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Bid Thieves Lurking on the Final Saturday of the Regular Season

Bid Thieves Lurking on a Monster Saturday

Arch Madness has already thrown an early monkey wrench in the plans of some potential dancers, ramping up the pressure on an already MASSIVE final Saturday of the regular season.  By most reasonable accounts, there are roughly 23 teams jockeying for eight spots on the bubble.  It looked like 22 for nine as early as yesterday afternoon, but with the simply perplexing 22-point loss Northern Iowa took to Drake (the University, not the rapper, though both entered the day with similar records) a team that would never have gone dancing will (especially with Loyola, the #2 in the MVC ALSO losing…) and UNI nervously perches on the fragile precipice.

They’ve got company.  Rutgers, Texas, Stanford, UCLA, Arizona State, Xavier, Cincinnati, Indiana, Purdue, Arkansas, NC St, Utah State, Richmond, Wichita State, South Carolina and Memphis – more than half of them will be home for the Dance.  Even teams like Clemson, Tennessee, Tulsa, St. Louis and Notre Dame are long-shot miracle-run dreaming.

And that’s before we potentially add a few more into the bid thief pool.  Is the tournament REALLY better-suited with an eleventh Big TEN (let the irony sink in….) team in the field over a Stephen F. Austin or Liberty or Yale or Middle Tennessee State?  What if San Diego State loses (especially to someone other than Utah State)

It’s going to be a HUGE day of college hoops – so enjoy the unofficial (and, well, for us, official) start to the MADNESS!

Be sure to check in this week for some podcasts breaking down all the conference tournament action!

 

Here’s my favorite plays on today’s board:

#1.  UCLA Bruins at USC Trojans -3.5 

I know.  Ucla is on fire and has become a national media sensation.  But the fightin’ Mick Cronin’s are walking into a buzzsaw today; rivalry game, on the road, against a team than has been bludgeoning fools on their home floor.  USC has won four straight home games all comfortably, including a most-recent sweep of the Arizona’s.  Ucla still deserves to dance, early season woes forgiven, but today is a tough spot.

Ucla does own road wins over Arizona and Colorado, so they are capable, but I think the magic runs out today with a hard-fought loss to the rival Trojans.  USC is 13-4 ATS in conference play, with the second highest ATS +/- (2.6) in the Pac-12.  Look for them to sneak out an exciting victory yet again today.

 

#2.  Seton Hall Pirates +4 at Creighton Bluejays

Because what could be MORE Big East than Seton Hall blowing their chance to win the Big East outright by losing late to Villanova at home and then turning around and BEATING Creighton on the road to steal it back.  A Creighton win would most likely assure a three-way tie at 13-5 atop the Beast, but I like one of the grittier road teams in the country to fight back and steal a program-defining W.

Seton Hall has road wins over Xavier, Butler, Villanova and Marquette.  Their only conference stumbles away from home were over scorching Providence. Getting points with the slightly better team, given how immune they’ve been to road contests, makes for a nice value.

 

#3. Louisville Cardinals at Virginia Cavaliers – UNDER 115.5

Virginia has won seven games in a row…but beware.  This ain’t your Dad’s Ty Jerome Cavaliers (Ok, your barely older brother’s Cavs…).  They’ve won those seven games by a combined 27 points and six of the games have been by three or less points – a statistical improbability without modern era major conference parallel.

The point is – they aren’t dominant by any stretch.

But they WIN.  And they make opponents so damn uncomfortable.  The wins are smothering defensively, holding Duke to 50, Notre Dame to 49, Miami to 44.  Of course, they only scored 52,50 and 46 in the process.  This one might be tough to watch, but it won’t have a lot of points.  The UNDER 115.5 is one of my favorite plays of the day.

 

GAMES TO WATCH:

Today’s slate it LOADED with important games.  Here’s a rundown of the best watches, along with some LEANS in bold.  (All times EST)

AUBURN +2.5 at Tennessee        Noon
Marquette -3 at St. Johns             Noon
Villanova -8 at Georgetown         Noon
Wisconsin at Indiana -2.5             Noon
BAYLOR +1 at West Virginia        1 PM
Kentucky at FLORIDA -2.5            1 PM
KANSAS -3 at Texas Tech              2 PM
Rutgers at Purdue -5.5                   2 PM
Oklahoma State at TEXAS -3.5    4 PM
North Carolina at Duke -10.5       6 PM
Yale -2.0 at Harvard                        7 PM
Temple at Cincinnati -10.5           8 PM
Butler at XAVIER -2.5                     8:30 PM
Stanford at OREGON -7.5             11 PM

** Murray State vs. BELMONT -3              8 PM  (OVC Championship)

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