The picks are back for another year, and Mike is hell-bent on reversing the hefty bar tab that he had to pick up after last year’s domination by the big guy. There will be some changes to how we do the picks starting in January, including enlisting some guests to come challenge us and try to win some beers themselves.
In the meantime, we have a pretty solid Saturday slate of games. Let’s help you make some money.
Saturday (all times Central)
#11 UCLA (8-0) at #1 Kentucky (7-0), 11:30 a.m., CBS
Line: UK -10
Reason to Watch: This one is pretty obvious. Kentucky has what appears to be an excellent freshman backcourt in Malik Monk and DeAaron Fox. UCLA has Lonzo Ball, who already is being compared to Jason Kidd. (By the way, his brother will be at UCLA soon, and just scored 72 points in a high school game.) I’ll postpone putting the Christmas lights up for this one.
Mike: Laying the points here. Despite UCLA making me look like a total moron in the Wooden Legends tournament, I’m still not a believer. UK – 10.
Nate: There are a few reasons why I’m laying the points here. First, remember what Kentucky did to UCLA early in the year in Chicago a few years back? It was 41-7 at halftime. I know that this UCLA team is better than that UCLA team, but that is hard to forget. Second, this game starts at 9:30 a.m. Los Angeles time. Finally, the Cats are just much better than UCLA. UK -10
Oklahoma (5-1) at #17 Wisconsin, Noon, BTN
Line: Badgers -9.5
Reason to Watch: We know what Wisconsin has, as they return all five starters from last year’s Sweet 16 run. But we don’t really know what Oklahoma is made of after losing Buddy (and others).
Mike: This could have been a beer bet. I’m laying the points with Wisconsin -9.5. Oklahoma might end up being a pretty good team by the end of the season but I don’t think they’re there yet.
Nate: I’m going to pass on this one, even though I lean towards the Sooners. Wisconsin is coming off an impressive 17-point win against Syracuse, so I could see a bit of a letdown early in this one.
#25 WVU (5-1) at #6 Virginia, 1 p.m., ESPNU
Line: UVa -8
Reason to Watch: Two contrasting styles here between Press Virginia (23rd in adjusted tempo), and the methodical approach of Virginia (351st in adjusted tempo). UVa is one of two undefeated teams remaining in the ACC (you know who the other is).
Mike: Not really sure what to make of these two teams. UVA is unwatchable even when they’re very good and I’m not sure they’re even there yet. WVU is coached by one of the worst human beings on the planet. I neither want to watch nor think about this game.
Nate: UVa survived against Ohio State at home earlier this week. I don’t know what to take from that…is Ohio State actually good? I’m going to take the points here, but I’m not sure it’s a smart move. WVU +8
Winthrop (4-2) at Dayton (4-2), 1 p.m., none
Line: Dayton -12 (according to KenPom)
Reason to Watch: Dayton beat Winthrop by 34, two years ago. For those in the Dayton area, the reason to go see this one is that Winthrop actually has won at Illinois. That, and people in Dayton actually support their basketball team other than in South Bend. But I digress…
UPDATE: Kendall Pollard will play today for the Flyers.
Mike: This reeks of a game that the Flyers will take for granted. Winthrop +12, but the Flyers win.
Nate: I originally had Winthrop, but with Pollard in action, I think it gives the Flyers a spark. Dayton -12 for a Beer Bet.
#7 Xavier (7-0) at #9 Baylor (7-0), 2:30 p.m., ESPN2
Line: Baylor -5
Reason to Watch: A Top 10 matchup, two undefeated and underappreciated teams, a potential Chip and Joanna Gaines sighting…
Xavier is still trying to find a way to replace their two bigs (Farr and Reynolds, who inexplicably bolted to the NBA draft only to not get picked). Baylor has a large, large hole to fill after losing Rico Gathers.
Mike: Baylor -5. As much as it pains me to say it, Xavier is pretty damn good. Still, this is a tough road matchup for them. No team in the country has had a better start than Baylor and I’m guessing it’s going to continue.
Nate: I’m not sure if Bluiett and Sumner are enough to get the road win for X. However, this seems like a game that gamblers are going to be biting their nails on as Baylor goes to the line late. Stay away from this one.
San Diego State (4-1) at Loyola-Chicago (6-2), 3 p.m., ESPN3
Line: SDSU -5.5
Reason to Watch: YES! The Mountain West/Missouri Valley challenge. All kinds of home underdogs against teams traveling more than half the country. A gambler’s dream. Where else can you get games like Indiana State at Utah State and Fresno State at Drake?
Plus, we both went to law school at Loyola. So at least it’s interesting to us.
Mike: Go Ramblers! I have no thoughts about this game, though.
Nate: Those who know me know I believe in one major gambling rule in college hoops. The cross-country special mentioned above. Ramblers +5.5
#8 Duke West (7-0) vs. #16 Arizona (6-1), 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Line: Duke West -4.5
Reason to Watch: Duke West really loaded up on the transfers with Johnathan Williams (Missouri), Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington) and Jordan Mathews (Cal). They may be better this year because they are cleansed of that waste of space, Kyle Wiltjer. Wait, no they won’t. They’ll get eliminated during the first weekend again, and we’ll have a Duke West loss party, and we’ll spray champagne…
Back to the game. Arizona has depth issues, and they didn’t look great against Butler. Sean Miller can coach though.
Mike: Every year this happens. Every year. I’ll take the better talent here which is definitely Arizona. Arizona +4.5.
Nate: ABADW (Always Bet Against Duke West). Arizona +4.5
Oklahoma State (6-1) at Maryland (7-1), 8 p.m., BTN
Line: Maryland -2.5
Reason to Watch: Two excellent guards on solid teams. Jawun Evans (24.7 PPG) for the Cowboys, and Melo Trimble (20.1 PPG) for the Terps. Problem is, neither team has much else.
Mike: BEER BET!!! First one of the year. Terps -2.5.
Nate: Vegas thinks OSU is the better team here with that small spread. I’ll go with Evans and Vegas. Cowboys +2.5