Best College Basketball Handicappers Picks for Saturdays: Suspect Spreads!

BY MATTY D.

The best college basketball handicappers on Twitter all share one common trait: Wins! And the against the spread picks by collegebasketballeyetest.com have had a successful 2021-2022 season. Every Saturday, Matty D. shares his picks on Twitter on the hashtag #SuspectSpreadsSaturday. The phrase alerts fans about which Vegas spreads look suspect, or questionable. After the first thirty picks of the 2021-2022, the record was 22-8-2.

Matty D’s Philosophy for College Basketball Picks Against the Spread

Just like a Thursday or Friday in mid-March, a Saturday offers the widest sample size of games to choose from. If you’re a college basketball fan, you’re probably familiar with the power 5 schools. If you’re a better, it’s also good to get familiar with a few mid-major conferences. For example, I have gotten cozy with the Conference USA and American conferences over the years. This familiarity helped me go undefeated with 7 correct picks (and one tie) in the selections below.

Underdogs like Providence and Western Kentucky proved their worth early in the season.

My rule is to always bet any 6 point (or more) underdog to cover the first half. If and when an underdog challenges a favorite, it’s normally off of adrenaline and a lack of familiarity in the first half. I would always wager a dollar amount equal to, or slightly more than, the entire point line for the game. I would also traditionally bet 10-30% of that dollar amount on the money line. If I really believe that a 6 point underdog will win the game, I might bet 30% of my point line bet on the money line. For example, if I bet $10 on Providence to cover a 6.5 point spread, I would bet $3 on them to win the game outright. The money-line odds in that situation would be somewhere in the ballpark of 2-1 or 3-1. The advantage to being able to play on sports betting apps is that you don’t have to pay the traditional $5 or $10 minimums per bets at the physical casino. This helps betting on a budget. On FanDuel’s app you can make a minimum bet of 9 cents whereas DraftKings offers a 10 cent minimum.

If you or someone you know is struggling to set limits with sports betting, help is available.

Matty D’s Running Tally of ATS Picks for College Basketball Season

Here is a running tally of the college basketball sports betting picks for the 2021-2022 season with the newest up top.

Please follow on Twitter to join the conversation!

College Basketball’s Hybrid Weekend of Important In and Non-Conference Games

BY MATTY D.

It’s the season of giving and college basketball is delivering in its last weekend before Christmas.

The schedule for Saturday, December 18th features critically important games in-conference and out of conference.

Let’s start with the much-maligned Memphis Tigers. They have caught criticism because brining on two 17-year-olds (who re-classified in high school) top NBA prospects hasn’t jived yet. After a four game losing streak, they stopped the bleeding with a season saving resume building win against highly ranked Alabama. Today, they have another important regional and non-conference matchup. They catch Tennessee as a 5 point underdog.

Tennessee just recently played Texas Tech in a game that was probably the ugliest watch of the season among top 50 teams. Although Texas Tech has retained its toughness epitomized by since departed coach Chris Beard, neither team could score the ball. Texas Tech won, but it wasn’t pretty. If the Red Raiders show any signs of those same offensive struggles, they’ll get run out of the gym against Gonzaga. The Zags are one of America’s best offenses.

And let’s spend some time with Conference USA. This conference never gets any credit, despite pulling upsets repeatedly in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. You’ve heard of the Hilltoppers because Western Kentucky is always dangerous. Last year, North Texas beat Purdue outright in the field of 64. This year, LA Tech is a real threat with big man Kenneth Lofton, Jr.

On this date, Conference USA gets a chance to prove itself again. UAB is a favorite hosting West Virginia. LA Tech battles with LSU. And Western Kentucky hosts Louisville. No one should be surprised if the conference nets a 2-1 record there.

Meantime, one conference is diving into its conference season full steam ahead. And that’s the Big East. Friday night Creighton blew Villanova out of its gym to immediately shake up the power structure of the conference. On Saturday, Providence has an opportunity to validate its own strong start. They open up conference play, surprisingly as a 6.5 point underdog, against UCONN. Ed Cooley is doing it again. His Friars have started the season 10-1 with wins against top 50 (if not top 25) teams Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Texas Tech. The Friars only loss is to (embattled) Virginia.

A night cap to keep an eye on is the Oregon Baylor game. At first glance, this looks like it should be a blowout for Baylor. But true college basketball fans know better. Oregon has embraced a litany of transfer students and they’re paying the price of patience for that decision. Coach Dana Altman has to, once again, prove his worth as a top coach when it comes to development and continue grooming this group. Right now it’s mixed bag of talent that hasn’t clicked. Meantime, Baylor lost four starters from its national championship team and hasn’t missed a beat. They’ve surprised a lot of people being voted this week as the #1 overall team in the AP Poll.

Friars wrap up their pregame prep prior to their first game in Hartford since 2008.Photo Courtesy: Providence Friars Men’s Basketball/Twitter.

Thanks for reading this article. Follow CBBEyeTest on Twitter, where author Matty D. shares his observations and predictions. Ahead of every Saturday, he shares his picks against the spread. The current record for his “Suspect Spread Saturday” series is 13-6-1 early in this 2021 season.

Best College Basketball Games for December 2021

BY MATTY D.

Here are December’s most epic match-ups around the college basketball 2021-2022 season.

These are my choice for the top 4 games in December and why…

4. December 30, 2021 Arizona vs. UCLA

Before the season tipped, it was a foregone conclusion by the “experts” that UCLA would win the PAC-12 conference in convincing fashion. And as Arizona State head football coach would say, “that’s why you play the game.”

Arizona will visit UCLA at the end of the month in what I consider to be the biggest barometer game of the month to figure out how good these teams really are. UCLA got blown out by Gonzaga, which brings up a lot of questions about its previously vaunted defense. Meantime, Arizona has risen from a 80-1 favorite to win it all to the 25 or 35-1 territory. This happened pretty fast. Arizona’s dominant win against Michigan opened a lot of eyes. They also handled a very underrated Wichita State team. One of these teams has built a strong out-of-conference case for having a top seed in the tournament, and it’s not UCLA. This is a true test.

3. December 7, 2021 Villanova vs. Syracuse
Madison Square Garden

You better start Googling Big East Basketball history if you don’t know the significance of this matchup and this location.

2. December 11, 2021 Cincinnati vs. Xavier i.e. “The Crosstown Shootout”

This would be a bad day to physically attend a game, because there’s going to be so much must-see TV drama in your living room. Xavier scraps with Cincinnati in what I consider college basketball’s longest-standing local rivalry with genuine bad blood. The last time tempers really flared up in this one, it involved former Cincy Coach Mick Cronin accusing JP Macura of throwing some F-bombs his way.

And it’s hard to believe that it’s already been 9 years since this all-out brawl at the Cintas Center:

  1. December 11, 2021 Missouri at Kansas
    Allen Fieldhouse

This matchup is what history is made of, literally.  The rivalry between the Jayhawkers of the Free State and the confederate forces of Missouri is well documented.   The hatred lasts to this day.  And Missouri left the Big 12 in recent years to join the SEC.  Without it, there was no natural meeting between these two heated opponents.  With conference re-alignment tearing at the fabric of what makes the regular season great, this is a big win for college basketball that this rivalry is renewed.

More Honorable Mentions and Notes for Upcoming Dates:

Dec 4:  Buffalo Bulls at St. Bonaventure Bonnies 

St. Bonaventure fell hard outside of the top 25 after taking a tough 10 point loss to Northern Iowa.  However, St. Bonaventure should still be everyone’s underdog darling after the way it waxed Marquette (and others) during the “Feast Week” holiday platform.  This Buffalo team was perhaps where St. Bonaventure is ascending to, now.  They are both often overlooked schools in Upstate New York that play for formidable basketball conferences.  Buffalo rose to respectability (and a 2018 tournament game win) under coach Bobby Hurley’s watch.  St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt has been with the Bonnies since the 2007-2008 season and has built a similar threat upstate.  In fact, St. Bonaventure has been considered by some a top 10 mid-major program for a few consecutive years.  This contest could determine who, if, and whether both teams can make a NCAA Tournament with some juice.  

Dec 5:  Richmond vs. Northern Iowa 

It’s not only power 5 conference bubble teams that need to score some out-of-conference wins before the winter officially kicks off.  Richmond and Northern Iowa play each other in a similar, possible, resume building spot.  Richmond was a darks horse candidate to make some noise around the pandemic shortened and canceled seasons.  The same can be said for Northern Iowa.  Big picture, these programs could be on the decline in terms of their bids for an at large in any upcoming tournament.  A game like this could prove otherwise.  

Dec 6:  Iowa vs. Illinois 

Dec 7:  Villanova vs. Syracuse (at MSG) 

Dec 8:  Utah St. vs. BYU 

Dec 9: Iowa vs. Iowa State 

During a week when in-state rivalry let rip, a role reversal might play itself out in the Hawkeye State.  The Cyclones were picked to finished last in the Big 12.  Yet, they found themselves ranked 19th in the AP Top 25 at the start of December.  With Iowa figuring its identity out without graduated Luka Garza, this could be an Iowa changing of the guard.

Dec 10:  Murray State at Memphis 

The school that helped produce the blossoming legend of Ja Morant visits his new home (of the Memphis Grizzlies).  And when it comes to which team has inherited the best new crop of point guard talent, the edge might go to Murray State.  The Racers enter December with only one loss at the top of the Ohio Valley conference.  Memphis, despite having NBA talent, is struggling to run its offense in simple terms.  

Dec 11:  Missouri at Kansas 

This matchup is what history is made of, literally.  The rivalry between the Jayhawkers of the Free State and the confederate forces of Missouri is well documented.   The hatred lasts to this day.  And Missouri left the Big 12 in recent years to join the SEC.  Without it, there was no natural meeting between these two heated opponents.  With conference re-alignment tearing at the fabric of what makes the regular season great, this is a big win for college basketball that this rivalry is renewed. 

Dec 12:  Rutgers vs. Seton Hall

Dec 13:  UMBC vs. Princeton 

Dec 14;  Alabama vs. Memphis 

Dec 15:  UC Irvine vs. USC 

Dec 16: UT Arlington vs. Oral Roberts

Dec 17: St. Mary’s vs. San Diego State

December 18-19: This weekend featured a grand finale of the out-of-conference season.

December 22-25: For college basketball, The Diamondhead Classic is likely the most relevant action around the Christmas holiday itself. BYU has looked awesome at times, but slipped outside of the AP Top 25 ahead of this holiday tournament. Still, the Cougars can score the ball in a variety of ways and come in as the betting favorite. Meantime, a first round matchup between Liberty and Northern Iowa features two mid major programs that have been extremely relevant in the past 3-5 years. A lot of talent has passed through each of these programs, but they remain legitimate threats to pull an upset win, especially in a tournament scenario like this one. Each team retains consistency at the head coaching position. Ben Jacobsen has been leading Northern Iowa since 2006 and Ritchie McCay has made an impact at Liberty almost immediately when getting the job in 2015.

December 30, 2021 Arizona vs. UCLA: UCLA had to pause its activities a week before this game because of COVID-19 issues. Meantime, Arizona drives through a brutal stretch of games around this holiday. The Wildcats play Tennessee after the Vols had ample time to prepare on the heels of Memphis canceling their game in last minute, dysfunctional fashion.

Whichever team, Arizona or UCLA, can navigate the adversity best might find itself as a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament come March.

How to Bet March Madness on a Budget

As the country slowly re-opens while more states have legalized sports betting, here are tips for betting March Madness on a budget.

Click here to watch the haymakers strategy for more low risk high reward fun.

If you are struggling with gambling addiction, you are note alone. Please seek help. Click here to visit a national helpline or seek other safe avenues. Good luck to everyone out there!

Here is my entire 2021 March Madness bracket filled out on March 15, 2021.

People line up ahead of sports book opening during March Madness

CollegeBasketballEyeTest.com Author Matty D’s March Madness 2021 Picks

BY MATT DE SARLE

When it comes to college basketball experts, I am the 15 seed. I play with an independent league of opinionated amateurs on Facebook and Twitter, but I am also the budget bettor that no sports book “wants to see” in its bracket. There’s no major sponsor or platform here.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s roll into my official picks for March Madness 2021!

Predictions for the NCAA Men’s Basketball West Region

When it comes to this West Region, I agree with CBS’s Gary Parrish. There is no imagination coming from the committee when you have the possibility of rematches between Gonzaga and either/all of Kansas, Iowa, and/or Virginia. And that’s why I think only one of those rematches will happen: the most important one. This is also why I think Iowa is the first sexy futures bet at 16-1 as of March 16th. A rematch is always tricky for any victor. And in the December showdown between Iowa and Gonzaga, the Hawkeyes were simply blown out. Although Iowas has since lost Jack Nunge, the cliche is true when you can say they are “battle tested” by a historically great Big 10. I mean, to put the greatness of the Big 10 into context, this COVID-19 shortened season still cost the jobs of Indiana coach Archie Miller and 8 year head man at Minnesota, Richie Pitino. But I digress. Iowa can legitimately beat Gonzaga, I would comofortably have them covering any 2-3 possession line, but I have to go with Jalen Suggs and Gonzaga to advance.

READ ALSO:  Injuries to Consider or Sons of NBA Players Dancing

Everyone is picking against Creighton, and they clearly had a rough start to the month of March. But maybe they’ll be the team that goes in like a lamb and out like a lion. Its win against a popular UConn team showed us what telnet they have. I am also taking Ohio because Jason Preston is someone I cannot root against. As ESPN documented in the game telecasts, he lost his mother as a 16-year-old to cancer. And he plays like the moniker says, “life is short.” His imagination passing the ball and risk taking could capture the nation’s imagination. That’s the emotional side of my brain on that pick. The logical side of my brain also says that UVA is having a rough patch with COVID-19 scares and may not even play the game as the 4 seed there.

The West Region can include a Sweet 16 of two Pac-12 teams

Oregon and USC will represent the PAC-12 well in this region. Each had disappointing losses in the conference tournament, but should not be the judge of how talented each team is.

Predictions for the NCAA Men’s Basketball East Region

I watched Colorado and Texas all season. They’re too talented to come up short in this tournament. And I also watched Saint Bonaventure shred VCU in the A-10 Championship game. That game was not as close as the score would lead you to believe. I have major upsets happening in this region, because you’re not truly picking a March Madness bracket without the madness part. I will have 9 seed advance to the Elite 8 and 3 seed Texas represent the region in the Final Four.

The triangles that you see on my bracket are the underdogs who I like to cover the point spread along the way.

Skip all the clicking steps. HERE’S THE PRINTABLE BRACKET.

Predictions for the NCAA Men’s College Basketball South Region

When you look at the history of the bracket, the cumulative total when you add up all the seed number is the Final Four is normally almost always 10 or more. And so this is where I am picking the hometown team Purdue Boilermakers to represent the South region as the highest seed to enter the Final Four and get my cumulative seed count up to 10 exactly. Everyone and their mom expects UNC’s size and muscle to give Baylor a run for their money. But I am looking a step ahead and saying that Purdue’s size will actually give Baylor trouble, paired with the Boilermakers outstanding freshmen class. Players like Jaden Ivey just haven’t gotten enough publicity this season. I expect this team to be March Madness-ready after, again, the rigors of the Big 10 Conference have prepared them.

I also like 6 seeds to show up in the Sweet 16 this year and won’t be surprised if one of them break into the Final Four. A 6 seed hasn’t made the Final Four since 1991-1992 with the Fab Five.

Predictions for the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Midwest Region

The committee did Illinois no favors in its draw. If we are looking for a 1 seed to have a difficult time, I think this would be the region for it. And who better to spoil the party than Cinderella herself, Loyola Chicago and Sister Jean? I would love to see a field of 32 matchup between Cam Krutwig and Kofi Cockburn. It would harken back to my childhood and watching giants tussle in the WWE (formerly WWF). Here are 8 other field of 32 player matchups I am hoping to see.

If Illinois avoids a field of 32 upset from a scrappy Georgia Tech or Ramblers bunch, they have #1 overall NBA pick Cade Cunningham and Oklahoma State to look forward (potentially).

Texas wins the National Tittle among a Final 4 of Houston, Purdue and Gonzaga.

A team often overlooked is Houston because it plays in the American Athletic Conference (which got weaker with UConn’s exit). I also think the college basketball powers to be aren’t trying to promote Kelvin Sampson, a once-disgraced coach for NCAA infractions. However, with the shooting stroke of Quentin Grimes, return of Fabian White, and a great balance among other upper/underclassmen in the rotation, I think this team is destined for the Final Four. They return really the entire nucleus from a canceled 2019-2020 season with exception of Caleb Mills.

2021 NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments: Schedules, COVID-19 Updates

The 2021 NCAA Conference Tournament schedule is coming together for some regions. In light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, decision-makers in college athletics are wrestling with the logistics of in-person events. That includes college basketball conferences across the nation, which are deciding how to crown its champions. One year ago the college basketball season was paused and then canceled altogether, literally as conference championship games were occurring live on television. This article provides major updates from the power 5 conferences and more for 2021’s evolving game-plan.

DEVELOPING NEWS: NCAA to allow 25% capacity for NCAA Tournament. Read more.

The ACC 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament Returns to Tar Heel State

The ACC Conference will go down in sports history as one of those conferences that had the unpleasant experience of literally pausing play on its basketball tournament as COVID-19 stopped the 2019-2020 NCAA season. It was also one of the major conferences to make early concessions for its 2021 tournament. The ACC announced in November that it would be coming home in a way, relocated its championship tournament to Greensboro. In recent years, the conference had played in perhaps sexier destinations such as New York City and Washington, DC. However, repositioning its conference tournament in the Carolinas obviously puts it closer to a majority of its teams (Wake Forest, Clemson, NC State, North Carolina, Duke located in the Carolinas).

Big 10 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament Update

In an era where the size of events is so often in question, the Big 10 Conference is making a statement on its tournament website: “all 14 teams will advance to the tournament.”

Currently, the Big 10 Conference is predicted to have 10 teams in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. And so giving the other four teams an opportunity to compete for a bid brings back the true intrigue of March Madness.

According to its conference tournament website, the “Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament will be held in Chicago for the 11th time and was last held at the United Center at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season.”

Big 10: “All 14 Teams Will Advance”

Click here to read full details from the source.

The Big 10 Men’s College Basketball Championship game will be held on Sunday, March 14th. The conference hinted at it being aired on CBS Sports.

Big 12 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament Update

According to the Kansas City Star, the Big 12 will hold its tournament on March 10-13 at T-Mobile Center. As of February 1st, the conference had not decided on whether to hold the event without fans or at 25% capacity. The T-Mobile Center has a website ready to sell tickets, but the landing page currently has a “TBA” designation on the ticket sessions.

Still-frame Photo Courtesy ESPN Networks/YouTube

The Big 12 Conference had fans in attendance for its football championship on December 19 2020, although the state health and safety guidelines in Texas may differ from Missouri’s.

The newly named T-Mobile Center in Kansas City is set to host its first conference tournament.

Big East 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament Update

As of February 1st, the Big East hadn’t updated any news on whether the Big East Tournament will take place (with or without fans) at its normal home of Madison Square Garden.

On MSG’s event calendar, a concert for late March is listed as canceled.
However, you Justin Bieber fans will be excited that his concert is on!

The last men’s basketball action published on The Big East’s “master schedule” is on Saturday, March 6, 2021 with a flurry of marquee match-ups. In the event there is no tournament, you would assume Providence would have to beat Villanova and Seton Hall would have to defeat St. John’s to even have a chance at an NCAA Tournament bid.

In early February, the Big East “master schedule” showed its last action happening in early March.

Pac-12 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament Update

The Pac-12 may have been the most cautious major conference in terms of letting fans attend games this season. This winter they extended the prohibition of fans in attendance across the board. A footnote in the policy states that there is some discretion based on local and state regulations.

The Pac-12 has not yet made an announcement about whether players will compete in person this March for a conference champion. If recent tradition continued, the Pac-12 would be playing its conference tournament in Las Vegas between March 10-13. The Bay Area News Group/East Bay Times is reporting that conference Athletic Director Larry Scott showed no signs of cancelling that version of the event during a recent meeting.

Meanwhile, the Pac-12 recently announced in January that Larry Scott will serve out his contract and move on June 2021. Read the full statement here.

Click here to read the full report by the East Bay Times.

With projections showing that the PAC-12 has five teams in great position to make the NCAA Tournament with at-large bids, there is an argument to make for canceling the tournament. This is because the sixth best team in the conference currently, Arizona, is ineligible for postseason play because of violations. This almost makes the decision of punting on a conference tournament as “easy” (relative terms here) as it may ever be for a power 5 conference.

SEC 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament Update

On January 20, 2021, the SEC Conference posted an article on its official site announcing the in-person conference tournament schedule for mid-March. It takes place in Nashville, Tennessee.

In late January, the Southeastern Conference announced its in-person conference tournament

Much to Kentucky Head Coach John Calapari’s shagrin, the SEC championship game itself will take place on Selection Sunday (March 14th)!

Read more “Championship Week” updates from non-power 5 conferences below…

The American East 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament tweaks its format

The American East announced it will host its conference tournament over two weeks and in regional pods. The American East Men’s College Basketball Championship game will take place as it traditionally does, on the Saturday morning before Selection Sunday.

The American Athletic Conference 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament Update

According to the most trusted source of news on the Internet, Wikipedia, the tournament will be played at the Dickie’s Arena in Texas. Read more.

The Atlantic 10 Tournament 2021 Men’s College Basketball Tournament Update

The Atlantic 10 took a unique approach to managing its conference tournament during COVID-19. Two rival schools will co-host the event. In early January, the conference announced it is pulling out of the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn amidst pandemic concerns. Two weeks later it announced that the event will be co-hosted by two schools in the city of Richmond.

Click here to read the official announcement from the A-10 Men’s Basketball Conference.

CBS college basketball insider Jon Rothstein reports that the Atlantic 10 will play to a limited crowd.

Conference USA Champions “Pod Integrity” in its plans to crown a Champion

The Conference USA plans to host its conference tournament at “The Star in Frisco,” which is a massive training facility for the Dallas Cowboys. According to the venue’s website, tickets will be on sale. A COVID-19 protocol fact sheet is included on its website. The protocol calls for pods of tickets where groups of people who know each other are admitted. It stresses “pod integrity,” meaning that tickets aren’t relayed to unknown parties.

The Star in Frisco posts a throrough COVID-19 protocol list to protect fans and participants

Conference USA plans on having 12 teams participate for the men’s basketball tournament March 10-13, meaning that the last place team from the two divisions would not qualify for the playoff.

Mountain West Conference Championship set to peak with matinee matchup

The Mountain West Men’s Basketball Tournament will continue its recent tradition of battling in Las Vegas and playing its championship game on a late Saturday afternoon. This game is normally shown on Network TV, with Reggie Miller and Kevin Harlan calling the game in recent years on CBS. All 11 seeds are slated to play each other in person over four days (March 10th-March 13th). This sets the table for Utah State to have a chance to 3-peat as the Mountain West Conference Championship on Saturday.

Western Athletic Conference Championship Also Returns to Vegas

The WAC returns to the Orleans Arena, but didn’t have much info about tickets in late February.

Mid-season Suspect Spreads Saturday

The College Basketball Eye Test blog went 65-53 against the spread in the 2018-2019 NCAA Basketball Season.  Click here to see that season’s thread on Twitter.

The picks are made by me, Matty D, an avid college basketball fan with no ties to a specific team.  I challenge my first-hand observations about teams by trying to beat the spread.  Whether those picks are simply tweeted for pride, or cashed in at a sports book, it’s all in good fun.  Below are my picks for an important mid-season Saturday.

Ohio State -1 at Penn State:
Early in the season, I loved the Buckeyes at 55-to-1 to win it all.  Coach Chris Holtman is a proven coach and he has a well constructed roster.  However, his decisions and that roster are at a breaking point right now.  After reaching a #1 overall ranking earlier this season, Ohio State has lost 4 of its first five Big 10 games.  Sandwiched in that losing streak was the absence of hustle player forward Kyle Young (appendix surgery).  Holtmann suspended two players in recent days for conduct detrimental to the team.  (Updated status for 11 a.m. EST Saturday: https://twitter.com/CBBEyeTest/status/1218558064598700032).  I think today’s game against a much improved Penn State program can quite literally be a playoff seeding game that dictates whether a team will be slated as a 3/4 seed or a 6-10 seed come March.  A 6 seed hasn’t reached the Final Four since the Fab Five in 1992.  You don’t want to slip into that 6-10 seed lottery.  I don’t think Ohio State is the #1 overall team as it was ranked earlier this season.  But I also don’t believe they’re a 6-10 seed.  They’ll respond today with whichever players are ready for battle and stop the bleeding.

Seton Hall -5 at St. John’s
Seton Hall is on a serious rise right now.  With star scoring guard Myles Powell missing much of December with multiple injuries, the rest of the roster responded.  They beat then top 10 ranked Maryland with a skeleton crew.  Now Seton Hall is at full strength and brings in two waves of 7-plus-footers at center.  Most of their roster is constructed of tristate guys, so playing in front of a feverish New York City fan base shouldn’t phase them.  Although St. John’s has perhaps overachieved this season in taking on coach Mike Anderson’s 40 minutes of hell mantra, I’m taking Myles Powell and his now proven supporting cast minus the five points at St. John’s.

Screen Shot 2020-01-18 at 10.04.05 AM

Courtesy: SHUPirates.com

Read more about Seton Hall’s resurgence from SHU Pirates.com. 

Clemson +7 at NC State
How is Clemson getting 7 points on the heels of its dramatic and sound victory over #1 ranked Duke this week?  That’s the definition of a suspect spread!  I won’t be scared by it.  These are both effectively bubble teams in a bizzarely down year for the ACC.  In reality, I don’t think either team will make the tournament.  But, while each does think it has a shot, I am predicted a close game here.  Clemson is now playing with house money in the national playoff picture, so I would hammer the +7 with a little fade on the money line today.

Each year, I also publish a top 5 best future values for the season.  Here are the teams I predicted would be good values in the first week of November:

Read more about the author.  

March Madness game times and locations Thursday

Here are the teams, times and locations for Thursday’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.

All times Eastern Standard. 

(10) Oklahoma vs. (7) Rhode Island
12:15 p.m. in Pittsburgh, PA

(14) Wright State vs. (3) Tennessee
12:40 p.m. in Dallas, TX

(13) UNCG vs. (4) Gonzaga
1:30 p.m. in Boise, ID

(16) Penn vs. (1) Kansas
2 p.m. in Wichita, KS

(15) Iona vs. (2) Duke
2:45 p.m. in Pittsburgh, PA

(11) Loyola-Chicago vs. (6) Miami (Fla.)
3:10 p.m. in Dallas, TX

(12) South Dakota State vs. (5) Ohio State
4 p.m. in Boise, ID

(9) NC State vs. (8) Seton Hall
4:30 p.m. in Wichita, KS

(16) LIU-Brooklyn/Radford vs. (1) Villanova
6:50 p.m. in Pittsburgh, PA

(12) Davidson vs. (5) Kentucky
7:10 p.m. in Boise, ID

(11) San Diego State vs. (6) Houston
7:20 p.m. in Wichita, KS

(14) Stephen F. Austin vs. (3) Texas Tech
7:27 p.m. in Dallas, TX

(9) Alabama vs. (8) Virginia Tech
9:20 p.m. in Pittsburgh, PA

(13) Buffalo vs. (4) Arizona
9:40 p.m. in Boise, ID

(14) Montana vs. (3) Michigan
9:50 p.m. in Wichita, KS

(11) St. Bonaventure/UCLA vs. (6) Florida
9:57 p.m. in Dallas, TX

 

Best Hair in March Madness

Vote for your choice of best hair in college basketball below in the comments.

Here’s the field of 16…

16.  Garrett Collins – UNCG Spartans
Forward Garrett Collins gets the party started (and happy belated) with our Sweet 16 list.

15.  Caleb Wood – Pennsylvania Quakers
Caleb Wood looks like one of the 3 Musketeers on the guard as the Quakers march into tournament territory.

14.  Bobby Morehead – Montana Grizz
The headband game needed to be represented in this bracket.

13.  Terrell Miller – Murray State Racers
Terrell Miller makes the NBA’s Nene look thin-haired.

12.  Jaylen Barford – Arkansas Razorbacks
Jaylen Barford’s distinguished grey gives “senior night” a new connotation.

11.  Rob Gray – Houston Cougars
Replacing Kyle Guy this year as an ambassador of team man bun.

10.  Trae Young – Oklahoma Sooners
Some chicks dig the “just woke up” look.

9.  Dylan Osetkowski – Texas Longhorns
You should see this modeled in corn rows.   Osetkowski broke it out earlier this season.

8.  Collin Sexton – Alabama Tide
This freshman has entered the college game and surpassed his own teammates – like Dazon Ingram and John Petty – with the voluminousness.

7.  Jalen Fisher – TCU Hornfrogs
Jalen Fisher brings color, curls, and style to the bracket – a Cinderella story in the making.

6.  Nate Watson – Providence Friar’s
Nate Watson rocks the sherbet colored frosted tips, as do some teammates.

5.  Cartier Diara – K-State Wildcats
You can define this one.

4.  Lonnie Walker – Miami Hurricane
Anyone comfortable with the nickname pineapple head belongs on this list.

 

3.  Vincent Edwards – Purdue Boilermakers
Edwards reminds us of Rufio from Hook but has drawn other comparisons on Twitter.

2.  Jacob Evans – Cincinnati Bearcats
Coaches nationwide are looking for versatile players this time of year.  Evans has displayed his range this season, showcasing earlier this season the short dreads, and now sporting something more reminiscent of the 1990s New York Knicks front court.

  1.  Donte DiVincenzo – Villanova Wildcats
    Nicknamed “The Big Ragu” by Gus Johnson, his hairdo matches the theme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Real Champions Classic

Each year, ESPN’s Champions Classic is promoted as the real tip-off to the college basketball season.  It always features a rotation of match-ups among these powerhouses:  Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State and Duke.

There are also reports that the Champions Classic may literally kick-off the NCAA season next year, with no games tipping off before it.  This year, it featured a sloppy matchup of Kansas versus Kentucky (Jayhawks win 65-61) and a Duke victory over Michigan State that left the viewer asking, “was this really a matchup of number 1 and number 2?”

However, tonight when Florida plays Duke and Michigan State plays North Carolina, it will feel like the Champions Classic that would have been if the planners had the ability to pair the nation’s best four teams.

Kansas’s roster is thinner than recent years. Kentucky’s is even more immature than recent years.  Meanwhile, top 10 ranked teams like (2) Arizona is struggling (losing three consecutive games) and (6) Wichita State is without its primary scoring wing, Markis McDuffie.  Swapping-in defending champion UNC with an incumbent veteran roster of Gators would be the ideal substitute for a Champions Classic.

Luckily, for college basketball fans, they’ll get that final four after a full slate of football Sunday.  It’s the semifinals of the PK80 Invitational!

(1) Duke versus (7) Florida
TIP OFF 10:30 EST 

Let’s start with Florida.  The gators are returning an experienced team, highlighted by its gritty backcourt of KeVaughn Allen and Chris Chiozza.  Add-in Russian-born guard Egor Koulechov, Kevarrius Hayes, and a load of talented underclassmen, and you have a national contender.  The Florida Gators already accomplished a great resume-builder during this tournament.  They beat the defacto hometown team, the Gonzaga Bulldogs (games in Portland).  Meanwhile, Duke had an impressive win itself.  They came storming back in the final stanzas against a Texas Longhorns team that looked like it could bring Havoc to teams down the line.  It’s Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s youngest starting roster since 1982-83.  The Blue Devils start senior Grayson Allen with 4 freshmen, headlined by forward Marvin Bagley III.

(4) Michigan State versus (9) North Carolina
TIP OFF 8:30 EST 

UNC is somehow overlooked at number 9.  Yes, they have lost Justin Jackson and Tony Bradley to the NBA draft.  However, they return importance piece of last year’s championship team.  They include Joel Berry II, Luke Maye, Kenny Williams and Theo Pinson.  Michigan State has the next coming of Vince Carter in Miles Bridges, along with a huge cast of sophomores who can grow into something special.