Mid-majors. Does that term exist anymore? I’m going to make sure the little guys get some love here because, unless you’ve forgotten, North Dakota State, Florida Gulf Coast and Lehigh all had respectable recent runs in the tournament.
Eastern Kentucky dominated Belmont in a nationally televised game on its home court. Both teams can shoot the three. They are both in the top ten nationally for most 3-pointers made. Belmont is a good team with quality wins for its program over some of the country’s giants. Eastern Kentucky penetrated its defense, dunked on its front line, and matched its precision from behind the arc. I always give bonus points when a team wins on a nationally televised game. We’re looking for teams that can handle the pressure and Eastern Kentucky is on my radar after this win.
Green Bay has some dairy farmer country-strong type size. The Horizon league squad has a kid Faust who lead its league in rebounding last year as a freshman. It has an undersized but prolific scorer at point and a legitimate yet clumsy big body down low. Hey, it’s the Horizon League.
The A-10 doesn’t belong in this conversation but I’m plugging it in here because the conference receives no respect. Respect the line on your bracket if you see an A-10 team on an unassuming 6-11 matchup. I’m talking about LaSalle, St. Louis, VCU, Temple all fared pretty well in recent March play. (Temple has since left the conference). Dayton, George Washington and St. Louis are my teams to watch for from this league this season. Assuming the three make march madness, I would bet on a 2-1 record Thursday-Friday.
Headed to the guard-heavy MAAC conference, where I once got my jollies watching Fran McCaffery’s Siena Saints in Albany, New York. Even former NY Knick Anthony Mason’s kid plays for Niagara (and leads the country in scoring), Manhattan is currently listed as the Bracketology conference pick, but it’s Caniscius that I like. My spell-check does not agree. However, Billy Barron and the Golden Griffens rocked Iona (in Westchester) recently. Barron has a big brother playing professionally in Rome, Italy who critiques his play after reviewing every game. My critique would be that he plays like Jimmer Fredette. He can shoot from anywhere. He is also an underrated passer. A lot of MAAC teams can spread the floor. A clunky team like Baylor, Kentucky or Tennessee could struggle against them in a first round.
Long story, short, let’s get to the picks. How is Virginia giving Florida State 6 points? Probably because the Cavaliers scraped the Seminoles earlier this season. I think 9 times out-of-10 Florida State covers that spread. Put a little on Florida State to win money line. Holy Toledo! I didn’t talk about the other MAC conference. Toledo looked awesome at Allen Fieldhouse in a 10 point loss earlier this season. Therefore, I am taking them plus a point at Akron. I think Oklahoma has been exploited the moment it snuck into the top 25. I’ll take Baylor here minus 6 1/2 to right its ship and smack around the Sooners who lack an answer inside to Baylor’s bigs. Keeping with the Big 12, Kansas has hit its stride. I cannot see them not covering 4 points at home against Oklahoma State. The cliche thing to say here is “Oklahoma State is without Michael Cobbins who is injured.” I won’t say that. Oklahoma State is fully capable of beating Kansas. But not at Allen Fieldhouse. Not now. They’ll run into a power-saw Saturday. I got burned last week betting against Syracuse giving 7 points. I’ll play with fire again. Take Pittsburgh plus 7 against the Orangemen. Something’s got to give. Syracuse is not so elite to remain one of three national unbeatens. Sorry. (Not really). Speaking of unbeatens, Wichita State will not cover 11 1/2 against Indiana State. One of my first blog posts was about Jake Odom, an awesome point guard at Terre Haute who gets absolutely no ink whatsover. One more to go to make seven. I’ll finish with a random selection. Creighton has been on a roll. However, they have struggled with quicker teams. I feel Providence falls into that category for the value of six points. Take the Friars to cover against the Blue Birds. Enjoy another Saturday of college hoops and don’t forget to follow this blog officially by clicking “respect the line” in the top left corner and choose either e-mail updates or a simple follow through word press (if you’re a member). Respect the Line.