Down-Ballot Elections – Saturday Picks

This is not the best weekend of college basketball. Sure, there are a handful of interesting games, including the two involving our teams. Looking at the schedule as a whole, things get pretty ugly. Lots of games featuring teams at the top of the heap against the dregs.  Let’s see if we can get you to turn out for a few of the better ones.

Last Week:  Mike 1-4 / Nate 3-2
Season:  Mike 4-9-1 / Nate 9-9-1
Beer Bets:  Nate +4

The key takeaway from this is, as usual, bet with Nate if you’re going to bet with either of us.

#7 Wichita State (15-3, 5-1) @ Houston (14-4, 4-2), 11 a.m., ESPNU

Line: Shockers -3.5

Reason to Watch:  The Shockers. On paper, this is one of their tougher remaining games. It might be their toughest remaining game that doesn’t involve Cincinnati. I’m not entirely sure what to make of Houston, but Wichita State has been plenty convincing so far, including laying the lumber to Houston in their first meeting.

Picks:

Mike: I have a hard time imagining the Shockers dropping consecutive conference games, although this one looked like a decent candidate for them to drop before that loss. Still betting on them bouncing back in this game. Shockers -3.5.

Nate:  A) The Shockers are going to be angry after losing to SMU; 2) I don’t like Kelvin Sampson…at all.  I’m with Mike. Shockers -3.5.

Rhode Island (14-3, 6-0) @ Dayton (9-9, 3-3), Noon, CBSSN

Xerius Williams Rhody

That was fun.

Line: Rhody -5.5

Reason to Watch: Rhode Island looks like the class of the A10. Dayton might be the most average team in the country. They’re capable of beating good A10 teams, though. Rhode Island has advantages all over the court, but the backcourt advantage is massive. Experience, too. The only way for Dayton to pull this off is to get hot early and often from three. I fully expect Rhode Island to take UD’s defense apart. They’re pretty damn good.

Picks:

Mike: Dayton has basically spent the entire season alternating wins and losses which means, after the giant dump they took in Philly on Wednesday, they’re due for a win. I just don’t see it, though. Normally I would take the Flyers at home getting 5 points every time just on principle. Not this time. I also can’t actually pick against them, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Rhode Island covers this comfortably.

Nate:  Talk about Jekyll and Hyde.  Dayton absolutely laid an egg at Stupid Flapping Hawk after that offensive outburst last Friday against VCU.  It’s really tough to pick against Dayton at home, but I’ll update the stat I used last week.  URI has won their six conference games by an average of 15.8 PPG.  URI -5.5.

#11 Xavier (17-3, 5-2) @ #19 Seton Hall (15-4, 4-2), 1:30 p.m., Fox

Musketeer Pirate

Different kind of musketeer/pirate matchup

Line: Seton Hall -1.5

Reason to Watch: This is probably the shine on this turd of a Saturday slate. Both of these teams look pretty good, although I wouldn’t necessarily trust either on a neutral court against most of the other teams in the top 15. Lucky for Seton Hall and people who don’t care for Xavier, this game isn’t on a neutral court. Seton Hall has been much better at home (who hasn’t?) and Xavier has been pretty bad lately on the road.

Picks:

Mike: Based entirely on home/road performances recently, I’ll take Seton Hall -1.5. Xavier is probably the better team, but they seem to be a much worse team away from Cincinnati.

Nate:  Vegas continues to throw out stinky Big East spreads, probably with the hope that a road team not named Villanova actually wins a game.  Last weekend Creighton was inexplicably a 3-point dog at Xavier, and Xavier won by 20+. Stay away.

Notre Dame (13-6, 3-3) @ #20 Clemson (15-3, 4-2), 3 p.m., ESPN

Line: Clemson -7

Reason to Watch:  I assume Nate will supply this. If he doesn’t, my reason to watch is to see whether ND can struggle valiantly to a narrow defeat while losing an important player again. Rough month for the Irish.

Picks:

Mike: Clemson -7. Count me among the Clemson converts. I think they’re pretty good. ND was good, but teams can only take so many injuries.

Nate:  How many wins does Clemson have over ND since the Irish joined the ACC?

Zero.

Mike Brey +7.  Yeah, the Irish are short-handed, but this seems like the game that Brey somehow steals on the way to getting to 10-8 in the conference.  Only beer bet of the day.

Florida (13-5, 5-1) @ #18 Kentucky (14-4, 4-2), 7:15 p.m., ESPN

Cal Angry

Line: Cats -3

Reason to Watch:  Florida, outside of a pretty disastrous stretch in November/December, has been good all season. Kentucky has been far less predictable, alternating squeaker wins with bizarre losses (hello, South Carolina). This is the part of the season where truly good teams start to separate themselves and Kentucky damn sure hasn’t done that yet. This would help.

Picks:

Mike: Florida is an interesting team, but I’m not sure they’re up to this one. I’ll take the Cats -3. They look like a far more talented team than what they’ve shown so far. If they don’t start putting up some more impressive wins, though, maybe they’re just not a great team.

Nate:  Vegas is saying that Florida is the better team…slightly.  I agree.  Kentucky is 4-2 in the SEC, but has struggled in every game.  Quade Green is questionable, but the Cats are getting back Jarred Vanderbilt.  People are comparing him to Ben Simmons…which might be a bit much.  No feeling on how this one plays out.

Nate’s Bonus Picks

There are a couple other games worth chatting about briefly.

*Kansas State just whooped Trae Young.  TCU just lost one of their best players for the season.  KSU is only favored by 2.5 at home.  Can’t sneak that one past me Vegas.  Frogs +2.5.

*Great mid-major game today in CUSA between MTSU and WKU (-4.5).  The Big Red Amorphous Blobs have won seven in a row, but I like 42-year old Giddy Potts and the Blue Raiders +4.5.  Just a gut play here.

*Another good one in the Mountain West as 16-3 Boise State travels to 17-3 Nevada (-5.5).  Late start on ESPNU.  Nevada has some dudes, including the Martin twins, who transferred from NC State.  Wolfpack -5.5 at home.

*St. Mary’s just won at Duke West late Thursday night, which made this guy incredibly happy.  They back that up with a trip to Pacific tonight.  Action/reaction.  Take the Fighting Michael Olowokandis +10.5.

*No play here, but Duke is favored by 28 points against Pitt.  I don’t think I have ever seen a spread even close to that in conference play.  How does Kevin Stallings still have a job?

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