A word of warning to the rest of the country: Kansas ain’t messin’ around anymore. Anyone who was reluctant to tab a favorite in this year of college hoops insanity may have finally found one last night in the Jayhawks. Kansas continued to distance themselves from the field with their tenth straight win, this one in absolutely dominating fashion in Austin. The secured an outright Big XII championship, and in my opinion, have secured a #1 seed in the tournament, even with a loss this weekend and a loss in the Big XII Tourney.
One more team has an opportunity to make a surprise case for a #1 seed tonight, and it is only NO ONE is talking about. The Indiana Hoosiers. A win tonight in Iowa would make Indiana 24-6 and the outright champion of the Big Ten. Iowa, Maryland and Michigan State have all been projected as #1 seeds at times this season. Indiana was a #4 yesterday and was a bubble team eight weeks ago. But winning one of the three best conferences in the country, a league with no less than six teams who have final four aspirations, and winning that league outright merits #1 seed consideration. Yes, they have losses to UNLV and Wake Forest, but those were neutral floor back in 2015. This team has a different lineup, and while addition by subtraction doesn’t carry the same committee weight as subtraction by subtraction (i.e. Michigan State losing games without Valentine, Syracuse losing without Boeheim), perhaps it should. Since the James Blackmon injury forced Indiana to change their style, they are one of the best teams in the country. A win tonight SHOULD get them in the discussion.
Of course, they are AT Carver-Hawkeye Arena, so a win is FAR from assured (they are four point underdogs), and the whole case could be moot…
Let’s get another winner tonight. We’ve gone 6-1 ATS in college hoops the last seven day, let’s make it 7-1 tonight.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Virginia Cavaliers -5 at Clemson Tigers
Is it fairer to say Clemson regressed to the mean, or simply that their schedule finally balanced out? Four weeks ago, everyone was agog with the stunning run of the Clemson Tigers. The same team that lost games to UMass and Minnesota had reeled off four straight ACC victories, tackling giants like Syracuse, Louisville, Duke and Miami. Those four consecutive wins might STILL be the most impressive spurt of any team in the nation this season.
Of course, all those games were at home. Since then, it has been a mixed bag. The Tigers are 4-5 with wins over Georgia Tech, a win over Pitt and a home loss to Notre Dame. Every other loss was on the road, including resume-crippling defeats at NC State and GA Tech last week. That makes tonight a MUST MUST MUST win for Clemson. While they are probably on the outside looking in, if they add Virginia to the list of four above, it will be hard to find 10 teams with five better wins on their resume.
But beating Virginia won’t be easy. The Cavaliers remained in the ACC hunt with a big win over North Carolina on Saturday. They currently project as a #1 seed, and of course, that is largely predicated on holding serve in games like tonight. The road has been troublesome for UVA, so it would be wise not to overlook the danger lurking tonight. They have already dropped games at George Washington, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech this season. In a normal year, that would more than disqualify a one seed, but 2016 is the new normal.
Clemson can make that point moot tonight with a big upset win. And really, would it be an upset? Look at UVA’s road losses. Look at Clemson’s home wins. I think this game is close at the very least, and wouldn’t be surprised if Clemson got another big win tonight.