The Final Four is all set and it would be tough to ask for a much better field. Three top seeds advanced to Indiana as Duke joined Wisconsin and Kentucky, while Michigan State showed their trademark resilience and heart in an overtime thriller over Louisville to enter in the “underdog” role if it is possible to call a team from the Big Ten in their sixth Final Four in 19 years coached by Tom Izzo an “underdog”.
We will have extensive breakdowns of each matchup later in the week, but first it is worth a quick tip of the cap to the two foremost challengers to Kentucky’s entrance into the history books; Wisconsin and Duke. The two teams with the two toughest opponents on paper won the most easily of any of the Final Four, perhaps laying out compelling cases why one (or both) can beat the Wildcats. Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker has been a revelation. Draft savvy fans knew the name, but casual fans were only about Frank Kaminski. Watching the 6’9’’ Dekker (who looks even bigger to me) absolutely dominate games with his shooting, ball handling and fierce toughness, gives the Badgers the look of a team that can possibly scrape out the one of two possessions that Notre Dame couldn’t to get over the hump. And watching Duke dispatch a really good Gonzaga team with relative ease – along with their ridiculous talent level – makes it hard to see Kentucky (if they even get there) rolling over the Devils.
It’s going to be an awesome Final Four in Indianapolis, but before we get there let’s see if we can fatten up the bankroll after a 6-2 ATS weekend in the Tourney with a few NIT picks.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Miami (FL) Hurricanes vs. Temple Owls -1.5
Two teams with the most legitimate beef over being excluded from March Madness have earned their way to MSG and are playing with a nice chip on their shoulders. Both of these teams have waxed big time opponents this season; Miami with the stunner at Cameron over Duke and Temple blasting Kansas. Both have some size and talent.
So who has the edge tonight?
I’m going with the ‘Canes and the ACC. We’ve seen how prepared that ACC schedule has gotten teams for March with five ACC teams making the Sweet 16. Miami is used ot playing teams with some physical advantages. Temple is NOT one of those teams.
Miami has excellent guards and a distinct size advantage. I expect them to exploit both against a good Temple team. This is a pretty even matchup, but I’ll take the Canes and the slim one point cushion just in case…