Oregon vs. Washington Pick NCAA Hoops – Jan 18th

If last weekend was upset weekend in college hoops, then consider yesterday its redemption song. Remember all the woes surrounding Duke? Those faded nicely with a double-digit win over #6 Louisville in the YUM Center. Arizona entered the season as a national title secondary favorite (some had them #2 behind Kentucky) but they were all but forgotten after a second loss to a non-Top 75 team (Oregon State) last weekend. They answered the bell with a vengeance, laying waste to their primary conference rival, Utah, last night in the McKale Center (I whiffed on that one, but still a 2-1 ATS college hoops day).

And remember all the consternation over Kentucky after a pair of overtime games against Ole Miss and Texas A&M?? Well, consider that rough path navigated, as the Wildcats hammered a pair of SEC foes by a combined 61 points. So much for the Wildcats’ vulnerability…

It’s the rest of the SEC that’s vulnerable; not just to Kentucky’s dominance but to the looming harshness of the dreaded Bubble. Florida lost to Georgia yesterday. Ole Miss knocked off Arkansas by 14 in Fayetteville, and LSU lost at home to Texas A&M and South Carolina lost to Auburn. The SEC has only Kentucky in the RPI top-30, six teams between 30-50 and Florida isn’t one of them, the team with the most talent to make an NCAA run. The cannibalization in conference play could leave the SEC feeling like its Bowl Season all over again come Selection Sunday…

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Today’s Free Pick:

Oregon Ducks at Washington Huskies -5.5

Talk about fool’s gold. The Huskies were unbeaten just three weeks ago and ranked in the Top 25. Then conference play started, the competition accelerated and now they are 12-4, 1-3 in Pac-12 play and holding an RPI outside the Top 50. It’s odd because the wins over San Diego State and Oklahoma seemed to legitimize the Huskies, but things have been rough since starting conference play. They’ve failed to cover in five of their last six games; five in a row before their skid-stopping win over Oregon State.

Meanwhile, Oregon is 12-5 and off to a good start… but wait. Same story. Their RPI isn’t in the Top 100, and it’s because they’ve played a decent schedule but they lack quality wins. They’ve lost to Arizona, VCU, Michigan and Ole Miss. They do own a win over Illinois, but other than that, their best non-con wins are over Toledo and a two-point win over UC Irvine.

Tonight is actually a huge game for both teams. As much as I poked fun at their staggering RPI’s, both still have aspirations of being the fourth (or mayyyyyybe fifth?) team from the league to earn a bid. Arizona and Utah are locks. Stanford looks good. These two are in a big mediocre stewpot with UCLA, Colorado and Oregon State. Yeah. It’s not a good year for the Left Coast…

Back to tonight.  Oregon has an explosive scorer in Joseph Young. I like him to play well against Washington’s backcourt. Washington has size inside with seven-footer Robert Upshaw and Shawn Kemp, Jr. Those two strengths will likely balance each other out. Neither team is “awful” but I don’t think either is very good as well. I’d be surprised if either ends up dancing in March, but for tonight, I’ll take the Ducks and the points. They are playing much better basketball in conference and getting a half dozen points makes it easier to pull the trigger.

Free Pick: Oregon Ducks +5.5

Chris Scheeren / Author