It was another eventful day of college basketball. Most of the favorites prevailed, but the Virginia Cavaliers took a second straight surprising loss, this time falling to Georgia Tech. Perhaps Tech was a bit underrated to begin with, but at 1-2 in the ACC, no matter who the opponents, things are not quite what was expected for the Cavaliers. Likewise for Iowa State, who got dropped at home by Baylor – the same Bears team that got simply annihilated in Lawrence just a week ago.
And it isn’t to say that the top-ranked teams had it easy. Maryland needed a buzzer beater to clip Wisconsin, Syracuse pushed North Carolina for 35+ minutes, and ditto for Texas Tech versus Kansas down in Lubbock.
But the game of the day happened, where else, in the Pac-12. USC took a major step towards showing they are a legitimate threat to not only make the Tournament but also compete for the conference crown with their thrilling four-overtime win over conference favorite and presumed front-runner Arizona. The Wildcats have lost back to back games in LA, at the buzzer to UCLA and in sixty minutes against the Trojans. That’s a heckuva three day stretch.
We got a winner last night with Kansas’s hard-fought cover. Let’s make it two in a row today.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Ohio State Buckeyes at Indiana Hoosiers -7.5
This is an interesting matchup of two teams left for dead who have become two of the hottest teams in the country. Indiana has reeled off eight in a row since their embarrassing trip over Thanksgiving and subsequent blowout to Duke. But very quietly, they are 3-0 in the Big Ten and have good wins over Notre Dame and Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, Ohio State has reeled off seven straight since getting blown out by UConn, including wins over Kentucky on a neutral floor and at Northwestern. They also sit atop the Big Ten at 3-0. Thad Motta’s team has visibly improved as a basketball team, and has good athletic ability as well. I expect them to compete in most Big Ten games, though struggle with the elite teams.
And, as talented as Indiana is, I am not sure they have 100% put it together. The struggled at Nebraska and Rutgers before pulling away late and needed a Wisconsin miss at the buzzer to preserve the ugly 59-58 home win. And now the Hoosiers are without James Blackmon, Jr. for the rest of the season. In the long run, I think it may actually help them a bit in terms of ball movement and team defense, but for now, it looks like they are having much more trouble scoring that they did previously. The chemistry on this team still isn’t great, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have some trouble with Ohio State today.
Indiana is the more talented team. Ohio State PLAYS more like one. I think that edge will allow the Buckeyes to at least cover today in Bloomington. Both teams are better than their miserable overall starts to the season, but neither is as good as their 3-0 schedule-aided conference starts. Both are bubble teams, and I expect a pretty even and competitive game today.