Last night was another stark reminder of just how parity-driven this college basketball season has become. The overwhelming preseason #1 Duke has struggled so long that their assumed dominance has long since left our conscience, but the void filled quickly by Kansas, Kentucky, Villanova and North Carolina has become tenuous. Villanova and Kansas each lost last week, Nova nearly twice, Kentucky DID lose twice, and last night was ALMOST a third straight loss.
Both Kentucky and Carolina were VERY fortunate to escape with victories, Kentucky needing a late regulation bucket and overtime to beat Georgia and Carolina escaping 80-78 against Pitt. BOTH were at HOME, which makes the stumble more perplexing.
Is anyone truly and reliably better than “pretty good” this season?
Maybe just US. We notched a fifth straight winner last night with an easy Maryland cover (they were the odd underdog at Ohio State) to pull the season record to 56-30-1 ATS to keep our dream season full steam ahead. Hit me up anytime on Twitter @TheMarchManiacs to chat hoops, celebrate our wins and grumble about our losses (yes, there will be losses too…I’m good, not perfect)
Before moving on – a few BEST performances of the night worth mentioning: Creighton winning ON THE ROAD at Butler was HUGE. They have struggled since losing Watson, Jr. (understandably) but last night was a sign they still deserve a good seed in the Tournament and can still compete. It was a really impressive win. Likewise, while carnage surrounds all the top teams with the bigger names, West Virginia and Wisconsin keep staking their claim for a #2 seed with wins. WVU’s double-digit win at Iowa State was particularly impressive.
Today’s Free Pick:
South Carolina Gamecocks -9 at LSU Tigers
Laying close to double digits on the road for a conference game is always a daunting proposition.
But get over it tonight. LSU is A-W-F-U-L in a way that few Power Conference teams can match. They have dropped nine of their last ten games and for the most part, the location of the game or the opponent on the floor have been irrelevant. They have lost seven of the games by double digits including gems like their 95-78 home loss to Mississippi State, a 110-76 road loss at Wake Forest, a 106-71 home loss to Florida and an 81-66 home loss to Alabama.
Tonight, they get a visit from an NCAA Tournament-level team in South Carolina, whose only loss with Sindarius Thornwell in the lineup came at Rupp Arena. USC has wins at Tennessee and Georgia, which shows they can beat far better teams than the Tigers away from home. You can quibble with the ‘Cocks schedule if you want – I’ll agree that the wins over Syracuse and Michigan aren’t as strong as they would be in a normal year, but they scheduled UP this year intentionally and have won most every game they’ve played when they were at full strength. Even without Thornwell, their losses to Seton Hall and Clemson were one possession games.
I think LSU has flat cashed it in this season. They are outmatched most nights and out-efforted almost as frequently. That’s a bad combo.
I’ll eat the nine points and look for a South Carolina blowout tonight.