UCF vs. UConn Pick NCAA Hoops – January 8th

It was another good day of college hoops for us, posting a perfect 3-0 ATS to push the season mark to a ridiculous 40-22 ATS.  We squeaked on the first pick as Oklahoma faltered late after competing most of the day to hold on for a half-point cover in Kansas State, but Maryland delivered in a major way – and the line that made me say “huh?” out loud proved to be as ridiculous as I thought, as Maryland won by seven straight-up, even as eight point underdogs.

Here’s the big new from a really packed day of college hoops:

Duke looked ok, winning easy in their first game without Coach K, but things will get MUCH tougher the next three weeks.  Kansas continues to win every conference home game and Baylor won again, but was pushed to the brink for the second straight time.  They are going to get clipped this week in Morgantown.  Villanova bounced back with a routine win over Marquette and the gulf between Kentucky and the rest of the SEC is massive.  They won another game in a sleepwalk, destroying Arkansas with ease.

Florida State is really good.  So is Notre Dame.  And both will probably lose five games in ACC play.  The Big Ten is every bit as wacky, but not quite as good.  Michigan State lost to Penn State, Indiana finally got a conference win, and no less than ten teams in the Big Ten have NCAA Tourney dreams, but only three or four feel like LOCKS.

The Pac 12 might be the best or no worse than second-best league in the country.  Arizona keeps rolling and even though Alonzo Trier is still suspended, they got their point guard back to help facilitate for Marrkanen and Rustic who have been massive for Sean Miller’s Cats.  Oh, and another preseason All American got booted from a game as Oregon’s Dillon Brooks went Draymond on a dude’s groin early in the Washington State game.

Now that we are all caught up, let’s get on to business.

There are a few extra games on the slate today as weather forced a few cancellations, including North Carolina and NC State.  Here’s my favorite play on the crowded Sunday board.

Today’s Free Pick:

UCF Knights at UConn Huskies -2

I was waiting for the Huskies to figure it out all December.  I even cashed a winning wager banking on their grit and resolve to carry them through a rivalry game against Syracuse.

But time to face the facts; UConn is 5-9, 0-3 in the AAC and despite a National Championship three years ago, it is hard to not think Kevin Ollie is on the hot seat with his alma matter’s program eroding so rapidly in the last two years to their lowest depths since the 1980’s and pre-Calhoun.  They have losses to Wagner, Northeastern, Auburn and Tulsa.  They played tough at Memphis and were blown out at home against Houston. The resume is starting to simply be what it is; UGLY.

The Huskies are struggling to score, averaging just 56 points in conference.  That’s really bad news against the Knights, statistically one of the best defensive teams in all of Division I basketball.  They held Temple to just ELEVEN points in the first half of their conference opener, and followed it up by limiting ECU to just 45 points in their second conference game.  They do also own an odd home loss to Penn and got smoked on the road by George Washington, but they are 12-3 overall and look to be getting better and better every week under new coach Johnny Dawkins.

BJ Taylor and Matt Williams have been an excellent backcourt duo averaging over 32 points combined and the tallest player in the nation, Tacko Fall, has evolved from freshman curiosity to legit player in his sophomore season.  He is averaging a double-double with 14.2 points and 11.3 rebounds to go with 2.3 blocks per contest. That trio, plus some balance and depth give them enough offensive punch to allow their stingy defense to flourish.

I think the Huskies woes continue today as they find points very difficult to come by.  I’ll take the Knights to steal a road win and take a big step towards legitimizing their program under Johnny Dawkins with a high-profile win (Uconn is a BIG win for most of the AAC, no matter how tough this season is for them) and a 4-0 start in the AAC.

Free Pick:  UCF Knights +2

Chris Scheeren / Author