We had another split last night as Georgetown and West Virginia played themselves back onto the bubble with enormous wins; unfortunately, I had Iowa State who got boat raced by the scorching shooting by West Virginia.
There were a few other huge results last night. Kansas State all but played themselves into the tournament with a big overtime win over Kansas. Their resume is a little deficient in the road win category but their strength of schedule and now a win over Kansas should be enough to get them off the bubble and into safe territory. Meanwhile, Maryland and Florida State may have sealed their fate last night with losses to Virginia and Miami respectively. It’s bad news for an ACC that is searching desperately for a fifth and sixth team to merit tourney consideration behind Syracuse, Duke, Virginia and Pitt. Maybe North Carolina?? That’s about it for the newly assembled mega-conference. Keep an eye on tonight’s North Carolina State game and the Clemson game – they both MUST win to keep hope alive…
There are a few more huge games on the college docket tonight, so let’s dive in for today’s free picks.
Today’s Free Picks:
Oklahoma State Cowboys at Texas Longhorns -4
You might have heard the Marcus Smart won’t be suiting up for tonight’s game. You know the story if you have television, radio, internet or any other means of communicating with society, so no need to rehash what happened – but it does have an enormous impact on tonight’s game.
Oklahoma State has lost four straight games WITH Smart, including the most recent loss to lowly Texas Tech. I’d have Texas as a four or five point favorite WITH Smart. But without him? This line is realllllly generous. Even with Texas’s leading scorer, Holmes, being downgraded to doubtful for tonight’s game, Texas feels like a solid play.
Texas had won seven in a row before last game’s road loss to Kansas State, and has looked very good in the process. The first opened some eyes with their road win at North Carolina, and have continued to play well in one of the two toughest conferences in the country, posting a 7-3 record in the Big 12. They’ve beaten Kansas and Iowa State by double digits already this season – I like them winning convincingly tonight against a Marcus Smart-less Cowboy squad.
Florida Gators -1.5 at Tennessee Volunteers
This is a tough spot for the Gators tonight, as a win tonight would make Tennessee’s season and get them right back into tourney contention. It’s one of the final opportunities for Cuonzo Martin’s squad to notch another resume win and sneak into the NCAA Tourney.
However, Florida is really good. They are the least-talked about elite team in the country. Syracuse and Arizona have been under the microscope for months. Wichita State and San Diego State (who has a tricky road game at a Wyoming squad that is 11-2 at home) have been the “are they really that good?” midmajor darlings. Kansas, Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke have star power and name recognition. Meanwhile, Florida has just chugged along. They are 21-2 and both their losses came early to Top 25 teams while the Gators were dealing with injuries and suspensions. Since their team returned intact, no one has beaten them.
Tennessee certainly has the ability to defend in big-time games; the beatdown they put on Virginia last month is evidence of that. But I like the way this Florida team is rolling along right now and think they get the big road win and virtually seal up the regular season SEC crown.