Last night’s San Diego State v. BYU game was one of the rare occasions where the hype was absolutely validated by the game that unfolded. More specifically, Jimmer Fredette lived up to the hype – and exceeded it beyond imagination.
The senior point guard from Great Falls, NY put on an absolute show, pouring in 43 points and leading the Cougars to the win over the previously unbeaten Aztecs. The win moved BYU to 20-1 and into first place in the Mountain West Conference. Perhaps more importantly, the win moves them into great position to earn a #2 seed in the Tourney; with an outside chance at even a #1.
For Fredette, the shining performance under the brightest lights of the season moves him to immediate even footing with Kemba Walker and Jared Sullinger for National Player of the Year. All in all, about as good as a college basketball game gets.
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Today’s Free College Basketball Picks
Illinois Fighting Illini -3.5 @ Indiana Hoosiers
Illinois record might not reflect it, but they truly are one of the better teams in the nation. They aren’t in the top tier with the seven or eight elite teams, but just beyond that they are in a large group that can beat anyone on any given day.
With the exception of the Illinois-Chicago stunner (and the Penn State road loss), Illinois losses have all been to outstanding teams; @Texas, @Missouri, Ohio State, @Wisconsin. Balancing that out are quality wins over North Carolina, Maryland, @Gonzaga, Wisconsin and Michigan State. Their 14-6 mark overall is probably the most impressive six-loss team in America.
Tonight the Illini head to Bloomington in a game they should win. Indiana has been putting up a few better efforts lately – most notably competitive losses at Minnesota and Wisconsin – but the fact remains this is not a very good ballclub.
Indiana is just plain awful to be honest. Their 1-6 Big Ten record has them losing by an average of just under 15ppg. The four point line to Illinois tonight feels about 3-4 points too small, it should be around -8… Makes for an easy pick – Take the Illini and lay the three and a half.
St. Mary’s Gaels @ Gonzaga Bulldogs -4
This is the opportunity St. Mary’s has been anticipating for nearly a decade. A chance to go into Spokane facing a reeling Gonzaga team with an opportunity to dethrone the perennial champs by dealing the knock-out punch in their own gym.
However, ten-time defending regular season conference champs rarely go down easily. After losing a surprising 96-91 overtime game to San Francisco this week, it is truly do-or-die time for the Zags. A loss tonight would drop them to 3-3 and improve St. Mary’s to 6-0. It’s unlikely the Gaels drop three conference games outside of their two with the Zags.
This year the Kennel hasn’t been the same daunting home court advantage it has been in the past. The primary reason? Gonzaga just isn’t up to the normal standard. St. Mary’s is a much better team this year – and if they are EVER going to unseat the Zags, this is their opportunity.
I think they’ll come out and play like it. St. Mary’s has been beating their opponents by an average of 17ppg, while Gonzaga against a largely similar schedule (removing the Illinois, Baylor and Notre Dame games) has been winning by less than ten.
St. Mary’s has an experienced, steady backcourt – something the Zags certainly do NOT this season. I like St. Mary’s guards to control tempo and stay poised in a hostile road environment and capture one of the biggest regular season wins in school history..