It’s a slow week in college hoops, there’s no denying it. In fact, there isn’t a single game between ranked opponents until Saturday’s matchup between Ohio State and North Carolina (Oklahoma v. Washington are also ranked foes, and the Butler v. Indiana, Syracuse v. Villanova and UCLA v. Kentucky are all pretty fun games as well). But for this week, Duke vs. UConn is OK on Thursday, and St. Mary’s taking on St. Johns could be a good one Friday, but aside from a possible decent Cincinnati vs. San diego State tomorrow night, it is a pretty empty week.
Which is exactly the kind of week I like for some under-the-radar nice wagering opportunities. There may not be a game you need to set your DVR to watch, but there are always a few sneaky good opportunities out there if you are willing to comb through some low-major gems.
That’ll be the goal this week; to unearth some games you may not be able to find on your television guide but can hopefully fatten up your bankroll for conference hoops season when things start to get interesting and dozens and dozens of games are available each day.
In the meantime, enjoy a look at a few teams who are probably off your radar and let’s see if we can start a winning streak this week…
Today’s Free Pick:
Belmont Briuns at VCU Rams -13.5
Most years, this would be a mid-major classic to set the DVR if you can’t catch it live. This year? Not so glamorous. VCU has struggled mightily as compared to Sweet 16-ish expectations and looks like they could struggle to make the field of 68 unless they figure things out before A-10 play. And Belmont, long the team no one wanted to see in their 3/14 or 2/15 game has lost back to back games against Evansville and Wright State and their best wins are a one point win at Western Kentucky and a two point win over Ohio. Not a great resume so far.
Meanwhile, Shaka Smart’s Rams have struggled as well. They have gotten beaten soundly by Virginia and Villanova, no shame in losing but the combined 40 point margin doesn’t bode well for a team that will be competing against similar competition to advance in the second or third round of the NCAA Tournament. The loss to Old Dominion looks better in light of their surprising start, but still not a good loss to their former Colonial League mates. They’ve struggled with Northern Iowa and Illinois State and just haven’t looked like the fearsome unit people have come to expect.
My point is, both teams are a little down this year, but I think that makes for a really good matchup tonight. Certainly not the ridiculously lopsided affair Vegas is forecasting. Belmont is sturdy with the ball and plays a disciplined tempo. I think they can withstand the Rams HAVOC and keep the tempo under control. If they do, they’ll compete tonight. I don’t think they win on the road but I do think they’ll acquit themselves well. I’ll take the huge pile of points tonight and bank on this game being better than expected. Even against lesser competition VCU has only blown out one team all year – the rest of their games have been competitive. I like a similar competitive vibe tonight.