Virginia vs. Notre Dame Pick NCAA Basketball – January 24th

Fortunately, I haven’t had to write this column in a while, the “sorry guys, pheeewwwww that was a whiff!” column, but after yesterday’s absolute bed wetting by the Duke Blue Devils, it is more than warranted.  In my meager defense, 50-28-1 ATS, ehm, as I clear my throat.

But, laying a fat truckload of points only to have your favorite lose straight up at home to a team that has been blown out in nearly every road game and lost home games to Wake Forest and Georgia Tech constitutes a pretty major swing and miss.

So here’s the takeway: no more Duke betting.  Seriously.  None.  Duke is one of those teams where if you back them and lose, you get lots of “you love Duke” Tweets.  No, I do not love Duke.  But I also do not irrationally hate them, which is the other end of the extreme most fans fall on – love or hate, light or dark, there is no middle ground.  Feelings make for bad wagers, so taking this latest example as fuel for the “Duke sucks, they’re so overrated” bandwagon is also dangerous.  They probably do not “suck.”  In fact, they are likely still a favorite in every remaining home game this season.  But the PROBLEM is, you have NO IDEA what you are going to get from night to night.  They have “30-2 run on Miami” ceiling, they have “home loss to NC State” floor.  And a lot of fluctuation in the middle.

The easy solution?  No Duke guessing until we get some kind of baseline pulse for this team.

Today’s Free Pick:

Virginia Cavaliers at Notre Dame Fighting Irish -1.5

These are two of the more similar teams in the country; great results year in and year out despite not having the flashy one-and-done talent of their top competitors, strong academic schools whose team’s mirror that reputation with their play, precise offense, tough defense and great execution in crucial moments.

It is almost like looking in a mirror in reverse; the beauty of Notre Dame’s offense and the beauty of Virginia’s defense.  Something must give tonight.

And I’ll always lean home team in even matchups.  Especially if I don’t have to lay points to get it.

Notre Dame might be the smartest offensive team in the country.  UCLA is the best, UK is the splashiest, but Notre Dame is Spurs-like in their execution.  They spread the floor well, backdoor cut you, knock down open shots and next to NEVER miss free throws.  They are flirting with one of the best seasons in NCAA history from the foul line and I think that’ll be the difference tonight.  One or two Matt Ferrell hustle plays, one or two big Steve Vasturia buckets late, and a bunch of clutch ice-cold free throw shooting late.

Free Pick:  Notre Dame Fighting Irish -1.5

Chris Scheeren / Author