We took a tough loss last night with Georgetown failing to cover by either a point or half-point depending upon when you locked in your wager after blowing a five point lead with less than 20 seconds to go and eventually beating UConn by one in double-overtime. It looked like a pretty easy win all throughout the second half until a late flurry. For Georgetown’s sake, at least they got the win.
Things were uglier for another bubble team, the Oklahoma Sooners. OU led by 22 points at Texas before an epic collapse. Myck Kabongo, who is eligible just in time to help Texas give a few teams a “bad” loss, but not to get the Longhorns into postseason play, hit a buzzer beater prayer in regulation to force overtime. Once the Sooners got the extra period, it was too late – they (and possibly now their season) was cooked.
As will be the case nearly every day the next three weeks, there are some huge games tonight that will influence seeding and possibly who gets in to the Big Dance. Let’s dig into a few big games tonight and find a few winners.
North Carolina Tarheels -3 at Clemson Tigers
Are the Tarheels really in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament? Most “bracketologists” seem to think so. However with their 19 wins and overall non-conference schedule strength, I find it hard to believe enough teams can win their way ahead of them before Selection Sunday. Keep in mind, many of these bubble teams all play each other because most of them are in the same seven or eight conferences.
Clemson is just 13-13 on the season, but a respectable 8-5 at home, especially compared to Carolina’s 4-6 mark outside of Chapel Hill. However, I like the Tarheels tonight on the road. They are a significantly better team than Clemson who hasn’t exactly fared well against UNC over the years. The Tarheels have played pretty well recently and are up to 9-4 in conference play.
Give me the Heels with a huge road win, and one that should finally give UNC fans a little less stress over whether they get in the Tournament.
Free Pick: North Carolina Tarheels -3
Duke Blue Devils at Virginia Cavaliers -1.5
Let’s stay with the ACC for our second pick tonight, and again, I’m bucking conventional wisdom and backing the road team. Virginia has exceeded all expectations this season, and despite a terrible RPI ranking, seem to be headed towards the NCAA Tournament. They have been excellent at home this season, a perfect 16-0 and an impressive 12-1-1 ATS in their last 14 games.
However, Duke has been playing solidly as well. They are 8-5 ATS on the road this season, and washing aside the stench of the Miami game, their only road blemishes were nail-biters in emotional games to Maryland and NC State. The difference between those two teams and Virginia is stylistic, but significant. Duke has proven over the years to be vulnerable to teams with length and physicality. Maryland and Alex Len pushed Plumlee off the block all night long. NC State got an inspired performance from NBA-level talent CJ Leslie. I am not sure Virginia has that same caliber of athleticism. They win with execution and heady play. That plays into Duke’s strengths as they do much the same thing, only they’ll be doing it with better players than the Cavs.
Free Pick: Duke Blue Devils +1.5