Our NCAA pick win streak extended to eight games with New Mexico’s win over Cincinnati last night. The game unfolded pretty much as prescribed; Cincinnati having some offensive troubles against their first formidable opponent and New Mexico squeaking out a close win at the end of the game. The loss brings the total of undefeated teams down to just four; the top 3 teams in the current poll (Duke, Michigan and Arizona) and unlikely Wyoming, who might just outlast them all thanks to some benevolent scheduling.
It’s looking less and less likely that a truly dominant team exists this season, and it’s quite possible the best team in the country isn’t undefeated. I’d wager on Indiana, Louisville and Syracuse well before even considering Arizona to cut down the nets…
Anyhow, after a relatively weak week, things get cranking tonight with two intriguing games and then the Battle in the Bluegrass tomorrow with Kentucky and Louisville. So let’s get prepped for a good weekend in college hoops with a couple more winners.
Baylor at Gonzaga -9.5 (Total: 143)
The Baylor Bears once again have a load of talent, and once again are struggling through an underachieving pre-conference season. They took some conspicuous losses early, including a tough to explain loss to Charleston, but have since played pretty decent basketball. They lost a tough game at Northwestern, but do own a road win at Kentucky, which will suit them well come selection Sunday.
They have an intriguing blend of veteran backcourt with NBA-talent frontcourt freshman, namely Isaiah Austin, a 7’1’’ center with guard/forward feet. Their backcourt of Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip has played in a few Elite Eights and are very unlikely to be as rattled by The Kennel crowd as are most visiting opponents.
That same combo of veteran moxy and athleticism served Illinois well several weeks ago, when they two as a ten point underdog, went to Spokane and left with a win. I am not sure Baylor does the same, but I do like their chances to cover.
Gonzaga has lost to the only ranked opponent they have faced this season, they aforementioned home loss to Illinois. They have a few decent wins on their resume; Davidson, Clemson, and an impressive 68-52 win over Kansas State – all three wins on a neutral court. They are a very good basketball team and will be a force to be reckoned with come March. However, tonight, ten points is just a steep price to pay for a team that isn’t more physically or athletically talented than their opponents.
Free Pick: Baylor Bears +9.5
BONUS PICK: UCLA is a dangerous team. They have played well since Shabazz Mohammad got eligible. However, I am not ready to lay points on this team taking on a legit Final Four contender in Missouri. This has the potential to be a truly fantastic basketball game, but I am going to take the road underdog Missouri plus the three and a half in Pauley Pavillion.
Free Pick: Missouri Tigers +3.5