Yesterday, and last night in particular, was an absolutely insane night of college basketball, and one that will have a huge effect on the final shape that the bracket will take tomorrow. At one point there were five big-time games occurring at the same time that all came down to the final seconds. Notre Dame vs. Duke, Georgetown and Xavier, Iowa State and Oklahoma, UCLA vs. Arizona and UConn vs. Cincinnati were all delighting at the same time, with ND, X, ISU, ‘Zona and UConn all pulling out wins. I hope you were someplace with multiple televisions or at least have a very nimble remote control.
But perhaps the biggest landscape shifters happened in the ACC, where both top seeds and presumptive number one seeds were upset in the semifinals. So will it be Duke or Virginia that keeps the fourth #1 seed? Will either? Today will have a lot to say about those team’s respective fates as Arizona and Wisconsin can cement pretty solid cases with wins today (though Wisconsin would likely need to win Sunday’s Big Ten Championship game as well against either Maryland or Michigan State).
There’s a TON of awesome hoops today, so let’s double up with a pair of conference tourney gems.
Today’s Free Picks:
Michigan State -2.5 vs. Maryland – Big Ten Semifinals
Get ready for the annual swelling of love for the Michigan State Spartans. Tom Izzo’s reputation as a coach whose team’s peak in March is well-deserved and this year feels no different. His Spartans, whom some had on the bubble seven weeks ago, have now reeled off seven of nine wins and have covered in the same 7-2 ATS clip (though not all the wins and covers coincide perfectly).
However, I am struggling to have them as the favorite over Maryland. Maryland is more individually talented, has beaten Michigan State twice this year including a 16-point beatdown last month, and has won eight straight games, nine of their last ten and covered six straight.
Melo Trimble and Travis Trice is a great individual matchup between two of the league’s best; a freshman and a senior, but right now no one in the league (country?) is playing better than Dez Wells. Look for Maryland to continue their noisy introduction to the Big Ten by earning a Finals slot against Wisconsin.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs. UConn Huskies -3.5
Stop me if this sounds familiar; UConn, after a underwhelming season, gets hot and wins dramatic postseason games thanks to the heroics of their diminutive point guard. Ryan Boatwright pulled a page from the Kemba/Shabazz play book last night, knocking off Cincinnati at the buzzer in the AAC quarters and kept their season alive tonight against Tulsa. UConn still likely needs two more wins to have a chance to defend their unlikely crown, but I don’t see any reason why they can’t get one tonight.
Tulsa looked like a tourney lock five weeks ago before dropping four of eight to close the regular season. These teams split this season with UConn beating Tulsa by 25 in Storrs most recently.
I’m just not sold on Tulsa as an NCAA Tournament team. They have some decent wins, but nothing to get too excited about and the manner in which SMU, UConn, and Cincinnati have dispatched them indicates a team that isn’t quite ready for March.
Plus, there’s no denying there’s a flicker of that Huskie March magic starting to catch. I’ll take UConn and Boatwright to make things really interesting from a bid-stealing perspective in tomorrow’s AAC Final.