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Free College Hoops Picks – Feb 16th – from the March Maniac

For the second straight Saturday, college hoops has a must-see marquee matchup on the docket.  Duke vs. Virginia was a little disappointing (from a competitiveness standpoint), but I have a feeling Tennessee’s visit to Rupp Arena will provide a little more drama and emotion.  For starters, it feels like it means a little MORE to these two respective fanbases.  Not that Duke and UVA fans didn’t care a ton, but there felt like a little more perspective around that matchup – a win would be nice, but a loss didn’t preclude either from a #1 seed and both would still remain in the ACC title hunt.

The same basic principles apply tonight, but “ration” and “Kentucky fan” aren’t always synonymous, and the little-brother feelings Tennessee hoops harbors run decades deep – all the way back to constructing their arena with the sole purpose of being ten seats bigger than UK’s…

Expect a wild one tonight with SEC supremacy, and Tennessee’s #1 national ranking, on the line.

TODAY’S FREE PICKS:

Clemson Tigers at Louisville Cardinals -4.5

The blown 23-point lead against Duke was certainly tough to stomach if you are a Louisville fan.  But the mere fact they have a team that CAN amass as 23-point lead against the most talented squad in the nation; a team ranking in the top ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency (in addition to sporting a superhuman basketball alien savant), says a TON about what Chris Mack has been able to accomplish in year one.  I think the loss stings, but also motivates, and I think Clemson has one comin’ their way today in The ‘Ville.

Louisville has dropped three of four, but one is a five point overtime road loss at Florida State, and the other two are to North Carolina and the aforementioned Duke stunner.  Aside from that, Louisville is 8-4 in ACC play, both ATS and straight-up.  They had won six straight before the recent trouble, knocking off NC State and a 21-point win at North Carolina.

Meanwhile, Clemson has been what they seem to always be; hanging around the bubble fringes with a decent record and no real wins to scream about aside from an upset win over Virginia Tech.  When they have faced top-tier ACC foes, they have lost.  They’ve lost most all of their conference road games, and while losing at Syracuse, Duke, Florida State, NC State and Miami isn’t embarrassing – it certainly isn’t any indicator that they are ready to go into Louisville and knock off a scorned Cards squad.

I’ll take Chris Mack and company to bounce back with a little vigor today and cover with a little room to spare.

MY PICK:  LOUISVILLE CARDINALS -4.5

 

Iowa State Cyclones at Kansas State Wildcats -3

When in doubt, give me the most undervalued team in the nation, Bruce Webber’s Wildcats.  K-State is poised to end a decade and a half of conference dominance by their hated in-state rivals, and no one seems to be noticing – even Vegas.  The simple fact is, since K-State has gotten Dean Wade back, they are ripping through the Big Twelve.  The ‘Cats enter tonight on a nine game conference win streak – a winning streak only interrupted by a bizarre non-con slip up at Texas A&M in the SEC Challenge.

These are REAL WINS too.  Wins over Kansas.  Wins @ Baylor, @Texas, @Iowa State.  Home wins over Texas Tech and TCU by double digits.  Real WINS.

I don’t think I need to ramble on.  I have a little Jim Nantz jinx in me when I pile on the compelling stats.  But let’s just simply leave it at; K-State is really, really undervalued and should be laying twice as many in this contest.

MY PICK:  KANSAS STATE WILDCATS -3

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