Minnesota vs. Syracuse Pick NCAA Basketball – November 25th

UMass toppled Clemson last night to win the Charleston Classic as well as help me notch my 8th college basketball winner in ten plays.    We’ve got a nice beat on the early season at this point, so look for a lot of plays this upcoming week with an absolute ton of neutral site tournament games on the college basketball schedule.

Here’s a quick look at some of the most over and under-performing teams from last week:

Stock Up:

Charlotte and UMass made HUGE statements for the depth of the supposedly-depleted Atlantic Ten winning their respective tournaments and knocking off some major-conference foes in the process.   UMass knocked off Nebraska, New Mexico and Clemson while Charlotte beat Georgetown and Michigan – perhaps the two most impressive back-to-back wins of any team this college basketball season.

Stock Up for Northeastern as well.  They beat Georgetown, which felt a little fluky until they backed it up with a tough two-point loss against a good Florida State team.  Also getting MAJOR credit for a MAJOR upset bid fell just short (referee assisted??) is Vermont who had Duke on the ropes last night at Cameron, falling 91-90 on a late Rodney Hood free-throw.

Stock Down:

Did any team have a worse week than VCU?  They entered the week ranked #10 in the country.  After getting pummeled by Florida State, they followed it up with an ugly performance in a wins over Long Beach and another loss to Georgetown.  I’d be surprised if they are ranked today (but not stunned.  These pollsters are all over the place in college hoops…)

Today’s Free Picks:

Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Syracuse Orange -2.5 (Total: 142.5)

Both teams enter the game with perfect records.  Minnesota’s five wins are pretty benign with the exception of a nice 15-point road win at Richmond.  Syracuse is also lacking in any substance, having yet to face a reasonable opponent.  Consider this the first real game for both teams.

Minnesota is unranked, but some people like them as a sleeper in the Big Ten.  I’m not one of them.  I think they are really going to struggle with the zone of Syracuse and the athletic offensive talent of the Orange.  CJ Fair is a legit ACC POY candidate and I expect him to have a big game.

This is a great way to kick off the Maui Invitational.  The winner of this game will get the winner of Cal vs. Arkansas tomorrow in the Semis.  It’s a loaded field, and I promise to have some picks the next few days as the games continue.

For now, when faced with two relatively untested teams, take the one with far superior talent and a veteran elite coach.  Rick Pitino’s kid may eventually turn Minnesota into a power, but Syracuse is one RIGHT NOW.  Laying just 2.5 feels generous.  I’m taking advantage.

Free Pick:  Syracuse Orange -2.5