewed by name recognition rather than actual performance.