SMU vs. Uconn Pick NCAA Hoops – Feb 23rd + Bonus Pick

The Duke v. Syracuse game gave us another classic finish, though not for the reason one would like to see.  With Duke leading by two and ten seconds to play, CJ Fair scored a baseline layup with lots of contact.  However, the bucket was immediately waived off, sending Jim Boeheim into a state of apoplectic rage, earning him two technical fouls and the first ejection of his 38-year career (hard to believe right??).  Duke ended up winning the game by six from there, and I was on the edge of my seat wondering if I was going to notch one of the worst bad-beats of my wagering career.  Instead, we hung on by a slim half-point to split the day at 1-1.

Yesterday was another big bubble inflating/deflating day, with teams like Stanford, BYU, Georgetown, Baylor and Oklahoma State notching huge wins, while teams like Xavier, St. John’s, Minnesota and Gonzaga could wind up ruing yesterday’s results while mired in the NIT.

There are a few more games of huge impact today, so let’s dive into Sunday’s action.

Today’s Free Picks:

SMU Mustangs at UConn Huskies -6.5

SMU has made gigantic improvements under Larry Brown, and with another good recruiting class coming in, I have no doubt they’ll be ranked most of next season.  However, in the here and now, the really need a legit road win to solidify their tournament resume.  To this point in the season, they have been home court heroes and duds outside of Dallas.  SMU has lost two of the last four home games, which might not seem so bad in a conference as good as the AAC; until you consider the home losses are to Temple and USF and the wins are over Rutgers and Houston.  With the exception of UCF, that’s the dregs of the conference.

Meanwhile, UConn has been flying under the radar a bit lately.  They’ve won four in a row and seven of their last eight with their only loss coming on the road at Cincinnati.  They’ve definitely enjoyed a softer spot in the schedule, with the only win against a post-season bound opponent coming over Memphis, but this is still a legit team that owns non-conference wins over Indiana and Florida and has one of the better backcourts in the country led by Shabazz Napier.

SMU is good, but they’ve been much less so on the road.  I think they will struggle again this afternoon in Storrs.

Free Pick:  UConn Huskies -6.5

Florida State Seminoles at Pitt Panthers -8

This is an interesting game of teams that might have been a little overrated five or six weeks ago.  Pitt fans were clamoring for attention despite the fact their lofty record had little meat on it; now their resume has a bunch of losses on it – the competition stiffened and the Panthers haven’t.  Pitt has lost two in a row and four of their last six.  They have failed to cover in their last six games.  Even more interesting – they haven’t beaten a team by the margin they are favored by today (8) since the Clemson game in early January and have only won by more than eight points once in their last ten games.

My point is, yes, Pitt should win at home, but favoring them by eight points feels way too heavy a price tag.

I’ll take Florida State to keep it close, despite their own abundant share of struggles.

Free Pick:  Florida State +8