We notched another comfortable winner on the college hardwood with Arkansas going into SMU and winning straight up to continue the rough start for Larry Brown’s Mustangs. It was our third straight winner in college hoops, and we have a massive Holiday Weekend coming up with TONS of fantastic tournaments offering up great games and wagering opportunities from lunchtime to after midnight.
I’m pumped. I’m an admitted college hoops junkie, and while casual sportsfans decry the lack of meaning to the college basketball regular season, the next four days are among my favorite on the entire annual sports calendar. What a fun opportunity to get a look at a ton of teams on neautral floor. For example, what Villanova did the last two days to VCU and Michigan was awesome. And by the way, Michigan is GOOD. They have size, athleticism, shooters a great coach and smart, veteran guards. They’ll be a factor in the Big Ten.
Likewise, San Diego State and Kansas State were impressive yesterday. Yes, the latter lost, but they took Arizona to the wire and look like they could be a factor in a better-than expected Big 12 with Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa State and West Virginia.
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The Battle 4 Atlantis tips off today, easily the best pre-con tourney in 2014. So let’s do it in grand fashion and cover several of the opening round games from the Bahamas (this is officially added to my Bucket List to wager these games live from Atlantis in 2015 – what an awesome tourney)
Today’s Free Picks:
UCLA Bruins vs. Oklahoma Sooners -2.5 — 2:30 PM EST @ Grand Bahamas
UCLA enters undefeated, with their best test being a 14-point win against Long Beach State. Oklahoma has a surprising lost at Creighton, but is still a dangerous and talented team. The Sooners are led by Buddy Heald, a native of the Bahamas, who will be looking to keep up his 20+ ppg average in his trip back home.
UCLA is a nice 3-1 ATS so far this season, and coach Alford has done a nice job relacing three key losses from last season’s ballclub. They aren’t as talented as in the last few years after losing freshman Shabazz Muhammad and Zach Levine in consecutive years, but they are still a talented ballclub with Norman Powell and Kevon Looney making immediate contributions. Bryce Alford has been excellent to start his sophomore season, but I will be curious to see how he fares against the more athletic Sooner backcourt.
However, today is a different animal. Oklahoma got blitzed in Creighton but that was a true road game. On a neutral floor, they are a more experienced and talented team than UCLA. This will be UCLA’s first real test of the season, and I think Oklahoma will be more ready for it. OU is a nice sleeper to win this whole tournament, as they match up well with the slightly-overrated Tarheels (assuming UNC beats Butler). I’ll take OU to win and cover this afternoon led by a nice homecoming performance from Heald.
Florida Gators vs. Georgetown Hoyas -1 — 9:30PM EST @ Grand Bahamas
The nightcap in Atlantis has the potential to be the best matchup of the day. Florida entered the season in the Top 10 but has disappointed. Georgetown, like the entire Big East, entered the season with little fanfare and has continued to impress. Like Villanova, Xavier, Providence and Creighton, Georgetown looks like a Big East NCAA Tourney-caliber team.
The Gators have only six scholarship players available tonight. Let’s repeat that. Only SIX SCHOLARSHIP players tonight. And they are only a one-point dog to a good G’Town team? That’s some crazy disrespect for the Hoyas and I expect they’ll make Vegas pay.
Georgetown hasn’t played a tough schedule so far, so there is a slight disadvantage in that, and if the Gators were full strength, I’d feel very differently about today’s game. But with significant minutes tonight given to walk-ons, I’ll take the Hoyas to win on a neutral court.