South Carolina came through for us nicely on Wednesday, defeating Florida outright as 10.5 pt underdogs but we are not convinced by this team and believe they face an extremely tough task against one of the best defensive teams in the country. Texas Tech has struggled in the ultra-competitive Big 12 but this is still a team we rate very highly and we believe the Red Raiders have the advantage in nearly all areas aside from home court advantage.
In a battle of 2 ACC heavyweights, we have #4 ranked Duke hosting #2 ranked Virginia. Duke sits at 18-2 on the season with their losses coming against NC State and Boston College, both games the Blue Devils were prohibitive favorites. Virginia is 19-1 and their only loss came against West Virginia, another team ranked in the top 10. What's interesting about this game is that computer models have this as virtually a pick em and when oddsmakers deviate this much, we usually side with the oddsmakers. However, we're not in agreement this time and perhaps the bookmakers just don't want the massive liability one would expect on Duke were they to make this game closer to PK. In any case, Duke has the big name recruits that are nationally recognized but they still lack in many ways, especially defensively. On the other side, Virginia's defense is quite a sight to behold and in fact, we would say is the best in the entire country. We can't see the young and a bit undisciplined Blue Devils playing consistently enough and mistake-free enough to justify this spread. In fact, we believe the moneyline is in play as well but for the purposes of this bet, we'll go with the generous handicap!
Both teams enter this game with identical 11-9 records but Eastern Michigan sits at 2-5 in conference play while Miami (OH) has been a surprise at 4-3 and tied for 2nd place in the MAC East. The Eagles have dropped their last 2 games to Ohio and Buffalo but we were impressed with their play in the 2nd half against the Bulls after an atrocious start that saw the Eagles fall behind 28-4. The RedHawks have shown well at home but we feel they've been a bit lucky catching teams at the right time and face an Eastern Michigan team that shoot the ball very well from inside the arc and matches up well against an undersized Miami (OH) team.
FLorida St is in good form winning 3 out of their last 4 but their 3 wins were against a poor Georgia Tech team, a favorable match up against Virginia Tech and a double overtime winner against Syracuse sandwiched around a loss to Boston College. Despite their talented athletes at every position, the Seminoles have struggled against sound defensive teams such as Louisville and their opponents today, Miami (FL), who they lost to in the reverse fixtures 3 weeks ago. The Hurricanes bring one of the best defenses in the entire country and will also own a sizable coaching advantage with Jim Larranaga. We believe the hosts are on upset alert but for now, the points will suffice!
Eastern Washington had an easy time against North Dakota last game as they cruised to a 95-71 win and in the process, easily landing our bet on the over 151. Nevertheless, the Eagles will have a much tougher challenge in Northern Colorado who already beat them earlier in the season and have proven to be one of the contenders for the Big Sky title. The Bears are high on confidence after dismantling the Vandals at Idaho on Thursday and we believe they should be the favorites in this match up!
Penn was a bit of a disappointment last week as they played neck and neck with Temple for 95% of the game before choking down the stretch. Perhaps the moment was too big but in any case, the Quakers showed that this year's team is one that can compete with the big boys. St Joseph's hasn't really impressed us much this year and we rate them significantly below Temple. Penn should perhaps use last week as a learning experience and against another cross-town rival with less stature than the Owls, we believe the Quakers can come good this time. At the very least, we expect a better shooting effort than the 28.3% they put up against the Owls.
Morehead St has proven to be a useful team as evidenced by their 7-2 record ATS in conference play. Nonetheless, the Eagles are just 2-7 overall and appear to have issues closing out games. Austin Peay started well in the OVC at 4-0 but have fallen on tough times, losing 3 of their last 5. Still, the Governors are a legitimate team this year and their superior rebounding should provide a significant advantage against a poor shooting Eagles team. We were a bit surprised at this spread and felt it should be closer to 7.
Arizona St has fallen off a cliff since starting the season 12-0 as the Sun Devils have lost 5 of their last 8 games and a dismal 0-2-6 ATS during that span. Still, this is a team we rate highly and there might be some extra motivation for the Sun Devils after their overtime loss to the Buffaloes earlier in the season. Colorado has shown well in conference play much of their success comes at Boulder where they enjoy one of the best home court advantages in the nation due to the elevation. Against a good shooting team, we have a hard time seeing the Buffaloes keep up.
Notre Dame is starting to feel the effects of injuries as they've dropped 4 games in a row though perhaps they deserved better results against North Carolina and Louisville. Nevertheless, they will be missing 2 key starters in Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell for this game and face a Virginia Tech team that's high on confidence after defeating North Carolina on Monday. The Hokies have issues rebounding the ball but being without Colson negates some of the advantage for the Irish. Hokies to keep it within a single possession.
A bit disappointing for James Madison last game as they led nearly the entire way before losing 71-68 to UNC-Wilmington. Charleston won 3 in a row and covered last 2 but they've been skating by, starting slowly and pulling out covers in the last minute from excessive fouling. The point remains, they haven't been too impressive lately and are shooting very poorly. They tend to get lazy against opponents they should beat and I think that's the case again here. Dukes should be able to keep it within reason.
Northeastern's doing really well in the CAA at 7-2 but they've had it a bit easy facing mostly bottom half teams. Granted, Drexel sits in the bottom half at just 2-7, but the Dragons have proven to be a tough out at home as they showed against Charleston, winning outright. This is too many points to lay on the road for Huskies team that aren't the best travelers.
This is a bit speculative given how badly the Vikings lost to Green Bay but Milwaukee hasn't impressed me too much aside from their win over Wright St who I think are a bit overrated too. When these teams played in Cleveland, the Vikings held their own and kept it close losing by just 4. As slow as the Panthers play, I think winning by double digits is asking a lot.