It’s been a pretty hit-and-miss week (4-4 ATS) and start to the college basketball season for me so far. We got an easy home winner with UNLV handling Oregon (who were very untested away from home and a little suspect) despite being a slight underdog. However, our big underdog got buried, as Pitt came into Duquesne and reminded the upstart Dukes that they run this state and that while their blowout win over Penn State was ‘cute’ – they were facing a different animal in the Panthers. Point proven with authority as the Panthers lit up the scoreboard for 96 points, showing again this ain’t your Dad’s Pitt Panthers team. No more 50-48 black n’ blue specials. These Panthers can get out and score. It will be interesting to see how they fare in the jammed middle of the ACC pack. Duke, UVA and North Carolina are clearly top-tier. Miami and Louisville look like the next tier and a slight notch above (and perhaps Syracuse as well). From there, Notre Dame, NC State, , Pitt and possibly a few others (sleepers like VA Tech, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech) will really beat each other up once conference play commences.
It’s a loaded sports Saturday, including a few dynamite college hoops matchups. Syracuse v. Georgetown and Arizona v. Gonzaga are both early in the day, so let’s look a little later for tonight hopeful winner.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Providence Friars at Rhode Island Rams -2.5
The Battle for Rhode Island may not be a big deal outside of the Northeast, but this is a really good, intense rivalry game which should be especially good given the high quality of both of these teams this year. Most people know Providence, if only because of National POY candidate and future Lottery Pick, Kris Dunn. But the Friars have some talent to accompany him this year, and it has been evident in their impressive 7-1 start. Sophomore Ben Bentil has put up 20 points in each of the Friars last five games, making it more difficult to key all the attention on Dunn. The 20+ streak is even more impressive considering the Friars last five games included Evansville, Arizona, and Michigan State (their only loss).
Meanwhile, Rhode Island entered the season with sincere NCAA Tournament aspirations, but early losses to Valpo at home and an absolute decimation by Maryland robbed them of two good opportunities to build the resume. That makes today’s game even bigger for the Rams.
And that added pressure may not be a good thing. Yes, it is a home game tonight, which is a big advantage in college hoops. But Providence is a veteran team with an experienced leader and lead guard. I don’t expect Dunn to be rattled on the road. Meanwhile, Rhode Island is just 1-29 in their last 30 games against ranked opponents. That’s a ton of big swings and misses on the resume, and though the streak extends well past any current players or coaches, it is still a pretty big albatross around the neck.
Providence is the better team and has played better this season as well. I think their star, Dunn, will be just enough to get a hard-fought road win.