Yesterday’s college basketball schedule was a light one with just 30 games played. But even though there weren’t many top teams in action yesterday, we still saw some games that are going to have an impact on the NCAA tournament. The only ranked team that played yesterday was Wisconsin, as they picked up a huge road win at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights were ranked as high as 11th in the nation earlier this year, but they are getting beaten up in Big 10 play.
Rutgers has now lost four games in a row and five out of their last six. It’s hard to see a team as talented as Rutgers slide to the wrong side of the bubble, as they already have four wins over the national top-50, but if they can’t stop the bleeding and start winning some games, they could miss out on March Madness. Of Rutgers’s last twelve games of the season, eleven of them come against the top-100, so things aren’t going to be getting any easier anytime soon for Steve Pikiell’s team.
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) January 16, 2021
As for Wisconsin, the Badgers avoided losing back-to-back games for the first time this season, and the win was their second on the road in conference play. Wisconsin is 5-2 in Big 10 play, good for third place behind undefeated Michigan and 5-1 Iowa. The other game that potentially could have NCAA bubble implications came to us from an unlikely place, DeLand, Florida, where the Hatters of Stetson knocked off Liberty.
The loss very likely ended any shot of the Flames getting an at-large bid into the Big Dance. Liberty came into this season expected to dominate in the ASUN, and after winning 30 games last year and 29 games the year before, they have been known to rack up gaudy win totals.
But a loss to Stetson, to a Hatter’s team that isn’t ranked inside of the top-200 nationally, is a devastating blow to the Flames shot at going dancing without winning the ASUN conference tournament. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will head to Miami to check in on a Hurricanes team badly in need of a win, as they host Louisville in an ACC conference game.
- Louisville Cardinals (9-1) at Miami Hurricanes (5-6)
- Watsco Center, Coral Gables
- 5:00 PM PST
- TV: ACCN
The Louisville Cardinals are looking to stay undefeated in ACC play tonight, as they head to Miami to play a struggling Hurricanes team. Louisville is 4-0 in conference play, tied with the Virginia Cavaliers for first place in the ACC standings. The Cardinals have won five straight games, and their blowout loss in Madison to the Wisconsin Badgers, is starting to look like a fluky bad night, as the Cardinals are playing quality basketball.
Welcome to Miami…IT'S GAMEDAY‼️
— Louisville Basketball (@LouisvilleMBB) January 16, 2021
For Miami, the Hurricanes came into this season feeling like they could compete in the top half of the ACC, but after a 1-5 start to league play, Miami is just trying to save face and sneak into the NCAA tournament with a strong finish. In the preseason, Kenpom had Miami ranked as high as 39th in the nation, but after their recent skid, they have fallen all the way to 78th, sliding to the wrong side of the NCAA tournament bubble. A win tonight over Louisville would go a long way into seeing the Hurricanes right the ship and play themselves into contention.
Louisville Cardinals (9-1)
Chris Mack has his Louisville Cardinals playing well as of late. The Cardinals have six wins over the national top-100, including wins over Seton Hall, Western Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Boston College, and Virginia Tech. They would love to add another top-100 win tonight over Miami and run their undefeated ACC record to 5-0. The ACC is way down this year with perennial powerhouses like Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina, all off to slow starts. That leaves the door wide open for Louisville to make a run at the regular season league title.
Senior transfer Carlik Jones has been a pleasant surprise for the Cardinals, as the Radford transfer has emerged as a newcomer of the year candidate in the ACC. Jones was the Big South Conference player of the year last year and was widely considered to be one of the top transfers available this year, and he has shown that the rise in competition hasn’t slowed him down a bit. Jones fills up the stat sheet with 17.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists a game, making his case as a potential All-ACC selection. Jones is coming off one of his best games of the season in his last game, against Wake Forrest on the road, where he dropped a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Miami Hurricanes (5-6)
The Miami Hurricanes just aren’t the same without point guard Chris Lykes. Lykes hasn’t played in the Hurricane’s last nine games, missing time with an ankle injury. Lykes returned to practice this week, but Miami hasn’t announced if he is going to play tonight.
The Hurricanes have been moving him along very slowly, and I would be surprised if he takes the floor for this one. Lykes was expected to be the senior leader for Miami this season and returned as one of the best scorers in the ACC, and without his playmaking ability, wins have been hard to come by for the Hurricanes.
Miami did show some signs of life last week, picking up a road win at NC State, but any momentum they may have picked up with that win was extinguished when they followed it up by getting destroyed by a bad Boston College team in their last game. BC was 0-5 in conference play and just 2-9 on the season before hammering Miami by 22-points. Things seem to be looking up for Miami with Lykes set to return sooner rather than later, but if the Hurricanes don’t start winning now, it might be too little too late for Jim Larranaga and his Hurricanes.
Who Do I Like?
Miami is just not playing well enough right now to expect them to knock off a team as talented as Louisville. Even at home, the Hurricanes have really struggled. Miami had an embarrassing home loss to 257th ranked Florida Gulf Coast earlier this season, and they have home losses to Clemson, Pittsburgh, and North Carolina.
The Hurricanes have done a good job of staying competitive in those games, losing by just a point to Clemson and two points to North Carolina, but I’m not sure if Louisville isn’t the best team of that group, and this one could get out offhand if Miami doesn’t play their best.
We already talked about how Miami has lost a lot at home, and when you look at how Louisville has played on the road, it feels like this is going to be another win for the Cardinals. Louisville is 3-0 on the road in league play this year, with wins over Wake Forest, Boston College, and Pittsburgh. And none of those games were overly competitive, as Louisville won each of them by double digits.
As a general rule, I don’t like to lay wood on the road on conference play. It is just hard to cover numbers on another team’s home floor, and home dogs are usually the better side of these types of plays. But when I look at this matchup, I see a Louisville team that is a proven winner on the road, against a Miami team that has played awful at home, and I am backing the road team.
Even if Chris Lykes does manage to play tonight, I can’t imagine he is going to be overly sharp. Lykes has had a tendency to push too hard in the past, and if he goes out and jacks up 20 shots tonight, in his first game in 6 weeks, Miami is going to get blown out at home. I won’t call this one a blowout, but I do see Louisville winning and covering, and we likely won’t have to sweat it out too much. Give me the Louisville Cardinals tonight, laying -3-points on the road in Miami. I’ll call it a 68-60 final score from Coral Gables!