Every week we’ll be previewing the games we’ll be watching and making picks. When we pick against each other there’s a beer at stake, but there’s no obligation to make a pick on any of the games we choose. Nor is there any set number of picks we’re expected or required to make. We make picks when we like the spreads. These are the rules.
We won’t speak of last week again, but Mike did take the lead in the beer bets (6-5).
Pretty mediocre slate this weekend outside of one enormous Big12 game. Still, there are a number of games that are eminently watchable, plus a big ND game that I’m sure you’ll read about in this space later this weekend.
Here we go!
Mike: 20-24 (6-8 A10)
Beers: x 6
Beers: x 5
Saturday (all times Central)
#6 Villanova (15-2) at Georgetown (11-6), Noon, CBS
Line: ‘Nova -7
Reason to Watch: Plenty. Georgetown was the last team to beat Villanova in Big East play, but that was 20 games ago, which is an incredible achievement regardless of what conference it is. The fact that this is a very good conference makes that accomplishment all the more impressive. Georgetown is a profoundly weird team. That alone makes them worth watching.
Mike: Uh…I want to take the points but ‘Nova seems like a juggernaut. Pass.
Nate: I’m taking the points, because this just feels like a game that Georgetown shows up and plays well. Plus, all the top 10 teams are losing this week. Hoyas +7.
#7 Xavier (15-1) @ Marquette (12-5), 1 p.m., FS1
Line: Xavier -6.5
Reason to Watch: I don’t know – we were really trying to have 10 games to pick from. So…Xavier is excellent and has only lost to the aforementioned Villanova juggernaut. Marquette, meanwhile, is terrible. Their win over Providence is one of the most baffling outcomes of the season so far – possibly second only to Dayton’s utterly incomprehensible loss to La Salle.
Mike: I’m really betting against Marquette more than I’m betting on Xavier. Xavier wins this one by far, far more by 7. Xavier -6.5.
Nate: Sumner is back after his scary injury early in Xavier’s only loss. Pretty sure Xavier, covers, but I like other games more.
Notre Dame (11-5) @ #9 Duke (14-3), 1 p.m., ESPN2
Line: Duke -8.5
Reason to Watch: Last year, the Irish played 4 guards around Zach Auguste and rode that lineup straight to the Elite 8. Brey is hoping to rekindle that magic by sending Bonz to the bench (I’m still not sure this is the right move) and putting the freshman, Matt Ryan, in the starting lineup. Not only did Ryan start, but he got 35 minutes of action against GT. Can this lineup work? Can Bonz relish his role and repeat his ACC semi 1st half against Duke last year? Plus, these two teams are really good at offense.
Mike: I’m taking Duke -8.5 here. Sorry, Nate, but I just don’t see ND putting it together today.
Nate: Well, I have to make this a beer bet. I was surprised the spread wasn’t a little higher. Irish +8.5.
VCU (12-5) @ Richmond (10-6), 1 p.m., CBSSN
Reason to Watch: If the presumptive cream of the A10 crop at the moment is Dayton and George Washington then this is the second tier. You don’t have to strain yourself too much to see either of these teams making a run in the conference and/or the conference tournament. There will probably be 3 A10 teams in the tournament at the end of the year and the winner of this game should get a nice bump toward that position. Plus, these teams don’t like each other at all.
Mike: Richmond has had VCU’s number for a few years now, which would matter if the rosters were the same. But they’re not, and they never are, and people who make these arguments are lazy. Still, I’m taking Richmond here mainly because they’re a better offensive team and that will play at home.
Nate: Richmond has the best player and they are on their home court. When the spread is even, I take that every time. Spiders.
#8 Miami (13-2) @ Clemson (11-6), 1 p.m., ESPN3
Line: Miami -5
Reason to Watch: Look, if you’re watching this game on the Internet (and why isn’t ESPN broadcasting better games this weekend?) you’re watching to see just what the hell Clemson is. How does a team lose by 17 to an awful UMass team, by 7 to an even worse Minnesota team, and then rattle off 3 straight quality wins against Florida State, Louisville, and Duke? They’re 2 deep in a run of 5 straight against ranked teams and they’re already 2-0 in that stretch. Before this run started I would have predicted 5 straight losses but we’ve already determined I’m bad at this.
Mike: Given how weird Clemson is, I want no part of this. That being said, I’ll be monitoring this score.
Nate: Another spread that surprised me. I figured Miami by 2 maybe? All around, Miami is very, very good. Defensively, Clemson is very, very good. This game has 60-55 written all over it, so I’m staying away.
#22 Baylor (13-3) @ Texas Tech (14-4), 2 p.m.
Line: Baylor -2.5
Reason to Watch: Can Baylor win a conference road game outside of Ames? Can Tubby Smith’s defensive-minded team compete with one of the big guns in the Big12? This could be a big win for the Red Raiders.
Mike: It won’t be, but I’m not comfortable putting my lousy record where my loud mouth is.
Nate: Tubby’s boys have lost 3 in a row and this could be the win they need. I’m just not picking against Rico.
#17 Iowa State (12-4) @ Kansas State (11-5), 3 p.m., ESPNU
Line: ISU -1
Reason to Watch: Iowa State is spiraling out of control (get it?). Since they squeaked out a victory against Iowa they’ve gone 4-4 including losing 3 of their first 4 Big12 games. They lose this one and they’re going to have some serious work to do during the rest of their conference season. Lucky for them, Kansas State has also lost 3 of its first 4 Big12 games. Still, this game is more about Iowa State’s ability to bounce back than it is about any phony legitimacy K State would get from a win.
Mike: Every gambling instinct I have says to pass on this one. Given my record so far, though, I should probably adopt a Costanza-esque opposite policy. I’ll give it a shot for this game, anyway: Cyclones -1.
Nate: I love Iowa State -1. The Cyclones badly need a win and KSU isn’t very good. Niang and Morris get it done.
#11 West Virginia (15-1) @ #2 Oklahoma (14-1), 3 p.m., ESPN2
Line: Oklahoma -6
Reason to Watch: This one is pretty obvious. These are two of the best teams in the country and it’s the best game of the weekend by a mile. There’s one game per weekend that doesn’t really require a more detailed explanation of why you should watch. This is that game.
Mike: Oklahoma will be ready for WVU and I love betting against Bobby Huggins, who is as disgusting a human being as there is coaching in college basketball today. Oklahoma -6 it is.
Nate: Very rarely do teams get two enormous wins in one week. While I think WVU is a very solid team, Buddy makes his claim for #1. Boomer -6. (I NEED TO STOP AGREEING WITH YOU).
Seton Hall (12-4) @ #12 Providence (15-2), 4 p.m., ESPN2
Line: Providence -6
Reason to Watch: Kris Dunn.
Mike: Kris Dunn -6.
Nate: He has been #Krisappointing for the last month, except for the onions to beat Creighton in the most surprising score of the year (50-48). I think he is #Dunnbelievable tomorrow. Friars -6.
San Diego State (11-6) @ Boise State (13-4), 9 p.m., ESPN2
Line: Boise State -4.5
Reason to Watch: It’s on late, and one of these teams is likely to be the MWC’s sole representative in the tourney. What a fall from grace for a historically fun conference.
Mike: I’ll take…doing something else. Neither of these teams does anything for me, although I’m still enjoying the memory of Dayton knocking off Boise State in the First Four last year.
Nate: At this point, I’ll probably be sipping on a Barrel Aged Behemoth at 3 Floyds…and I certainly don’t think they will put this game on for us.