Packed day of college hoops, but let's focus on the two most glamorous; Kentucky at Florida and Arizona at Oregon.
We have a jam-packed slate of college hoops today with really good games from noon until late this evening. There’s a ton of games to choose from today. I’m going to focus on the two highest profile games; Arizona at Oregon and Kentucky at Florida, but I am liking Maryland at home over Purdue, Creighton at home over Xavier and a few other games that are worth tuning in to.
I also like the Duke vs. Pitt game and Coach K’s return to the bench… just kidding. (Those of you who read regularly and also read the NBA beat get the slightly lame joke. Everyone else, just assume I am not a fan of the stability of the Blue Devils these days and find them really aggrevating…)
We notched a winner last night with Rhode Island easily winning on the road as a slight dog at Davidson. It was our seventh winner in eight picks, 8 of 10 and 11 of 15 overall. The record stands at a juicy 58-31-1 ATS on the season, so let’s see if we can keep it going.
Today NCAA Basketball Picks
Arizona Wildcats at Oregon Ducks -3
Arizona is the toast of the town after their win in Pauley Pavilion and the return of Alonzo Trier vaulted the ‘Cats into the Top Five in the national polls. And I am all in on Arizona. Trier is dynamic, Markannen is a revelation and Sean Miller can flat-out coach. If pressed, I think he is my vote right now for National Coach of the Year, though I know Chris Collins (NW), Steve Alford (UCLA), Jay Wright (Nova), Leonard Hamilton (FSU) and about a dozen others also have REALLY good arguments. I just think what Arizona has weathered this season to be unbeaten in Pac 12 play and ranked #5 in the country is really impressive.
That said… Give me Oregon today laying the slim three. The Ducks are ALSO very impressive. If we are willing to forgive Arizona’s early transgressions without Trier, then the same must also be afforded to the Ducks sans Dillon Brooks, their Preseason All American and best player. The Ducks lost to Baylor badly and to Georgetown on a neutral early without Brooks. Since then, they are 18-1 with the lone loss being the slip-up at Colorado last week. Their recent nail-biter against Arizona State reeked of looking ahead to today, and I think the magnitude of today’s game refocuses Dana Altman’s talented squad.
This game should be really good. It is two Final Four caliber teams playing for a share of first place in one of the best conferences in the country. There are future pros all over the court and two excellent coaches. In short, it is about as good as college hoops gets, so if you are an East Coast’er who hasn’t seen much of either, get to a television at 4pm EST (ESPN).
I think these two teams are a pretty even matchup, so I’ll take the home team to cover the slim line. Oregon is really good. If not for the two early Brooks-less losses, they would be ranked in the Top 5 in the country and the line would be -5 or -5.5. I’ll take advantage of the slight perception adjustment in the line and back the Ducks. Oregon is 8-2 ATS in their last ten games and 5-1 ATS in their last six at home. I don’t think we win this pick with a ton of room to spare, but as long as it doesn’t get wider than -3, I like Oregon. If it moves to -4 or higher, I’m out.
Today’s Pick: OREGON DUCKS -3
Kentucky Wildcats at Florida Gators -2
This is another line that has already moved a point or two since opening, and my same caveat applies; it it gets past 3.5 or 4, I’m off Florida. But for now, I’ll take the home Gators. This isn’t quite the Florida v. Kentucky glory days of the late 90’s and early aughts, but it is as good as it has been in recent years. This game is HUGE for Florida from a momentum and seeding perspective. The game is less important to Kentucky who likely stays in the #2-#3 range no matter what happens. For Florida, it is a chance to bolster a resume with good losses; Duke, Gonzaga, Florida State, South Carolina (and the bad home L to Vandy) but little high caliber wins to offset the losses. Their best non-con wins are Seton Hall and Miami, and the SEC is so muddled that anything other than South Carolina or Kentucky is just, meh.
Florida has looked AWESOME the last week and a half as well. Since the Vandy wake-up call they have beaten LSU, Oklahoma Missouri by a combined 107 points. ONE OH SEVEN! Sure, none of them are even close to UK, but clearly something has clicked for the Gators, especially since LSU and OU were on the road.
Kentucky has struggled against top teams. The North Carolina win was nice. They’ve lost to Louisville, Kansas and UCLA – the latter two at home. Now they go on the road to face a team that considers THEM much more of a rival than vice versa and a team playing its best basketball with a TON to prove tonight on ESPN.
I think it is too much for the young Wildcats to overcome. Unless Malik Monk goes bananas, they struggle offensively. It’s too much burden on one freshman scorer (De’Aaron Fox has been excellent as well, but the scoring onus has fallen more to Monk).
Today’s Pick: FLORIDA GATORS -2