The bubble is going to be a crowded place over the next five weeks. Teams that seemed out of favor like Purdue, UCLA and Cincinnati notched big wins to get on more stable ground. Teams with aspirations of Dancing have slipped; NC State, Miami, Kansas State, Davidson, LSU, Michigan and a host of others have taken bad losses to put their status in serious jeopardy. Every game is going to matter down the stretch, and we will be to shake off this tough week and get back to our winning ways.
Friday’s are light fare in college hoops, with primarily small conference games on tap. But, we do get treated to a rare enormous Atlantic 10 matchup tonight to sate college hoops hunger, so let’s focus in there for tonight’s free pick.
Today’s Free Pick:
Dayton Flyers at George Washington Colonials -2.5
This game may not get a ton of national buzz, but it is a huge game in an underrated conference and one that has big-time tourney implications. Dayton enters at 17-4, but less than a week removed from a profile damaging loss at UMass. George Washington is 16-6 and 6-3 in conference after two straight losses; the first a soul-crushing 72-48 annihilation at VCU, the latter a tough 59-55 loss at similarly bubble perched Rhode Island. This game is enormous for the Colonials who can ill-afford a three game losing streak to slide them out of the top four in a league that would be thrilled to get four bids.
I got burned with Dayton in their loss at UMass, a game I thought the Flyer would win. However, I am still not giving up on last year’s tourney darlings having some gas in the tank for another nice run. But wining on the road hasn’t been easy in league play. The Flyers are just 3-3 away from home this season.
On the flipside, a desperate (but talented) GW team is perfect on their home floor this season. They absolutely can’t afford to lose this game and I expect an intense effort and a good home crowd as they make a rare spotlight ESPN appearance.
I’ll take the Colonials at home, riding the home court to a narrow cover. And if you haven’t had a chance to see much A-10 hoops this year, tune in. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the quality of hoops you see tonight. Neither team has the profile of some of the middle of the pack teams in the BCS leagues, but as Dayton proved last year (and Butler, Xavier and Temple – all no longer in the A-10 – proved in year’s past) teams in this league can beat the name brand teams in March.