Syracuse vs. South Carolina Pick NCAA Basketball – November 26th

We notched another NARROW winner last night in college hoops with Maryland prevailing 88-82 over Richmond in overtime behind Melo Tremble’s 31 point outburst.  The game played out nearly exactly as projected; Maryland pulling away late behind a massive effort from Melo.  However, it happened about 10 minutes ‘later’ than I expected.  You gotta tip your cap to the gambling gods and whisper a quiet ‘thanks’ when you get a winner with a favorite in overtime – and for the second straight day (different sport Friday, NBA) I got just that good fortune.

It is also a good reminder of something you’ll see often on this site – SHOP LINES.  At the time of publishing, the Maryland game was a -5.5 or -6, depending on where you placed the wager.  It closed at -6 or -6.5 on most online books.  That is the difference between a win (me), push (many) or loss (sorry!).

Aside from a fortunate win to push my season record to 11-4 ATS, it was elsewhere a really interesting and telling day of college hoops.  The biggest surprise of the week goes to Temple.  Picked sixth in the AAC, they beat Florida State and West Virginia on back to back days.  Temple DOES have two losses; to New Hampshire and UMass (not typos), but they showed that at their BEST, they can win the AAC.  At their worst… different story.  Stay tuned.

Gonzaga got a nice win over a good Florida team, Iowa State remained perfect with a convincing win over Miami, Wichita State’s dazzling start looks like more of a mirage after back to back convincing losses to Louisville and Michigan State and Baylor notched ANOTHER win over a ranked foe, beating the aforementioned Cardinals.

The other big winner of the week is Butler, who are back to their pre-con magic ways.  #8 Arizona was their latest victim last night 69-65, pushing the Bulldogs to a perfect 6-0 including wins over Northwestern and Vanderbilt.  The Bulldogs will surely be ranked Monday.  Temple?  That’s a tricky one…

Let’s see if we can keep it rolling today on a slightly less glamorous day of college hoops.  There are tons of games, but none with the ZIP of yesterday.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Syracuse Orange -7.5 vs. South Carolina Gamecocks  (@ Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY)

The Gamecocks notched one of the more impressive wins for the SEC this season with their convincing neutral court victory over Michigan.  They will try to press their luck today with a de facto road game against Syracuse.  The Orange are known for causing fits for non-con opponents unused to the length of the Orange’s vaunted zone defense, so it will be interesting to see how Frank Martin’s unbeaten squad fares today.

Michigan was the first time they looked REALLY good this season, and outside of a one-point win over a solid Monmouth squad, the first time they have really been tested.  Syracuse looked good in a 21-point win over Monmouth, but the rest of their schedule is absolute garbage – old school Big East pre-con schedule style.  Today is their first test against high-major similar athletes, and I think it will cause some problems for them.  South Carolina has been a sneaky program for a few years and is once again doing some major damage in November (and hopefully for them December).  We’ve seen this recipe before – great start for the Gamecocks, miserable SEC play, no Tourney bid.  Can they sustain the effort in 2017?  Today will certainly be a nice litmus test.

Both teams have held opponents under 58 points per game so far this season, but again, the competition ramps up today, so if you looked at the 134 total and thought, huh? That’s the reason why.  I expect both to score over 60 today and for a very competitive game.  Look for Sindarius Thornwell to be the ‘Cocks best scorer; he scored 21 points against Michigan on an efficient 8 of 12 shooting to go with 10 boards – an impressive feat for a non-big.  For Syracuse, expect a more balanced attack with six players averaging more than nine points per game.

The line is now as wide as Syracuse -7.5 after opening at just -6.  I’ll take the points today for two reasons; one, I am not sold on Syracuse quite yet.  They are riding a perception bump from their Final Four appearance last season, but remember, that was a double-digit seed who was one of the most controversial selections to the field.  They are still a GOOD team, but I don’t think they are in a class with their other highly ranked ACC mates.  I put them more in the Notre Dame/VA Tech/Florida State class than Duke/UVA/UNC/’Ville.

The second reason is that Frank Martin has a knack for having his team ready to play in the early season.  SC is unbeaten entering today with a huge opportunity to validate their record.  They have veteran leadership and talent in Thornwell and play excellent defense, which tends to travel well in early season neutral court games.  I am not sure they WIN, but seven and a half is a nice cushion.

Free Pick:  South Carolina Gamecocks +7.5