There are some really good things about Championship Week for the non-major conferences. Exhibit A: Last night’s overtime thriller between rivals Siena and Iona in the MAAC Final. The Gaels prevailed in an awesome game and punched their ticket to the Big Dance for second straight year.
There are some not-so-good things as well. Iona’s win came against Siena, who the night before upset the Monmouth Hawks, who had the disadvantage of playing AT Siena. I know, so did Iona, and they still won, but as much as I love the thrilling moment of Championship Week, I can’t help but think both the MAAC and the NCAA Tournament would be better off with the Hawks lurking as a disastrously scary #13 seed.
Ditto for the Horizon League. There is something fun about seeing #4 seed Northern Kentucky playing for the auto-bid in their first season of NCAA eligibility against #10 Milwaukee, who went 4-10 in conference and yet are one game away from Madness after winning consecutive games for the first time all season. Those are two dynamite storylines. But Valpo vs. Oakland would be a dynamite game, and again, the Tournament is now missing a really dangerous team that could win at least one game in the Dance.
Alas, the field will take greater shape tonight, not just with teams capturing potential #13 and #14 seeds, but teams vying for the final #12’s – you KNOW it is a crazy bubble year when on TUESDAY of Championship Week you have several games with legitimate Bubble implications.
Today’s College Basketball Pick:
Pitt Panthers -1.5 vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
There is something a little odd about a bubble team that is seeded 11th in their own conference tournament and who is a one-point underdog on a neutral floor to a team with a 4-14 conference record, but alas, such is the case tonight in the ACC opening rounder between the Jackets and Panthers.
I get the skepticism, and agree this is a good matchup, but after seeing GA Tech handle them head to head, and considering how much MORE is on the line for the Jackets tonight, I am inclined to go with Coach Pastner taking one more step towards a dream first season in Atlanta.
Georgia Tech went a sparkling 12-6 ATS in ACC play, and lines like tonight are a big reason why – they are still getting little to no respect. Pitt is a decent 8-9-1 ATS, and both are equally terrible 1-8 SU on the road. Given that today is “neutral” neither team is at an edge or disadvantage, but neither has been particularly adept away from the comforts of home.
If I can get the team with the better resume, more at stake, a far better ATS record AND a point or two, I’m usually interested.
Today’s Pick: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets +1.5