Thursday, November 20, 2014

College Basketball Picks - November 20 (Puerto Rico & Charleston)

A tabulation of yesterday to come probably after I wake up tomorrow.  But we've got morning games!  Or a morning game anyway.  But that's the way it's gonna be - the Marathon was just a taste.  Games throughout the day and night because that's just how it goes when we have tournaments.  We'll whip through the rest of Thursday's games first before focusing in a little more on the titular tournies at the end.

Michigan -18 v. Detroit.  The Bucknell prediction was one of the worst predictions in a generation.  I'm not going against the Wolverines for now.

Harvard -16 v. Florida Atlantic.  They're PISSED and they're BAD, respectively.

Maryland -17 v. Fordham.  The first Terp line of the year!  We've looked pretty good in early blowouts of Wagner and Central Connecticut State.  They're both really awful.  But Fordham is too!

Indiana +2.5 v. SMU.  A lot of these early picks are staking belief in one team or the other - or a lackthereof.  This is a stake of (dis)belief in SMU.

UAB -2.5 v. South Florida.  I feel kinda bad for South Florida.  I mean like they never really got their moment to shine in the Big East for the few years that they were there and when they did, they played the most unwatchable form of basketball maybe ever to basically negate it.

Southern Mississippi +12.5 @ Alabama.  Alabama only beat Western Carolina by 6, that's reason enough alone.

Loyola Marymount +12.5 @ Arizona State.  Arizona State didn't even get to 50 and only won by 10 against Bethune Cookman, that's MORE than reason enough alone.

Texas -5.5 v. Iowa in the first 2K Classic semifinal at the Garden.  These are really fun too tomorrow night!  I'm really buying the Longhorns right now and I'm even starting to get on that Big 12 title hype train - although that one's not entirely because of them.  We'll get to see what's up with Iowa this season in this one too.
California +5 v. Syracuse in the second 2K semi.  I was wrong about this in the tourney a few years ago when I had Cal to the Sweet 16 out of the 12 hole.  I'm back for revenge.

Niagara +8.5 @ St. Peter's.  Might be the worst game of the day.

Idaho +8.5 @ Northern Illinois.  Oh boy.  This is actually worse.

Eastern Illinois -2.5 v. UC Davis.  This is pretty bad too.

Northern Arizona +1.5 v. Fresno State.  There's some sleeper love out there for NAU.  This would be a good spot to see any signs of life on that.

Denver +10 @ Saint Mary's.  This is kind of a crazy line.  Okay, maybe it's not when you consider the Mary's just whacked a favorite of a better league but that was the Marathon and that was more at their speed.  Pioneers should be able to slow this down in front of a considerably less rowdy audience.

Tennessee -18.5 v. Texas Southern.  SWAC team.

Villanova -20 v. Bucknell.  Bitter at Bucknell pick (though the Cats are starting to cruise now.)

UCLA -27.5 v. Nicholls State.  Those really bad Southland schools might be the most overlooked and/or just overall forgotten in all of Division 1.

Now, to the first tournaments of holiday season.

Puerto Rico Tip Off
Dayton +2 v. Texas A&M.  Dayton as slight dogs in a day 1 tournament kickoff?  Yes please!  This is a true 50/50 quarterfinal game with the implications potentially paramount for schedule strength purposes, given that the other quarter in their half of the bracket is....
Connecticut -14 @ College of Charleston.  ...the defending national champions and the low major hosts.  UConn may or may not cover depending on how much it sleepwalks through this but they'll need to be ready for the Flyers or the Aggies in the semi.
Boston College +5.5 v. New Mexico.  That's a couple points too high for what wouldn't be too much of a shock if the Eagles won this.  Olivier Hanlan has been largely forgotten but he could very well have a big bounceback season and we know he can do it in tournament settings.  One of two interesting major vs mid major matchups in this half.
West Virginia -8.5 v. George Mason.  Here's the other, although this could very well be a dud if the Patriots are just bad.  Or it could be a low scoring, ugly dud if Juwan Staten isn't shooting well.  But it's an obvious can't-lose for the Mountaineers, who are in the Big 12 bubble discussion at best, which will make it interesting if they're in trouble late.

UConn's the clear favorite here.  New Mexico/West Virginia might be an interesting semifinal if it comes to be - the alternative of Staten and Hanlan dueling is fun too - and the best first round game is the first first round game, tipping off in about 7 hours from when this post is published.  It's Puerto Rico so weird stuff is almost sure to happen at some point.  The defending champs being in a tournament automatically makes that tournament fun but there's four or five other teams here who are various levels of intriguing too.

Charleston Classic
Akron +1 v. USC.  Maybe the most solid MAC program (although they're rebuilding a bit) against an utter tire fire of a Pac-12 program?  This is actually a much harder call than that because it's such an odd intersectional matchup and both are in their own sort of transitional periods right now.  Either winner will feel like they can win the tournament - it's a VERY weak field.
Miami (FL) -9 v. Drexel.  The tournament organizers had to be pumping their fists when the Hurricanes won at Florida.  The favorites become a bit more noteworthy giants now and luckily they start out with a team who is likely too offensively feeble to bother them even if they come out lackluster, which is likely in what's going to be a....muted atmosphere compared to the O-Dome on Monday.
Charlotte +3 v. Penn State.  A LOT of returning experience on both sides as young teams look to continue to grow up here.  The pick is the 49ERS, partly due to geographic advantage but mostly due to more of the most realistic possible results of this game falling on their side of the line.
South Carolina -13.5 v. Cornell.  This could be like a home game, the gym should be packed with Gamecock supporters.  Not that the players may even need it as Cornell is really bad and seems wildly overmatched even for a tournament as mediocre as this one, kind of like when the Old Spice Classic has a Marist or somebody there.

Jesus this is a bad field.  At least two of the top three teams are local - although the psuedo home team is likely to be South Carolina.  And yes, it's very confusing that the College of Charleston is NOT in this tournament but in the other tournament that starts on Thursday.  The likely final is Miami over South Carolina though a title here would really give the Frank Martin era the jump start it needs.  There's probably going to be a lot of ugly basketball here.  It's just a rough mix of teams.  But hey, it's a tournament and tournaments are great.

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