Tuesday, January 13, 2015

College Basketball Picks - Tuesday, January 13

A number of interesting games tonight as we start to get in to the meat of conference play.  The top teams shouldn't have too much trouble - although as Sunday taught us, you never know.

Kansas -7 v. Oklahoma State.  The Cowboys have started Big 12 play quite well but don't forget that they got blasted by 26 at South Carolina and Kansas has started even better.
A pretty good performance from the Pokes at the Phog but KU kept them at arm's length down the stretch.  1-0.

Michigan +9.5 @ Ohio State.  They've come quite a long way since they were losing to NJIT and Eastern Michigan and getting their doors blown off at Arizona.  This is WAY too big of a number for an Ohio State team that struggles to score when D'Angelo Russell isn't doing anything - as Saturday was proof of.
Truly surprised that this was a blowout (though it was far from the most shocking blowout of the night) but the Buckeyes were just riding the high of the football team's national title and Blue never showed up.  This was a big step back and a reality check for Beilein's boys.  1-1.

Seton Hall -2 v. Butler.  Seems generous.
Pirates fought back to get it to overtime....and then didn't score for literally the first half of it.  They still were in it at the end but Roosevelt Jones made some key plays to get the Bulldogs their second Big East road win in the Tri-State area.  1-2.

Alabama +4 @ South Carolina.  I saw +4 and jumped (not literally.)  I think they're clearly the better team right now.
Trailed much of the way but battled back to get the cover and almost steal the win.  They were -10 on the boards however, which is a big problem with Kentucky coming in next.  2-2.

Arkansas -3.5 @ Tennessee.  Reminder that Tennessee did not score a single point for the final 13 minutes on Saturday (at home, no less) until a garbage time bucket with 30 seconds to go.
Like the Tide, they trailed pretty much the entire game before an almost improbable comeback down the stretch.  They had 3 free throws for the tie but missed the first and didn't get the rebound after the third.  Another immensely disappointing road performance for the Hogs.  2-3.

Louisville -22.5 v. Virginia Tech.  The Cards have failed to cover a bunch of big numbers since November but most of those teams weren't as bad as Virginia Tech.  They'll be really pissed off after that choke in Chapel Hill.
Cards were cruising from the opening tip but let off the throttle in the second half to "only" win by 15.  Virginia Tech somehow scoring 39 in the second half is fairly clear evidence that Louisville was looking ahead to the showdown with Duke on Saturday.  2-4.

Oklahoma +4 @ West Virginia.  Just because this should be really close and the Sooners may very well still be the better team.  There's a few points tax here because of that shocking home loss in OT to K-State.
This was not really close.  Or even remotely close.  Oklahoma turned it over about a billion times and got blown out.  I like Lon Kruger but maybe he let his kids rest on their laurels after the blowout in the Red River Rivalry?  Big bounceback for the Eers though after a tough home loss Saturday night to Iowa State.  2-5.

Indiana -7.5 v. Penn State.  Really been a disappointing B1G campaign so far for the Nittany Lions.  I don't think Indiana struggles that much at home offensively twice in a row, especially facing much weaker defensive competition.
Like last year, the Hoosiers tried to blow this game but they didn't succeed this time.  Good fight from the Lions but not much to show for it other than a cover.  2-6.

VCU -4 @ Rhode Island.  Still not buying in to the (host) Rams although I'm really hoping this pick is wrong and this is the year they might be for real.  This might be the game I'm most looking forward to tonight.
Treveon Graham was the difference maker as the visiting Rams came back in the second half, going +14 to grab a huge road win and cover by a point.  As for URI, this was a massive missed chance that may keep them out of the tournament.  There won't be too many other chances at bigtime wins in the A-10 this year.  3-6.

Virginia -16.5 v. Clemson.  At first you think, "that's a REALLY big number for what's going to be a super slow game" and then you realize it's Clemson's offense on the road going up against Virginia's defense at home.  Not a chance I'm on the other side here.
Clemson got to 40!  But barely.  Virginia got well beyond 40 and they have actually passed Kentucky to be the top team in KenPom!  I don't expect that to last too long though.  4-6.

Syracuse -9 v. Wake Forest.  This is Wake's first road game in 2015.  I don't think they'll be much better than they were on the road in 2014.
This was the game of the night.  Rakeem Christmas had 35 and his team needed every single point.  Wake led this at the half and for much of the second half but needed a 3 from Cornelius Hudson to force OT.  The OT may have been the most well played extra frame I've seen in college basketball this season and it almost ended with Hudson forcing double OT with a heave from beyond half court that very nearly banked in.  Really encouraging performance from Danny Manning's kids and that program looks in healthier shape than it did at any point during the Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz era.  4-7.

Northern Iowa -8.5 @ Bradley.  Um, seriously?  After what they just did to Drake at Drake in the second half?  With how bad the Braves are?
They ALMOST blew this cover.  They were up 35-18 at the half and on total cruise control up 23 with 13:07 to go before Bradley cut it to 6 with 1:18 to go.  But they got no closer and the Panthers hit their free throws to win by 11.  5-7.

Mississippi State +11 @ Texas A&M.  Letdown game for the Ags and MSU's due for a decent performance, yeah?  I still don't think they're as bad as last year.  If this pick is wrong I'll probably change my mind.
Pretty spot on but aTm won by 4.  They still look like an NIT team.  6-7.  Hey, maybe I'll get back to .500 after all!

Missouri +24 @ Kentucky.  I actually think it's blowout time tonight but that's still too big of a number for me to take.  It's really hard to beat a conference opponent by 25 points, no matter who it is.
I should have just stopped after the first 6 words and flipped the pick.  I had a feeling I was gonna be looking at that pick and feeling incredibly stupid today and here we are.  6-8.

Miami (FL) +15 @ Duke.  I think Angel Rodriguez outplays Tyus Jones (and Duke's other PG's) and he/they submit a really inspired road effort.  And still lose.
I should have just stopped before the final sentence.  A FIFTY SIX point second half performance for the Canes, led by Rodriguez of course.  This win alone - and the eye popping margin - will probably boost their seed a line or two by itself.  And it means the end of my references to their Eastern Kentucky loss (by 28 at home) :(  7-8.

DePaul +7 v. Georgetown.  Not getting too down from the Nova blowout.  Hey remember when Georgetown was on the bubble going in to the Big East tournament and then DePaul beat them before they could even get to the main bracket?  That was fun.
One point cover!  I wanted to watch more of this than I did (none at all) but the Duke game happened.  8-8.

Minnesota -3 v. Iowa.  They're a lot better than their 0-4 league mark looks.  3 of the 4 games were on the road, one of them was a trip to Maryland that tipped at 11 AM central time, another was a Purdue game they led most of the way and the third was another near miss at an improved Michigan on Saturday.  The home game was an OT loss to Ohio State.  Iowa's been good on the road but when you're sub 200 in 2 point AND 3 point percentage, you're due for a bad road performance eventually.
Ugh, ANOTHER close loss for the Gophers as Jarrod Uthoff's 3 sent them to 0-5 in conference play after an inspired second half comeback.  Maybe they should stop falling behind at home like they did against Ohio State and last night.  8-9.

Connecticut +1 @ Tulsa.  Oh wow this is a gift too.  Golden Hurricane are playing well but not as well as the Huskies, who are far more talented anyway.
UConn had 5 points in the first 9 and a half minutes and trailed by double digits most of the second half.  I underestimated how jacked Tulsa and its crowd would be for this game - it was a blackout and Frank Haith's boys played inspired against the defending champs.  They're alone atop the American and the only unbeaten (4-0.)  8-10.

Boise State -5.5 v. UNLV.  Derrick Marks had all 13 Boise points in OT last year in a 91-90 win.  Should be another big night for him and a more decisive victory over a UNLV team who *of course* has lost 3 of 5 since the Arizona upset and the two wins are over Southern Utah and San Jose State.
Derrick Marks goes ham (28 points), Boise wins in OT.  But this time it was by 9 as UNLV could only muster 5 points in the extra session. 9-10. 

Niagara -2 v. Penn.  Oh dear.  These two used to be low major powers.  How the mighty have fallen.
Penn wins by 11 in a game that should've never happened for a number of reasons.  9-11.

Iona -13.5 v. Fairfield.  Gaels are starting to prove themselves as a cut above the rest in the MAAC as we all suspected.  This should be blowout city against a bad Fairfield team.
Gaels actually trailed by a point at the half but got their stuff together in the final 20 to win by 16.  10-11.

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