UMBC Retrievers vs. Arizona Wildcats NCAA Pick – November 12th

We grabbed a second straight winner to open the college hoops season here on The Sports Geek, and my favorite month of the year is off to yet another great start. I always enjoy building up an early nest egg while everyone else’s (i.e. Vegas) perception catches up to reality. No sport has more variables and season-to-season volatility. With so many early departures, transfers, and over 350 Division I schools to choose from, there are plenty of sneaky value lines to pounce on from time to time.

There are also some shiny pieces of Fool’s Gold begging for our attention. I think today’s Vermont at Kentucky line is a perfect example. Kentucky looked terrible in the first half of their opener against Utah Valley, shooting just 21% in the first twenty minutes. They awoke in the second half, capitalized on their vastly superior athleticism and talent to win by ten, but it wasn’t pretty. Tonight, they get a second chance at a first impression against a similarly anonymous, but equally (if not more so) dangerous Cattamount squad.

No result would really surprise me this afternoon at Rupp. If UK shot well, looked more comfortable playing together, and overwhelmed Vermont, I’d just shrug. If this was a six point game with five minutes to play and we again get a smarmy, entertaining post-game presser about how his team is a “bunch of kids” from Coach Cal, I’d also not bat an eye (I’m actually a Coach Cal fan, just find his pressers funny).

So as Mark Cuban might say, “for those reasons, I’m out.”

Instead, I’m heading to a safer haven. I generally bristle at massive non-con lines, but I’ve been eager to put my money where my mouth is with the best team in the nation, so I’m wasting no time today.

Today’s NCAA Basketball Pick:

UMBC Retrievers at Arizona Wildcats -24.5

The Wildcats are going to be so good it is scary. Allonzo Trier netted 34 in the season opener – a season many envisioned would start with getting a paycheck as opposed to still being in college (insert your FBI/NCAA related joke about “getting paid” here:_____). Alas, Trier is back, and Deandre Ayton is THE TRUTH. I am so pumped to see this 7’1’’ wunderkind in action, that I might actually have to watch this non-competitive scrimmage on an otherwise NFL Sunday.

Arizona is way too big, way too deep, and way too talented to be trifling with UMBC today. They dismantled Northern Arizona 101-67 in the opener, and UMBC is a similar ball club. I am not wild about laying two dozen points, but this is a 30-plus blowout, even if Miller clears the bench early, which I am not inclined to think he will do with four real games to test his squad coming up in a few weeks (NC State, Alabama, Texas A&M and UConn – not the GREATEST non-con slate, but it ain’t Arizona’s fault State and UConn are down this year…).

Miller’s Core Six all went 26 minutes plus in the opener. A similar workload tonight should earn me a cover and a third straight win to open the season.


Chris Scheeren / Author