Virginia cruised late in Chapel Hill to earn an 11-point win over the Tar Heels and help us notch a second straight NCAA winner. The bounce back win was an impressive one for the Cavaliers, who still look like a sure-fire #1 seed to me. They have another tough game this weekend with Louisville, but I think the Cards will experience similar offensive troubles as Carolina – they just don’t have the shooters to beat that ferocious Cavalier defense.
Meanwhile, Kansas took a huge step to earning their 12th straight Big Twelve regular season championship, avenging their earlier loss at Iowa State by returning the favor 89-76 in Lawrence. The Jayhawks were largely written off early after the Kentucky debacle, but their prize freshman Kelly Oubre III is starting to play like an NBA Lottery pick and fellow frosh Cliff Alexander is blossoming. Add in the veteran core with Mason Jr and Perry Ellis, and all of a sudden, could another Final Four run be brewing for the Rock Chalk??
Let’s see if we can make it three in a row on another nice night of college hoops.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Florida Gators -2 at Vanderbilt Commodores
The Gators at 12-9 are probably the biggest disappointment in the nation this season. Expected to be a top ten team and challenge Kentucky in the SEC, Billy Donovan’s squad finds themselves in a strange position, needing a furious late rally (and possibly a miracle win over UK) to make their way into the Field of 68. It’s a bit stunning considering the talent, but I still wouldn’t officially bury this team yet. They’ve lost some brutally close games and played a gauntlet of a non-con schedule. They endured an ugly three-game losing streak in conference, but have since rallied with two straight wins; at Alabama and over Arkansas (by 2 and 1 point respectively, keeping with their season-theme of cardiac contests).
Tonight they get a little bit of a reprieve. Vandy might be the only ‘easier win’ in conference play and I think Florida is desperate enough to not overlook the imperative nature of handling their business with aplomb. Vandy is just 1-7 in conference play and only one of those losses was by less than eight points. They simply do not have enough talent to contend with Florida as long sa the Gators show up to play.
Traditionally, teams have struggled shooting in Vandy’s awkward cavernous gym, but even weird shooting sightlines should slow down the superior athleticism and defense of Florida. I like the Gators to roll tonight in Nashville.