The Indiana Hoosiers made it real interesting and gave Iowa TWO chances to send the game to an improbable overtime, but in the end, they prevailed in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and did something very few people thought possible just six weeks ago; won and outright Big Ten regular season championship. As a matter of fact, if they win at home this weekend against Maryland, they will win the league by no less than two games, and if Michigan State and Wisky trip up, they could win the league by THREE FULL GAMES.
I got some grief for asserting that IU is a legitimate worthy consideration for a #1 seed if they win out, and despite what anyone on ESPN says, I still stand by the point. UVA and UNC both have the same number of losses and are currently both projected as #1’s. UVA’s losses include Florida State, George Washington, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. All four will miss the tournament. They will also not win the ACC and with another loss could finish as low as sixth. So are IU’s early losses to UNLV and Wake really THAT much worse?
If the committee places any credence on conference play and HOW a team has looked the last two months, it is hard to give Virginia the nod over Indiana.
On to today’s matter at hand, grabbing a winner. Here’s my favorite game on today’s quality slate of action.
Today’s Free Pick:
Miami Hurricanes at Notre Dame Fighting Irish -2.5
Of course, the above Virginia perspective could very well change with a few things breaking in their favor; namely a Notre Dame win tonight, a Duke home win over UNC Saturday and handling their own business against Louisville. In short, the ACC is still very much up for grabs and tonight’s game has a HUGE stake in the eventual result.
Notre Dame is still lingering around under the radar at 19-9 and 10-6 in conference. They have nice wins over North Carolina, Duke, Louisville and Iowa and early season losses to Monmouth, Alabama, and Indiana don’t look nearly as bad as they once did. They are also excellent at home –which everyone seems to be in this parity-insane college season. Their only home loss was an 86-82 early game to Pitt. Since then, they have beaten the top teams in the league in South Bend. Miami will have their work cut out for them tonight. Notre Dame is a patient and smart team, and also very efficient shooting team. I think they will be able to withstand the Miami pressure with Demetrius Jackson running the show and to get good looks all night long.
Miami is in position to surprisingly win the ACC. But they will have to muster up a better road effort than they’ve shown much of the season. They are just 3-4 on the road in ACC play and the wins are at Boston College, Georgia Tech and Florida State. At ranked opponents like UNC and Virginia, they’ve lost pretty handily. They also got smoked at NC State and Clemson.
I like the Irish’s general team makeup, though I worry about their lack of depth inside. Just like Duke, if their primary big, Zach Auguste in this case, can avoid foul trouble, they should be alright. If he gets sent to the bench with two quick fouls, things could spiral.
I’m going to bank on Auguste playing smart and avoiding a chippy home whistle or two and staying on the floor. And with him on the floor, the Irish are real tough to beat at home.