My picks went 3-1 last night, moving me to 28-20 on the season. I mostly guessed on all of those, and didn't have the chance to watch any of them because 1) I had to write today's massive preview, 2) I needed to catch up on some me and Ezio time with Assassin's Creed and 3) BLUE MOON WINTER ABBEY ALE WAS ON SALE. So delicious.
Here's how I did last night:
L 51-73: Richmond (+3.5) @ VCU
W 76-86: Iowa @ Iowa State (-9.5)
W 51-59: Old Dominion @ Fairfield (-2)
W 65-54: Wyoming (+6) @ Colorado
I am clearly riding a SOPRANO-ESQUE HOT STREAK so I overloaded myself by picking twelve games tonight. It's an incredible day for college basketball fans, with a slew of Top 25 teams in action and some matchups that are sure to draw blood.
Let's get to the fun part!
3:15pm ESPN: No. 2 Ohio State (-3) @ No. 13 Kansas
This is the biggest game of the day, given that two teams in the Top 15 are facing off. But I also think it's one of the easiest to pick. Kansas did not look good against Long Beach State - "We are the worst passing team I've ever seen," said head coach Bill Self - and while I trust that the Jayhawks will right the ship, I don't think it'll happen against Jared Sullinger and the strangling defense that stopped Duke in their tracks last week.
5:15pm ESPN: No. 1 Kentucky @ Indiana (+5.5)
Here's a great question: Should an 8-0 team be considered for the Top 25 if they've only played two road games and no ranked teams? No? So then how can an 8-0 team be the No. 1 team in the nation if THEY HAVEN'T PLAYED A ROAD GAME YET? Apparently, a lack of road games matters to one team but not to another, because the Wildcats will visit a hostile environment for the first time today. That seems patently ridiculous - especially considering Indiana (No. 15 overall on KenPom.com) isn't ranked - and I'm going with the Hoosiers on principle.
7:00pm ESPN3: Long Beach State (+16.5) @ No. 6 North Carolina
I know I'm biased, but the 49ers won at No. 9 Pitt, lost by 13 to No. 6 Louisville and lost by 8 to No. 13 Kansas. So where is this 16.5-point spread coming from? Even at 4-4, KenPom.com has Long Beach State at No. 56. The next team with four losses is Georgia Tech (No. 75) and the next team that's .500 is Tennessee (No. 90). Long Beach is catching up to speed with the top teams, which is the biggest challenge with a mid-major playing up a rung. Yes, the Tar Heels are stacked everywhere and capable of greatness on any night, but this line is bloated and I can pull out any number of reasons to justify this pick (Long Beach has size on the wings and a tough 1-2-2 zone to deal with Barnes and Marshall!), so I'll just rest my case now.
12:30pm ESPN2: Cincinnati @ No. 8 Xavier (-7)
If you wanted to give a team a 16.5-point spread, this is the game.
2:30pm ESPN2: Oklahoma State @ No. 14 Pittsburgh (-6.5)
Pitt has been absent from the discussion of elite programs since the loss to Long Beach State, and because they haven't played a very tough schedule otherwise. But here is a chance for a convincing win to maintain or gain positions in the rankings, in New York against a Cowboys team that has only played on the road at Missouri State.
2:00pm: UNLV @ No. 16 Wisconsin (-8.5)
I'm a huge Rebels fan and think they'll be in the Top 25 in no time, after being punished for a double-overtime win at a good UC Santa Barbara team and a 19-point loss to a good Wichita State team. However, Wisconsin is probably the most underrated team in the nation and they've blown out absolutely everybody except for two losses to ranked teams. It's a steep spread but the right choice.
12:00pm: No. 17 Creighton (-1) @ Saint Joseph's
Now this line is downright criminal. Creighton is tops in the nation in assists per game, third in points and third in field goal percentage. If you haven't seen sophomore forward Doug McDermott play yet, drop Modern Warfare 3 and get to it. The Hawks can't hang.
4:00pm: No. 19 Michigan @ Oakland (+6)
Michigan, Y U NO REBOUND? The Wolverines are abhorrent on the boards for some reason. It cost them the game against Virginia and I've already lost betting against Oakland once this season when they clobbered Tennessee. Reggie Hamilton leads five scorers in double figures and Tim Hardaway Jr. can't do it all, Blue Nation.
9:00pm ESPN2: Michigan State (+3) @ No. 22 Gonzaga
It kind of makes me furious how the Spartans do the exact same thing EVERY SINGLE YEAR. They start out poorly but defend like the freaking '85 Bears, lead the nation in rebounds and sneak up on everybody when it's February and they're playing at full potential. It's uncanny. I mean, really, the only reason Michigan State isn't ranked is they lost to UNC and Duke in their first two games. Meanwhile, the Zags have not played anybody. This is a clash of styles and maybe my most anticipated game of the day. We'll learn more about these two teams today than in the first 30 days of the season.
5:00pm ESPN2: Villanova (+5.5) @ Temple
In 2006, me and four buddies drove to San Diego for the weekend to attend the finals of the World Baseball Classic (which was incredible, hopefully I'll write about that some time soon). Between games, we caught March Madness as we bar-hopped. While we watched perhaps my favorite team of the 2000s, the Kyle Lowry, Allen Ray, Randy Foye 'Nova team (I maintain that if Curtis Sumpter would have been healthy, that team wins a title), I remarked to my booze-hound friend Adam that he had been nursing drinks all day. He took this as a challenge. Long story short, around 9:00pm my friends had to search the entire Yard House and only found me in the bathroom when they recognized my Jordans underneath a stall. They woke me up, dragged me out and Adam kept feeding me drinks. The next day was by far the worst day of my life. This is going to be a tight game end-to-end so I'll take the points.
7:00pm ESPN2: Miami (FL) (+6.5) @ West Virginia
The 'Canes have lost three of their last four, but they've all been to very good teams. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers won on the road against Kansas State on Thursday but they had to scratch and claw in double overtime. Both teams are fighters. Taking the points. (Both this one and the Nova/Temple game may bite me but I'm sticking with my gut!)
4:00pm: Clemson @ Arizona (-6)
I am telling you, do NOT sleep on Arizona just because Reeves Nelson is a moron and the Bruins were so clearly, obviously, mind-numbingly overrated to start the season. Don't lie, that's what you were doing. It's ok. ESPN doesn't cover the Wildcats hardly at all, so you can be forgiven. But this is a good team with size and talent on the perimeter, and all three losses to good teams. Clemson, on the other hand, has dropped games to Charleston and Coastal Carolina. Thanks for making this easy, Tigers.