Wake Forest vs. Clemson Pick – February 14th

It looked OVER, but as we are learning this crazy season, no game is ever OVER until the teams walk off the floor (or in VCU’s case, even sometimes after the opponent’s fans run onto it…), but Kansas all but clinched their ridiculous 13th straight Big Twelve title in dramatic fashion.  Despite trailing by double digits with three minutes remaining, the Jayhawks forced the game into overtime and escaped with an 84-80 victory.

However, for me personally, the win came up ONE POINT short of a winning play (some of you might have had the more agonizing ½ point loss) and, gulp, my first real losing streak of the college basketball season.  If I’m gonna crow when it’s going good, gotta own the losses too, and last night made four in a row for the first time this season.  We still made the turn at 63% after 100 results, so I can’t complain, but it is certainly time to reverse course tonight and get back to business.

Fortunately, there are a ton of decent games to choose from tonight.  Here’s my favorite plays on the board.

Today’s College Basketball Pick:

Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Clemson Tigers -4

When I saw that ESPN’s mock bracket had 13-11 (3-9) Clemson as the Last Four IN, I almost fell out of my chair.  What?  Huh?  Meanwhile, Wake, at 15-11 (6-7) was in the last FOUR OUT.  What is going on here?

Well, someone was looking at HOW they played a little more than results.  You can argue the merit of such philosophy, but there is little denying that Clemson is at the very worst, CLOSE.  In fact, they are about a dozen plays from being a Top 20 team.  Not saying they DESERVE to be ranked (obviously, no) or even make the tournament (I’m a believer that at some point you actually need to WIN games), but there is no denying that, record be damned, this is a pretty good basketball team.

Here’s some of Clemson’s 11 losses:  #11 Xavier 83-77 (before X’s injuries), North Carolina 89-86, @Notre Dame 75-70, Virginia 77-73, VA Tech 82-81, Syracuse 82-81, @Duke 84-82 – That is seven losses by less than 20 points including a gauntlet of difficult games on the road.

Meanwhile, Wake can cry a similar tune.   They are 6-7 in conference play but has some similar heartbreak.  They have a similar close loss to Xavier, and competitive losses to Duke, North Carolina, Northwestern and home against Clemson.  But the losses have been close – not “single possession” close, and they have already lost at home to tonight’s foe, Clemson.

Records can be so misleading in college hoops.  I still subscribe diligently to “who did you play, where did you play, how did you play them” when looking for value.  The fact that Clemson has a lousy conference record isn’t fooling Vegas too much; they are still favored tonight, and I’m not going to let it fool me either.

Wake is just 2-7 this season as an underdog and Clemson has won 8 of 10 in this head-to-head rivalry.  This game is HUGE for Bubble Life – the loser’s bubble likely bursts, the winner lives to fight another day, so expect an intense and hard-fought contest.  In the end, I’ll take Clemson to get a win and to enjoy FINALLY getting to play a team in their own gym who isn’t a projected Tournament team (every loss this season has come to a team currently IN the Field of 68).

Today’s Pick:  CLEMSON TIGERS -4