Today’s title is in reference to the birthday of Friend of the Blog (but guy who hasn’t read it much yet) Daniel Brian Dukich whose birthday is on Monday. Mainly this is a way to shame him into reading the blog. He’ll also be a guest contributor about the Hoosiers whenever they decide to be relevant again. Please join us in wishing him a happy birthday!
Every week we’ll be previewing the games we’ll be watching and making picks. Nate’s been much better at this than I have, so let’s hope the tide shifts this week. When we pick against each other there’s a beer at stake. These are the rules.
Here we go!
Mike: 6-9 (nice)
Saturday (these are all Saturday games this week)
#25 Utah at Wichita State, 2:30 p.m., ESPN2
Line: Wichita State -3.5
Reason to Watch: This has all the makings of the last game Utah will play as a ranked team this season. Wichita State has had well documented struggles this season but with Van Vleet back and with a home game that they just have to win this looks like a quality matchup between two likely tournament teams.
Mike: Wichita State has to have this game and I think they will. This spread is actually surprisingly low – so low that I am seriously questioning why I don’t have a bookie. Hands down this is my favorite pick of the year so far. Wichita State -3.5.
Nate: Van Vleet is back and they add the Great White Bald Hope to the fray in Connor Frankamp. Plus, I don’t think Utah is good. Wichita State -3.5.
#3 North Carolina @ Texas, 4:15 p.m., ESPNLine: UNC -6
Reason to Watch: Much like the MSU-Florida matchup, this represents a top-tier college basketball program playing against a program that should be a lot better than it is. The Shaka factor at Texas will be fascinating to watch over the next couple of years. Today, we’ll get to see whether UNC can get up for a road game it absolutely should win and whether Texas has a significant upset in it.
Mike: I’m going to go with UNC -6 here because I just don’t think this Texas team is ready for prime time.
Nate: …….No thoughts.
Oregon State @ #2 Kansas, 7:00 p.m., ESPN2 (Actually in Kansas City)
Line: Kansas -13
Reason to Watch: Gary Payton’s kid. He’s good. So is Kansas, though. That’s enough reason to watch.
Mike: I had serious thoughts about picking Oregon State here which means they’ll only lose by 12 and I’ll be kicking myself later. Kansas will win this one
Nate: KU has struggled a bit lately…but the Glove 2.0 isn’t going to be able to keep this one close. Kansas -13.
#23 Cincinnati @ #12 Xavier, 4:30 p.m., FOX (FOX is broadcasting college basketball now?)
Line: Xavier -5
Reason to Watch: The Cubs getting Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, and John Lackey (for at least one year before he reverts to Fat Lackey) makes them the clear favorites to win the NL and the World Series this year. Oh, there’s a big game between the two teams I hate the most in college basketball? Really? I’d rather talk about the Cubs. I’m a White Sox fan. Damnit.
Picks: BEER BET!
Mike: Xavier will win this game by more than 15. Xavier -5.
Nate: I’m not fully aboard the Xavier hype train…yet. Plus, I see this as one of those 62-60 slugfests. Cincy +5.
Florida @ #1 Michigan State, 5 p.m., ESPN2
Line: Sparty -9.5
Reason to Watch: #1 team in the country with the best (or second best) player in the country is playing at home against a team that should be ranked every year based on recruiting base, athletics budget, and recent history. Why wouldn’t you watch this game?
Picks: BEER BET!!
Mike: I’m going way out on a thin limb here. Florida’s lost to the other two good teams they’ve played this season (Purdue and Miami) but I think they don’t lose this one…by 10. Sparty wins but it’s a fight. America’s Wang +9.5.
Nate: Florida stinks. Denzel Valentine doesn’t. Sparty -9.5.
Northern Iowa @ New Mexico, 8 p.m., ESPN3
Line: UNM -4.5
Reason to Watch: Hmm…New Mexico might be very good this year, although they have choked away a couple of chances to prove it against Purdue and USC. Northern Iowa ruined the chances of any other mid-major team scheduling a true power by beating North Carolina. Way to be selfish, jerks.
Mike: New Mexico -4.5. Time to turn the tables on UNI. UNM only giving up 5 at the Pit? Yes, please.
UCLA @ #20 Gonzaga, 9:00 p.m., ESPN2Line: Gonzaga -8
Reason to Watch: UCLA has probably been the hardest team to read in the nation so far with its losses to Wake Forest and Monmouth counterbalancing its win against Kentucky. Gonzaga has been and will be excellent all year before flaming out in the round of 32 because they haven’t been challenged in months. This is probably Gonzaga’s last real test until the NCAA tournament.
Picks: BEER BET #3!!!
Mike: I’m going to put more thought into this than Nate is. UCLA has lost to a couple of lousy teams this year and Gonzaga ain’t a lousy team. The only reason this spread is 8 is because people still think UCLA is good. They’re not. Bet on the current blue blood on the west coast not the old one. Gonzaga -8.
Nate: UCLA +8. Always Bet Against Duke West (ABADW).
Yes, I picked 6 games today. That’s probably against the rules but it’ll be OK. If it matters my least confident pick is Gonzaga but I’m not giving up a beer bet.