The Madness is underway, and yesterday wasn’t even THAT crazy. The top two seeds in the Bug Twelve Tournament went down; Kansas lost to TCU without suspended Josh Jackson and Kansas State might have edged into the Tournament thanks to an upset win over Baylor. To put it into NCAA parlance, it was the equivalent of a #1 falling to a #12/#13 in a Sweet Sixteen stunner and a #3 falling to a #11 in a second-round shocker.
The reason I put it into NCAA seeding parlance is two-fold; first is a giddy inability to hide my excitement for next week, the second is to put into context how absurdly WIDE OPEN this Tournament is this year. We really don’t know who the #1 seeds are yet, the #2’s, who is getting in… and we only have 72 hours to figure it out.
Today is gonna be BANANAS by the way – Big Ten and SEC quarterfinals, ACC, Big 12, Big East and Pac-12 semi-finals. Highlights include Indiana’s last last last stand against Wisconsin, Notre Dame vs. Florida State, Xavier and Creighton in a Big East battle, and of course, UCLA vs Arizona and UNC v DUKE!!!
Phew… deep breath.
Let’s do this.
Today’s College Basketball Picks:
Michigan Wolverines vs Purdue Boilermakers -3 – NOON TIP-OFF!
I get the pro-Michigan sentiment. They finished the season strong, looked great yesterday after their CRAZY flight scare, and generally has become a pretty easy team to root for. But Purdue is the best team in the Big Ten and they are only laying three on a neutral floor against the #8 seed in the conference?
Purdue was resting yesterday while Michigan was trying to push through all the scary craziness and was dispatching Illinois. At some point, fatigue seems like it would set in – and I think it will today (plus the massive size and physicality of Purdue).
There is a definite perception that Michigan is “hot” and Purdue is just sort of “meh” but over their last ten games they have similar ATS performances, 6-4 ATS Michigan, 5-3-2 ATS Purdue, and straight-up, Purdue actually has the edge 8-2 to 7-3.
All emotional/fatigue things equal, I’d still take Purdue -3 on a neutral court. Add in the rest and drama, and this pick becomes an easy one for me.
Today’s Pick: Purdue Boilermakers -3
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. South Carolina Gamecocks -3.5
South Carolina is another team that started the season promisingly and sputtered down the stretch. However, they still enter tonight at 22-9 and an equal to Alabama 5-5 SU over their last ten games. Their ATS performance has been miserable at 2-8 ATS, which is pretty normal for teams that start hot and then sputter – the lines lag behind the new reality.
However, in reality, Alabama isn’t particularly good either despite somehow weaseling their way into remote bubble discussions. They are 18-13 overall and 10-8 in the mediocre SEC, and even with some more recent decent play were still just 5-5 ATS over their last ten games and 14-15 ATS on the entire season.
South Carolina has taken a lot of losses lately, but most were on the road to quality teams and one was at home to scorching Arkansas. Of course, there is that pesky marathon million overtime loss, at HOME, to Alabama last month on their resume as well. I think they exact a little revenge tonight for the loss that seemed to portend their demise.
Alabama has a similar resume over the last month, losses to Tennessee and Texas A&M and a barely-win at home against Missouri. Their only Top 50 win was the aforementioned South Carolina marathon.
South Carolina has definitely not been on their A-game the last four weeks, but they are still a better team than Alabama, especially defensively. Look for the Gamecocks to get the win on a neutral floor.
Today’s Pick: South Carolina Gamecocks -3.5