We notched a winner last night in exactly the fashion predicted… OK, not “exactly” perhaps; I didn’t foresee Tyler Ennis hitting a contested 35-footer at the buzzer to win, but I did see a tight, well-played game and Syracuse making just enough plays down the stretch to pull it out. This was easily the shot of the season to date, and if (a BIG if) Syracuse can run the table, it might go down as one of the biggest shots in Syracuse’s storied history.
For now, it keeps the Orange perfect and sets up a likely undefeated record when they head into Durham for the anticipated Duke rematch. The Devils will be well rested after last night’s “snow-out” against Carolina. It’s not often games of this magnitude get cancelled because of snow, and it sets up a brutal weekend for Duke that starts with a trip to Chapel Hill on 2/20 followed by a visit from Syracuse on Saturday. Ouch. A split would be just fine. A sweep and it’s time to put Duke back in Final Four conversations.
Despite the snow, Rivalry Week has lived up to its billing with some fantastic games. The action continues tonight, and we will try to build on a nice 12-4 NCAA run with a few more winners.
Today’s Free Picks:
St. John’s Red Storm -1.5 at Seton Hall Pirates
This game has huge bubble-busting implications. St. John’s has played themselves back into the mix thanks to a three-game winning streak highlighted by a road win at Providence and a big win over Creighton. They’ve won six of seven overall and their only loss was a tight three point loss at Creighton. Seton Hall on the other hand is taking on water fast. At 13-11 anything short of running the table will leave them on the outside, and they’ve lost three of four and seven of their last ten. They’ve notched a pair of nice wins at Xavier and at Georgetown, but other than that, it’s been rough.
Normally, homecourt is a nice advantage, but Seton Hall has lost four of their last five games at home, and only the Butler loss was by single digits. I love the momentum of this St. John’s team and the way this veteran-laden team is coming together. I think they can smell a surprising tourney bid and I’d be surprised if they let one slip away tonight.
Minnesota Golden Gophers at Wisconsin Badgers -9
The Big Ten is a big logjam in the middle, with unexpected teams like Northwestern and Purdue and Nebraska stealing some wins and teams like Minnesota and Indiana being frequent victims. It’s landed Minnesota squarely on the bubble and in desperate need of a big win to improve their chances. The Kohl Center is a tough place to do it, but that’s the task at hand for first-year coach Richard Pitino.
This series has been dominated by the home team, with the home team winning seven of the last eight games. But very few of the games have been blowouts. I’d be surprised if Minnesota wins on the road, but I think they can hang around and make this a decent game.
Over their last ten games Wisconsin is just 5-5. Their wins have been close games aside from blowouts over Purdue and Illinois. Minnesota is desperate, and I expect them to play that way tonight. Give me the Gophers in a close game.