It’s the last day of “famine week” for college hoops; one more night before Saturday’s explosion of awesome basketball games (including Utah vs. Duke, Villanova vs. Virginia, North Carolina vs. UCLA, etc.) We carved out an easy winner last night with Middle Tennessee State easily handling Belmont at home in a mid-major turf war. We are 2-1 ATS on the slow week (lets not talk about that Georgetown debacle…ugh) and will look to close out the week as a winner with another non-conference turf war tonight.
There really isn’t much on the slate to choose from tonight, so we will focus on the only real game on the docket. I like the line here, but I am not in love with it. On a busier day, we might just leave this one on the sideline, so let’s call this a conservative play for anyone playing along at home…
Ok, let’s dive in – and be sure to check back early tomorrow as MANY of the big games tip as early as noon EST tomorrow.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Ole Miss Rebels vs. Memphis Tigers -3.5
If you haven’t gotten a chance to watch Ole Miss’s Stephan Moody play yet, you are in for a treat tonight. The 5’11’’ senior guard is averaging 24.1 points per game with nearly four assists and four rebounds a night. He also averages a full three turnovers a night and shoots just over 42% from the floor and right around 35% from distance. It isn’t quite Marshall Henderson hysteria, but it is much more of an adventure than you’ll get in most college gymnasiums this season.
The Rebels enter at 8-2 with five straight wins including a comfortable win at UMass and over Louisiana Tech. However, they also got it handed to them at road games at a below-average George Mason and Seton Hall squads. So I have some real questions as to how they will fare in a tough road environment tonight.
Memphis is 7-2 on the season; an average start by Memphis’s lofty standards, but fairly on par with the rather pedestrian campaigns they’ve endured since Coach Cal handed the reigns to Josh Pastner. Pastner remains firmly on the hot seat and an early loss to Texas Arlington didn’t help. However, they played a VERY good Oklahoma team very closely (much better than did Villanova), and like Ole Miss, enters on a five game winning streak without a lot of meat on the schedule.
Neither of these teams are great. Both could make the tournament; Memphis would have a better shot by virtue of their conference, but neither is a lock and Ole Miss is probably a reach.
I’m not in love with Memphis, but as I’ve staked a claim on more than a few times successfully, when in doubt, back the home team. These two are pretty similar teams. Memphis is a good defensive team with athletic guards. I’m going to bank on them being able to at least corral Moody tonight – he may get his points but I don’t think he will get them efficiently. That should be enough to Memphis to get a little cushion and hold on to the cover.