Florida Gulf Coast vs. Xavier Pick NCAA Hoops – Dec 28th

Yesterday’s big day in college hoops didn’t disappoint. Both Louisville and BYU put up valiant efforts at home only to be vanquished by elite caliber teams. Lest there be any more questions about Kentucky (and I don’t think there really were too many. The moment that line posted ALL the money rushed to the Wildcats’ side so quickly that most books moved three full points in less than a day), consider those questions answered. Instead of “can they run the table” the question now becomes “how can they not?”

I posited from the beginning of the season that if they lose it would be a sleepwalk night on the road in the SEC; not a North Carolina or Florida or Louisville, but a random Alabama or Arkansas roadie on a Tuesday when the entire UK team forgets to set their alarm clocks.

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But I’ll admit I wouldn’t wager against the Cats at this point. Even when they do not play well, they win by comfortable margins. It’s pretty awesome to watch.

Meanwhile, we completed a perfect 2-0 NCAA ATS day with one of my favorite teams in the country, Gonzaga, winning a tough game in Provo against BYU. I’m not saying Gonzaga would beat Kentucky – 95 times out of 100 they won’t. But if any team DOES beat them, it will need to be done with the style the Zags employ – lethal shooting, quick threes in transition, and an aggressive willingness to eschew the halfcourt set. As soon as you hold the ball against UK, you no longer have the option of getting quality shots. Period.

Today’s Free Pick:

Florida Gulf Coast Eagles at Xavier Musketeers -15 (Total: 142)

FGCU captured the nation’s fancy with the first Sweet 16 run by a #15 seed in NCAA history. They did it with a loose free-wheeling acrobatic style of play and stunning athleticism from a low-major program. They didn’t “steal” tourney games with hot shooting; they dominated two major programs on both ends of the floor for 40 minutes.

This year’s team isn’t that team, but they are still a dangerous opponent and a likely tourney team once again. Point guard Brent Comer remains from tht squad, orchestrating the offense with 7.5 assists per game (4th in the nation). Look for him to feed leading scorer Bernard Thompson and Julian DeBose often and to put up plenty of points in what should be a fun game. The problem for the Eagles is that most of their talent is perimeter oriented.

Xavier has a very good backcourt with Dee Davis and freshman standout Treveon Blueitt, but they also have size and muscle underneath with Matt Stainbrook and athleticism in Myles Davis. Xavier is a little too talented for FGCU and playing at home, but that should stop this from being a really entertaining and high-paced game. I like this game to get OVER the 142 mark. I’d also lean FGCU getting that many points, but I like the overall tempo and offense even more.

Xavier has gone 8-3 OVER in their last 11 games and FGCU is 5-2-1 OVER in their last eight road games. The Eagles will be able to score today, but I don’t think they’ll be able to defend. Look for a ton of offense today in Cincinnati.

Free Pick: Point TOTAL OVER 142

Chris Scheeren / Author