The NCAA has some serious problems: not paying players and yet paying a scumbag $25K for beating Kansas; a sexual assault epidemic; public perception that they produce a deteriorating basketball product; etc. Just so we’re clear, one of its biggest problems is not its scheduling practices. Still…we have a bone to pick.
January is a huge football month with the NCAA and NFL playoffs. For one week every January, though, you know that there won’t be any football: the week before the Super Bowl. So why the hell didn’t the NCAA schedule a showcase weekend when they have no competition? They managed to at least get the Kansas/Kentucky as the centerpiece of the weekend, but the rest of the slate is…
This is half-assed planning at best. Without gambling, this weekend would have 3 games worth watching: Kansas/Kentucky, Villanova/Virginia, and whichever game features the team you follow. They are on the right track with a showcase game on each day, but this could be a showcase weekend for the best teams in the country on a weekend when there is basically nothing else worth watching. Hell, schedule a couple of short tournaments. They could make the weekend before the Super Bowl something people always associate with college hoops. Instead we get…whatever the hell this is. No half measures, NCAA.
Half points, though. Let’s gamble.
Picks To Date
Beer Bets: Even…stupid Flyers
Mike: 21-13 (61.8%)
Nate: 21-19 (52.5%)
Saturday (all times Central)
#14 Notre Dame (17-4, 6-2) at Georgia Tech (12-8, 4-4), 11 a.m., ESPNU
Line: ND -6.5
Reason to Watch: ND’s coming off of a very understandable loss to an excellent UVA team (more on them later). The Ramblin’ Wreck is coming in hot off of an impressive beating of a very good FSU team (more on them later, too). Georgia Tech is a good defensive team…but they’re nothing like UVA no matter how many times I see that alluded to in other previews. This is a big-time “show me” game for Tech. We pretty much know what ND’s about at this point. #basketballschool
Mike: That’s just a bit too high for me, but I really want to take the Irish here. Sadly, I think Vegas sniffed this one out. Pass.
Nate: I didn’t do a recap of the Virginia game because it was the same story as the last four matchups. I like to quote Walter in these situations, “Nothing is f&*!ed here dude.”
In fact, Vegas goes and cheers me up with this glorious spread. GT beats FSU by 22. ND loses by 17. ND is favored by 6.5 on the road? Irish -6.5
#6 Florida State (18-3, 6-2) at Syracuse (12-9, 4-4), 11 a.m., ESPN2
Line: Seminoles -3
Reason to Watch: You’re watching this one to see how FSU responds because you had better not be watching for Syracuse unless one of its diplomas is on your office wall. Plus, we had to find some games to pick, and this one seemed like it was better than most.
Mike: If you couldn’t tell from the “Reason to Watch” let me clear it up: Syracuse is lousy. They’re usually tough at home, and that’s no different this year (4-0 in ACC). Regardless, I’m taking the ‘Noles -3 to rebound nicely.
Nate: This is interesting. Very interesting. FSU clearly took the foot off the gas pedal after playing six straight against ranked teams. Regardless, this spread seems really low, and it is incredibly difficult to win on the road in the ACC. I can’t pull the trigger though.
#9 North Carolina (19-3, 7-1) at Miami (13-6; 3-4), Noon, CBS
Line: Tar Heels -6
Reason to Watch: Continuing with our morning ACC viewing, we have one of the best teams in the nation against an inconsistent (which is generous) Miami team. There was a time when Miami looked frisky. Seems like a long time ago after losing 4 of its last 6 and only beating BC by 1. UNC has been coasting a bit for the past few weeks, particularly on defense where they are getting just torched by some mediocre opponents. Will that bite them today?
Mike: Vegas certainly doesn’t think so. Neither do I. I’m riding UNC until they give me a reason to stop. Heels -6.
Nate: Carolina looks like the team to beat in the ACC; however, they really haven’t had much competition other than a good home win over FSU. This one’s going to be tight. Canes +6 for a Beer Bet.
#22 Maryland (18-2, 6-1) at Minnesota (15-6, 3-5), 1:15 p.m., BTN
Line: Gophers -4
Reason to Watch: Look, we had to come up with some games. I’ve got nothing here. Maryland is interesting at least. I keep hearing how Minnesota might not be terrible, but I haven’t watched one minute of their games this year and yet am entirely confident that they stink.
Mike: Terps +4. I actually had to check this spread several times to make sure I got the +/- right. I’m confused by this spread which probably means I’m missing something, but I’ll take that risk.
Nate: Minnesota has lost four in a row. Maryland has won five in a row, including three road conference wins. Yet Vegas thinks these teams are basically equal. Gophers -4 for Beer Bet #2.
#5 Baylor (19-1) at Ole Miss (12-8), 5 p.m., ESPN2
Line: Bears -8
Reason to Watch: Lots of road favorites today. Ole Miss has been a big Ole Mess lately, but they get a great shot at an elite team. Baylor looks like the best contender to end Kansas’ run at Big 12 titles, but this game won’t factor in that equation. The biggest question in this one is whether Baylor’s “give a damn” level will be high enough.
Mike: I’m actually thinking that no, it won’t. I’ll take Ole Miss +8 at home in this one. This is just a weird, pointless game for Baylor.
Nate: They really did a stellar job with these Big 12/SEC games. Florida/Oklahoma, Iowa State/Vanderbilt…yet the second best SEC team is stuck playing Missouri. I’m not watching this one…and I’m not picking it either.
#2 Kansas (18-2) at #4 Kentucky (17-3), 5:15 p.m., ESPN
Line: UK -7
Reason to Watch: Sometimes these things really don’t have to get complicated. You’re watching this game. It’ll be tough to beat the UNC-Kentucky game from December, but if any game is going to do it, it’ll be this one.
Mike: Not a lot of love for the Jayhawks here from the oddsmakers. That spread seems a little too high for my money so, naturally, I’m taking Kentucky -7. I’m not sold on the Big 12 being good this year and I believe strongly in Kentucky. This sill be a good test of both theories.
Nate: ‘Cats -7. Bam is going to have a field day with the Jayhawks “bigs.”
#12 Virginia (16-3) at #1 Villanova (19-2), Noon, FOX
Line: (Guessing) Nova -2.5
Reason to Watch: Is this the best college basketball game FOX has gotten? I tend to think it will be. Why wouldn’t you watch this game? Contrasting styles. Dapper coaches. Great individual players. Potential Final 4 matchup. Watch this. I guarantee it’ll be better than the Super Bowl next Sunday.
Mike: Hard to pick when you chose the spread because you always think you got the spread right. Pass.
Nate: Think Mike’s right on the spread here, but I’m going to see what it is before making a play. Leaning ‘Nova just because they are coming off a loss and UVa can’t possibly win two huge road games in a week, right?