It was a big night for the nation’s top mid-majors, and everyone of them got the job done. A few escaped with a sigh, while a few flat-out impressed. The most notable was Wichita State going on the road to chief conference rival Indiana State and leaving with a tight seven point victory. Knock their schedule all you want, but this is a Final Four team returning five of their top six players who is getting EVERYONE’S best effort on the road. They are unbeaten, and while their S.O.S. is admittedly not on par with the top teams in the nation, they HAVE to be included in the mix of Final Four contenders.
The same goes for San Diego State. Their road win at Boise State may not leap off the page, but again they went on the road and beat a bubble-worthy team and conference foe. Throw in their road win at Kansas and their #1 seed profile is mounting.
But the BEST win of the night was the St. Louis going on the road and blasting a red-hot St. Joseph’s team that was trending towards the Tournament. The Billikens are now 21-2 in the underrated Atlantic Ten and should be a top four seed in March.
Tonight’s schedule isn’t quite as full, but let’s see if we can extend our four game college hoops winning streak with a fifth straight ATS winner.
Today’s Free Pick:
Temple Owls at SMU Mustangs -13.5
This season has been an abject disaster for Temple and is shaping up as one of their worst in modern history. Meanwhile, it is shaping up to be the best season in SMU’s modern history as the Mustangs are likely to make a return to the NCAA Tournament under legendary coach Larry Brown.
That’s the backdrop for tonight’s huge 13.5 point line.
But getting past Temple’s 6-14 record, you’ll see a team that is actually starting to play reasonable basketball. With the exception of last game’s throttling from Villanova and a bad road loss to UConn, they have competed in their last ten games. They’ve lost tight road games to Cincinnati and LaSalle, they turned around and played UC tough against at home and knocked off Rutgers.
By no stretch is this a good team, but I’m not sure they just roll over and let SMU run them out of the gym either. Nic Moore should have a good game, but I’ll trust Temple’s defense to put up enough resistance to keep this thing respectable tonight.
Give me Temple and a ton of points.
Oregon Ducks at Arizona Wildcats -11.5
Remember a month ago when Oregon was the undefeated, top-scoring team in the nation? Neither does Vegas. Arizona will get a chance to prove tonight they can still win without Brandon Ashley after dropping their first game of the season this weekend at Cal. There is no shame in losing at Cal, but there is no time for pouting for Arizona.
The truth is, the gap has been narrowing against them a bit in Pac 12 play, even before Ashley was lost for the season. They had single digit games against Stanford and Utah leading up to that game, and though I STILL think this is quite possibly the best team in the country, I think Oregon gives them a battle tonight.
The Ducks have won two of three to snap a dreadful five game losing streak and still possess a ton of offensive talent. I don’t think they win, but I don’t think they lose by twenty either.