The Fighting Irish lived up to the “fighting” moniker last night, earning in my opinion, the best road win if the 2011 season, going into Pitt and knocking off the tough Panthers 56-51. The game was a typical Big East battle; low-scoring and extremely physical. The fact the Irish were able to tough out a win on the road showed a side of Notre Dame most of us wondered even existed. The home loss for Pitt was only their second in four years, while for Notre Dame is was their first road win of the entire season.
In the late game Kansas State may have saved their season with a home win over also-reeling Baylor. With the emergence of Texas, Missouri and Texas A&M, finishing fifth in the Big 12 might be the difference between the NCAA Tourney and the NIT. Beating Baylor was a huge step in the right direction for Frank Martin’s Wildcats.
More great action tonight, highlighted by Purdue’s visit to #1 Ohio State. I’m not officially picking this game – it’s too good to call – but can’t help but wonder if Purdue had a healthy Robbie Hummel to go with All-American caliber JuJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore if we wouldn’t be watching an absolute classic #1 v. #2 matchup tonight…
Today’s Free College Basketball Predictions
I’ve been reluctant to buy into the Huskies, despite their continuous efforts that impress. The wins over Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Villanova, Texas… it’s as impressive a haul as any team in the country can boast. Despite an over-reliance on the scoring prowess of a player who is ostensibly their “point guard” the Huskies continue to knock off the nation’s best teams.
Marquette is a typical near-the-top Big East ball club. Smothering on defense, tough physical guards, and a fantastic home court advantage. The Warriors find themselves in that middle group of the Beast; Louisville, Cincinnati, St. John’s, Georgetown – they will all slug it out for two or three bids into the Tourney come March.
Opportunity for marquee home wins are absolutely enormous in the uber-competitive Big East. Marquette doesn’t miss many of them. They’ve struggled on the road, but have been great at home, losing only to in-state rival Wisconsin, and absolutely laying the lumber to Notre Dame last week.
UConn is better, but sometimes in the Big East “better” doesn’t always win. I like an extremely focused Marquette team understanding the magnitude of tonight’s opportunity and playing like it. Gimme the Warriors in a game experts will call an “upset” – but is really just life in the Big East.
PICK: Marquette -4 at BETED.com <- compared to -4.5 at most sportsbooks
Virginia Tech Hokies -3 @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets@ BETED.COM ($250 Signup Bonus)
Virginia Tech was the consensus pick for second best in the ACC, behind Duke, by the coaches in the preseason. They were a Top 15 team in most polls. A rough start knocked them off the radar and they haven’t been heard from since.
Well, while everyone stopped watching the Hokies, they have gotten their season back on track.
Following their disastrous 4-4 start, they have gone 9-1, including wins over a tough Penn State team, a 31-point pasting of Mississippi State, and a 6-1 ACC mark.
In short – they might actually be the team we thought they were before a few early stumbles.
Georgia Tech on the other hand is pretty dreadful. They snuck a few decent wins; beating Richmond and North Carolina, but their losses are just terrible. They have lost games to Siena, Kennesaw State, and Charlotte. Those three are a combined 21-36 on the season and none play in a major conference.
Virginia Tech is playing better and ARE better than the Ramblin’ Wreck (emphasis on “wreck”). Covering the three on the road shouldn’t be much trouble. I like VA Tech to jump out early and handle the Yellow Jackets without getting stung.
PICK: Virginia Tech -3 at BETED.COM <- compared to -3.5 at a lot of sportsbooks