It is starting to look like Nate is just better at this. Not that this should come as any particular surprise, but the fact that Nate swept the Beer Bets last week (2) and started out at a very respectable 4-2 last week is just more evidence that one of us should be followed and the other should be faded. Still, we’ll keep doing this so you can follow one of us and laugh at the other. (I see what you are doing here, Mike…reverse psychology!)
For a December Saturday this is quite the slate. Let’s get into it.
Saturday (all times Central)
#23 Notre Dame (9-0) vs. #1 Villanova (9-0), 11 a.m., CBS
Line: Nova -6
Reason to Watch: I don’t really think I need to add to this.
Mike: I have a feeling this will end up being a beer bet. I’m taking Villanova here, but that is not intended to be a knock on ND. They’re a very good team…that has played a very easy schedule. I’m interested to see what happens when they face a much tougher challenge. Nova -6.
Nate: Beer Bet #1. Bonz and Beach get it done in Newark. Irish +6.
#17 Wisconsin (8-2) @ Marquette (7-2), 1 p.m., FS1
Line: Marquette +4.5
Reason to Watch: This is apparently the 123rd time these two teams have played, which easily makes it the most historically significant game on today’s slate. It should be a fun one, too. Wisconsin has played a very difficult preseason schedule and come away looking very strong. Marquette is resurgent this year behind an enviable guard/7 footer combo.
Mike: I was at a bar called the Marq last night and while that would normally be enough for me to just bet on Marquette, Wisconsin looks like they’re in mid-season form already. I’m not sure Marquette is ready for that. I’ll take Wisconsin – 4.5 in this “road” game.
Nate: Marquette won at Wisconsin last year when the Badgers were really weird, and Bo Ryan was on his way to retirement. In-state revenge game. Badgers -4.5
#22 Cincinnati (7-1) @ #16 Butler (8-1), 3:30 p.m., FS1
Line: Butler -3
Reason to Watch: These are the kinds of regional non-conference rivalries that should happen more often in the preseason. Both of these teams are somewhat unproven, especially Butler which just lost to Indiana State. Cincinnati hasn’t played a terribly difficult schedule yet, either, but they managed to beat Iowa State and lose to Rhode Island. Both of these teams look like they will be fairly high seeds in March and should factor in their respective conference races. Good test all around.
Mike: Picking Cincinnati for anything but chili feels like a mistake, but I’m taking the Bearcats +3. I’m not buying what Butler is selling so far this season, and I’m thinking that Cincinnati can out-muscle them for a win here.
Nate: Beer Bet #2. Both these teams are really solid, and even though Butler lost to (a very good) ISU this week, I think the Bulldogs bounce back. Butler -3.
#5 Duke (9-1) @ UNLV (5-3), 4:15 p.m., ESPN
Line: UNLV + 23.5
Reason to Watch: This is the gambler’s special. Ok, it’s also a rematch of a pretty important game 25 years ago. Today, though, the only intrigue here will be whether UNLV can cover the spread. The Mountain West has had a rough couple of years and that does not look particularly likely to end this year, but a UNLV win would be a great step in the right direction. Plus rooting against Duke is always fun.
Mike: I never bet on spreads over 20 points but if I were to bet on this one I’d probably take Duke for the cover.
Nate: Cross-country special. UNLV is not very good, but Duke is traveling more than half the country as a road favorite. UNLV +23.5.
Utah (6-1) @ #13 Xavier (7-2), 4:30 p.m., Fox
Line: Xavier -12
Reason to Watch: To see whether Xavier can right the ship. Utah has lost to the only good team it has played this year (Butler), so it’s pretty hard to get a read on them. Xavier, on the other hand, was very highly regarded this year and got off to a strong start before inexplicably dropping their past 2 games. Talk of the Musketeers being a Final Four team might have been premature.
Mike: I really want to take Utah and the points here, but I just can’t pull the trigger. Hard to know whether I’m betting with the head or the spite.
Nate: This seems like a ton of points to give for a team coming off two straight losses. Vegas knows. Xavier -12.
Michigan (7-2) @ #2 UCLA (9-0), 7 p.m., ESPN2
Line: UCLA – 9.5
Reason to Watch: UCLA is really damn good. After being doubted loudly and stupidly on this blog, the Bruins have rattled off impressive win after impressive win. The UCLA-Kentucky game might have been the most entertaining regular season college basketball game in the past few years with the notable exception of this one. Michigan is playing in this game, too. They’re…fine.
Mike: UCLA -9.5. I’m tired of being wrong about this team.
Nate: Beer Bet #3. Before I pick Michigan, let me preface this by saying that UCLA is really, really good. They impressed the hell out of me last weekend and are a legitimate contender. This spread just seems low, and coming off that win, think the Bruins struggle a bit. UCLA wins, but Michigan +9.5.
East Tennessee State (7-1) @ Dayton (6-2), 1 p.m., shockingly untelevised
Line: Dayton -7.5
Reason to Watch: It’s a very strange feeling to have Dayton seem overrated but that is where we are. East Tennessee State isn’t a typical marshmallow, either. Dayton does have Pollard back, which definitely helps, but he also made SportsCenter’s Not Top 10 for his variety of missed dunks in their last game. I’m not going to pretend to know anything about ETSU, but they do seem to score a lot of points and Dayton has struggled on defense occasionally this year (cough…Nebraska…cough). If this turns into a Dayton rock fight, gotta like the Flyers. If this turns into a track meet…uh oh.
Mike: I have a really bad feeling about this one. I’m going to take ETSU +7.5 but honestly, I think they might win outright. Dayton has a lot of kinks to work out and playing a high-scoring offense isn’t the safest place to do that.
Nate: The Mocs only loss came to UNC Wilmington (who is good)…and they have pretty solid wins over Milwaukee, S. Dakota St. and UC Irvine. This is a legit test for the Flyers, and I’m with Mike here. ETSU +7.5.
Wichita State (8-2) v. Oklahoma (6-2), 3 p.m., ESPN2 (in Oklahoma City)
Line: Wichita State -3.5
Reason to Watch: Last year this game would have been spectacular. Both of these teams have lost some serious talent and Oklahoma just got walloped by Wisconsin. They also haven’t done all that well against strong mid-major programs this year (loss to UNI). The Shockers are one of those teams that has fed on weaklings and lost to the bullies (Louisville and MSU). This should be an interesting “prove it” game.
Mike: I’m taking Oklahoma +3.5 here. Wichita State ain’t Wisconsin. You come here for this kind of in-depth analysis.
Nate: Wichita has been rolling since their two losses in the Bahamas, but I can’t pull the trigger even though OU is having tremendous difficulty replacing Buddy. Pass.