Kansas at Ohio State Free Pick Dec 22 – Plus three bonus basketball picks

It’s a loaded day in college hoops, so without further delay let’s try to build on our two game college win streak with a loaded slate of Saturday winners.

Kansas Jayhawks at Ohio State Buckeyes -4 (Total: 141.5)

Ohio State and Kansas each enter with just one loss, and both of them took their loss in the first week of the season on a neutral floor or on the road to a good ballclub.  Ohio State’s was a well-played game they lost 73-68 to the #1 team in the country, Duke, at Cameron Indoor Stadium.  It’s a “loss” but it’s hard to find much fault in their effort.  Kansas meanwhile lost their opener to Michigan State in an Air Force hangar halfway across the globe.  Again, hard to put too much stock in that game.

So let’s just call this game what it is; a matchup of two legitimate Final Four contenders in an absolute December treat.

Kansas is doing what they do seemingly every season under Bill Self.  They lost most of their key contributors from last season, yet appear to be one of the four or five best teams in the nation.  Ben McLemore is as good as any freshman in the country, and despite the reluctance to recognize it by most casual fans, Jeff Withey is the best shot blocker in the country (sorry Nerlens!) and has developed a competent offensive game.

I like Ohio State, but I just think that Kansas is playing a little better right now.  The game is in Columbus, which is a certain advantage, but Kansas has just been dominant this season, beating good teams by thirty points every time out (Colorado, Richmond, St. Louis, Belmont), while Ohio State has just been treading water since the Duke disappointment (Winthrop, UNC Ashville, Northern Kentucky, Savannah State…yawn).

I like KU to be a little sharper and to overcome the Buckeye raucous crowd.  Give me Kansas plus the four.

Free Pick:  Kansas Jayhawks +4

Other Picks Today:

North Carolina State is home today against St. Bonaventure.  The Wolfpack are one of my favorite teams for wagering purposes moving into 2013, as they have become a bit undervalued from their early season struggles.  Their last two games out, they’ve looked very good, beating and covering against Stanford and Cleveland State.  I think they are about 15-20 points better than a mediocre Bonnie’s squad.

Free Pick:  North Carolina State -11

Cincinnati hosts Wright State today.  Can you say “trap game” ?!?  Three days after their emotional win in the Crosstown Shootout and three days before Christmas with all the student home for the holidays and an antiseptic home arena??  Expect UC to come out flat.  They still win, but I think Wright State squeezes out a narrow cover.

Free Pick:  Wright State +18

Illinois versus Missouri today is an absolutely fantastic game.  I am pumped these two continue the border war despite all the conference shuffling of late.  This is as good as this game has been in decades, as both teams are playing fantastic.  Illinois is unbeaten and has the impressive road win at Gonzaga.  However, Missouri is really good, and a sleeper contender to win the SEC despite the higher profile of Florida and Kentucky.  They’ve beaten the Illini three years in a row, and I like Mizzou today convincingly.

Free Pick:  Missouri Tigers -1.5

Chris Scheeren / Author