It was not a good night for the newly-minted #1 team in the country and the revolving door at the top kept spinning crazily last night (now stepping to the stage… your Kansas Jayhawks!). The Duke Blue Devils got absolutely destroyed in Coral Gables by the Miami Hurricanes by 27 points. Making matters even worse? Me, like many experts out there, picked them laying a small three points. That adds up to a 30 point loss – and makes for a rough night.
Of course, all picks are either “brilliant” or “stupid” in retrospect, and fortunately we still have a healthy amount more “brilliant” picks over the course of this season and the last two – but THAT game is one I’d like back…
Oh well – with good money management, it is just one loss, no matter how ugly. So let’s snap the recent three-game college hoops slide and get back on track with a few winners tonight.
Tennessee Volunteers at Ole Miss Rebels -7.5
Tennessee hosted this same Ole Miss team three weeks ago, and lost by 22. Since then, Ole Miss has moved to a perfect 4-0 in SEC play and 15-2 overall. They went from curiosity to near NCAA-lock in the span of about a month. It is reflected it tonight’s line. It tells me the secret of Ole Miss and their sensational freshman, Marshall Henderson, is now out. But that doesn’t mean they don’t lay one on the Vols tonight. Tennessee is 1-3 in SEC play and has lost four of their last five games.
I became a believer in Ole Miss after their 15-point shellacking of Missouri bookended their 22-point road win at Knoxville. I like them to play just as well tonight and to take advantage of an offensively challenged Vol team on the road.
Free Pick: Ole Miss Rebels -7.5
Clemson Tigers at Florida State Seminoles -4
Both these teams has 12-7 records, but the feeling around each is different. Florida State is one of the country’s biggest disappointments, as they entered the season ranked and with tourney expectations. To quote the great Denny Green, Clemson is who we thought they were… just not a real good team.
Florida State is going to be anxious to get the taste of this weekend’s 56-36 clunker at Virginia out of their mouths. A visit from Clemson is the precise medicine. They went to South Carolina and beat the Tigers by 5 several weeks ago. I think we can expect a repeat performance tonight. Gimme the Noles laying the four at home.
Free Pick: Florida State Seminoles -4
Lastly, we head to the Pac-12 for an absolutely fantastic game that not may viewers on the East Coast will see, but is definitely worth staying up for…
UCLA Bruins at Arizona Wildcats -8.5
For all their many flaws and close escapes, it was easy to dismiss Arizona as a legit Top 3 – Top 5 type team. However, for some reason it has become just as irrational to dismiss them as even a “good” team. They ARE still 18-1 and still a player for a #1 seed come March. That Florida win, however bizarre, is looking better and better every day.
UCLA was starting to come together, and honestly looked like a team that had Final Four type talent. Their last game was a concerning small step backwards. They lost at home to Oregon 76-67. That win gave the Ducks wins over the Bruins and Wildcats, so perhaps they really are the best team out West, but UCLA had a lot to prove that day and came up empty at home.
I think that fuels them to a good performance tonight. Talentwise, they are BETTER than Arizona. They are also getting a whopping 8.5 points. That’s a lot for a team with the third leading assist man in the country (a rejuvenated Larry Drew III) and Shabazz Mohammad. I like the Bruins to cover and play well.
Free Pick: UCLA Bruins +8.5