There should be a little less consternation over the college basketball polls today than there was last week. Indiana, despite their loss a few weeks ago to Illinois, has looked like the number one team in the country in their wins over Ohio State and Purdue, while Miami (and yes, a win is a win) didn’t look like the best team in the country last night in their 45-43 struggle at Clemson. It was a truly terrible game to watch, but the mark of a great team is being able to gut out the win even on a night where they don’t have their A-game. Both resume and the eye-test say that Indiana is the #1 team in the country today.
Meanwhile, very quietly, Gonzaga has climbed to #3 in the polls, and is legitimate contender to earn their first #1 seed in school history. Their 17-point beatdown at St. Mary’s last week cleared the path for an unbeaten WCC season and a possible 30+ win regular season. In a year with a ton of parity and no truly elite team, could this finally be the year the Zags get to a Final Four?
Tonight is a pretty light slate of games, but there is a decent ESPN double-header tonight and a few games worth keeping an eye on, so let’s get to today’s free pick.
West Virginia Mountaineers at Kansas State Wildcats -11
This has been easily the worst season of Coach Huggins career as his usually tournament-ready Mountaineers will be lucky to salvage enough of their season to even finish above .500. But that hasn’t stopped them from playing hard and fighting. They have actually won four of their last five games and played Kansas to within five points. I am not sure I see them going into Manhattan tonight and pulling the stunner, but I wouldn’t count them out as far as being able to hang around and make things interesting.
Kansas State has been great this season whenever their opponent hasn’t been KU. The Wildcats are 20-5 with a non-conference win over Florida and fresh off a 20-point home win over enigmatic Baylor. They are a solid #3/#4 seed if the tourney started today and should win tonight against a less talented WVU squad. However, 11 points is a ton in a conference game. The last matchup between these teams was a well-played and hard fought one-point win by KSU. Granted that game was played in Morgantown, but I think tonight’s game will have some of the same scrappy, tough play and could be a quality ballgame.
Free Pick: West Virginia Mountaineers +11