The road continued to be a place of nightmares for major conference opponents. Yet another lesser opponent found a way to win, perhaps simply buoyed by the home crowd. Last night we took a loss backing the more-talented Tigers of Mizzou hosting LSU. We split the night getting an easy winner with Dayton trouncing St. Bonaventure, but the road loss for LSU was another example of a major conference road slip-up. The Big East is littered with them as higher ranked opponents have already lost a half dozen road games in the first week of conference play.
Xavier went down at DePaul. Villanova fell at Seton Hall. And of course, Xavier turned around and hammered Seton Hall when they headed to Cincinnati. That’s the way it’s going to go all season long in the Big East where there are ten reasonable teams as even the ‘bottom-feeders’ like DePaul, Creighton and Marquette are capable of knocking off good teams at home. The result could be a bid or two less than deserved for a good league as a lot of quality teams (like Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Xavier, Butler) could find themselves hovering around .500.
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The only league that seems immune to this phenomenon is the Big Ten, where the Big boys have been going on the road and handling their business. Ohio State went to Minnesota, Michigan State barnstormed Iowa last night and Michigan went to previously-rolling Penn State. The road less-traveled in other leagues is proving profitable for the Big Ten.
It’s a dreadfully light slate tonight in all of college hoops with only four off-the-radar games taking place. However, like last year, there is always a nice Horizon League game for us die-hards to start off the weekend. So, that’s where we shall head tonight for today’s free pick.
Today’s Free Pick:
Green Bay Phoenix -9 at Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers
This game may not mean much to most sportsfans, but it is a huge rivalry game in Wisconsin and features two programs that are no stranger to success on a larger scale. Milwaukee made waves in the Big Dance back when Bruce Pearl was leading the changes and more recently, Green Bay appears poised to take the Horizon mantle into postseason giant-slaying.
Green Bay enters tonight at 12-3 with a pretty challenging slate under their belt. They have dropped games to Georgia State (badly) and Cal Irvine (both possible tourney teams) but own wins over that same Georgia State team (also in blowout fashion) and have beaten Florida Gulf Coast and Miami (FL) by double digits. This is clearly the best team in the Horizon League, but they’d still be well-served to win the thing in dominating fashion lest they find themselves just on the outside of the bubble like last year. You can bet they will understand how big tonight’s game is for them and their tourney dreams.
Milwaukee is in a rebuilding mode. They are 5-11 and have at times been dreadful. They’ve lost a lot of games, but 18-point plus losses to Cleveland State, South Dakota and Detroit is not a good streak to enter into a rivalry game riding. It’s been ugly to say the least, and it appears that beatdowns from Wisconsin and Arkansas were just that; beatdowns, as opposed to serving the larger purpose of preparing them for similarly-matched foes down the road.
Everyone has been beating the snot out of them lately, so I see no reason a motivated and clearly better rival won’t do the same. I’ll take the Phoenix to soar tonight and get an easy, but important, win.