Perhaps there are some real problems brewing down in Lexington… The loss on a neutral floor to Duke? No big deal, in fact, maybe even impressive considering how competitive and well played the game was. The nail-biter against Maryland? Not a real great sign, but hey, it’s early, right?
However, this week things are edging towards genuine concern after a pair of double digit losses to unranked teams (albeit teams that are legit, favored in the opening round-tourney teams), getting blasted at Notre Dame and then losing yesterday at home to Baylor. My gut tells me Coach Cal will get these guys on the same page, and that talent will win out in the end, but right now if you took the name “Kentucky” off the front of the jersey and just looked at the resume of wins and losses, this team wouldn’t be ranked in Monday’s Top 25…
Let’s move on to today’s free pick:
Wichita State -6.5 at Air Force
Yesterday was very quietly an impressive day for the Missouri Valley conference. Illinois State had a final shot to tie Louisville on the road (and they looked to be fouled on the final shot as well), Bradley played Michigan down to the final minute, Indiana State took #25 New Mexico to overtime, and Creighton absolutely hammered St. Joe’s 80-51. This league doesn’t get a lot of attention, but there is some high-quality hoops being played down in the Valley.
Wichita State tries to add to the Valley’s impressive weekend by remaining perfect and going on the road to beat Mountain West also-ran, Air Force. The Falcons have a 6-1 record, but if you start to dig into their resume, it reveals that they are likely outmanned tonight, even at home. Their six wins are all fluff, with the best wins being over Montana State and Army. Their only “real” game was a 15-point loss to Colorado.
Wichita State on the other hand, has challenged themselves a few times and still came out unscathed. They began the season by avenging their NCAA tournament loss to VCU. They have won every other game on their schedule by double-digits, including wins on neutral courts against DePaul and Iowa. It isn’t a Murderer’s Row by any stretch, but they have shown well every time they have taken the floor.
I expect them to do the same tonight and to cruise to their eighth consecutive victory opening the season. The Shockers will have some daunting tests to face this season, playing in the competitive Missouri Valley and trying to unseat Creighton, but today isn’t one of those challenges.
Free Pick: Wichita State -6.5