We will put rotation numbers in. Friday's thread is somewhere, and with a short card we've got time to get started. Fridays discounted game (ESSLER50 is the code) is here:
Saturday Big Bet Triple Dime
Michigan (675) at Indiana (676): Well, we had thought the Wolverines might not cover against Northwestern but they did. Because the Spartan beat Illinois and Ohio State will beat Nebraska, the loser of this game will fall into a three way tie (in the loss column) for second place in the Big Ten. What's interesting is that statistically Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio State have played the three WORST Conference Schedules to date, so don't count out the Spartans here. Because everyone might be lining up to take the #1 team probably catching a bucket, I'd try to find a way to take Indiana. If Michigan isn't focused 100% (I realize it's hard not to be) they DO have Ohio State at home Tuesday, which is a rematch from their only loss this season. I keep saying their youth will one day catch up to them but it hasn't happened. Perhaps this is where it does. Because Indiana gets to the line more often (far more) and may get the home team calls, I would probably take the Hoosiers. I am sure the Brandon and Dub do not concur, and at the opening number I may not either, but what you can get this for later might be a different story. They can deal with the Illini's and Northwestern's of the world without Jared Morgan, but 20 minutes a game spelling the Freshmen against Indiana's front court might matter.
Syracuse (525) at Pittsburgh (526): Syracuse is tied with Marquette atop the Big East, and what surprised me a bit is that we think of the Big East and slow paced and physical. Not to say that it's not, but the majority if the teams in the top half of the standings are the ones that play faster. I suppose that might bode well for some of them in the ACC! I had been one to disrespect Pittsburgh, but took them over L'ville the other night and they really showed some moxie coming back to make it a game. What impressed me more than anything was that in spite of being down big on the road to a faster team, they just kept being methodical. And because they did lose SU they may be the move valuable team here. If they can play THAT poorly on the road and almost beat what was once a #1 team this season, they can beat Syracuse. The Orange's last three road games were all decided by six or less, and that six was at Providence. The OT loss and a two point win at a fading L'ville team make me wonder if Syracuse can score enough points. They're NOT a great defensive rebounding team and once Pitt gets possession they'll simply walk. Have to go with the Panthers, it's not like Dixon hasn't seen the zone D Syracuse plays and they've got the size advantage offensively inside with Adams and Zanna, and of course Southerland being out for at least two more games appealing his ineligibility.
Miami (589) at NC State (590): People are going to assume NC State sucks, but they haven't lost at home, which includes wins over North Carolina and Duke. People are going to assume Miami is great after crushing Duke, FSU, and taking care of business at V-Tech. That would clearly give the home team a bit more value here, but the 'Canes have very few weaknesses and were one of my surprise teams at the beginning of the season. They're big, experienced, have talented guards, and play great team defense. Now with Johnson back, they're not a team people want to play. NC State is going to want to up-tempo this, but so did the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill and Miami won there as well. The Wolfpack have Duke next, which "mentally" is a look-ahead. It's not til next Thursday, so I can't give it quite as much credence as I might if it were a matter of two or three days. NC State, although a good outside shooting team, score the majority of their points inside, which is going right into the teeth of Miami, so I do think for the Tar Heels to win this game they'll need Brown to shoot more, and of course Purvis (a Freshman) because they won't be able to simply rely on Wood to be the only guy. Miami's defense is too good for that. Miami lost twice to NC State in close games last year, and this one will be a last possession game as well. If there was a play in this one, I would have to lean to the under. Barring late FT/Foul situations which we cannot predict, neither team is over 66% from the line. Clearly the number will rise after it opens, so betting the over early or the under late would be what I'd consider.
Baylor (661) at Iowa State (662): At first glance how can we not like Iowa State here, which means we'll have to see how many points they're laying. Both teams coming in off of losses. Iowa State fell apart late in a winnable game at Oklahoma State, which has got to hurt. Baylor lost at home to the Sooners, which perhaps has to hurt more. ISU hasn't lost at home, but aside from the K-State win they haven't beaten a top 50 team yet, although BYU is marginal, or was back then. Baylor won at Lexington back when their stock was higher and perhaps Kentucky was still learning to play together, but their other road wins were TCU and Texas Tech, game they SHOULD win. They won't have any trouble matching ISU's speed and they've got the size, but ISU has the experience edge, by far, which would probably trump everything at home. Most of Baylor's size is inside and they're not a great perimeter defending team, so it of course will boil down to whether ISU can stop Austin and Jefferson inside and if Baylor can stop McGee AND Luccious outside. I tend to think NEITHER and this game may go over (polygonic) but it will be a big total. Probably 150 (or more).
K-State(613) at Oklahoma (614): Both teams with identical conference records and probably fighting for second in the Big 12 behind Kansas. The Wildcats really haven't had a bad loss yet and have Texas Tech next, so really a good "spot" for them here, and I'd have to wonder how much energy Oklahoma has left after playing Kansas and leading by 16 at Baylor and having to hang on late. Even though their back home, that would be a concern, because they've got to go right back out and play AT ISU on Monday. So, just based on the situation, we lean K-State. I honestly think that one of the reason the Wildcats are having success is that these other Conference teams haven't seen a Bruce Weber team, which as you know is very different from the years of Frank Martin. I do wonder if at some point it catches up with them and Lon Kruger may be the coach to do it, now that he's had two years of Jeff Capel's players. To me, the best play in this game is the under since both teams protect the ball and rebound fairly well. Baylor is going to get to the line more and shoot well from the charity stripe, but back to seeing a Weber defense which is very different that what K-State ran before. Last possession game and under.
Oregon (599) at Cal (600): Ducks have had an extra day to rest after getting drilled by Stanford in what was an easy win for the good guys. Cal has been far from invincible at home, losing to Washington in-conference, but Creighton, Harvard, and UNLV. I realize two of those teams are in the nation's elite, but they lost close games at home, and to be really good you gotta win those. Being from the East Coast I've only seen a few Cal games, but they appear "soft" in situations and that not being able to close a game out might have something to do with that. Obviously Oregon is going to bring their "A" game after the Palo Alto debacle and Altman's teams are anything but soft. That Cardinal loss was the Ducks first Pac-12 loss. The only serious weakness they've exhibited this season is turning the ball over, but alas, the Bears are not a team that creates many. I look for the Ducks to avenge last season humiliation at home to Cal, and subsequent three point loss in Cal, provided they've had ample time to deal with the injury. Perhaps that what three days of film study will do.