It’s a great day of college hoops action with several big time tournaments tipping off today, including the Battle 4 Atlantis and the loaded field playing down in the Bahamas. Gonzaga, Michigan, UConn, Texas A&M, Texas, Syracuse, Washington and Charlotte. Other than the 49’ers, there really isn’t a gimme anywhere on the slate, so enjoy a great day of hoops.
A quick wagering tip – I’m not making any of those games my official write-up or play today, but historically the funky giant ballroom-turned basketball gym has wreaked havoc on the jump shots, so expect some sluggish offensive performances. For example, the noon tip-off between Gonzaga and Washington with a TOTAL of 165.5 feels a bit ambitious, especially considering that both teams are playing on a 9am body-clock time being west coast school. Keep an eye on the totals down in Atlantis, and some UNDER opportunities…
Meanwhile, we took a tough two-point loss yesterday to keep our win some/lose some start to the college basketball season going. We are starting to get a chance to actually SEE some of these teams play against some reasonable competition, so this week will be hugely instructive for getting a feel for what some of these programs are truly capable of in 2015-2016.
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Today’s Free Pick:
TCU Horned Frogs vs. Illinois State -1.5
TCU teased us last year, starting the year 10-0 before the reality of Big Twelve scheduling came into play and they immediately plummeted back to earth and struggled to compete in league play. This year, they are not off to another winning start, but have at least challenged themselves a bit more. They lost a competitive game to a good Rhode Island team and played well against South Dakota State.
Meanwhile, Illinois State was though as a sleeper contender in the Valley, but they have stumbled mightily out of the block to the point where they have already almost payed themselves into “win the conference tournament to have a prayer” territory. They lost to San Diego State by double digits and got slaughtered by the same South Dakota State team that beat TCU. They played a decent game against a sleepwalking Maryland team yesterday, but the only ISU win this season is a one point win over Morehead State.
This is a good opportunity for a developing TCU program to get a good midmajor victory, and I think they’ll take advantage of it tonight in Cancun.
Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Kansas Jayhawks -2.5
This is easily the game of the day and one worth staying up for on Thanksgiving Eve here on the mainland. The Maui Classic championship game is a matchup of two very different teams, but teams with very high expectations. Kansas, we all knew would be here. They still haven’t gotten Diallo eligible, but you can visibly see their team growth since the opening loss to Michigan State. They took the opener against Chaminade seriously (and many teams have failed to do so in the past) winning by 50 and then slapped UCLA in the mouth last night as well. However, Vanderbilt is a MUCH better team than UCLA and has really grown in confidence as they have played some sterner tests.
Vandy looked a little shaky in their game against Stony Brook last week, however, aside from that 79-72 win, they’ve been pretty awesome. They have beaten St. John’s and Wake by a combined 59 points over in Maui and have won by an average of 28 points per game in their five overall outings. They are a balanced team with excellent shooting. They are bigger than Kansas and they have five players averaging in double figures.
I think this game will look a lot like the Michigan State game. Kansas is probably more talented. Vanderbilt is more balanced. I think the Commodores can sneak in for a mild upset and win this tournament, but I really like the fact I can get some points with a team that has looked like the better team so far in 2015-2016.