So maybe the Florida Gators, whose talent wasn’t ever in question, aren’t dead quite yet after all. We took the loss along with the home South Carolina Gamecocks last night, putting a skid to a nice 4-1 ATS run. But more importantly, the Gators, who were reeling at 7-6 finally got a quality resume win, on the road nonetheless, and suddenly seem like they might be able to get back on track enough to make the Big Dance. They are currently ranked 95th in the RPI which isn’t good, but their losses – to Kansas, UNC, UConn, Miami, Georgetown and Florida State are all competitive and excusable (with the possible exception of FSU), but they need good wins like last night’s in order to get back into the mix.
There are a bunch more good conference games tonight including the SEC, Big Ten and Pac 12. So let’s dive into a crowded slate and pick out a nice winner.
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Today’s Free Picks:
Dayton Flyers -1 at St. Bonaventure
VCU gets all the headlines and George Washington got some attention with a nice tournament win over Christmas. But it would be very unwise to overlook Archie Miller’s Flyers making yet another NCAA Tournament run this season. They enter tonight at 11-2 with their two losses coming against UConn and @ Arkansas – both competitive. They own wins over Boston College, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Texas A&M and have been playing great basketball.
The point is, Dayton is a legit Top 25-type team; a 7-11 seed that can make some waves in March. St. Bonnie is a soft 8-4 with back-to-back losses to Delaware and Maryland Eastern Shore (yes, I had to google that one). Their best wins are at a slumping UMass team and over Buffalo. I’m a little surprised this line is as close as it is tonight, but I’m looking forward to jumping all over it. I’d lay a handful of points and still back Dayton, so getting them at just -1 feels like a bargain.
LSU Tigers -2.5 at Missouri Tigers
Come on LSU. I’ve been a backer of the LSU Tigers and their Top Ten frontcourt all season long. They are MUCH better than the ‘other’ Tigers even on the road. LSU enters tonight at 11-2 despite very little attention and fanfare. The shine faded a bit on LSU after their early season loss to Old Dominion. In retrospect, that loss wasn’t “bad” at all, as ODU is now ranked nationally and trending towards a single-digit seed in March. Their other loss, a neutral court loss to Clemson, isn’t a good one, but their overall resume isn’t too bad thanks to a road win at West Virginia. Florida gets more attention; South Carolina and Arkansas have been better stories, but LSU still has the talent to become the second-best team in the SEC.
Meanwhile, Missouri is in full rebuild mode. Their coach voluntarily left them for Tulsa (???) and the cupboard is a little bare this season. They enter at 7-6 with losses to Xavier, Arizona, Illinois, Purdue, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. None of those are bad losses. But they are all losses.
LSU seems like just another good team that will get on top of Mizzou. The road has been perilous for conference foes this year across college basketball, but I’m going to take the far superior team at a pretty slim price nonetheless.