We picked up another college hoops winner last night at Nebraska held off Florida State in Tallahassee, despite some really sloppy play in the second half, and picked up a five point win. That was enough to easily cover and notch an eighth winner in eleven picks, and eleven in fourteen picks ATS as well. Things get a little better on the college slate tonight with a few good matchups taking place, so we will try to keep it going tonight.
We are at about three weeks into the season, and there are always some surprises, both positively and negatively. It can be tricky to gauge who is genuinely better than preseason expectations and who caught an opponent on an off-night and might be just a little over their heads. A few teams I’d be wary of are Butler and Maryland. The Bulldogs looked great in Atlantis, but they caught UNC on an off night and just have a knack for playing well in big games as a program. However, it is unlikely they finish in the Top Three of the Big East with the roster as constructed. It’s a deep league with a lot of physical and athletic teams. Don’t be surprised to see Butler near .500 in conference play, despite their newly minted Top 25 ranking.
Same thing for Maryland. They definitely deserve to be ranked at 7-0 with back-to-back wins over Arizona State and Iowa State. But with the injury just suffered by Dez Wells and a top heavy Big Ten full of difficult new arenas to play in, this feels like a .500 conference team at best to me once they start taking trips to Ann Arbon, East Lansing, Columbus, Madison, etc…
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Let’s dive in with today’s free picks:
Syracuse Orange at Michigan Wolverines -5.5
Michigan and Syracuse enter with identical records and similar recent elite pedigree. However, I’ll take Michigan’s loss any day over the ‘Cuse’s. Michigan played fantastic and lost a tough game on a neutral floor to a very good, veteran Villanova team. Syracuse got their doors blown off my a Cal team that could very well be in the NIT. And it isn’t just the result of the game. Michigan LOOKS significantly better than the Orange this season. They have better shooting and more athletic playmakers. They have better quality size and they have more experience.
This game looks like a coinflip based on the jerseys and preseason rankings, but I think Michigan is a far superior outfit. Add in the home court advantage and I think the Wolverines win this one a little easier than expected.
Free Pick: Michigan Wolverines -5.5
Ohio State Buckeyes at Louisville Cardinals -8.5
The Cardinals have looked the second best defensive team in the country this season, a fact that has been largely overshadowed by the fact they aren’t the best defensive team in their region of the state. Wildcat hysteria aside, these Cardinals, anchored by Montrez Harrell, have been ridiculous on the defensive end of the court.
However, they face a team with talent that can score the basketball tonight for perhaps the first time this season. Ohio State (blasphemy alert) may actually be better with D’Angelo Russell running the offense replacing Aaron Craft. The Louisville native gets his chance to show he made the right choice in Ohio State matched up against the tough Chris Jones. Ohio State is a sneaky Big Ten title contender, thanks in large part to an offensive-minded freshman influx of talent. The Buckeyes have always been tough but they couldn’t score. Not so this season.
Louisville is still likely the better team, and they are playing at the YUM Center, which is a huge edge. But I think tonight is Ohio State’s coming out party. They might win outright, but I certainly don’t think they get rolled as the line suggests. I’ll take the Buckeyes with the points.