Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Eve Basketball

Other than March Madness, this might be the best time of the year for college basketball. Michigan and Villanova played a great neutral court game last night. It looked looked like Nova was going to run away with it after they built a 13-point lead in the early part of the second half. Then Michigan came roaring back and got their own lead. (Unfortunately, I missed most of the comeback.) In the end, Villanova made just one more play -- an incredible block off an inbounds play that seemed to be a wide-open layup:

Easily the play of the year so far.

My streak of B1G picks came to an end, as Northwestern held off Miami OH. Northwestern gets a real test today, against Northern Iowa. I expect a UNI romp.

The Badgers play tonight, of course, but it shouldn't be much of a game. As detailed back in my Battle 4 Atlantis preview from a few months ago.

Butler and North Carolina open the tournament. Vegas has UNC 10-point favorites, which seems right to me even though T-Rank and Kenpom have it more like a 5-point game. Butler is getting some program credit in the computers, and they've dominated inferior competition so far. But we just really don't know what kind of team they are going to have. We'll know more in a few hours.

Two decent B1G games today: Purdue (23) v. BYU (47) and Minnesota (41) at St. John's (72). I like both of the Big Ten teams to win.

Green Bay beat Evansville in a close game last night, and has an even better mid-major matchup today, this time against Florida Gulf Coast. Green Bay is slightly favored (by 1, 53% chance to win) in T-Rank, but T-Rank doesn't account for the fact that this game is played in FGCU's backyard. (Kenpom terms it a "semi-home" game for them.) FGCU has been pretty good so far, including an impressive win over a solid UC Santa Barbara squad and a decent win over San Francisco. So this should be a good one - the winner of this game could well be looking at a 12-seed in the tourney.

The best TTQ games of the day are UCLA vs. Oklahoma in the Battle 4 Atlantis and Arizona vs. San Diego St. in the Maui championship. I like Oklahoma and SDSU to win those games. Arizona doesn't quite have it together yet. On the other hand, SDSU has trouble scoring - they rank 47th in T-Rank adjusted offensive among the top-50 T-Rank teams. So expect a low-scoring slug fest in this rematch of last year's Sweet 16 game.

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