Texas vs. Baylor Pick NCAA Hoops – Jan 31st

It’s a big day in college hoops. All the “regular season doesn’t matter” folks can take their swipes at the sport, but it is days like today that help stoke national passion and interest and that start to set-up storylines. It doesn’t get much more compelling and high-level than today’s trip to Charlottesville for the Duke Blue Devils. The Dukes are just 4-3 in ACC play after a tough loss at Notre Dame and Coach K just dismissed a key contributor, Rasheed Sulaimon, from the program yesterday. Meanwhile, Virginia has been the most efficient defensive team in the country and enters a PERFECT 18-0. They’ve already won in South Bend and are six point favorites today. IF, again IF, they can knock off Duke… is it worth entertaining the possibility of two major unbeaten teams heading into the Big Dance??

There are other big games on the docket today: Wisconsin at Iowa, Xavier at Seton Hall, Notre Dame has a potential trap-game at Pitt, Kansas at Kansas State, Texas at Baylor, Louisville and North Carolina, and perhaps the ultimate most important game of the day – one that has the most massive tourney seeding implications, Wichita State at Northern Iowa.

It’s going to be awesome. And real quick, speaking of awesome, Arizona held a decent 14-6 Oregon State team to 34 points last night. The Wildcats are starting to look like the legit Final Four favorite they were expected to be before the season…

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Today’s Free Pick:

Texas Longhorns at Baylor Bears -2.5

The Big Twelve has been insane this season. Eight of the ten teams harbor legit NCAA aspirations, and the ‘bottom-feeders’ Texas Tech and TCU have jumped up and taken down a few giants. There are NO easy games, especially on the road, in this league. That fact has been troublesome for Baylor and Texas, the loser today will fall to 3-5 in conference play, and despite a national ranking, would still have to consider themselves far from safe from bubble territory.

Baylor has been great at home. They are 11-1 this season and an impressive 2-1 at home. The reason I call it impressive is that it includes wins over Oklahoma and Iowa State and a one-point loss to Kansas. Texas, on the other hand, has been anemic once they leave Austin. They are 2-2, but the wins are over Texas Tech and TCU. They haven’t come within nine points of a tourney-quality opponent.

Texas has a lot of talent, but it hasn’t materialized to the Final Four contender some predicted. They are a solid tourney team – I think – but it’s hard to see them earning anything more than a six or seven seed. I think Baylor defends their home court, as is customary in the Big Twelve, and narrowly covers the 2.5 point spread.

Free Pick: Baylor Bears -2.5

Chris Scheeren / Author