Utah vs. Colorado NCAA Basketball Pick – Jan 8th

The Pac-12 is seriously insane this season. You could make a case for all twelve teams making the NCAA Tournament. You could make a case for about nine of them winning the conference and about nine finishing dead last. Even Arizona, the perennial favorite and only seeming “automatic” is fallible, as evidenced by last night’s loss at UCLA (thanks to some Bryce Alford heroics staving off a furious Arizona rally in a game UCLA controlled for 36 minutes).

It is one week into conference play and only Washington (2-0) is unbeaten. And I don’t think anyone thinks the Huskies are winning the league, or anything resembling a lock to make the Big Dance. Only two teams have yet to win, Utah, who owns a win over Duke, possesses a Lottery Pick in Jakob Poetl, and has been nationally ranked most of the season, and Arizona State, who looks like a possible Tourney team (and cost us a loss last night by missing the cover narrowly at USC).

It’s a complete mess, but a fun one to watch. It means, that at least for now, every single Pac-12 game is a pretty good one. Tonight’s game is no exception as the surprising 12-3 Colorado Buffaloes host the also-surprising (though not in a great way) 10-4 Utah Utes.

It’s going to be another fun night in Pac-12 land, so let’s dive in to tonight’s breakdown.

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Today’s Free Pick:        

Utah Utes at Colorado Buffaloes -1

Tonight is big opportunity for Colorado to stamp some legitimacy on a resume that has the love from the RPI but not any nationally pollsters (they haven’t gotten a vote in the rankings all season until last week’s four points). They don’t have any eye-popping wins. The best are probably Auburn, Omaha and BYU. But their losses, to SMU and Iowa State by a combined 6 points, are impressive. The conference opening loss at Cal wasn’t the worst thing in the world and following it up with a win at Stanford was nice. Tonight is a BIG chance to take a BIG step forward in a muddled league.

Utah is an interesting case. If you throw out the Duke win (not saying one should, but IF you did), their resume is a lot worse than Colorado. They have the same close game at Stanford, but lost by a bucket instead of winning by one. They also lost by 11 at Cal. But they have a 17-point loss to Wichita State and a 24-point loss to Miami hanging around their necks, while Colorado was VERY competitive in their two big time games (and @Iowa State and @SMU are big time venues).

This one will be close, as seemingly every Pac-12 game is, and I think Utah will be fine once they start getting some games on their home floor. This is their third straight roadie to start conference play. But for tonight, I think Colorado defends their home turf. This is their home conference opener, and it is nationally televised. I like the Buffs to come to play.

Colorado is a nice tidy 8-4 ATS this season while Utah is 5-8. This league is going to be one where a lot of games are toss-ups, and I am going to lean home team until some conflicting data emerges. All things even in college hoops, head for the home crowd. I’ll take the Buffs to win in what amounts to a virtual pick ‘em. Utah’s national profile probably shifts this from a -2.5 or -3 to just -1, and I am going to take advantage of the team with the lesser reputation but better 2015-2016 resume.

Free Pick: Colorado Buffaloes -1