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Oklahoma State at Colorado NCAA Hoops + Bonus Picks

We have a great day of college sports on tap.  Bowl season kicks off today and there is a great lineup of college hoops starting at noon with Georgetown and Kansas and Belmont’s interesting trip to Kentucky, and going all the way until a pair of great nightcaps with BYU at Oregon and an 11:30pm EST tip of Oklahoma State and Colorado (great game – set your DVR if you need to…)

We’ve got a modest two game college winning streak and four of our last five, so we will try to push it out with a big day today!

There’s too many great games to cover just one, so let’s dig in.

Today’s Free Picks:

Oklahoma State -6 at Colorado Buffaloes

Colorado has already tackled one former conference mate in Kansas, now tonight they will try to knock off the league’s other co-favorite, Oklahoma State.  Their first order of business will be trying to contain National Player of the Year candidate, Marcus Smart.  He is averaging 18 points a game this season, but only 11.5 in his last four games.  However, don’t let that lull you into thinking he’s struggling – those games were against lesser opponents and his minutes were a little low as were his shot attempts as he played the facilitator role with aplomb.  This guy is still a Derek Rose-light beast at the point guard position.

Okie State’s only loss came in a rematch against a good Memphis team, Colorado’s only loss came in a season-opening neutral court game against Baylor.  Since then, they are 12-0 with wins over Kansas, and a relatively otherwise light slate – Wyoming, Colorado State, Air Force, Elon, and worse.

My point is simply, yes, the Kansas win was impressive, but don’t be too enamored with their complete resume.  Not that Oklahoma State are world beaters, but they are the more talented and athletic team overall.  However, laying six points on the ROAD in a tough venue is a lot to swallow.  Colorado is the underdog, but it wouldn’t be stunning if they won in their own gym.  In situations like that, I love the home team with a fistful of points.

Free Pick: Colorado Buffaloes +6

Illinois Fighting Illini at Missouri Tigers -1.5 (@ St. Louis)

The annual bragging rights game is renewed this year in a great neutral floor matchups.  Missouri is unbeaten this season, but ranked only #23 in the polls.  Illinois is unranked for the first time in four years heading into this matchup.

One of the reasons Missouri isn’t ranked higher is their schedule (and lower preseason expectations).  They opened with wins over powerhouses like SE Louisiana, Hawaii, Southern Indiana, and Webber State.  However, of late, they have proven they are a legitimate.  They beat Northwestern, Nevada and West Virginia, and them completely legitimized the season with a hard-fought win over UCLA.  Missouri is a good ballclub this year, and Florida and Kentucky better keep an eye on them in the SEC…

Meanwhile, this should be a down year for Illinois.  They are a good 9-2, but their best wins are over UNLV, Valpo and Auburn, and they have losses to a mediocre Georgia Tech team and at Oregon (no shame there).  However, I think Missouri will be a little too deep and too quick for them.  It’s a neutral floor game, so not need to factor in much other than “who’s better.”  Missouri has been the last four years these teams have met, and I think today will be number five.

Free Pick:  Missouri Tigers -1.5