Well, how about that for a rough start? Okay, well it wasn’t that rough. In my first picks addition on Monday night, I went 0-2 in the first two games, although I may add that Notre Dame was covering the entire way until UNC back-door covered late. West Virginia came in, but Texas fell in double overtime (the worst losses are the closest ones), and I finished 1-3 on the night.
I have a feeling Tuesday will be a better day. Let’s bounce back.
My pick: Missouri -1
This is such an interesting game because of how well both teams are playing. The Aggies have regained their early season form and come in winners of four straight, including wins over Auburn and Kentucky last week. Missouri has won four straight. This should be a tight game, but I like the Tigers here. Cuonzo Martin’s club has played stellar ball at home, having only lost to Auburn and Florida (on a buzzer beater). Jay Jay Chandler and JJ Caldwell are both out, leaving A&M with a thinner bench in this game. The difference in this game could come from behind-the-arc, where Missouri scores 37.1% of their points, and the Aggies rank a lowly 11th in the conference at defending the three ball.
My Pick: Arkansas
Arkansas enters this game inside the NCAA Tournament field, but with work still to do. The Razorbacks have just one true road win this season (at Georgia in overtime) and need to prove to the committee they can win on the road in order to hear their name called on Selection Sunday. This, combined with Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy announcing Monday his plans to resign at the end of the season, I think Arkansas will be motivated in a major way to take care of business in this game. Arkansas also ranks 29th in the country in offensive efficiency, per KenPom, which should be hard to stop for an Ole Miss team that ranks 185th in defensive efficiency and 13th in the SEC.
My Pick: Kansas -6.5
This is a tricky game because I do think 6.5 is a lot of points for an Iowa State team that plays really, really well at home and is coming off a big win over Oklahoma. But this entire season, Kansas has been really good bouncing back from losses. After losing to Oklahoma State last Saturday, the Jayhawks covered against TCU. They also did so against Texas A&M following a loss to rival Oklahoma a few weeks back. And, early in Big 12 play when Texas Tech went into Allen Fieldhouse and beat the Jayhawks, Kansas bounced back with a big road win against TCU, who at the time was ranked in the top-15, the following game. I think the Jayhawks’ electric offense is too much for suspect defensive Cyclones team and Bill Self’s club bounces back again.
My Pick: Maryland +3
Nebraska is right on the cusp of the NCAA Tournament – currently projected as one of the first four out by Joe Lunardi – and Maryland has had a rough year, at 17-10 and just 6-8 in Big 10 play. But beneath the numbers, the Terrapins are actually playing really well as of late. They have won two of their last three, and covered on the road at Purdue, led by double digits until floundering late against Michigan State, and nearly knocked off Michigan in Ann Arbor, falling by just one. Maryland has been close. And yes, Nebraska has won six straight. But besides Michigan, the highest ranked KenPom team the Huskers have beaten all year is 77th ranked Northwestern, which is 6-7 in league play, and that was all the way back on January 2nd. Maryland is the best team Nebraska has faced in its last six games, and I expect the Terps to go into Lincoln and make it really close, and probably leave with a win.
My Pick: Miami +5.5
For some reason, Virginia reminds me a lot of the 2014 Syracuse team in the fact that both teams won their first 12 ACC games, and were pulling out a lot of close wins until getting upset at home in a loss seemingly few saw coming. UVA lost the other night to Virginia Tech, which is a much better loss than when Syracuse lost to Boston College that year. But, the common theme here is that after that loss, SU went on a losing skid. I think Virginia is too good defensively to go on a losing streak, but I do think they will lose to Miami tonight. Even without Bruce Brown, people like to forget how much talent the Hurricanes have, and how good of a coach Jim Larranaga is. The ‘Canes need this win at home, and have enough offensive firepower to break through against Virginia. I think Miami covers the 5.5 here, and maybe even beats top-ranked Virginia.
Last Time: 1-3