While most of the country was shocked to see the Missouri Tigers go into Rocky Top and knock off the Tennessee Volunteers yesterday, my readers weren’t, as we were on the Tigers! The easy pick was to look back at the first matchup between these two teams, where Tennessee blew Missouri out on their home floor and expect more of the same and back the Vols. But I know how hard it is to beat a good team twice in the same season, especially in conference play, and expected the Tigers to challenge the top-10 ranked Vols.
In my pick, I mentioned that the key to success for Missouri was getting their leading scorer, Xavier Pinson, going again. Pinson was ice cold shooting in his previous two games, scoring just a combined 9 points, and for Missouri to pull off the upset, they would need him to lead the way. And that is exactly what happened.
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) January 24, 2021
Pinson had a season-high 27 points on a blistering hot 10-14 shooting from the field, including nailing all 3 of his 3-pointers. Pinson also had three steals, which ending up being a major storyline of this game, as Tennessee turned it over 18 times in the loss. Missouri led throughout and took the game 73-64 for their biggest win of the season. The Tigers came into this game ranked in the top-25 and, with a 2-0 week, are only going to move up higher in the national rankings.
For Tennessee, the loss may have cost them any realistic shot at catching Alabama for the regular season SEC title. The Vols are now just 4-3 in conference play, and with Alabama winning again yesterday to run their conference record to 8-0, it’s looking like the Crimson Tide are going to run away with the conference championship. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will head to the ACC for the game between Miami and Notre Dame.
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-8) at Miami Hurricanes (6-7)
- Watsco Center, Coral Gables
- 3:00 PM PST
- TV: ACCN
The Miami Hurricanes have had an up and down season and are hoping to pick up another home court win tonight as they host the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Miami lost their last game, a road contest at Syracuse, but did manage to pick up a huge upset victory over Louisville in their last home game, and the Hurricanes are hoping to build on that success in Coral Gables tonight and win just their 3rd ACC game of the year.
Got a gameday in the Gables. pic.twitter.com/15O06O1CeX
— Canes Hoops (@CanesHoops) January 24, 2021
For Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish have played a brutal schedule, and wins have been hard to come by. Notre Dame is just 1-5 in ACC play and 4-8 overall. They do come into this one coming off of a rare win, though, as they knocked off Boston College at home earlier this week. It has been a rebuilding year for Mike Brey’s team in South Bend, but in his over 20-year history running this program, we know better than to expect anything less than a full effort out of the Irish tonight.
Miami Hurricanes (6-7)
Miami has been forced to play without their best player, Chris Lykes, for basically the entire season. Technically, Lykes is listed as day to day, but he won’t be playing in this game, and I am not sure we are going to see him on the floor again this year, as his injured knee just isn’t healing. Had this Miami team had Lykes on the floor this year, this could have been a Hurricanes team that competed at the top of the ACC. Instead, they are currently near the basement of the league and aren’t close to the NCAA tournament bubble conversation.
Lykes was amongst the best point guards in the nation last year and was expected to pair up with sophomore Isaiah Wong to give Miami one of the best guard tandems in the ACC. While Lykes hasn’t been able to hold up his end of the bargain, Wong certainly has, as he has been outstanding for the Hurricanes. Wong leads the team in scoring at over 17-points per game and erupted for a career-high 30-points in the upset victory over Louisville. Wong isn’t afraid to jack up shots from deep, as he takes over 5 3-pointers a game, and if he can connect, he can devastate you.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-8)
Very early in the season, there were some reasons to be optimistic about Notre Dames’s chances in the ACC this year. After their first 4 games of the year, they were 2-2 with a win over Kentucky that looked elite at the time, and with both losses coming to teams that were expected to very good as well, with losses to Michigan State and Ohio State.
It turns out Kentucky is awful, Michigan State was painfully overrated, and while Ohio State is decent, they aren’t the world-beater that some expected. Since that decent start to the year has turned out to be a bit fraudulent, I guess it’s easy to understand their struggles since.
Notre Dame lost 6 out of their next 7 games, with their only win coming over 202nd ranked Bellarmine. All of those losses came to top-50 teams, so the Irish weren’t hanging their heads too much, but losing every game has to be tough on a team. The Irish showed a lot of heart in their last game to pick up their first ACC win of the season over BC, but it’s hard to be too proud of that win as the Eagles are in dead last in the conference standings at 1-6. The ACC is always a tough league to win games in, and right now, Notre Dame is trying to stay competitive most nights.
Who Do I Like?
This is just a standard home team in conference play bet. The ACC has been the most homecourt-dominated league in the nation in terms of the power conferences, as the home teams have won outright at a nearly 70% clip. If you can back a home team laying less than a basket in the ACC, you probably want to take it blind every time. Even Miami, who isn’t very good, still has a winning record at home ATS.
The other thing that makes me think that Miami is going to have a lot of success tonight is Notre Dame’s inability to stop the 3-point shot. The Irish are the worst team in the ACC in defending perimeter shots. In fact, they are close to the worst team in the nation at defending the 3-ball, as they allow teams to shoot 38% from beyond the arc against them, 309th in the country. Miami doesn’t take or make a ton of 3’s, but against a Notre Dame team that will let you rain it in from deep, I expect that to change tonight.
I see Isaiah Wong blowing up again tonight. Wong is at his best when he can find his stroke from deep, and with Notre Dame’s inability to guard the perimeter, he is going to get a lot of clean looks. Wong has nailed at least 3 3-pointers in 6 games this season, including his last 2 games back-to-back, and I think he gets hot in this one, and the Hurricanes run away with the game.
Of Notre Dame’s 8-losses, 6 of them have come by at least 9-points. In most games, Notre Dame is just trying to not get blown out. In their last 2 road games, they lost by 12 to Virginia and by 13 to Virginia Tech. I could see a similar score tonight, particularly if they let Isaiah Wong get hot shooting the rock. I’ll take the Miami Hurricanes tonight to win and cover at home, let’s call it a 78-68 final score from Coral Gables!