It’s been a pretty quiet week in college hoops, but today everything comes roaring back to life with a packed slate of games culminating in one of the best matchups of the young season at 10pm EST when Florida visits Arizona.
Given the great spread of games, plus the lack of much else in the way of high quality sports, rather than just one game breakdown let’s dig into a handful of college basketball picks.
2PM EST (CBS) — Butler Bulldogs vs. Indiana Hoosiers -11
Butler beat North Carolina in Maui. Indiana decimated the same Tarheels in Bloomington. In their one comparable opponent, both played very impressively.
But position by position, talent for talent, this game isn’t even close. The game is on a neutral court in Indianapolis as the opener of an absolutely brilliant event that precedes Notre Dame v. Purdue, so expect the place to be packed and raucous. IU will likely have more of a contingent present than Butler, but you can rest assured that any early arriving Purdue fans will be temporary lovers of the Bulldogs. If this game stays close it will have an NCAA Tourney feel to it; the crowd will surge in support of the underdog (Butler).
Fortunately for IU, this game won’t stay close. The Hoosiers are just WAY too good.
Free Pick: Indiana -11
Louisville Cardinals -3.5 at Memphis Tigers
The Tigers and Cards renew an old rivalry that dates back to the Metro Conference and Conference USA. It appeared these two would once again be conference foes in the Big East… but then Louisville bolted for the ACC and Memphis is standing amidst the falling rubble of the artist foremerly known as the Big East. Regardless on where these two schools eventually land, be grateful they tend to land on each other’s schedule, because this game is always great.
Louisville is challenged offensively, but so is Memphis. This game may not be pretty today, but it will be athletic. Memphis was disappointing early in the Battle 4 Atlantis, getting run out of the gym by Minnesota and then losing to VCU. Since then they have beaten Northern Iowa and Ohio – two wins that are much better than the opponent’s mid-major affiliation might indicate.
Memphis will be up for the game, but Louisville has a significantly better basketball team. Look for Peyton Siva to outplay Joe Johnson and for Russ Smith to be just “Russ-diculous” (his nickname, not me trying to be clever) enough to carry the Cards to the road win and cover.
Free Pick: Louisville Cardinals -3.5
Purdue Boilermakers vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish -6
Another game pitting two rivals in an eciting neutral floor close to both’s home. This seems to be the year of the Irish, and the hoops team is living up to expectations at 8-1 and possessing a big win over Kentucky. Purdue will battle, but Notre Dame will shoot them out of the gym by the time it wraps up.
I like Scott Martin to have a big game against his former team, and for Jerian Grant to continue to play big and lead the Irish to a double digit win.
Free Pick: Notre Dame Fighting Irish -6
10 PM (ESPN) — Florida Gators -2 at Arizona Wildcats
This is the best game of the day, and might be the best game so far this season. Florida has been awesome; beating Marquette and Wisconsin by a combined 52 points. Those two games were at home. So how will they fare on the road? Well, if the Florida State trip is any indication, just fine. The Gators led the Seminoles 58-19 at one point in the second half before cruising to a 25-point win.
Arizona is also unbeaten this season (both teams are 9-0), but like Florida, has done most of their damage at home. They don’t have the same amount of quality wins as the Gators, and they struggled with Clemson for 35 minutes before pulling away late and winning by 12. Aside from that, their best wins are Long Beach State (who everyone has beaten this year) and Southern Miss (a good, but likely bubble team at best).
This will be a fantastic game, but I think the Gators pull it off. This team is legit. They have good veteran leadership with Kenny Boynton and Patrick Young; one of the best inside/outside veteran combos in the nation. The matchup between Boyton and Mark Lyons will be a pleasure to watch, as will Patrick Young against freshman Kaleb Tarczewski will be great as well.
In each of those matchups, I give Florida a slight, slight edge. The difference maker is the depth of the Gators. I like them to outlast Arizona and get the HUGE road win.
Free Pick: Florida Gators -2
*** PICKS RECAP: Indiana -11, Louisville -3.5, Notre Dame -6, Florida -2