It was an eventful weekend in college hoops, and even though we have seen tremendous parity balanced by this weekend’s assertion of dominance by the traditional favorites (Duke, Arizona, Wisconsin), the tournament picture, as convoluted as it may be throughout the middle, it is safe to say two #1 seeds are all but locked up as early as January.
Let’s not waste anytime debating Kentucky. They can lose three times and still have a profile as good as anyone in the country (wins over Louisville, North Carolina, Providence, Kansas – all in dominating fashion). They are a #1 seed. The other near-lock has gone a little under the radar, the Gonzaga Bulldogs. They faced a tougher-than-advertised test against Pepperdine this week, but at 18-1 with only St. Mary’s (kind of) and BYU standing in their reasonable path, it seems pretty likely this team gets in the clubhouse with only one or two more losses at most. Two years ago Gonzaga famously stumbled to Wichita State in the second round despite earning the school’s first number one seed. About a decade ago, the Adam Morrison crying game burned into memory. This year’s team is less ballyhooed, but may finally be positioned to give Mark Few his best shot at getting to the Final Four.
It’s an uneven schedule today, just like in the NBA, with a lot of matinees for Martin Luther King Day, so be sure to check tip times for any action you like today.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Texas Longhorns -2.5 at TCU Horned Frogs
At first glance, this looks like a very competitive game. TCU is 14-3 and playing at home, while Texas is just 13-4, suffered a million-point (sic) loss to Oklahoma and that game was at home – tonight is on the road…
But let’s look past some records. TCU is 1-3 in conference play and had the most artificial record of any team that has been ranked at any point this season. They don’t have a top 75 win and their RPI, despite their gaudy record, stands at 128. This isn’t a real good basketball team, nor is it a team with ANY chance of making the NCAA Tournament. Could they sneak up and play the game of the season tonight and pick off big brother Texas? Sure, it is possible, but not nearly as likely as the super-slim Vegas line would indicate.
Texas, despite four losses, is the vastly superior team. Their losses are to Kentucky, Oklahoma, Stanford and @Oklahoma State. All four of those teams are tourney bound. They also have wins over Iowa, Cal, UConn and last weekend’s decimation of the West Virginia Mountaineers. They have NBA talent and are finally healthy. Their RPI is 22. This is a legit Sweet Sixteen team playing a team that will likely not go to the NIT masked by competitive records.
I had to check the line three times to make sure this one wasn’t a misprint. I have no idea how this is a 2.5 point line. I’d lay seven and be content. Take Texas and swallow the small amount of points.