HOLY COW did you see what Utah did to Arizona State last night??!? The final score was semi-reasonable (81-46), and it took significant benevolence on the part of “Other Coach K” and Utah for that to occur. It was 44-10 at halftime in one of the most dominant performances from a major conference team this season. After a few early conference stumbles, Utah is starting to look like the team many thought they could be; extremely dangerous and led by a Lottery Pick-level big man playing his best basketball of his career.
Meanwhile, we continued to stay hot with a third straight win – another EASY one at that with Indiana going on the road and taking apart the Illini. The first half was close, but once they came out of the halftime locker rooms it was all Indiana en route to a 74-47 victory. It’s our third straight college winner and we will try to stay hot despite a light slate of action tonight with all mid major games.
Tomorrow is an absolutely insane day of college hoops with ENORMOUS games between Louisville and Miami, Kentucky at Vanderbilt, Arizona at Utah, Maryland at Purdue, and North Carolina at Virginia in a game that could decide the ACC champion. So think of tonight as a brief calm before the storm of tomorrow – and hopefully a way to pick up a fourth straight winner under the radar.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Valparaiso Crusaders -3 at Milwaukee Panthers
I’ve been big on Valpo all season long, and still think they deserve an at large bid should they stumble in the Horizon League Tournament. It probably won’t happen (the former, not the latter, which is possible), but they deserve some serious consideration nonetheless. They enter tonight at 24-5 and their losses are all close. A six point loss at Oregon and four point loss at Belmont is no big deal. Losses at Ball State and an inexplicable sweep by Wright State will probably keep them out of the Dance. To say they are firmly out of wiggle room is definitely fair.
Which makes tonight a HUGE game for Alec Peters and the Crusaders.
Milwaukee has been hot lately, which coincides well with their imbalanced home/away mix. They started slowly in conference and at one point lost four of five games. Of course, all five were on the road. Their last two were at home and they beat Youngstown and Cleveland State by a combined 70 points. Granted Valpo is far better than either of those teams, but it is still a pretty impressive most recent impression the Panthers have left.
I think this game will be tough, but Valpo, Wright State excepted, has ripped through the Horizon this season, winning all 14 of their other conference games. If you take away the Wright State game, they have won their road conference games by an average of 22 points and NONE were closer than a 17 point win at a quality Oakland squad that took Michigan State to overtime before Christmas (no Valentine, but still….).
I’ll take the Crusaders tonight on the road. They haven’t been challenged by anyone other than Wright State even remotely. I’ll chalk that up as an odd matchup and roll with Bryce Drew and company.