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NCAA Championship Game – Point Total PICK

I hear the gripes about how “boring” tonight’s championship game is going to be, and I can’t help but think all those people just don’t really like basketball.  What’s boring about two of the best defensive teams ever locking up with such intensity that every possession feels like the final one of the game for 40 minutes?  What is boring about the amazing redemptive story arc of a team one year removed from the most crushing upset in the history of the sport being one game away from winning a title?  What is boring about a school picked seventh preseason in their own league about to author one of the truly great success stories in college hoops history; a long-suffering and ignored program improbably reaching the sport’s pinnacle?

This game is going to be great.

It just isn’t going to feature a lot of points.

Today’s Free Pick:

Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Virginia Cavaliers -1 TOTAL: 118

I picked Virginia in November.  I picked them in January, annoying proclaiming them superior to Duke, even after losing to them, and I picked them again in my Bracket.  So it is not lightly that I say that my EYES tell me Texas Tech is actually the better team right now.  But in fairness, so was Purdue, and here we are tonight…

I am not backing off my UVA to win the title, but I am not touching a wager on this pick ‘em game.  I just can’t convince myself to clearly favor one team over the other.  Virginia has more diverse and effective scoring options and FAR superior shooting.  They have also had long stretches of offensive ineptness in this tournament and they haven’t seen ANYTHING like what they are going to face tonight defensively.

Instead, my pick is on BOTH team’s defense and willingness to grind tempo to a near-halt.  Virginia is one heckuva defensive team as well, and Texas Tech isn’t nearly as gifted offensively as the Cavaliers.  This has 48-46 written ALL OVER IT, and despite being the lowest Vegas title game point total in the modern era, it still feels a little too high.  It is hard to envision either team barring a red-hot out-of-your-mind shooting performance hitting the 60 point mark.  There just won’t be enough possessions or enough quality looks.  Someone is going to have to hit 25-footers (Kyle Guy?) to have a big offensive night.  I’d rather bet on the obvious than the outlier.

Texas Tech switching and sharing seamlessly on defense truly is a thing of beauty.  It made me pause the game and rewind a few times to show “game film” to my poor wife who no longer wants to watch basketball with me… but the ease with which they jump off pick and rolls, pass ball handlers off after screens and can switch to usual mismatches without being burnt (the physical strength of Mooney really helps – think UVA can get Keihi Clark on the block defensively and live to tell??) really is remarkable.

Enjoy the “ugliness” of amazing defense, and strap in for a memorable, albeit low-scoring, title affair.  If defense bores you, hopefully winning a wager can ease the sting.

Today’s Free Pick:  POINT TOTAL UNDER 118

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