Rhode Island vs. Davidson Pick – Feb 3rd

It may be a slow night of college hoops, but don't tell that to Davidson and Rhode Island.  Two solid A-10 programs link up for a big game (especially for Rhode Island) with some Bubble implications.  Who comes out on top?  Read on for today's free pick.

Our college hoops winning streak can to a halt at six straight games last night as we dropped a thriller by a mere half-point in the Utah at Cal double overtime battle.  Personally, if I’m gonna lose a game, I’d rather get pummeled and just tip my hat to the randomness of sports, but alas, last night’s kept us up way too late for nothing…

Overall, is was a big day for west Coast hoops.  Everyone who was supposed to win, DID, but not convincingly.  Oregon had to fend off a bad Oregon State team to hold on for a 71-70 win at home and St. Mary’s flirted with a disastrous loss before finishing off 8-16 Pacific on the road.  For a team like St. Mary’s who has precious little opportunities to get quality wins, taking BAD losses are crippling to their seed in March.  As it stands right now, even at 20-2 with a win at Dayton and a loss at Gonzaga, the odd loss to Texas San Antonio has them projecting in the #5-#6 seed range.

Friday’s all but guarantee a less-than-stellar slate of college action and tonight is not an exception.  The best games on the schedule are Rhode Island at Davidson and Monmouth hosting St. Peters.  You are forgiven if you decide to take a break until Saturday.  However, I am forging ahead with a “wager, not watch” play for a desolate Friday night of college hoops.

Today’s CBB Pick:

Rhode Island Rams at Davidson Wildcats -2.5

The season began with high hopes for both of these teams, particularly Rhode Island who began the year ranked in the Top 25.  It hasn’t gone as well as hoped for either.  Rhode Island got a big win over Cincinnati on a neutral court in November, but came up short against Duke, lost tough close road games at Valpo, Providence, and Houston and have dropped three conference games to Dayton, LaSalle and Richmond.  All but the home loss to LaSalle are reasonable, but the sum total leaves the Rams outside the NCAA Tournament picture and needing a late run (maybe running the table or only one loss) to get in the Dance.

Davidson’s hopes were a little more tempered this season, but with Jake Gibbs returning they had an All-American candidate to lead the Tourney push.  They enter tonight at 12-8 with “quality” losses to Clemson, North Carolina and Kansas, but also losses to LaSalle, Richmond, George Washington, Charleston and a disaster home loss to Fordham.

Neither team’s tourney prospects are great, but the Rams are at least still very much alive.  And aside from the home loss to LaSalle, who in fairness was 11-5 and 5-1 at the time, they don’t have any bad profile losses.  They desperately need wins, and I think Danny Hurley’s club picks up a big one tonight.  Rhode Island is the better overall team talent-wise outside of Gibbs and despite some road losses, nearly every single one of them was VERY close:  Valpo, Dayton, Providence all by 3, Houston by 5.  That makes the 2.5 point cushion even a little more enticing tonight.

I think the Rams win straight up.  They have similar records, but Rhode Island has played better teams tougher and has generally been the better basketball team.  It’s a rare chance for both to play on ESPN, so expect a high-effort game between two decent mid-major programs.

I’ll take the better team and the points tonight with Rhode Island.

PICK:  RHODE ISLAND RAMS +2.5