When you are this deep into the season and still toting an ATS winning mark in the mid-sixties, whining is pretty unbecoming. But for any of you who played along with the North Dakota State pick last night, holy bleeping bleeping bleep did we take the mother of all bad beats last night. Like, head-scratching, yell-at-the-television as if it could respond to you BAD beat…
The basic scenario: Arkansas up 13, running out the clock, walk-ons holding the ball to expire the clock. A little walk-on decides to heave a buzzer beater, uncontested, from at least 37 feet. Nothing but net like he was Steph Curry in warmups. Arkansas by 16.
A cover turns into one of the worst half-point losses (NDSU +15.5) of my handicapping career.
You can commiserate, or make fun of me on Twitter @TheMarchManiacs
The good news is, we were sacrificed on the altar of the gambling gods last night, so perhaps our bountiful harvest is forthcoming. See, a little optimism to round out the day, right?
Alas, there is little time to whine, or else we might miss one of the best non-Saturday preconference days of the college basketball season. The headliner is Kentucky at Louisville, the most acrimonious rivalry in the sport. But that is far from the only nice action. Virginia at Cal is an upset special lurking in the weeds, Clemson at South Carolina is both an underrated game and rivalry, and Vanderbilt at Dayton, Northern Iowa at North Carolina (revenge game from last year’s stunner at UNI) and Auburn (8-2) vs. Oklahoma are all worth the price of admission.
Let’s get off the mat after yesterday’s tough three-game winning streak snapping gut-punch.
Today’s Free Pick:
Auburn Tigers vs. Oklahoma Sooners -6 (@ Mohegan Sun, Connecticut)
I’ll admit, I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Bruce Pearl. There is something fun and endearing about his antics and his brutal honesty makes you forgive some of the faults. I’d like to see him succeed at Auburn.
That said, it’s getting real close to “put up or shut up time” down in Tiger Land. The Tigers are 8-2 this season, but the absolute demolition at Purdue in their toughest test this season is cause for concern. The one-point loss to BC isn’t great either. And while they don’t have any win to truly offset those two losses, they do have reasonable wins over Texas Tech, North Florida and Mercer, a road win at UAB and a complete demolishing of Coastal Carolina. They are ranked 99th in KenPom, largely a reflection of their schedule and bad Purdue loss. Oklahoma is ranked 53rd. That’s a big gap, but frankly, you can throw most of 50-100 in a hat and get pretty even games, as evidenced by #84 Memphis beating Oklahoma on a neutral court last weekend (and that ranking is AFTER the result).
My point is simply, on a neutral floor, this is a pretty even matchup, making the six points significant. Oklahoma enters franked much higher in KenPom, but with a 6-4 record, losses to Memphis, Northern Iowa and Wichita State and with their best results a win over Clemson and a win over Oral Roberts. This year’s OU squad are far from giant killers.
I’ll nearly always take a big pile of points in a relatively even matchup between two mediocre teams on a neutral floor, so let’s do the same tonight.