Toledo vs. St. Joe’s Pick NCAA Hoops – November 12th

We started off the college season with a win as the Wildcats comfortably handled the new-look Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin in front of a joyous and packed crowd at Rupp Arena.  The Wildcats debuted their prize crop of freshman who looked fast, explosive, athletic, and like…freshman.  There were some unbelievable plays.  There were some tantalizingly breathtaking glimpses of the incredibly high ceiling of this teams.  And there were some alley-oops to no one in traffic that went as turnovers.

All in all, a pretty solid debut from the Cats, but nowhere near the most impressive effort of the night.  I’d give that honor to the Indiana Hoosiers who knocked off veteran Kansas 103-99 in overtime, despite two starters including All American big man Thomas Bryant, fouling out late.  The Hoosiers looked like they might have three of the best 40-50 players in the country as James Blackmon, Jr. returned from last season’s injury looking like Steph/Lillard with a hairpin trigger and ridiculous shot making and creating ability from the perimeter.  Seriously impressive stuff.

Today is the deeeeeep breath between the packed slate of yesterday’s madness and Tuesday’s 24-Hour ESPN College Hoops Marathon.  There are some games on the schedule but no Top 25 matchups or games pitting brand name opponents against one another.  However, there are a few good teams in action meeting up with teams you could see again in March as #14 or #15 seeds.  Let’s dive in with today’s free pick.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Toledo Rockets at St. Joseph’s Hawks -5

I looked long and hard at Wofford at LSU, as I had great success fading the SEC yesterday taking the other side of Tennessee, Georgia and Arkansas –  the first two lost outright, against Chattanooga, Clemson, and Ft. Wayne, but Wofford is a little down this year and I think LSU might actually be a little BETTER without Ben Simmons (odd as it sounds).  So I have landed on another mild upset possibility as the St. Joseph’s Hawks need to figure out how to replace all the departed key cogs from last year’s NCAA Tournament team.  They don’t have a single player on the top three preseason All A-10 teams.

And Toldeo could a tough first day in the office.  The Rockets are only 119 in KenPom, as opposed to St. Joe’s 97, but they have a one returning star in Jonathon Williams and his 17.6ppg and 70 three-pointers drained last year.  Like St. Joe’s, they have some key cogs to replace as well, namely at point and in the paint – but they have more stability returning than St. Joe’s.

We saw last night – PLENTY of “brand name” schools were pushed by more anonymous opponents on their home floor, especially when the road team from the mid-major league had some continuity from the previous season.  Look for this to be a theme often in the first few weeks of the season, but to lessen as the more talented teams round into shape.

For now, I’ll take another smaller-brand underdog against a severely rebuilding opponent.

Free Pick:  Toledo Rockets +5