Christmas Comes Early

The college basketball schedule for Tuesday, December 22nd treats its fans  with presents and the license to unwrap them.

Here’s what predicts will be inside…

(6) Xavier -8 at Wake Forest
Bubble Magnifier Metric: 🔍🔍🔍🔍 (*Max 5 glasses)
Prediction: Xavier 67, Wake Forest 63
DFS Play:  J.P. Macura


Xavier better be careful here.  Despite analysts firing off early about the Musketeers being Final 4-caliber, we know this nucleus is recently congealed.  Both teams are excelling with efficient guard play.  Wake Forest currently sits atop the ACC standings after wins against Indiana, UCLA and Arkansas.  The bubble watch is high here because a win against Xavier would be the knockout punch that solidifies Wake’s non-conference excellence.  They’re 8-2.  The Demon Deacons have kept every game close.  The largest margin in its 10 games was a 10 point win versus UNC Greensboro.  I am choosing J.P. Macura as my daily fantasy play.  I’m banking on a high scoring affair with fast perimeter play and Macura sneaking behind the line for a couple of threes.

(11) Iowa State at (22) Cincinatti (-4)
Bubble Magnifier Metric: 🔍
Prediction: Cincinatti 81, Iowa State 65
DFS Play: Troy Caupain


Play with fire, you get burned.  Iowa State finally suffered a loss after one of its custom slow starts.  UNI beat them on a neutral floor.  And, with all due respect to Northern Iowa, the Bearcats are much more athletic and much deeper.  The UNI loss just scratched the surface on how Naz Long’s loss will affect this Iowa State team.  As flawless as Monte Morris has been at running the point, his counterpart tonight in Troy Caupain has quietly been one of the nation’s best.  I think Morris suffers from carrying a heavy burden tonight while Caupain flourishes while finding his gym rats in transition.  I think this is finally the game where Iowa State gets off to a slow start (See Illinois, Iowa, UNI) and it ends up becoming an embarrassment.  Watch closely for a ferocious battle between Octavius Ellis and Jamaal McKay down low—those are two dudes you’d want to pick first for size in a street game.  This game is very low as far as bubble watch is concerned, because each is a 2-6 seed caliber tournament team regardless of outcome.

Vanderbilt at (14) Purdue (-6)
Bubble Magnifier Metric: 🔍🔍🔍
Prediction: Purdue 71, Vanderbilt 60
DFS Play: Isaac Haas


I’ll wait until I see the final score before I say “I feel sorry” for Vanderbilt going without center Luke Kornett.  Purdue has two giants in the middle.  I am not talking about Odell Beckham Junior giants, but more like Andre the Giant giants.  Hammons and Haas should be pretty angry after a loss to Xavier.  I think Vanderbilt was exposed for some offensive lack of creativity in its Dayton loss and can’t help but predict a similar out-toughness against a very strong Purdue team.  There’s a moderate bubble alert on for Vanderbilt, because, on the heels of that Dayton loss, they have some making up to do.  Aside from Kentucky and Texas A&M, the SEC won’t have many teams to topple in order to punch a ticket to March Madness.  Even LSU has proven in this non-conference that it could be a bubble team.  Vanderbilt could boost its stock greatly with a surprise win tonight.

California at (5) Virginia (-15)
Bubble Magnifier Metric: 🔍🔍🔍🔍
Prediction:  UVA 58, Cal 54
DFS Play:  Ivan Rabb


This game is an interesting clash of conflicting character.  Virginia has the old-man game.  They’ll lock you down on defense with solid team principles and the fact that they’ve played together for 2, 3, 4 years collectively.  California is the McDonald’s All-American squad.  They have a kid like Ivan Rabb who nets comparisons to Kevin Garnett, but haven’t yet found a true identity on either side of the floor.  However, they have the talent to shock Virginia in this spot.  And, it would stamp their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.  We know the way national analysts salivated over Cal’s talent in the preseason, ranking them in the top 25, and the NCAA wouldn’t let that hype train circumvent mid-March.  Back to basketball.  Virginia does not have a true “rim protector,” so if freshmen Rabb and Jaylen Brown attack the way they’re capable of, this could get interesting.  Expect a low scoring game regardless.  That’s what Virginia does.  Especially at home.

(2) Kansas at San Diego State (-7)
Bubble Magnifier Metric: 🔍
Prediction:  Kansas 72, San Diego State 60
DFS Play:  Jamari Traylor


Kansas has revenge on its mind.  San Diego State came into Allen Fieldhouse two seasons ago and beat the Jayhawks.  Now, with some wacky things going on with the Aztecs, elder statesmen like Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor and Frank Mason III can return the favor.  Wayne Selden Jr., who also played in that January 2014 upset, has been playing out of his mind this year.  He has become the small forward that NBA scouts expected coming to Lawrence as a high school All-American.  San Diego State’s expected offensive leaders this season, Winston Shepherd and Malik Pope, just played a combined 30 minutes in a shocking loss to Grand Canyon in the Aztecs last game.  The Bubble-barometer is at a level one for this game.  That’s because the Aztecs haven’t played like a tournament team and I doubt this will be the game that changes that.  Neophytes Carlton Bragg and Cheick Diallo have been getting P.T. in a process coach Bill Self hopes is another Final 4 run.  But expect the Jamari Traylors of the roster, the guys who can expect and benefit from the San Diego State post double-team, to run wild.


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