We pushed the record to 5-1 ATS on the young college hoops season with a relatively easy winner with Northwestern and the points last night at Butler. The game played out almost EXACTLY as predicted; an exciting, tense, well-played and competitive game… and some predictable Butler magic late. The bucket with 0.4 seconds on the clock broke a tie that had volleyed back and forth for most of the last five minutes of the game and gave the Bulldogs yet another November buzzer-beater for the archives.
We will try to keep it up today with my favorite play on the board in an absolutely PACKED day of college hoops. The “Tire Pros Invitational” tip off at 11am with Clemson and Davidson (sneaky GREAT game, Jake Gibbs and Jaron Blossomgame are both on the Naismith Watchlist). If you are wondering “what the hell is the Tire Pros Invitational”, well it is the “Puerto Rico Tip Off” only it is being played in Orlando due to Zika fears… so, yeah.
But still – a really good field and a fun tournament worth watching (my picks are Xavier of Clemson, Arizona State over Oklahoma in a surprise, with X winning the tourney – Davidson finishing 5th).
My favorite play on the board is in a more conventional venue, and it is one of the last games of the night. If you get Pac-12 TV, this is one of the most interesting non-con games of the entire year…
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Today’s Free Pick:
Valparaiso Crusaders at Oregon Ducks -13
The Ducks got BLASTED two days ago on the road at Baylor without their best player Dillon Brooks. Yes, the Ducks still have plenty of talent, but without Brooks again tonight (expected to return next week for Maui, making that tournament absolutely LOADED, but more on that next week), WHY are they still such a HUGE favorite over a good Valpo team?
Valpo won 30 games last year, and could/should do the same in 2016-17. Alec Peters is back and on the preseason Naismith Watchlist. They went toe-to-toe with the Ducks last season, so there shouldn’t be any fear/awe factor, even on the road. I contended preseason that Valpo should be in the Top 25 – this team is legitimately very good. Tonight is their BIG chance to prove it. Programs like Valpo get little room for error. A win tonight could go a LONG way to cementing an at-large sense of worth, should the Crusaders fail to win the Horizon Tourney – very possible given the competitiveness of that conference. A road win at Oregon (and sure, no Brooks, but still, a MONSTER win) would go a long, long way.
SO can they win straight up? Am I crazy to say I think they have a shot?? Vegas doesn’t throw around a dozen points haphazardly, so yes, it is a bit of a longshot, but I am still considering a very small play on a +750 moneyline.
My PICK here is not that; it is simply Valpo getting a dozen. I think at worst this is a GOOD game, giving us plenty of cushion with a dozen-plus points in our pocket.