While a lot of the national media attention is going to be on the Big 12/SEC Challenge today, and rightfully so, as there are some great games on the schedule for the annual event, there are some great games elsewhere today as well. In the Big East, we have already seen Georgetown beat Providence, and later today we have games between Villanova and Seton Hall, Xavier and Butler, and Creighton and DePaul.
The action is a bit limited in the Big 10, as the game between Michigan and Indiana is canceled as Michigan has halted all team sports activities for two weeks. But there will still be games between Penn State and Wisconsin and Purdue hosting Minnesota in my pick or the best conference in the country, the Big 10. Out west, the Gonzaga Bulldogs will continue to chase perfection, as they play at Pepperdine in WCC action.
It's GAMEDAY for the Bruins!
— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) January 30, 2021
The PAC-12 has a full slate of games on tap for Saturday as well. In the PAC-12, the early game comes to us from Boulder as the Colorado Buffaloes host the Utah Utes. In other PAC-12 action, the Cal Bears head to Tucson to play the Arizona Wildcats. UCLA is looking to rebound after losing their last game, their first of the year in league play, as they welcome Oregon State to town. Arizona State will try and turn around their bad start to the season against Stanford, and the game between USC and Oregon was canceled due to Corona Virus issues for the Ducks. For our free daily betting pick, we will check in on the action between Stanford and Arizona State.
- Stanford Cardinal (10-5) at Arizona State Sun Devils (5-8)
- Desert Financial, Tempe
- 5:00 PM PST
- TV: ESPN2
The Arizona State Sun Devils host the Stanford Cardinal tonight in a PAC-12 conference game, hoping to get their season back on track. The Sun Devils came into the season with dreams of a PAC-12 title and a deep run in March, but with key injuries, COVID-19 related delays, and inconsistent play, they have quickly seen their season go up in smoke. The Sun Devils snapped a six-game losing streak in their last game when they beat Cal at home and would love to string together some wins in the second half of the season and get themselves back into the bubble conversation.
You know what day it is!
— Stanford Men's Basketball (@StanfordMBB) January 30, 2021
For Stanford, the Cardinals also hoped to compete at the top of the PAC-12 coming into the season, and after some early-season struggles, they are slowly climbing up the conference standings. The Cardinals have a nice collection of quality victories with wins over Arizona (twice), Alabama, and UCLA with the wins over the Bruins and the Wildcats both coming in the last week, as they start to gain some momentum. While a win over the Sun Devils wouldn’t be a great addition to that resume, a loss would be costly to their NCAA tournament hopes.
Stanford Cardinal (10-5)
Stanford has as much talent as any team in the PAC-12 this year. They haven’t played consistently enough to be at the top of the league standings, but they have the talent to hang with any team in this conference. We saw that this week when they beat Arizona and UCLA, and with a lot of season left to play, they are closing in on Colorado, USC, and UCLA in the PAC-12 standings.
Oscar Da Silva is on the shortlist for conference player of the year, and he showed it in the win over UCLA. Against the Bruins, he played 41 minutes in the overtime affair, going for 26 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. The big man from Germany has been excellent in league play, as he has yet to score fewer than 11-points, and he has recorded four double-doubles. If the Cardinals can pick up the upset win tonight on the road, they are going to be in prime position to hear their names called on Selection Sunday.
Arizona State Sun Devils (5-8)
I am not sure there is a team that is more disappointing than the Arizona State Sun Devils this season. If you would have asked Sun Devils fans how this season was going to end up, they would have told you that Remy Martin was going to be national player of the year and that the Sun Devils would hit the NCAA tournament as a top-4 seed, with their eyes set on the Final Four. Instead, the Sun Devils are in the basement of the PAC-12 with a 2-5 conference record, and Martin has not played well.
Martin has seen his scoring, rebounds, assists, and steals drop from a year ago, and his 3-point shooting has been atrocious. Despite taking more than 5 3-pointers a game, Martin is shooting just a dismal 28% from the perimeter. Even with some talent around him, teams have been able to key in on Martin on defense and force him to take bad shots, which he has been more than willing to do. Martin has played four games where he has taken at least three 3-pointers and failed to make none, including his last game against Cal, where he was 0-3 from beyond the arc.
Who Do I Like?
My heart tells me that Arizona State has to get things turned around at some point, but my brain says it just isn’t going to happen. It’s crazy to think that a team with talented guys like Remy Martin, Joshua Christopher, and Marcus Bagley can play this poorly, but the data doesn’t lie. ASU doesn’t have a single win over a team that is going to be playing in the NCAA tournament, and they haven’t beaten a team in the top-100 since opening night.
They also have bad losses against teams like UTEP and Oregon State, and at this point, this season doesn’t even seem to be salvageable for Bobby Hurley. And when you look at Stanford, they have played a tough schedule, and they just don’t lose to bad teams very often. Of the Cardinal’s five losses, four of them have come to teams that are surefire bets to be dancing in March with losses to North Carolina, Indiana, Colorado, and Oregon.
Kenpom is the most accurate predictor of college basketball in the world. Pomeroy basically invented data-based college hoops predictions, and his algorithm continues to be a huge part of how books set lines. You are almost never going to see lines that stray too far away from what his data tells us. Kenpom has Stanford winning this game by 2-points. The books have Arizona State winning by 2.5.
To be able to get a 4.5-point gap between Pomeroy’s prediction and the books number is a rare occasion. And it’s an occasion that we just can’t pass up on. I get why the books are off by so much because everyone else’s eyes out there see the same thing I do. They see an Arizona State team that should be much better than they are right now. But as Herm Edwards used to love to say, you are who your record is, and right now, that means Arizona State is a bad basketball team. Give me the Stanford Cardinals tonight on the road as an upset special, getting +2.5-points!