Notre Dame vs. North Carolina Pick – February 5th

It was another pretty good night of college hoops for us here at The Sports Geek as both of our picks not only won, but absolutely smoked their competition for two stress-free winners.  It pulls the weekly tally to 9-1 ATS and the season record to a pretty-darn-nice 60-31-1 ATS.

But as fun as it is to start the day talking about stacking winners, that is FAR from the biggest story in college basketball yesterday.  Rather, the story was yet another jaw-dropping day of madness as six of the top nine teams in the country all lost and one didn’t play.  The two winners, Gonzaga and Louisville, played tomato cans, so it hardly counts.  EVERY ONE ELSE lost.

How weird was yesterday?  For the first time since there has been an AP Top 25, two of the top three teams lost on the same day at home to unranked opponents.  If you count West Virginia at #7, THREE of the TOP SEVEN lost at home to unranked opponents (all Big 12 teams too).  #5 Arizona an #8 Kentucky lost by a combined 49 points.  And the day was so chaotic, yawn, oh yeah, #9 Virginia lost to unranked Syracuse.

UCLA won by 40 at Washington and St. Mary’s win a game 71-27 against a team that did in fact put a full complement of five players on the floor the entire contest (I think.  Maybe they Hoosier’d it and went “my team is on the floor” with four..).

It’s nuts, and it illustrates a point I’ve made all season – the polls are irrelevant.  It is for entertainment and context, not wagering.  Two of yesterday’s “upsets” were not; my two, Oregon and Florida.  Three were.  I had Iowa State picked on Twitter, but winning straight up at Kansas?  Impressive.  Either way, the rankings meant very little yesterday and will continue to mean little the last month of the season.

We get a treat today – with the weird water main rupturing, Notre Dame at North Carolina got moved to today, so for those of you who prefer sports to dudes talking, you have a great alternative for 16 hours of people talking about the Super Bowl.  (“It’s important to score first today.”  “The Falcons defense needs to come up big.” And 100 other ways to say “I’d recommend being the team with more points.”)

Let’s get it!

Today’s NCAA Basketball Pick:

Notre Dame Fighting Irish at North Carolina Tarheels -8.5

At first glance, I thought, “wow, that’s a lot of points.”  But the more I looked at it, this game screams out Carolina.  Let’s start with the basics:  North Carolina is at home, where with the exception of the most recent Pitt game (odd one) they have won their conference games by 51,13,17,19 over NC State, Florida State, Syracuse and Virginia Tech.  Even throwing out the NC State massacre, it’s a 16-point average margin.  Notre Dame has lost three in a row and four of five. Two of the last three, Virginia and Duke, ,have been by double digits and at home.

Notre Dame is still a good basketball team.  The ACC meat grinder will make all teams look average at some point.  But they aren’t nearly as good, or BIG and ATHLETIC as North Carolina.  The difference today will be on the boards.  Bonzi Colson is amazing, but he is giving up a half foot to a stable of North Carolina’s relentless rebounders.  UNC comes in waves and eats up the glass with tenacity.  Colson just won’t have enough help inside.

Look for rebounding and foul trouble to give Notre Dame problems today and for the game to widen down the stretch.  I like Notre Dame and I like their offense.  But today is a “worst-case scenario” matchup for them, on the road to boot.

Today’s Pick:  North Carolina Tarheels -8.5