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Miami vs. Clemson Pick NCAA – Feb 17th

It was a busy day in college hoops yesterday with no fewer than seven ranked teams falling.  It was an up and down day for us as well, with a few bad losses (Notre Dame’s stinkbomb against Providence, Charlotte’s complete no-show in St. Louis), and a few really good wins (Maryland covering and beating Duke straight-up, Indiana’s complete decimation of Purdue).

However, the most jarring result of the day has to be Kentucky’s 30-point loss at a mediocre Tennessee team.  It was Kentucky’s first game without Nerlens Noel, and based on yesterday’s results it looks eminently possible that the defending champs won’t be repeating… because they won’t be attending.  That didn’t look like an NCAA Tournament team yesterday, and you can bet the committee took notice.

The second biggest result impacts the game we will be featuring today, Maryland taking down the Dookies to give them their third ACC loss.  Coupled with North Carolina knocking off Virginia, it gives Miami a full three-game cushion in the ACC standings and all but ensures the Canes will win their first ever outright ACC title.

So does that give them reason to let up, or just more fuel for the fire??  Let’s take a look at tonight’s matchup.

Miami Hurricanes -5.5 at Clemson Tigers

This game looks like a mismatch when you first glance at the records.  Miami is 20-3 while Clemson is 13-11.  Miami is perfect in ACC play, Clemson is just 5-7.  Miami is the nation’s darling right now, and presumptive #2 team in the country tomorrow morning.  Clemson will be lucky to put together a run and sneak in the NIT.

So why did this game open at -7 and pull all the way down to -5.5 in some sportsbooks?  (Most are at -6, shop for lines)  Perhaps it has something to do with Clemson’s play at home in conference.  They most recently lost by just won to NC State, and prior to that won four in a row at home, including a win over Virginia.  They have been a pretty good home team this season.

I don’t think it is going to matter tonight though.  Miami is playing at a different level than anyone else in the conference.  They aren’t just winning games, they are manhandling teams.  With a chance to all but put the ACC on ice, I don’t see them sleepwalking into Littlejohn Arena tonight and not playing their hardest and best.

Miami is focused on doing things never before accomplished in Coral Gables.  They have a veteran team, and a very smart and extremely hard working team.  Those are traits that travel well on the road, even in hostile arenas.  It will be an interesting few weeks watching how Miami handles being the hunt-ed rather than the hunt-er, but I’m wagering they will be just fine.

Free Pick:  Miami Hurricanes -5.5