If you are keeping score at home, yesterday marked the fourth Top Six team to lose already this week in college basketball. West Virginia joined Oklahoma, Kansas, and Xavier with their home loss to Texas (who moved to 12-6, 3-3 and is now back on the Bubble with 65% of the nation’s teams). The loss would make North Carolina the presumptive #1 team in the nation, assuming they survive a tricky trip to Blacksburg this weekend.
Number two would be Villanova, and if you need any more examples of how insane this season is, the Wildcats assume that mantle easily and without question. Yet their resume still sports a pair of blowout losses to Oklahoma and Virginia. And they escaped with their lives in a 72-71 win at Seton Hall last night…
It is crazy and gets crazier every day. You could make a case for at least five teams winning every major conference and make a tourney inclusion case or construct a reasonable scenario to get there for 75% of major conference teams right now at a minimum.
But at least one thing makes sense tonight. And that is Gonzaga and St. Mary’s linking up to settle the West Coast Conference (likely) regular season champion. Order is restored.
Of course, we still need to figure out who is going to win that game… and it feels like a complete toss-up that could go either way; Gonzaga is the more talented team. St. Mary’s has played more to their capability and is at home (either way, it is definitely worth watching on ESPN 11pm EST)
So instead, let’s pick on an overvalued team with some real flaws going on the road in a tar-pit of a trap game that the general public doesn’t seem to see coming.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Kentucky Wildcats -2.5 at Arkansas Razorbacks
First impressions last a lifetime. And the first impression of Kentucky this season was under the bright lights of the Barclays Center as they ran and dunked and alley-ooped their way past Duke and introduced the next heralded class of one-and-done superstars to the nation and unleashed the brilliance of sophomore Tyler Ullis, finally escaped from the shadow of the Harrison twins. Could Kentucky run the table again???
Um. No. In fact, they are one more bad performance away from falling out of the Top 25 all together, and try as they might, I think it is happening tonight. It isn’t a matter of motivation, it is a matter of going on the road to face a team that, right now, is a little better than they are.
Arkansas had their three-game winning streak snapped on an LSU putback in Baton Rouge, falling 74-72. But they have been very good in conference play and are a potent offensive team, averaging over 83 points a contest. Kentucky has been especially foul prone this season, so look for Arkansas’s Moses to help rack up some interior fouls.
Kentucky has lost their last three in Fayetteville, and it is fair to say this is the closest the teams overall quality has been during that stretch.
Look, could Kentucky get it all together and make a run like they did two years ago? Sure. They have talent all over the place. But it feels more like one of the teams Coach Cal can’t quite get to fit than his splendid teams of last season and the Anthony Davis/Kidd-Gilchrest championship teams.
Look for Arkansas to defend their home court, to pressure Kentucky into turnovers and create foul trouble and to wear down the road-poor Wildcats. Kentucky is just 1-3 ATS on the road this season and just 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games. Arkansas has covered five of their last six home games. This is a game where the line should be flipped based on recent play and resume, but the name KENTUCKY swings the margin. Take advantage and take the home Hogs.