Jimmy V Classic – @ Madison Square Garden
The Jimmy V Classic probably looked a little better when it was originally scheduled, given the solid, reliable brands of UConn and Texas. However both programs have hit a bit of a snag. Connecticut is one of the first batch of “academic progress” casualties and is subject to an NCAA Tournament ban this season. That led to players being able to transfer without penalty and led Alex Oriaki to head to Mizzou. Couple those personnel losses with the retirement of Coach Jim Calhoun and UConn is dealing with some issues.
Texas is struggling as well. They’ve had to deal with wave after wave of early departures to the NBA the past three seasons, and it appears to finally be taking a toll. To make matters worse, they have played most of this season awaiting the return of their best player Myck Kabongo.
Can either struggling team knock off their favored opponent tonight on a neutral floor? Let’s dig inside tonight’s matchups and find a pair of winners.
Texas Longhorns vs. Georgetown Hoyas -6.5 (Total: 117)
It would be pretty easy to dismiss the Longhorns based on their dreadful performance over in Maui. Their overtime loss to a struggling USC team wasn’t impressive, but the opening round loss to Division II Chaminade was downright disgraceful. They haven’t lost since that debacle in Hawaii, but they haven’t exactly challenged themselves either with wins over Texas Arlington and Sam Houston State.
Georgetown looked awesome in their overtime loss to #1 Indiana, especially after watching what IU did to poor North Carolina. However their 37-35 win over Tennessee last week was so terrible to watch that the “win” hardly seems like one.
I like Georgetown to exert their will tonight. Texas likes to play at a much quicker tempo but Georgetown has the veteran savvy to better exert their will. If this game gets into the 70’s, Texas has a shot. If it stays in the 50-60 range, I don’t see Texas out-executing the precision Hoyas.
Free Pick: Georgetown Hoyas -6.5
North Carolina State -5.5 vs. Connecticut Huskies (Total: 143)
NC State entered the season with lofty expectations, but has seemed to struggle under the weight of them early. They have already dropped two games, and looked terrible in an 82-80 win over UNC Wilmington last time out.
Connecticut has next to NO expectations this year, but has perhaps overachieved. They have already beaten Michigan State on a neutral floor, and looks to do the same to the Wolfpack tonight. I like the backcourt of Boatwright and Shabazz Napier to control the tempo of the game and to get the Huskies plenty of quality looks. NC State has allowed opponents to shoot over 50% on the season, and none of them had a backcourt as good as UConn (except for Michigan).
These Huskies play hard for first-year coach Kevin Ollie. I like them with the five points tonight playing on a floor where they feel VERY at home, Madison Square Garden.
Free Pick: UConn Huskies +5.5