We moved to 4-1 ATS on the young college hoops season on the strength of an absolute thriller between Kansas and Duke that ended with the early nominee for play-of-the-year with Frank Mason III’s last-second game winning shot. Mason was simply the toughest player on the floor in a game that was tense, but marred with a TON of fouls and foul trouble, and when Duke stormed back to tie the game in the final seconds, there was NO DOUBT who was getting the ball for the Jayhawks.
The positive take-away for Duke fans is that they damn near beat a VERY good Kansas team without their three prize freshman and next to no size. Once they get their kids healthy (the three of them were ALL Top Ten recruits, watch out).
Elsewhere, Kentucky looked VERY impressive as the undressed Michigan State in the MSG undercard, winning easily and finally looking like the team many thought they would be this season after two decent but not impressive home games. They will be #1 next week barring anything insane, and to this point, they are deserving of the ranking. #2 will also be deserving, Villanova, after their impressive win at Purdue to start the marathon that concluded, appropriately, on Frank Mason’s magic.
Let’s keep the winning rolling tonight with today’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Northwestern Wildcats at Butler Bulldogs -7
This is a really interesting game, and one that might get unfortunately overlooked amidst all the chaos from yesterday. It’s Chicago’s year, right? One century-long curse was snapped with the beloved Cubbies, so why not snap one of indefinite length and eliminate Northwestern from the perch they solely occupy; only major conference basketball team to NEVER have qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
I wrote the day Chris Collins was hired that I thought he could accomplish the daunting, yet also, not really THAT daunting task. I mean, they are in Chicago, it is in the Big Ten, 68 teams gets bids. Come on man! It’s more than doable, but I am not sure this year is actually the year.
Tonight will tell us a ton.
Butler is not supposed to be great this year, but with Butler, especially in the preseason non-con, does expectations really matter? They have made a long history of continually arming their slingshot and shooting it with stunning precision. Northwestern isn’t a Goliath by any stretch, but it is still a little daunting to fade the ‘Dogs.
So I’ll temper the pick like this: Butler likely wins, but I like getting seven points.
Northwestern returns all of their core from last year’s team that won 20 games and made the NIT Tournament. Another step forward isn’t ridiculous. Butler has looked good early and has some talent returning in leader Kelan Martin, but in all reality, tonight is the first game for each.
I think it’ll be a good one.
I’ll take Chris Collins’ squad and the points.