We have a great week of college hoops coming up as the commencement of conference play coincides with a few final dynamic interconference clashes. Today is a slight appetizer for the rest of the week, but Big Ten play kicks off Tuesday, highlighted with Maryland and Michigan State and Iowa vs. Ohio State. You also get a fun in-state matchup in Florida vs. Florida State with a little rivalry zip to the matchup. New Year’s Eve should be fun too as a catered-to-television schedule delivers a nice alternative to the bevy of bowl games. St. Johns and Seton Hall kick off what should be a WILD Big East slate at noon and things just keep on rocking from there: Butler vs. Villanova, Nebraska vs. Indiana, Creighton vs. Providence and a ludicrous for the players but great for fans, 10PM tip-off between Xavier vs. Georgetown.
It’s going to be a fun week of hoops, so be sure to pop in every day for some picks and perspective.
In the meantime, there’s one game on tonight’s schedule that I really like from a wagering perspective so let’s start bulking up that bankroll for conference hoops action.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Toledo Rockets at Duke Blue Devils -20.5
In general, I’m not wild about games where the spread is this large. There’s always the risk of the better team taking their foot off the gas too early and giving up a backdoor cover, or simply showing up flat, knowing that even a mediocre effort should be enough to grab a 10-15 win with relative ease.
However, I don’t think Coach K or this year’s Duke squad rolls like that. They have simply eviscerated lesser foes who stumbled out of Cameron Indoor wondering what the heck happened. They have blitzed three teams by more than 40 points at home, and aside from a merciful display against a better-than-realized Elon team, every non-major opponent has gotten blasted.
I think Duke will come out sharp and focused and Coach K will keep the pedal down wanting one more good tune up before the ridiculous gauntlet of the new-look ACC schedule commences. When you have Virginia, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Louisville awaiting, there is little time to spare the feelings of a few unfortunate Toledo Rockets. Toledo is a decent MAC team and could even sneak out of that conference into the automatic tourney bid. But with losses already to Detroit and Oakland I think the huge leap up in competition tonight will be an unpleasant one tonight.
Look for Duke to score a bundle of points and for Winslow and Okafor to dominate the proceedings. Quinn Cook and Sulaimon should get open looks as the Rockets are forced to double all night long. It’s going to be a tough night for Toledo. I’ll swallow the 20.5 and look for Duke to keep the hammer down all night long.