If this weekend and beginning of the week was one of carnage for the nation’s top teams (Duke losing twice, Arizona getting dropped, Louisville and Wisconsin losing, Kentucky surviving a ridiculous scare), then yesterday was the day of close calls for ranked opponents. North Carolina got a narrow three point win over North Carolina State (who just dumptrucked Duke), Notre Dame survived a second close call against Georgia Tech in as many weeks, this time winning by three in regulation, and Baylor got a one-point win over Iowa State (though technically Iowa State was the higher ranked team).
It was a great competitive night in college hoops and I expect nothing less tonight. The schedule is a little thinner, but there are some really good and interesting games on the docket. Cincinnati travels to Memphis in a pick em and a HUGE game in the down AAC, as neither UC nor Memphis are anything close to tourney locks at this point. Florida has apparently restored Vegas’s faith – they are a 16 point home favorite over Bruce Pearl’s plucky Auburn team. And a pair of Pac 12 teams will try to avoid trouble with sneaky opponents as Arizona hosts Colorado (which has evolved into a nice rivalry the last few years, especially after last year’s controversial ending) and Utah takes a potentially tricky trip to Arizona State. Lastly, Wisconsin is a big home favorite but won’t have an easy time getting back on track with a talented but under-achieving Nebraska team coming to town.
It’s gonna be a good night of college hoops, so let’s dive in with today’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Green Bay Phoenix -6.5 at Oakland Golden Grizzlies
With so many interesting games televised I debated whether or not to give out this game, but I figure most of you would rather make money than be entertained, so alas, here is my favorite game from a wagering perspective. Oakland enters tonight at 5-12 overall and getting ready to host the best team in the league (by a lot), and a team that probably should have gotten into the Field of 68 last year. The Phoenix are trying to leave little to chance this season and have their sights set on ripping through the Horizon League unblemished.
The Phoenix are off to a good start. They own a double-digit win over Miami that gets more impressive every week (ask Duke) and they are 3-0 in conference play, winning every game by at least 16 points. Meanwhile, Oakland’s record is a little misleading, as before conference play they suffered a five game losing streak that included Michigan State, Clemson, Maryland, Arizona and Pitt. I am all for playing a tough schedule to prepare a team for conference play. But sometimes it doesn’t even work. Only the Pitt game was competitive, and this is the worst Pitt team in a decade and they’ve lost their last two conference games to Cleveland State and Detroit.
Green Bay, as I’ve covered once earlier this season, is a legit 12/13 seed that is going to really make life miserable for someone in about eight weeks. I think they go into Oakland and hammer them tonight. Six points is a pretty slim margin for the overall team discrepancy tonight.