We wrapped up the week in nice fashion with a pair of easy winners yesterday in college hoops. Not only did Oregon cover at home, they actually beat Utah pretty easily to strengthen their NCAA Tournament chances greatly. Three weeks ago, no one had the Ducks in the Field, but like Purdue, if you just keep on winning conference games, sooner or later your early season ills will be forgiven.
Someone who apparently will NOT be forgiven is Louisville’s Chris Jones. The point guard was dismissed from the university yesterday dealing a huge blow to the Cardinals Final Four aspirations. The Cardinals have been slumping lately, losing at home to NC State and barely escaping the YUM Center with a win over Miami. Without Jones they have some real backcourt issues, and unless they show something unexpected in the next three weeks, the dismissal could cost them two or three seed lines in the bracket. Evidence of how little confidence the Cardinals now inspire is shown clearly by Vegas as well. They are only four point favorites tonight against (12-15, 3-12 ACC).
We’ve ripped off four of our last five NCAA picks, so let’s use that as steam to power forward a big week.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Kansas Jayhawks -5 at Kansas State Wildcats
This rivalry has provided some great entertainment in years past. But let’s not confuse rivalry with parity. Sure, Michael Beasley single-handedly jumped up and knocked off the big brother Jayhawks and the Jacob Pullen-led Frank Martin K-State teams were fierce.
This year’s squad is 13-15 and has lost two in a row (including a loss to TCU) and seven of their last eight including a loss to Texas Tech. One could make a compelling case that this is the worst team in the Big Twelve right now. They’ve also lost eight of their last ten games against ‘rival’ Kansas and are 2-7-1 ATS over that stretch. Sometimes the rivalry aspect makes for a better game than expected (Duke v. UNC is a good example) and sometimes it is just another stage set for a bludgeoning.
Kansas, despite a last-second loss at West Virginia, has been rounding into legit Final Four form. On talent and recent performance alone, I think I’d put KU no worse than fifth in the country, behind obviously Kentucky – and then Duke, Arizona and maybe Gonzaga/Wisconsin. That’s it. This team is legitimately good now that Kelly Oubre is who they thought he’d be. Put him with Ellis, Selden Jr, Alexander and Mason and this is a dynamite lineup.
Kansas has won eight of ten and their only two losses were to Tournament teams on the road. Kansas State is not a tournament team, NCAA or otherwise. And they are in a mighty tailspin. Might there be a little extra emotion tonight to keep the game close for a while? Sure. But after 40 minutes, I’ll take the Jayhawks to win relatively comfortably.