We got back on track last night with an outright underdog winner as the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest continued the early-season woes of the LSU Tigers. LSU dropped to 7-5 and has still lost to every halfway decent opponent (and a few less than ‘half-way’) this season; most of them at home, and are conclusively proving that it takes more than one player – even a potentially transcendent one, to compete at a high level. It’s sad to say this early, but appears we won’t get a chance to see Ben Simmons play in an NCAA Tournament game…
Meanwhile, hopefully some of you jumped on my Iowa lead as well. The line wasn’t official at the time of publishing, but it settled in right near where I projected, and Iowa covered it with ease. I am pretty sure I called that loss in this space several weeks ago – forget the national ranking, there was no way Michigan State was going into Iowa and beating Jared Utoff and company without Denzel Valentine. Michigan State will be just fine once they get him healthy, but I don’t think you’ll see them ever reclaim that number one ranking or even win the regular season Big Ten title.
Today is another pretty good day of college hoops (tomorrow is awesome with Butler/Providence and Xavier/Villanova). Let’s see if we can make it another winning day.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Seton Hall Pirates at Marquette Golden Eagles -3
How good is the Big East this year? Well, this game between 10-2 teams is probably no better than a battle for fifth place in the ten team league (battling with Georgetown and possible Creighton as well). Seton Hall already boasts wins over Wichita State (with Van Vleet healthy) and Mississippi and Georgia, Marquette has a road win at Wisconsin to go with wins over LSU and Arizona State. Granted, none of those other than the home overtime win over Wichita State is a ‘great’ win, but both teams have played a solid enough slate to be considered legitimate NCAA Tournament possibilities.
This game becomes huge. I don’t think either can jump up into the conferences’ aforementioned Big Four, and it feels unlikely the BEast gets six, and near certain they won’t get seven. Finishing fifth and above .500 is going to be crucial.
Seton Hall boasts a solid sophomore class led by Angel Delgado who has posted five straight double doubles, however he will have his hands full against future first-round draft pick (and likely Lottery Pick) Henry Ellenson. Ellenson has Coach Wojo a year ahead of schedule and looking like a return to the Big Dance could be imminent. I expect them to play well on their home court and give them the edge because of it in an otherwise pick ‘em game. Marquette has a better star, Seton Hall has a little more balance.
These two split last year, each winning on the other’s home court before Marquette beat the hell out of Seton Hall in the BEast Tourney. However, this is a MUCH better Marquette squad than last year’s undertalented scrappers. This year they have a professional front court player to compliment the requisite grit. I expect that to be the difference. A lot of computer simulations have this game around 74-63 for Marquette. I’m not sure they win the game that easily, but I do like them to win and cover.