While there weren’t a ton of games scheduled yesterday for men’s college hoops, the games we did have delivered a lot of action! The shocking headliner from yesterday was the Wisconsin Badgers, fresh off of their first road win in East Lansing in a generation, laying an egg at home against Maryland. No disrespect to the Terrapins here, but after getting gutting by graduations in the offseason, there hasn’t been a lot of reasons to fear the turtle this year.
The loss was a shocking one, and Wisconsin will have to host an on-fire Minnesota Golden Gophers team in their next game, trying to get back on track. Speaking of those Gophers, they knocked off the Michigan State Spartans, blowing out Sparty by nearly 30 points. With Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois all picking up early-season losses in the league play, the Northwestern Wildcats stand alone atop the Big 10 standings as we enter the new year.
FINAL: Maryland 70, No. 6 Wisconsin 64 pic.twitter.com/WNb9jmrEuW
— Maryland Basketball 🐢 (@TerrapinHoops) December 29, 2020
With all of the crazy things that have happened in the world in 2020, I am not sure any of them are much crazier than the Northwestern Wildcats finishing the year in first place in the best conference in the country. With the exception of the anarchy in the Big 10, the rest of the college basketball slate went according to plan yesterday with the nation’s top team, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, beating up on an overmatched Northern Arizona team, and the Arizona Wildcats picking up a nice PAC-12 victory over Colorado at home.
Today’s slate is marred by a bunch of cancelations as teams like Duke, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Pittsburgh have seen their games canceled. But even with those games getting the ax, we still have plenty of action in store for you as we wind down 2020. Iowa hosts Northwestern, Gonzaga plays Dixie State, Alabama and Ole Miss square off in the SEC, Texas A&M and LSU tangle in the Bayou, and Miami plays at Virginia Tech. For our free daily betting pick, we will head to Littlejohn Coliseum on the campus of Clemson University, where the Tigers host the Florida State Seminoles.
- Florida State Seminoles (5-1) at Clemson Tigers (6-1)
- Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson
- 4:00 PM PST
- TV: FS South
The Florida State Seminoles return from a Christmas week off and venture outside of Tallahassee for the first time this year as they head to Clemson, to face the Tigers in an ACC conference game. The ‘Noles are 5-1 on the season and will be looking to pick up their 3rd win against the national top-25 tonight against a talented Clemson team.
#ClemsonGRIT 🆚 Florida State
— Clemson Basketball (@ClemsonMBB) December 29, 2020
For Clemson, the Tigers have played a tough schedule and have resume-building victories over Alabama, Maryland, Purdue, and Mississippi State. The Tigers weren’t on a lot of people’s radar coming into the season, but after impressing in the non-conference, they look like a team that could compete at the top of a wide-open ACC. Clemson will be looking for their first conference win of the season after dropping their league home opener to Virginia Tech.
Clemson Tigers (6-1)
A month ago, I would have told you that Clemson was a bubble team in the ACC. But after seeing the rest of the league struggle and Clemson being able to beat quality teams in the non-conference, I’m not sure that this Tigers team can’t compete at the top of the league.
Duke has lost twice at home. Virginia just got obliterated by Gonzaga, trailing by close to 40 points at times. Florida State lost to UCF. North Carolina has three losses, and the Heels have dropped out of the top-25. Louisville lost by 40 in Madison to the Wisconsin Badgers.
The list goes on and on of ACC teams struggling, and with Clemson playing lockdown defense, I think they are going to win more than their fair share of games in the conference. The Tigers have been elite on defense, forcing the 7th best turnover percentage in the nation and holding teams to just 42% shooting. In their seven games this season, only Purdue has scored more than 60 points against this stout Tigers D.
Florida State Seminoles (5-1)
Scheduling has been tough this year in college basketball with so many COVID-19 related roadblocks and delays. But even in a post-COVID world, seeing that Florida State didn’t play a single game away from home in the non-conference is still a bit surprising. Leonard Hamilton normally has a play anybody at any time attitude, but this year for whatever reason, they decided to schedule soft and stay home for the non-conference.
The wins over Florida and Indiana looked great at the time, but they aren’t holding up now, though, as the Gators lost their best player for the year to injury and should struggle the rest of the way out, and Indiana is playing awful and losing a lot. The loss to UCF was a head-scratcher, as the Knights are barely in the top-100 nationally right now.
Who Do I Like?
When you look at the last couple of regular seasons for Florida State, they have had a lot of success. Hamilton has turned the Seminoles into a national powerhouse, finishing in the top-30 on Kenpom in each of the last four seasons, with a couple of deep runs in the NCAA tournament mixed in for good measure. When Florida State has struggled, though, it has been almost exclusively on the road.
Last year, the Seminoles lost just 5 games. All five of those came on the road. The year before, 7 of their 8 losses came away from home. Even going back to 2018, basically, all of the Seminoles losses have come outside of Tallahassee, with 10 of their 12 losses not coming on their home floor.
So, it is easy to expect that even though this Florida State team is going to win a lot of games, that when they do inevitably lose a game or two, it’s going to be on the road. That is what I see happening tonight in this one.
This line opened up with Clemson laying -4 points. That was a sharp number that I am not sure I was going to touch. Kenpom has Clemson winning by 3 points and laying more than a full possession’s worth of points wasn’t going to be a high-value spot. But luckily for us, the public has decided that they want to back Florida State tonight and their action has moved this number two and a half points towards the Seminoles.
That allows us to back Clemson and only have to lay a point and a half, and that is what I am going to do. This will be a competitive game. But Clemson is just playing too well right now, particularly at home, not to like them to win this game outright. And with only a point and a half to lay, if they win the game outright, the cover shouldn’t be a problem either.
I see Clemson forcing a lot of turnovers and making Florida State work for every single point. This game is going to be lower scoring and hard-fought. When all the smoke clears, I see Clemson winning and sneaking in a cover, and I am sure we are going to have to sweat this one out in the final few possessions. Give me the Clemson Tigers at home as they pick up their first ACC win of the year; I’ll call it a 65-61 final score from Littlejohn!