Tuesday, February 15, 2011

College Basketball Notes: It's Do or Die Time For Bubble Teams

The last time Wisconsin beat a No. 1 ranked college basketball team was in 1962 against Ohio State. On Saturday they duplicated the feat, but took it one step further by giving the Buckeyes their first loss of the season. It’s almost a mirror image of what the football team did in Madison back in October when they beat Ohio State’s No. 1 ranked undefeated team on the gridiron.
The Wisconsin double-sting has the folks in Columbus in grumbling and refusing anything and everything to do with cheese, milk and Miller beer as a protest of sorts for their newly found dislike of what the state has to offer. However, it still doesn’t come close to comparing to what happened in 2007 when Florida beat down the Buckeyes in both football and basketball Championship games.
Wisconsin’s win pushes their record to 19-5 on the year and sets them up for bonus points in the NCAA seeding process. The win also is beneficial to UNLV and the Mountain West conference because of UNLV’s November win against the Badgers. Despite the MWC having the RPI’s fourth ranked conference, it looks as though only two teams are guaranteed to get in at this juncture with two others on the fence (UNLV and Colorado State) and another (New Mexico) needing to win out just to sit on the fence.


UNLV (No. 29 RPI) has a good resume, but their MWC play has been horrendous going 0-5 against the top three teams in the conference. With four extra spots filling the NCAA board, yes, UNLV should get in, but they had better win at least one of their games at Colorado State or New Mexico to ensure it. Should they lose both of those tough matchups, we might talking about the NIT here in Las Vegas come March.
As for the Buckeyes, it was a good loss. They don’t need that weight of being undefeated going down the stretch of conference play. They can now re-focus and set their sights on making the Final Four, a place I fully expect them to be.
Bubble Teams
We're at the time of the year now where teams control their own fate. They can either win a few big games and make the tournament or lose them and miss out. Michigan State, Kansas State, Gonzaga, Mississippi State, Baylor, Boston College, Tennessee, Memphis, and Virginia Tech are all needing a major push down the stretch, just as UNLV and Colorado State does.
ATS Streaks
St. Bonaventure is on a four-game cover streak which includes a big win against Duquesne as an 8 ½-point underdog and a two-point loss at Dayton as a 9-point dog. Another Atlantic-10 team who has been going in the opposite direction all season is Fordham, who has been ripe for the picking against almost every game. Despite covering 21-points in an 11-point loss to Temple, they are on a 13-game losing streak and have gone 2-11 ATS over that span.

Miami-Florida seems to play every ACC game close with nearly all their games being decided by 3 points or less; however, they are currently on a four-game non-cover skid. North Carolina has gone almost a month of covering getting the money seven games in a row. After a shaky start to the season, the Tar Heels have gone 11-2 SU in their last 13 games. Even though they have the much heralded Carolina blue on their chests and expectations are always high, they are playing well and could be a really dangerous team in the tournament.
N.C. State took care of their eight game non-cover streak by blasting Wake Forest Sunday just like everyone else does, but don’t let the one cover scare you into staying away from betting against them. Depaul still has their 12 game losing streak in tact, but they have covered their last three games.
Notre Dame is currently playing one of the best teams in the Big East having won seven in a row with a 6-1 record ATS. Pitt’s only loss in their last 14 games came at the hands of the Irish, but the Panthers are clearly the most polished team in the conference, and maybe even the nation. They have gone 3-0 ATS in their last three and 7-2 ATS in their last nine.
Who knows what to think about Syracuse. They are tough to bet on or against, The stats keep saying to bet against them, but you've got that stubborn thought of reason that keeps telling you they still are one of the better teams in the nation. The reality is that the Orange have been a great team to bet against all season. They are 3-6 ATS since their undefeated streak was snapped and on the season, they are 10-15 ATS. We all kind of knew Cincinnati was phony thanks to their padded schedule early and once conference play began, they were exposed. In their last four games, they are 0-4 ATS and have gone 2-8 ATS since January 9.
Michigan is likely NIT bound, but they’re making a major push to get on the bubble having won five of their last six games going 5-1 ATS.
Must Watch TV
The game of the week has the best from the WAC and the WCC facing each other as No. 24 Utah State plays at No. 23 Saint Mary’s Saturday night. Utah State lost at Idaho last Wednesday as a 9-point favorite and failed to cover in a win against Fresno State Saturday. Saint Mary’s is on a four-game winning streak and should be able to keep the streak going at home. Look for a nine-point win by the Gaels.

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