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Miami vs. Stanford Pick NCAA – April 2nd

Two more days until the Final Four and a pair of epic matchups, but that doesn’t mean college basketball is completely dormant tonight. The NIT Final tonight features a nice matchup of Miami and Stanford in Madison Square Garden is definitely worth tuning in to watch.

As is most college hoops. I don’t know about you guys, but is anyone else getting tired of hearing about how “awful and unwatchable” college basketball is? I agree that the timeouts are getting ridiculous (and have been for a while) and that a slight speeding of the pace of the game would be a beneficial change, but “awful and unwatchable?” Have you SEEN the ratings for this year’s Tournament? I’d chalk this up to another example of a narrative getting popular and people running with it. If college basketball isn’t your thing, so be it. I personally have difficulty sitting through two hours of an MLS 0-0 thriller. Maybe that works for you. But hearing Geno Auriema (UConn Women’s Basketball Coach) say that men’s basketball is unwatchable made me laugh out loud…

Ok. Off the soapbox now. Let’s get a winner tonight to get a little momentum for Saturday. And enjoy the games. Seriously. Enjoy.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Miami (FL) Hurricanes vs. Stanford Cardinal    — NIT Final – Madison Square Garden

A few months ago Stanford seemed a tournament lock and more than a few outlets thought they might be the second best team in the Pac 12 – ahead of Utah. Obviously, their late season swoon erased that positive sentiment, and just a year after “saving” his job with an unexpected Sweet Sixteen run, Johnny Dawkins is back in familiar territory; the NIT.

But at least they have a chance to WIN the tournament. Because, hey, who doesn’t want to proudly exclaim “we’re number sixty-nine!”? In all seriousness, the Cardinal have played well down the stretch and Chasson Randle became the school’s leading scorer in Tuesday’s semi-final win. I expect him to go out with a bang tonight and capture his second NIT crown (a dubious distinction, sure, but still better than losing)

Miami will be without Angel Rodriguez, which makes the matchup even more favorable for Randle. The Canes will also be without their big man and leading rebounder. Jakiri averages 9.9 boards a night, and his absence on the glass and defensively could be too much to overcome.

Stanford is far from a one-man band, though Randle averages nearly 20 points a night. Expect Anthony Brown (14.9) and Stefan Nastic (13.5) to also contribute and exploit a thin Miami lineup tonight.

At full strength, I’d like the scrappy and tough Canes. But with so many holes and playing against a talented and veteran-laden team, it’s hard to go against the Cardinal tonight.

Free Pick: Stanford Cardinal -1.5