We came up short last night when we backed the BYU Cougars against Houston. BYU has historically always played very well at home, and their early season results led me to believe they would be able to protect their home floor against a mediocre Houston team. Unfortunately for us, Houston jumped out to be big lead early, and BYU could never fully recover. TJ Haws scored twenty-five points for BYU to lead the Cougars, while Corey Davis Jr. paced Houston with twenty-four points.
Houston shot over 50% from the field and 42% from deep in the win. The win was a big one for Houston as they run their undefeated record to 4-0 on the season. We will see just how good this Houston team is soon, as they play against Oregon and LSU in non-conference action before kicking off their AAC schedule. For BYU, they won’t have many opportunities for big non-conference wins and this one is going to hurt on Selection Sunday.
At best, BYU will have three games against top fifty opponents the rest of the way out, the home and home with Gonzaga, and a non-conference matchup with Mississippi State. If they don’t sweep those games, they will likely find themselves on the outside looking in come tournament time for the fourth consecutive season. For today’s pick, we will look at the game between the Seton Hall Pirates and the Miami Hurricanes.
Tonight, we look at the finals of the Wooden Legacy Classic from Fullerton, California where the Miami Hurricanes face off against the Seton Hall Pirates. The Hurricanes find themselves in the finals after blowing out La Salle in the first round and then sneaking past Fresno State at the buzzer in the semifinals. The Pirates beat Grand Canyon and Hawaii to advance to the finals. The Hurricanes are -5-point favorites. The game total over-under is set at 141 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM PST from Titan Gym in Fullerton.
The ACC is as good as it has ever been this season. The league features several of the best teams in the country including top teams like Duke, Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Louisville, and Syracuse. The ‘Canes were picked to finish ninth in the preseason in the ACC, and in a testament to just how great this league is, should still be a tournament team.
Miami has started the season out undefeated at 5-0, but they haven’t played too much in the form of top competition as their biggest win was against Fresno State. Miami lost a lot from last year’s team, most notably Bruce Brown and Lonnie Walker, but they start several upperclassmen, and this team is deep, experienced, and talented.
Chris Lykes is leading the way for Miami after having a strong freshman campaign last season. Lykes is a blur on the floor as he is one of the quickest player’s in the country and is scoring nearly twenty points a game to go with four assists and two and a half steals. The Hurricanes are also getting solid production from senior transfer Zack Johnson who is averaging thirteen points a game. While this team might not have the headline-grabbing talent of last year’s squad, they have a lot of experienced players, and they are going to win some games in the ACC this year that will surprise people.
While the ACC is absolutely loaded this year, the Big East has taken a step back. Normally one of the best leagues in the nation, the Big East is down this year. Villanova is a shell of their national title-winning team last season. Providence is down, Xavier is down, and Marquette and Butler are not in the top twenty-five either. That gives Seton Hall the rare opportunity to compete in Big East play this year.
The Pirates are used to being the doormats in the Big East, and they were picked to finish near the bottom of the league again this season. But with the league’s early season struggles, they might be a team that can sneak towards the top half and find themselves on the bubble come tournament time. Although if their non-conference performance is any indicator, they are going to struggle against this year.
Seton Hall lost to Saint Louis and Nebraska, neither of those are horrible losses, but their best win on the season is against a Hawaii team that is going nowhere this year. Seton Hall has games coming up against Louisville and Kentucky, and they need to find a way to win some of these bigger top fifty type matchups if they want a shot at an at-large bid to the tournament.
Seton Hall is a one-man show this season. Miles Powell is scoring almost twenty-six points a game, including one thirty point and one forty-point explosion. If the Pirates have any chance of competing against Miami tonight, they need a huge effort from Powell. And I just don’t think Powell is going to be able to light it up against Chris Lykes and this Miami team. Lykes has some of the quickest hands in the country, and if they match him up on Powell, I see him struggling to get good shots.
In the end, I am going to lean on the far superior team, from the far superior league, Miami. Jim Larranaga always seems to coach these guys up, and against a Seton Hall team that doesn’t have nearly the talent of this Miami team, I think they find a way to win this one going away. Miami gets the job done tonight by winning and covering the number. Give me the Miami Hurricanes -5-points tonight in the finals of the Wooden Legacy Classic!