North Carolina vs. Northern Iowa Pick – November 21st

“Thank goodness it’s a football Saturday” said the Big Ten. Pay no attention to yesterday’s hoops box scores, instead, witness Ohio State vs. Michigan State in a top ten gridiron battle!

Suffice it to say, it wasn’t a good day for Big Ten hoops. Wisconsin lost their second game of the year, getting beaten handily by Georgetown. The only good news is that it spared me from having to chuck a remote at the television as another dope talked about the “rematch” between Duke and Wisconsin. That game would be a “rematch” in much the same way your friends would find your grandmother attractive if she threw on her old prom dress; them days have gone my friend…

In other Big Ten news, Michigan got blasted on their home floor by Xavier, Maryland needed the final minute to put away an 0-2 Rider team, Minnesota similarly struggled with a similarly winless Missouri State and perhaps the crown jewel, Penn State lost by 28 to Duquesne. NOT a good day for a league that has designs on being the best in the country. The best performance was a three-point win by Northwestern over Colombia. It doesn’t leap off the paper, but there is a very good chance that will end up a Top 100 win for Chris Collins’s improving squad.

We missed our fourth straight cover by a bucket last night, with VCU just covering the 10 point spread. Let’s start a new winning streak tonight.

Today’s Free Pick:

North Carolina Tar Heels -6 at Northern Iowa Panthers

First off, kudos to North Carolina for being willing to schedule a true road game at a mid-majoe opponent who could potentially beat them. Well done.

Now the bad news, at least for Northern Iowa. Too bad you couldn’t have gotten this game one year earlier. Gone are MVC POY Seth Tuttle, and along with him, Nate Buss and Deon Mitchel. This is not nearly as good of a team as last year’s NCAA Tournament edition. In fact, I’d be surprised if they make it back to the Big Dance.   Wichita State is the clear class of the league, but Illinois State should finish ahead of them and Evansville and TJ Ballentine could well push them. This MVC ain’t the three or four bid league of the mid 2000’s.

North Carolina is still missing Marcus Paige, but it sure didn’t slow them down against a good Temple team. The Heels will have a similar talent and length advantage today and I think they will be able to exploit it, even in front of an insanely frenzied crowd in a very tough gym for road opponents to get a win. However, when people get gaga about mid-major gyms that are among the “toughest places to play in the country” I would make the counter-argument that PART of that reputation is built upon the fact that UNI doesn’t often host top twenty opponents, let alone the #1 team in the country.

Look for Carolina to push tempo and score plenty of easy buckets in transition. I could see this game being close for a while, and maybe even in stretches. But over 40 minutes the depth, talent and athleticism of North Carolina will be way too much to handle. Lay the points and take the nation’s top ranked team.

Free Pick: North Carolina -6

Chris Scheeren / Author