Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you have a fantastic day with friends, family and loved ones… and of course with some awesome hoops on your television. The NBA rules the day, but there are four decent college hoops games, all taking place over in Honolulu in the Diamond Head Classic.
To get you up to speed on this under-the-radar tournament, so far there have been some interesting results. Auburn surprised New Mexico in the opener and then BYU got dropped by Harvard in overtime. So the locals got the New Mexico vs. BYU matchup they expected, only it took place in the consolation bracket (BYU then beat New Mexico 96-66 in a stunning blowout). On the bottom half of the bracket, Oklahoma hammered Washington State and Hawai’i smoked Northern Iowa (they of the wins over North Carolina and Iowa State) 68-52. Another odd result. UNI bounced back with a four-point win over Washington State while Hawai’i might have played the game of the tournament in an 83-80 loss to #3 Oklahoma.
It’s been a wild tournament, but the final matchups today pit Oklahoma against Harvard in a surprising Final and Auburn against Hawai’i in an interesting Third Place game.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Harvard Crimson vs. Oklahoma Sooners -13
Harvard enters today at 5-6, and while their schedule has been difficult (losses at Kansas and Providence) they also have losses to Holy Cross, Northeastern and Boston College). This isn’t a great Harvard team, in fact it would be a huge surprise if they finished in the top two or three in the Ivy League. However, they have looked good on The Islands this week, beating BYU and Auburn.
Auburn helped the Crimson cause a bit with 1 of 15 shooting by junior guard Kareem Canty. I don’t expect the Sooners to be as generous tonight. Plus, Oklahoma got their wake-up call with an 83-80 squeaker against the hometown Warriors in the semi-final. I think that jolt, plus a day off to rest and prepare, will suit them very well tonight. This is an Oklahoma team that already blew out Villanova this season and has the look of a Final Four contender. Buddy Hield is a deserving All American, but he is far from a one-man show. Cousins, Woodard and Spangler all average double-digits and are experienced college players. Look for them to all play well today and not overlook an overmatched Harvard opponent.
Oklahoma has won by larger margins that they 13 they are laying tonight against Villanova and Wisconsin, which tells me dominance is there when they dig down and summon it. I think they will today and will make it a joyous Christmas romp over in Honolulu.