It was a good day of college hoops yesterday with some nice rivalry games; Arizona toppling UCLA, Gonzaga storming back to overtake St. Mary’s and clinch another WCC crown, and Xavier absolutely manhandling Butler like no team has this season to reassert their tournament resume and worthiness. But easily the most poignant moment of the game was North Carolina honoring the late Coach Dean Smith by opening the game in “Four Corners” offense. It was a cool, subtle homage and for true hoops fans, the gesture was enough to moisten the corners of your eyes.
But if you didn’t get it, that’s fine. The only thing I DIDN’T like about it was listening to Roy Williams damped the joy and tribute by whining about fans and their lack of recognition and enthusiasm. Can it Roy! No one likes to be told how to cheer, feel or react, and to me, it makes the moment feel more “publicity generating” than “sincere tribute.” I know his admiration for Coach Smith is heart-felt and sincere, but admonishing others for their own personal level of “touched” feels like bush-league move…
Just my two cents. Let’s get back to making cents (and dollars) and try to lock down a Sunday winning pick.
Today’s Free Pick:
Utah Utes -6 at Oregon Ducks
Let’s start with the basics: Utah is the better team and Delon Wright is the best player on the floor. Oregon got a little fat playing a soft schedule and perhaps they are a soft bubble team despite their excellent record.
But now let’s get to the nuance. Home teams fare inexplicably well in conference games. Oregon has only dropped two home games all season en route to a 9-5 Pac 12 record. They are 7-3 in their last ten games and their only losses are all on the road, at UCLA, Arizona and Washington. They have beaten UCLA, Washington, Colorado among others.
The issue for the Ducks tonight will be solving the Utah defense. Oregon is generally a pretty efficient offensive team. They have shot close to 50% from the floor in their last five games. However, Utah has held opponents to a ridiculous 35.8% from the floor. I expect that number to climb a bit tonight, given both the Ducks offensive capabilities and the fact the game is in Eugene – but that is still a lock-down defensive Utah squad.
Utah is 8-2 over their last ten games, but their two losses are to the two quality teams they’ve played on the road; UCLA and Arizona. I think Oregon is fairly similar to UCLA as opposed to the other bubble-type Pac 12 teams, and I expect them to defend their home court.
Utah is the better team, but laying six points on the road against a team that has held their home court in conference play pretty effectively is a little steep for me. I’ll take the Ducks and the half dozen at home.
Florida State Seminoles at Virginia Cavaliers -15.5
I’ll keep this one short and sweet. Florida State has a rotten record, Virginia’s is near perfect.
However, FSU is is 6-3 in their last nine games and 8-2 ATS over their last ten. They’ve been a pretty competitive and solid basketball team with good size and a developing, athletic roster. They gave Duke a handful a few weeks ago and have beaten Miami and Clemson.
Meanwhile, UVA is still winning but is 0-3-1 ATS without Justin Anderson. Laying 16 points is a TON. I mean, a TON that averages only 60.0 ppg in the last five games. That means they need to either explode offensively or hold FSU to 44 points in order to push today.
I don’t see it. UVA should win but the price is way too steep.