AS I wrote earlier in the week, this is a pretty barren week for college hoops fans. There have been no matchups of Top 25 teams playing each other, and only five of the Top 25 have played period. Things get back to normal a bit Saturday after finals are over (for many schools), but until then it is pretty slim pickings.
There is one game both worth watching and potentially wagering on tonight; a matchup of two teams with legit NCAA aspirations. One has taken some big steps towards laying a foundation to earn that at-large bid, but really needs the win tonight to further solidify the resume. The other is looking shaky after two straight absolutely disgusting (to watch) losses, and can ill-afford a third straight stinkbomb before they enter their daunting conference slate.
Let’s dig in to tonight’s college basketball special.
Wichita State Shockers -1.5 @ Tennessee Volunteers (Total: 121)
Wichita State has been the team building up a surprising, if not really “Shocking” resume to this point in the season. It was expected to be a rebuilding year, and few expected Wichita State to be able to contend with Creighton in the Missouri Valley. In fact, most pundits had them picked behind Illinois State as well (which could still eventually happen, the Redbirds are a good ballclub). However at 9-0, and with better-than-you-think wins over DePaul and Iowa, as well as a road win over VCU and they are starting to open some eyes and get some votes in the polls.
A win tonight at Tennessee would be another similar win; a good, though not great, win over a team that will hover between Top 40 and Top 100 most of the season. A profile helper for sure, but not a good enough win to offset any bad losses that may come in February (see: Butler over North Carolina by double digits, ditto for Notre Dame over Kentucky).
Tennessee is at home, but will their fans be able to uncover their eyes?? They have scored just 74 points TOTAL in their last two games; both losses. The first, a 38-36 loss to Georgetown seemed to be a tempo-slowed fluke in which G’Town slowed the game and both teams shot poorly. They followed it up with a 46-38 loss at Virginia.
I am not sure UVA is better than, or even as good as Wichita State. I like the Shockers on the road to execute their offense and be disciplined enough on defense to frustrate the obviously offensively-challenged Vols. It may not be pretty to watch, but I like the value of Wichita State on the road laying just one and a half.
Free Pick: Wichita State -1.5
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