What a difference a little extra time makes… Already this week the Big 12 race swung on a double-overtime win by Kansas at Oklahoma State. Yesterday the entire SEC seemed as if they wanted to keep playing basketball. The conference combined for eight overtime periods yesterday. Ironically, it was that extra time on the court that very well might grant some extra time this March to two of the teams, and take it away from another.
Tennessee kept its fringe bubble hopes alive yesterday with a 4-OT win over Texas A&M. The Vols still have some work to do, but the win kept them alive for now. Likewise for the Kentucky Wildcats, whose overtime win over Missouri not only kept them in the tourney conversation but also finally notched them a win over a Top 50 team. On a personal note, you have to hate having your nine-game NCAA ATS winning streak snapped by an underdog failing to cover in overtime. That stings a bit.
Overtime wasn’t so kind to all SEC tourney hopefuls. Alabama may very well have had their tourney bid slip through their fingers in their 97-94 triple-OT loss at LSU.
All in all, it was a thrilling day in college hoops, highlighted by Otto Porter thrusting his name into the National POY conversation with his 33-point performance in a 56-46 win over Syracuse and the SEC’s many marathons. Let’s see if we can both keep it up today with a few more great games and a few more winning picks.
Michigan State at Ohio State -3
If it’s Sunday, you can rest assured there is going to be a bigtime Big Ten matchup on CBS. This weekend in no different as the #4 Spartans travel to Columbus to take on one of the nation’s more enigmatic teams, the Ohio State Buckeyes. It has become fashionable to bash the Bucks and their relative lack of offensive punch and diversity. Their last game DeShaun Thomas took as many shots (16) as their next THREE leading shot attempters COMBINED. They are going to need a little more from Lenzelle Smith and better distribution and playmaking from Aaron Craft to beat the Spartans.
It is also fashionable to point out the Buckeyes are no good because they have lost three of their last five. However, their losses are an overtime loss at Michigan, a home loss to #1 Indiana and last weekend’s road loss at Wisconsin. Aside from their home loss to Indiana, they have lost only one other home game, a November matchup with Duke.
The point is, Ohio State is still a dangerous ballclub and a fierce defensive one. I think Michigan State will struggle offensively this afternoon in Columbus. Michigan State has become the darling and trendy dark horse national champion pick lately. I don’t see it. This is a really good team, but I am not sure they are offensively skilled enough to be a great one. They are more diverse than Ohio State, but do not have a shot maker on par with DeShaun Thomas or a point guard as steady Aaron Craft. Keith Appling is good, but was absolutely undressed twice this season by Indiana. I like Ohio State to be effective containing him and the Spartan offense today.
Give me the Buckeyes at home today laying the three in a much needed win for Thad Motta’s team.
Free Pick: Ohio State Buckeyes -3
Two quick bonus picks today.
I love UCLA avenging their earlier home loss to USC by returning the favor this afternoon. UCLA is a supremely talented team who is starting to play much better basketball. USC has rebounded nicely to salvage a dismal season, but I don’t see them sweeping the Bruins. Give me UCLA laying a point and a half on the road in a great game.
My second bonus pick is the Charlotte 49’ers. They and their tourney hopes have been teetering lately, going just 6-5 in A-10 play after a sizzling 12-1 start. However, they are 11-1 at home this season and played very well at Temple a few weeks ago in an 89-88 loss. Their recent troubles are understandable; they’ve lost at St. Louis and to VCU – many teams in the country would have that result. In that mix they have also won at Butler and beaten Xavier and UMass at home. This is a huge game for the 49’ers bubble hopes – they have to have this one; and I think they’ll get it.
Free Picks: UCLA Bruins -1.5 & Charlotte 49’ers -1