We notched our third straight college hoops winner (5-2 ATS overall with a brutal one-point loss in the mix) as Marquette did what they have done time and again this season; battle a better team tooth and nail before falling by a narrow margin, to earn the cover (but of course, not the win) at St. John’s. I’ll take the win, as will the Red Storm who needed it desperately, but I’ve written it a few times this season and it’s worth typing again: get your shots on Marquette in this season, because they are going to be GOOD for the next few years, and possibly longer.
Tonight’s a pretty good night in college hoops, and the best rivalry game is the one most people won’t stay up for; but if you are a night owl or out West, it’s worth staying up for Gonzaga vs. St. Mary’s. Opinions still vary on whether Gonzaga is a legit Final Four team. My opinion remains, yes, no doubt this team is legit. I picked the preseason and have seen nothing to make me change my mind. They have better size than in year’s past, they have better depth, they have experienced guards, good perimeter defense and excellent shooting. Tonight is one of the last chances to see them tested, so enjoy a good basketball team playing in one of the best rivalries in college hoops over the last decade.
Today’s Free Picks:
Notre Dame Fighting Irish -9 at Virginia Tech Hokies
This game is a total mismatch, and will be a nice respite for the Irish, who have had to battle mightily in their last four games. The other difference tonight is that Auguste is fully back and in the lineup, which should allow their four sharpshooters, led by Jerian Grant, to do their thing in earnest.
Virginia Tech is 0-4 in conference, but is a surprising 3-1 ATS. However, even those covers, with the exception of the two-point home loss over a struggling Syracuse team, were still by double digits. They were narrow backdoor covers in blowout games. It is possible they sneak in again tonight, but I like Notre Dame to come in sharp and use tonight as a valuable tune-up after a few sluggish games with Auguste in and out of the lineup.
Notre Dame is the most efficient offensive team in the ACC. Look for them to carve up one of the more porous defenses. Plus, VA Tech is shooting under 40% from the floor. As long as Notre Dame controls the defensive backboards, this should be a relatively easy victory.
Maryland Terrapins at Indiana Hoosiers -2
Along with state-mate Notre Dame, Indiana has been one of the more pleasant surprises of the college basketball season. But I think they are really going to have their hands full with the size and athleticism of the Terps, especially Jake Layman. Indiana is tough at home, but Maryland is the better ballclub.
The move to the Big Ten wasn’t supposed to be this easy, but Maryland is making it a seamless transition. They are 5-1 in conference play and have already won at Purdue and Michigan State. Indiana is an impressive 4-1 in league play, but four of the five games were very close. I expect another close game tonight, but will take the decision making and talent of Maryland to pull it out.