Featured Free NCAAB Picks – January 19th, 2019
It’s a huge day in college hoops, highlighted by the biggest game thus far this season with unbeaten Virginia traveling to #1 ranked Duke. That one will suck up the attention and headlines (deservedly so), and yes, I have my pick below, but by no means is Duke v UVA the only show in town. Kentucky is at Auburn in an awesome SEC showdown, Indiana and Purdue battle for Hoosier State supremacy, Michigan takes their unbeaten mark to the tricky Kohl Center, and things heat up on the Red River with Oklahoma taking on the Longhorns.
It’s a loaded day of hoops, so without further delay, let’s see if we can stack up some Saturday winners!
TODAY’S FREE PICKS:
I have been yapping to everyone around me, many who don’t even give a rip about college hoops, that Virginia is a better team than Duke. On a neutral floor, fully healthy, give me Virginia, all day any day. Most have replied with disagreement (or a polite, “Sir, I’m just trying to buy some groceries…”).
So now it is time to put my money where my mouth is. Duke is at home. Big edge. But they are also banged up and possibly missing their playmaking point guard and true leader. Zion is breathtaking. RJ is a pro hanging around kids. But Jones is the rudder for the ship. Without him, there’s a lot of dudes standing around the arc taking turns shooting. I don’t think that’ll get it done against the smothering defense of Virginia.
I’ll take those two factors; home court and injuries, to cancel each other out. Which just leaves Virginia, the better team, getting a few points. It’s become fashionable to question Virginia this season and given their lack of tv-friendly highlights or stylistic pleasantry, most people’s last glimpse of Virginia was the UMBC debacle. Push that vision aside. Virginia is the best team in the nation so far in 2019.
In conference play, Virginia is a perfect 4-0 ATS with a staggering ATS margin of +11.9. They are 11-3 ATS on the entire season with a +6.0 ATS mark. Meanwhile, Duke owns a -5.5 ATS mark in league play. I know three weeks ago, I wrote I was riding with Duke until evidence presented to the contrary. Well, it HAS. They stopped defending and have sustained a major injury. That’s a big variable change, and their play has been reflective. (I have seen Tre Jones listed as possible for tonight’s game – it doesn’t change my pick, but obviously, if he plays (and is able to play pain-free) Duke is a much better team with him, but I will STILL take UVA).
This game is going to be great, but don’t be at all surprised if Virginia goes in to Cameron and not just wins but wins in a way that forces people to recognize they are the #1 team in the nation.
TODAY’S FREE PICK: VIRGINIA CAVALIERS +3.5
Speaking of “best team in the nation” – if Virginia is #1, then Michigan is #1A. The Wolverines are perfect on the season and enter today’s tricky road test at 5-1 ATS in conference play with an average scoring margin of +12.1. They are defending as well as any team in the country, ranking third in the nation in scoring defense (you know who #1 is already, right… yeah…it’s Virginia) and rank third in the entire NCAA in defensive efficiency as well (#2 is…nevermind).
Point is, Michigan can smother you. And, as the old axiom goes, defense travels.
The Kohl Center has been a historically difficult place to play, but Wisconsin has historically been BETTER than they are this season. Wisky has been exposed a bit in conference play. They are 2-4 ATS inside the league and is just 3-3 straight up in conference, with a home loss to Minnesota in which they scored just 52 points.
I like Michigan today to remain perfect and to absolutely smother an already offensively-challenged Wisconsin squad.
TODAY’S FREE PICK: MICHIGAN WOLVERINES -3.5