College Hoops tips off in earnest tomorrow with the ESPN 24-hour marathon, highlighted by the evening’s co-finales, Duke vs. Kentucky (why isn’t that game second??) and Michigan State and Kansas. However, there have already been some interesting results and some really good action coming up tonight.
This weekend’s headline was yet another NCAA-probable team and big-name brand getting toppled. This time it was Georgetown going down in double-overtime to Radford. But the three results that caught my attention yesterday were: UCLA getting pushed by Cal Poly; that result being a function of not just struggles to come from the Bruins but also a quality Cal Poly squad that will contend for an NCAA bid, the absolute decimation Cincinnati laid on Robert Morris scoring 106 points, and the beatdown Valparaiso delivered to Iona. The Gaels are a good mid-major team and Valpo sent them packing by 27 points. I’m looking forward to seeing if they can back it up tomorrow against Rhode Island at the odd 10am-made for TV- tip time.
Let’s get the season jump started with a winner tonight in a great appetizer to the feast that is coming tomorrow.
Today’s Free Pick:
Baylor Bears -2.5 at Oregon Ducks
I absolutely LOVE what Scott Drew and his Baylor Bears are doing in November. While other top tier programs play their one or two marquee games and then go back home to fatten up on 20-point spreads, Baylor is following up a tough opening test against Stephen F. Austin with a trip to Eugene and the #22 ranked Ducks. Baylor knows they have the talent to make a sleeper run in a Big Twelve featuring Kansas, Oklahoma and Iowa State – all widely considered Final Four contenders, and this early tough schedule will help them prepare for it.
Baylor looked awesome in their opener, sending the Lumberjacks to a 97-55 victory. They will look to press their advantage on the glass even more tonight. Baylor is one of the better rebounding teams in the nation. Oregon only outrebounded Jackson State by 5 in their opener. Suffice it to say they are going to get a whole different level of size and physicality tonight.
This game is technically the opener of the ESPN Tip Off Marathon with tipoff not happening until 11:30 PM on the east coast. Thr late start time and the fatigue of the difficult trip to Eugene aren’t great factors for Baylor, but I still think they win this game. On a neutral floor, I’d like them by close to double digits. On the road, it becomes a tougher lay down to give points, but one I am willing to do. Look for Baylor’s veteran tandem of Rico Gathers and Taurean Prince to shine. Also look for Oregon to struggle to replace the offense they relied on Joe Young to provide last year, especially against a very good defensive team in essentially their first game.
Give me the Bears to continue to reap the rewards of aggressive scheduling with another NCAA Tournament Chip win.