Friday, November 14, 2014

College Basketball Picks - November 14 (Opening Day)

I did these in an email and I thought the HTML would carry over.  I swear it has before on here but I guess not today.  When you see the amount of games, you'll know why I'm not going through and deleting all the tags.

My first Bracketology of the season will be coming sometime next week after the 24 hour marathon.  I've already got my list of conference champions and at larges but I'm gonna wait until some basketball's played before I order everyone.  Either way I hope to do picks every day and maybe some analysis from time to time too.  College basketball's my jam and hopefully the every day nature of it can breathe some new life in to this blog.  But hopefully you've learned by now not to hold your breath with me on this or with anything I do in life really.  Off we go.

William & Mary +18 @ Florida.  This has fallen from 20 but 60% of the money is on Florida, which tells me the sharps are on Bill & Mary.  The Gators are actually usually pretty good at blowing mid majors out in November/December and their line is tempting but they're pretty much completely starting over and no Walker hurts.  Plus Bill & Mary covered this by a point at Wichita last year - a better team with an equally difficult if not better home court advantage; they should be able to be competitive here.  This might be one of the lines I'm least confident all day though just because it's very possible the Tribe brick all their 3's against a Gator team that will still defend and get blown out.

VCU -8 v. Tennessee.  This could be like a home atmosphere against them.  Against a young team with a new coach.  Briante Weber being out will hurt but VCU is VCU - they're going to be super deep because they have to be to play Havoc.  If Tennessee were the same quality of team but didn't play in a power 5 conference, this spread would probably be in double digits.  Yes I'm saying SEC bias extends even to basketball.

Louisville -9 v. Minnesota.  This was SIX earlier today....and still somehow 53% of the public money is on Minnesota.  Jesus, does the public REALLY think Russdiculous was Louisville's entire team and that Pitino will have any trouble replacing him?  C'mon.  That aside this should be an ugly game because it's on an aircraft carrier so that means you pick the tough, defensive, gritty team.

George Mason -13 v. Cornell.  Cornell might be the 76ers of college basketball.

Virginia -16.5 @ James Madison.  Harrisonburg is only about an hour northwest of Charlottesville and it's smart for Tony Bennett to take his team on an opening night road trip that's not that far away but against a local rival who will be up for them.  You cover big spreads on the road by bringing the defense and Virginia will certainly do that.  It was 61-41 in Charlottesville in last season's opener and the Wahoos hadn't hit their stride and made the leap to the nation's elite yet.  KenPom only has this as a 10 point victory for Virginia - a gargantuan 6.5 point difference from the spread but JMU's just not very good and hasn't been for a very long time so I can't take them here.

Georgia +1 @ Georgia Tech.  Three quarters of the money is on a team that finished 2nd in the SEC last year (not a super huge accomplishment but still) while the Yellow Jackets remain in the bottom quarter of the ACC.  This rivalry is known for having the underdog win but guess what?  Georgia's the underdog!  I like this happening on opening day, by the way.

Elon -1.5 v. Florida Atlantic.  Going with the school that doesn't have the stink of both the public (85%!!!) and Matt Doherty on them.  This might be one where all the action is from sharps but I don't care enough to investigate whether there's a "smart" play here or not.

Iowa State -20 v. Oakland.  Yeah, the Cyclones are gonna be able to name their score against one of the notoriously fast paced and truly awful defensively mid majors in the country.

Georgia Southern +23 @ Illinois.  The Illini aren't nearly good enough - Rayvonte Rice is but not the rest of the squad - for me to go against a 7 point discrepancy in the spread and KenPom.

Kansas -16 v. UC Santa Barbara.  If anyone figures out why Kansas is favored by 7 points less than Illinois, please let me know.  Yeah, UCSB has Alan Williams and might win the Big West but they're still nothing special and they're still going to get swallowed up like every other low major who comes to Allen Fieldhouse.  Don't think Bill Self hasn't played the "nobody believes in us" card with his group and pointed out everyone taking Texas as this year's sexy pick to unseat them in the Big 12.

UT Arlington +4 @ Bradley.  So a team that lost to Division 3 Augustina is a 4 point favorite?  Oh ok.

Colorado -14.5 v. Drexel.  The Dragons might be a contender in the CAA but they lose some core talent and you know Colorado's been itching to get back on the floor and take out the frustrations from March for 8 months now.  I still think they're well coached under Tad Boyle so I expect them to do it.  It probably won't be easy for an annually offensively challenged team to run offense at altitude either.

Alabama -14.5 v. Towson.  Alabama brings back pretty much everybody except Trevor Releford who was......inconsistent in his four years at point guard.  Towson loses Jerrelle Benimon, who was basically their entire team the past two years.  I can only assume their basketball program will fall off just as hard as their football one did when Terrance West graduated.

BYU -13 v. Long Beach State.  Tyler Haws is a good bet for highest scorer of the day against a Long Beach squad that continues to slowly become more and more irrelevant even in the Big West.

UTEP -10 v. Washington State.  I mean, in a way I kinda can't blame the Cougs for going for an Oregon retread in Ernie Kent after the Portland State rising star Ken Bone experiment didn't work out.  But yeah, I'm not sure he's the guy to unlock the safe that Tony Bennett slammed shut when he left for Virginia.  UTEP has a decent mid major program and is probably Louisiana Tech's toughest competition in C-USA this season.  Don't love this pick either way but I like Washington State even less.

Utah -26 v. Ball State.  Wow I'm taking too many favorites.  But I mean, Utah's one of the teams on the rise in the power 5 and Ball State won 5 games last year.  And loses 3 senior starters.  Maybe that's a good thing?

CS Northridge +16.5 @ San Diego State.  I need an underdog and the Aztecs are doing some reloading.  I think they'll peak come conference season as they always seem to do.  Northridge is an LA school so it's not a super long trip for them, plus they return 4 starters so they shouldn't be intimidated by The Show.

Milwaukee +10 @ Auburn.  The Panthers get 3 starters back from a 21 win tournament team.  Auburn's gonna take some time under Bruce Pearl.  Then again I recently said the Warriors were gonna take some time under Steve Kerr and whoops.  They're slightly better at basketball than Auburn though.

Illinois-Chicago +10.5 @ DePaul.  They won 6 games last year and lose 3 starters but DePaul loses heart and soul Cleveland Melvin along with some other pieces and is DePaul.  I just can't take DePaul to beat someone outside of the bottom half of the SWAC basically by 11 points.

Cal State Fullerton +7.5 @ Santa Clara.  Just don't think there's 8 points between these two programs.

Fresno State PK @ Pepperdine.  The last time Pepperdine was relevant was back around the turn of the century when them and Gonzaga would duel for the WCC every year.  Meanwhile Fresno State's only noteworthy moment since Tarkanian left was producing Paul George.  But they're in the better conference and bring back four starters from the CBI runner up.  Frankly I'm not sure why they're not favored here.

Rice +6 @ Oregon State.  The Beavers could be back to being a historically bad Pac squad.  Here's hoping them and Washington State can pick up where USC and Utah left off.  I know nothing about Rice but that doesn't matter here.

VMI -5 @ The Citadel.  The Citadel might be the most forgotten of the forgotten 5 because they are *ALWAYS* bad.

Air Force +5 @ Army.  Just feels like too many points, especially for a team bringing all 5 starters back and double especially for a team playing Army.

Boise State -3 v. San Diego.  This isn't even at the Slim Gym but I would've probably taken Derrick Marks there anyway.

SE Missouri State +6 @ Loyola Marymount.  They're both really, really bad.  Points.

Yale PK v. Quinnipiac.  I think they're expecting big things this season and believe they can really challenge Harvard for the Ivy title so they'll be fired up, especially for a local rival.  They've built something nice over the past few years.

Mississippi State -14 v. Western Carolina.  The Catamounts lose four starters from last year and MSU's star player is named Craig Sword, which is almost as cool as their star football player's name.

Belmont -1 @ Wright State.  NINETY percent of the action's on Belmont.  This line is off.

Rider +8.5 @ Princeton.  They always play Princeton tough and Princeton's nothing special this year.

Cleveland State +6 @ Iona.  Great low major game!  Both should be among the top 10 or 15 low majors and both have guards that can score the basketball.  I'll take the points even if I like Iona a little more as a team.

Jacksonville State +4.5 @ Marshall.  They have a CRAPLOAD of seniors.  They're one of the worst programs in college hoops so this is still probably a stupid pick but oh well.

Pittsburgh -25.5 v. Niagara.  The Purple Hawks have completely fallen off.  They still can't defend but now they can't score either.  That's a lot of points for a Pitt team that doesn't thrill me....but that could just be because they're behind the number of top 15-20ish teams in the ACC.

West Virginia -16.5 v. Monmouth.  16.5 points is really pretty generous against yet another annually awful program, especially with how tough the Mountaineers are at home.

Samford +23.5 @ Purdue.  Samford's on that Niagara/Monmouth level of bad but the JaJuan Johnson/Robbie Hummel years might as well have been in the 80's the Boilers are so far away from them.  Also, did you know Gene Keady had extensions in his combover?  The things you learn on Highly Questionable.....

Siena +6 @ UMass.  The Saints bring back EVERYONE while the Minutemen lose heart and soul Chaz Williams.

Xavier -15 v. Northern Arizona.  X might be my most underrated team coming in to this season.

South Dakota State +3.5 @ Buffalo.  I took Buffalo as a sleeper choice to win the MAC in conference tourney pick 'em a few years ago.  They flamed out and frankly I still haven't forgiven them.

Pacific +5 @ Western Illinois.  I took Western Illinois as a sleeper choice to win the Summit and conference tourney pick 'em a few years ago.  They flamed out and frankly I still haven't forgiven them.

Indiana State -10.5 @ IUPUI.  The Sycamores lose three starters including superstar Jake Odum....but they've retained their coach Greg Lansing who's built maybe the best non-Wichita State program in the Missouri Valley.  IUPUI completely fell off the map after Ron Hunter left for Georgia State.

Brown -4 v. St. Peter's.  Brown was really young last year and still had a decent season, finishing a game over .500.  And the Ivy's rising tide - starting with Harvard - has lifted all boats.

Furman +6 v. College of Charleston.  Charleston might be my most failed conference tournament choice of the past decade.  Also their coach bullied his kids at Tulsa.  That's enough for me to take Furman.

Murray State -12.5 v. Houston.  You know the deal with Murray State by now.  Or at least you should.

Eastern Illinois +13.5 @ Missouri State.  TOO MANY POINTS! (too mannnny points!)

North Dakota State +18 @ Texas.  TOO MANY POINTS! (too mannnny points!)

East Tennessee State +8.5 @ Valpariaso.  TOO MANY POINTS! (too mannnnny points!)

Kansas State -26 v. Southern Utah.  Okay, not too many points.  It's Southern Utah so too many points is impossible.  Also the last three picks were Too Many Cooks jokes.  Yep.

Utah State -1.5 v. Weber State.  Not even that high on Weber this year while I'm always high on Utah State at home.

Marquette -18 v. Tennessee-Martin.  Tennessee Martin's REALLY bad and the Golden Eagles are due for a bounceback year.

UNLV -5.5 v. Morehead State.  Morehead State's coach is at Tennessee now and this is just way too disrespectful to UNLV.  I know noted basketball luminary Anthony Bennett isn't there anymore but c'mon.

New Mexico -19 v. Idaho State.  Idaho State is bad and The Pit is The Pit.

Sacramento State +23 @ Gonzaga.  !!!!!  Sac State might have its best team.....ever.  They're loaded with experience and backcourt talent.  Gonzaga's Gonzaga but replacing some major pieces.

Stanford -10.5 v. Wofford.  The Cardinal return 3 starters from a Sweet 16 team including Chasson Randle and yet they're still getting no respect.  Wofford should have one of its best teams over the past few years though.  Watch out for them in March.

UCLA -25 v. Montana State.  The Bobcats are kind of transitioning and while UCLA loses Kyle Anderson, they're still UCLA and should still be Arizona's toughest competition in the Pac-12.

Duke -37 v. Presbyterian.  Should be the college game's answer to Mavs/Sixers.

North Florida +12 @ South Carolina.  North Florida lost by only 8 at Florida to open last year.  They can handle a South Carolina program that isn't progressing as expected thus far under Frank Martin.

Charleston Southern +13 @ Mississippi.  How has Andy Kennedy not been fired yet?  It's hilarious how little the SEC West schools care about basketball.  CharSou could be in the Big South title mix and has one of the best named coaches in college hoops - BARCLAY RADEBAUGH.

Indiana -26.5 v. Mississippi Valley State.  SWAC school.

North Carolina -17 v. North Carolina Central.  A lot of people expected NCCU to push Iowa State in the tournament and they (mostly) got blown away and that team was better than this one.  And this year's UNC might - might - be better than last year's ISU.  I'm not nearly as high on the Heels as some are (though I do love me some Marcus Paige) but they'll be good.

Kentucky -30 v. Grand Canyon.  I still don't understand how a for-profit school plays division 1 college basketball.  On the other hand, Southern New Hampshire could probably legitimately beat New Hampshire so maybe they should give things a whirl.

Mount St. Mary's +28.5 @ Arizona.  Really like the Cats this year but Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon aren't easy to replace and the Mount is always decent for a low major and often takes cracks at big programs in noncon and their coach is fearless.  That's a lot of damn points for a program that's not bad in any way.  Goes to show you the respect Sean Miller has earned for Arizona though.  They've become as feared again as they were in the late 90's under Lute.

Texas A&M -11.5 v. Northwestern State.  I sort of like them in the SEC this year.  Sort of.  Not really.  I mean, Billy Kennedy's still there.  But Northwestern State loses 3 starters and even if they didn't, they probably wouldn't be able to score 44 in the final 10 minutes like they did to win at Auburn this time last year.

Wisconsin -28.5 v. Northern Kentucky.  I have to say I perversely enjoy it when the very top teams play super awful competition to open up like Kentucky, Duke and now the Badgers are all doing.

Wichita State -12.5 v. New Mexico State.  Arguably the best game of the day and yet I'm taking the Shockers to win by at least 13.

Missouri -14 v. UMKC.  I have ZERO clue who Kim Anderson is but I'm safely assuming he can't be a worse coach than Frank Haith.

Navy +17.5 v. Michigan State.  Spartans are replacing a ton of pieces and obviously the Mids and their crowd will be super up for this.  That's just too many points (too mannnny points)

Arizona State -22.5 v. Chicago State.  Chicago State is one of the 10-20 worst teams in the country and I just enjoy having that kind of consistency in my life.

California -22.5 v. Alcorn State.  SWAC team.

Washington -23 v. South Carolina State.  MEAC team.

Oregon -19.5 v. Coppin State.  MEAC team.

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