Most probably agree that on football Saturday mornings in the fall, ESPN does a pretty good job with College Gameday. The analysis is mostly sound, Corso puts on headgear, celebs like Stone Cold make appearances and drink beer, and they almost always correctly choose the best game of the day. However, for college hoops, it’s nowhere near the same.
Case in point…2017 Gameday kicks off with…Miami at Duke? What? Both teams are off to roaring 2-3 starts in the ACC. So, why on Earth would ESPN choose this game over, say, a Top 15 matchup between Arizona and the Golden State Warriors of college hoops, UCLA?
Most likely because Arizona and UCLA is on CBS, and Miami/Duke is the night game on ESPN. This will be the second straight Gameday at Duke, and likely the first of at least two appearances for the Blue Devils (Gameday has set up shop on the final Saturday of the regular season in either Chapel Hill or Durham for five straight years). Instead of getting extra analysis of a game between two teams with three combined losses, we get Duke shoved down our throats and analysis of two teams with three conference losses each.
After today, the last ten Gamedays have featured one of the following schools: Duke, UNC, Kansas, Kentucky, and Michigan State. We get that Gameday isn’t as popular for hoops, but defaulting on picking a game involving a blueblood that is playing on your network is just lazy.
Relevant to this blog, Gameday has been to Notre Dame three times, all when the game has also been on ESPN involving big-time programs: UConn, Louisville, UNC. I (Nate) couldn’t care less if Gameday comes to ND, but it is nice to see the program get a little extra attention. Plus, it’s always fun to see Brey get fired up.
The Irish have three big Saturday games remaining:
Feb. 4 – at UNC
Feb. 11 – FSU
Mar. 4 – at Louisville
Despite potentially being in the running for an ACC regular season title (there’s a ton of season left), the chances of ND being involved in Gameday are incredibly slim. Although ND and UNC could be a battle for first place in the ACC, Gameday is likely out for this one. They have never gone to the same venue twice in the same season, and do you really think a 6th straight Duke/UNC trip isn’t already planned for March 4? That eliminates ND/Louisville as well, in addition to CBS having the rights to that one.
A trip to South Bend for a second consecutive year for the FSU game? Not likely, despite the first game being an absolute treat. Pretty sure ESPN will go “off the radar” and go to Duke West at Saint Mary’s. Get ready that weekend for the following: 1) Will Duke West go undefeated and 2) Will Duke West get a 1 seed in the tournament?
Plus, the crowd at ND has not been great in previous visits, even though an ND student did drill a half-court shot for some cash.
College Gameday has been to La Salle. College Gameday has been to a Vanderbilt women’s game. There is just no universe in which you would go to those places and not the arena that has hosted the most NCAA tournament games if you cared about going to the best environment/arena. Last year Gameday had the chance to go to the UD/VCU game that decided the conference championship. Dayton won an incredibly close game and the arena was, according to the sign below, “Lowd.” Be better, College Gameday. I know you are only in existence to promote your own games but for the love of all that is holy – branch out to get to the best games. This weekly Duke/UNC nonsense is a bad look.
Picks – Season to Date:
A perfect 5-0 week has Mike out to a commanding lead in the picks this season, while Nate continues to struggle.
Mike: 18-10 (64.3%)
Nate: 14-18 (43.8%)
Beer Bets: Mike +3…(3-0 last week)
Saturday (all times Central)
Syracuse (11-8, 3-3) at #15 Notre Dame (16-3, 5-1), 11 a.m., ESPN
Line: ND -8
Reason to Watch: Kick off the day with the Irish, who can’t seem to play a game where anyone has a 5-point lead with five to play. ND has some demons to exorcise (PREVIEW HERE), as they haven’t beat the Orange since 2012.
Mike: Ugh. Everything about this matchup screams an Irish win since they’re the better team, they’re coming off of a close loss, and they have more motivation against an allegedly great team that is having a down year. This is why I’m going with a Beer Bet Syracuse +8. If everything you believe is wrong, then the opposite must be correct.
Nate: Brey loves to talk about “game situations” in describing close games down the stretch. Not today. Irish -8
#12 Louisville (16-3, 4-2) at #10 Florida State (17-2, 5-1), 1 p.m., ESPN
Line: FSU -3.5
Reason to Watch: Probably the second best game of the day, and actually worthy of Gameday. Louisville looked fantastic in a rout of Clemson on Thursday, and FSU is just really damn good.
Mike: This is an excellent matchup. For that exact reason, I have no idea what is going to happen. Pass.
Nate: Not having Quentin Snider is going to hurt the Cards against a ‘Noles squad who put 40 minutes of pressure on ND by playing 13 guys. Plus, FSU is legit. ‘Noles -3.5
#14 Arizona (17-2, 6-0) at #3 UCLA (19-1, 6-1), 3 p.m., CBS
Line: UCLA -6
Reason to Watch: UCLA is must see TV, but also Arizona gets its best player back after Allonzo Trier finally has whatever super-drug he was taking out of his system after three months.
Mike: Honestly, if you were Trier would you try to slow-play your game today? You’re under pretty intense scrutiny so you might not want to unleash your full arsenal. Lucky for us, he’s a college kid so definitionally stupid. Arizona +6.
Nate: This spread started at UCLA -4…which just seems ridiculously low. It was quickly bet up to -6. Vegas knows, and I am again an idiot for picking against UCLA. ‘Zona +6
Michigan State (12-7, 4-2) at Indiana (13-6, 3-3), 3 p.m., ESPN
No more short shorts this year…
Line: IU -4.5
Reason to Watch: If you have two TVs or went to either of these schools. Otherwise, watch Arizona/UCLA.
Mike: This is the easiest money you’re ever going to make. OG’s done, Sparty’s ramping up. Sparty + 4.5.
Nate: This is about the time of year that Sparty starts to figure things out. IU lost O.G. for the season, which probably means more of Josh McRoberts’ brother. Yuck. Typically, I would pass, but I have some ground to make up. Sparty +4.5
#17 Wisconsin (15-3, 4-1) at Minnesota (15-4, 3-3), 3:30 p.m., BTN
Line: Wisky -3.5
Reason to Watch: In football, they play for Paul Bunyan’s axe. What do they play for in hoops? Babe the Blue Ox?
Picks: BEER BET!
Mike: I’d bet on Whiskey but not Wisky. See what I did there? Actually, I don’t think the Gophers are good at all. Whiskey/Wisky -3.5.
Nate: Give me the home dog in this one. Minnesota is coming off two straight road losses, and they get back on track with a big W. Gophers +3.5
#24 S. Carolina (15-3, 5-0) at #5 Kentucky (16-2, 5-0), 5 p.m., ESPN
Line: UK -13
Reason to Watch: We really don’t know how good S. Carolina is. They remain undefeated with Thornwell in the lineup, after the win over Florida in what sounded on Twitter like the worst basketball game of all time. Per KenPom, UK is #2 in offensive efficiency in the nation, while S. Carolina is #1 in defensive efficiency.
Mike: Very few things give me more joy in sports than watching South Carolina lose. Cats -13.
Nate: UK has won their three SEC home games by an average of 29.3 points. ‘Cats big. UK -13
#6 Baylor (17-1, 5-1) at TCU (14-4, 3-3), 7 p.m., ESPNU
Line: Baylor -2.5
Reason to Watch: Jamie Dixon has a big chance to pick up a marquee win in his first season in Fort Worth. Vladimir Brodziansky has been great lately for TCU, and Johnathan Motley is coming off a 32 point, 20 rebound performance in Baylor’s win over Texas.
Mike: Baylor is a LOT better than TCU. Despite the high level of motivation I am sure the Horned Frogs have…Baylor -2.5. Talent wins.
Nate: Can Baylor pull off two difficult road wins on consecutive Saturdays? I have no freaking clue. Pass.
Miami (12-5, 2-3) at #18 Duke (14-4, 2-3), 7:15 p.m., ESPN
Line: Duke -9
Reason to Watch: Really can’t think of one, unless you have consumed numerous cocktails during the day during all the good basketball and just want to drunkenly yell at Duke through your television.
Mike: (Not pictured: a decent person).
Nate: Miami is confusing. They are finishing their own three-game road trip, having won by 26 at Pitt, and lost by 17 at Wake. I don’t think the trip ends well for them. Dook -9