College Basketball Picks and Predictions for February 13th

Wisconsin put a swift end to any “perfect season” talk yesterday in Madison with a 71-67 win over the final unbeaten team in the country, Ohio State. Point guard Jordan Taylor shoved his name into the suddenly crowded discussion for Big Ten Player of the Year with his scintillating 28-point performance (not to mention a near-perfect floor game as well).

For Ohio State fans, don’t despair, yesterday’s loss bares little impact on the bigger goal; winning a national championship. The Kohl Center has long been a graveyard where otherwise excellent teams have gone to die. Wisconsin coach, Bo Ryan, has lost only eleven games in as many years in his home gym. For those of you who like stats, that equates to a roughly 94% home winning percentage. That’s gettin’ it done.

The biggest take away from yesterday’s Big Ten battle is that both teams have Final Four potential. Yesterday was, with the possible exception of Kansas v. Texas and last week’s Duke v. Carolina game, the highest quality play from two teams I have seen all season.

We may not have anyone run the table this season, but we do have more teams bringing something quality to it that we’ve seen in years.

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Today’s Free College Basketball Picks:

Duke Blue Devils -10 @ Miami Hurricanes

Duke enters the game at 22-2, and ranked #5 in the nation. There is the potential for an emotional letdown following Wednesday’s high-intensity win over arch rival North Carolina, however four days have elapsed, so that should be enough time for Coach K to have his troops refocused.

Duke has been nearly unbeatable at home over the past two seasons, however they have shown themselves to be suceptible to the road upset. Florida State, who like Miami, always plays the Blue Devils tough, has already knocked off Duke in the gym – tonight their instate rival Miami will attempt to do the same.

It has been a pretty disappointing season for the Miami Hurricanes, they enter today with nine losses, and needing to pretty much run the table in order to sneak into the Tournament. However, they have righted the ship of late, reeling off three straight conference wins and bringing good momentum into today’s huge upset bid.

I am not sure Miami will pull off the shocker, but don’t be surprised if they hang around late and make the Blue Devils really earn it – they do nearly every season. I like the Canes getting a nice juicy ten points at home.

PICK: Miami Hurricanes +10 @
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Providence Friars @ Connecticut Huskies -10

UConn is the far superior team in terms of pure talent, however, sometimes “talent” isn’t all that matters in major conference college basketball, rather emotion and pride measure far larger in college hoops than it does in the NBA. This is an emotional game – at least for one of the teams…

UConn has stumbled of late, losing three of their last four. The major reason why has been their low shooting percentage – partially driven by the erratic play of Kemba Walker and his tendancy to continually take very difficult shots.

The most recent ESPN broadcast summed it up well; “just because you can get a shot of anytime you want doesn’t mean you should.” If the Huskies can use their overall talent to their advantage, sharing the basketball and moving on defense – they should be able to beat the Friars easily.

However, this game means the world to Providence – their chance to knock off their big brother rival. Providence historically has played UConn tough, even though the talent gap is usually pretty wide.

On top of that, Providence has actually been playing very, very good basketball the last three weeks. The Friars are 3-2 in that stretch, including wins over Louisville and Villanova, and a heart-breaking two point loss at Georgetown. It would be an upset if the Friars were to get the win tonight, but not a surprise to see them play a very competitive game and cover the nine and a half point line.

PICK: Providence +9.5
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Chris Scheeren / Author