Guess who’s back? Back again. K.M. and Bryan’s back. Tell a friend. Also Gus, also Gus, also Gus, you get the idea. It’s the return of Guru vs. Gamblers, the college basketball piece that features myself, K.M. Venne, my fellow gambler, Bryan Doherty, and our resident college hoops expert, the Guru, Gus Elvin. We pick games a week ahead of time, predict final scores, let the spreads fall where they want to fall, let them decide our against the spread picks, and at the end of the year Bryan and I go on a huge gambling heater and make you a ton of cash. I’m 3-0 on TSHQ pumping out winning seasons. I went 11-3-1 during the 2010-2011 college football bowl season to end up with a 59% against the number winning percentage. Last year in college hoops, I went something like 15-1 against the number at the end of the college basketball conference tourneys, followed it up with a winning NCAA tourney, I hit about 54%. And this year, I rode a 27-10 finish to college football season to end up just over the profit line and cash my third winning season in a row. Meanwhile, my man Bryan was over the profit line all year during the 2010-2011 college football season only to have a terrible bowl season and fall below the profit line, but rode a college conference tourney season that was nearly as sick as my own to erase a subpar regular season, also beat the NCAA tourney, and ended up also at 54%, just one game below me on overall record, but for you the reader, an excellent season, and this year in college football, rode a strong bowl season much like I did and ended up with the exact same record as I did, just over the profit line, or perhaps well over the profit line if you took the man at his word when he told you in the preseason that Alabama was going to be the BCS Champion and put some money down on the Tide like you should have (Meanwhile, I predicted the national championship game in the preseason, LSU and Bama, but the wrong winner. Between the two of us, we predict damn near everything). When we have been in agreement, it’s been tough to beat. Two years ago in CFB we killed it on our Hot Hook Ups and this year despite many ridiculing us all season for our shortcomings, we caught fire at year’s end when we agreed and ended up over $300 above the profit line on a standard -110 bet.
Meanwhile, Gus bowed out before the conference tourneys as Bryan and myself took off, winning bets like we had inside information, but he brings the breakdowns of these matchups that offer the readers the insights that TSHQ is known for, and this year he adds a thirst for revenge on Bryan and I after the way we ended last year so hot and stole some of his college hoops shine, so you know he’s ready to rumble. With the bios finished and the bragging about all the cash Bryan and myself keep winning you guys season after season done (for this week, at least), let’s get the 2011-2012 setup of this feature out of the way right now.
Here are the terms we use in our Guru vs. Gambler’s feature that will need to know to follow along. When all three of us end up on the same side of the line, we call that a Bet the House play. When Bryan and myself, the gamblers, go against the Guru, we call that a Roll the Dice. When either myself or Bryan stand alone on a side, the other two going against us, we call that a Crapshoot, and we track those for each of us individually. We update the lines the night before the game starts, but we pick 6 of the biggest games of the week from Saturday to Friday all at the same time, giving you a week’s worth of hoops glory all in one sitting. A new rule for 2012 is that, in case of an injury or a line that scares the hell out of us, we are going to allow ourselves to go back and edit our picks up to 12 hours before tip-off, but if tip-off is 12 hours or closer, that game is locked. Don’t expect us to do this very often, as we are all proud dudes who don’t change our mind about things very often, but no reason to hamstring ourselves into a pick if someone goes down or if Vegas is trying to trap us. That’s about all you need to know to follow along, you’ll figure the rest out as you count your money at the end of the year, I’m sure. So let’s get right to the action for the week of 1/21 to 1/27.
Saturday – 1/21
#5 Mizzou (+3.5) at #3 Baylor
Guru: In one of the most anticipated matchups of the Big 12 season and a rare matchup between 2 top 5 teams the #5 Missouri Tigers travel to Waco to take on the 3rd ranked Baylor Bears. The game features 2 clashing strengths as Missouri is driven by one of the best backcourts in the country led by Marcus Denmon, while Baylor relies on their vaunted frontcourt headlined by Perry Jones. In other words the game will come down to which team’s star players control the game, that being the quick guards for Missouri or the long and athletic bigs of Baylor. In this matchup of contrasting strengths I like Missouri to pull off the upset on the road as I think their guards are too quick and too disruptive for the guards of Baylor. Baylor will have a serious advantage on the glass with Quincy Acy, Quincy Miller and Perry Jones but Missouri’s defense will look to control the pace with their pressure and force Baylor into a track meet, something everyone wants to avoid against the Tigers. The key stat for me in this game will be turnovers as in a fast paced game between 2 good shooting teams, protecting the ball and not wasting possessions will be vital. The reason I go with Missouri is because they average just 10 turnovers per game (4th fewest in the nation) while Baylor averages over 15 turnovers a contest (258th fewest). Missouri guards Michael Dixon, Flip Pressey and Marcus Denmon specialize in hassling opposing guards and this Saturday look for them to force a lot of turnovers with their pressure against exciting but turnover prone guards Pierre Jackson(3.6 tpg) and A.J. Walton(2.2tpg). Last season in the lone meeting between these teams Missouri forced Baylor into 21 turnovers a number I could see Missouri duplicating Saturday as the Tigers rank 9th in the nation in steals per game (9 spg). Missouri will look to get out and play in transition with their quickness advantage and because of their defensive pressure and 3-point shooting I am going with the Tigers in an upset on the road at the Ferrell Center. In this matchup of 1 loss teams look for Missouri to get Baylor out of rhythm by quickening the tempo something that will play into the hands of the quicker and better conditioned Tigers. Baylor is coming off a loss against Kansas in Lawrence and look for Missouri to try and speed up the Bears something the Jayhawks were able to do effectively earlier this week. Winning on the road is always tough especially in the Big 12 but I am going with the Tigers because I believe their tempo is just a mismatch for front court oriented Baylor. The x-factor in this game will be Ricardo Ratliffe for Missouri as he will need to compete on the glass with the bigs of Baylor something he did last year to the tune of 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Prediction: Mizzou 80 Baylor 74
K.M: There are some easy games for you to figure out what side I am going to take. First off, is there a team of NBA players playing a team of college players? Is one a much better defensive team then the other while the offenses are similar? Better yet, is the better defensive team at home? All these things are totally in the Bears favor. I love the Bears in this spot. In my opinion, this line is just too low, because EVERYBODY was on Baylor when they went into Kansas, for reasons I totally fail to understand, you had to know Kansas was going to wax Baylor in that game. I know I knew that. But this is a new game, and I will take Baylor over Mizzou on either team’s home court this season, I love the Baylor program, so I am bias, but even without bias I don’t think Mizzou works nearly as well on the road as they do at home. Baylor also has some chops to them this season, Mizzou lacks some real quality on the schedule to date. Lay the wood with the Bears (by the way, did I mention how it’s also easy to figure out what side I am on by checking to see who the favorite is? I lay the chalk more then I should, I know it).
Prediction: Baylor 88 Mizzou 77
Bryan: As K.M already explained in the intro, as boss as Gus is breaking down College Hoops in general for the site, the best thing he brings to the Guru vs the Gamblers is the in-depth knowledge of the matchups and the breakdowns of the games that you can share with your mother-in-law at Brunch on Sundays. You see that ^ ? Yea, K.M and I will never provide that much insight on any CBB game all season. Those of you who know us, know us from the Sexy Six and SSR. You see those writeups? With the OCCASIONAL writeup on a team we have a rant on, we NEVER write more than a paragraph. Honestly, we don’t need to. K.M has hit all 3 profits since we started. 2 College Football and a Basketball. I was a miserable bowl season last year from 3 profits. We win, and we win regularly. So I don’t care too much about proving my analytical skills in college hoops, because SPOILER ALERT: THEY’RE NOT THAT GREAT!!! I’m your standard watch college hoops once CFB is over then follow CBB for two months leading up to March Madness then be Joe Basketball in my brackets and pretend I’m an expert. Anyways, lets get to it. I love Mizzou. I don’t know what it is. I overrated them in college football most of the year and I’m probably going to lose on them plenty of times this year when they play in this format. I just always ride with the Tigers. But not here. Baylor just got beatdown at Phog Allen and now come back home for their second straight huge game. You’re asking me to lay TWO BASKETS with Baylor? Unless Iowa St. is as good as their record, then all I see is a win over Illinois and maybe who? A&M? Mizzou is still relatively unproven and has little in the way of great road wins. I’m laying the points.
Prediction: Baylor 75 Mizzou 68
VERDICT: K.M. and Bryan Roll the Dice on Baylor
Update: Mizzou wins 89-88, K.M: 1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS, Bryan: 1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS, Guru: 2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS, Roll The Dice: 0-1
Alabama (+11) at #2 Kentucky
Guru: To start here are 2 things to consider when picking this game. First Alabama beat a very talented Kentucky team last season in Tuscaloosa so they are capable of playing with the talent of Kentucky. Secondly, this game is in Lexington, Kentucky and the Wildcats didn’t have Anthomy Davis last season. Basically Kentucky is the overwhelming choice here because they are more talented at every position and also have the advantage of playing at home at Rupp Arena where they have won 46 straight. I’m not going with the underdog here as UK is playing as well as anyone in the country right now as the Wildcats have now won 10 straight since that heartbreaking loss to Indiana. Kentucky might be the most talented team in America and with 6 players averaging double figures and a defensive game changer like Anthony Davis I expect them to continue their home winning streak against a tough Alabama team. Alabama is well coached and a very strong defensive team but against UK their offense will need to be much better than it has been as the Crimson Tide are averaging only 66 points per game and are in the bottom 10 in the country in 3-point shooting, shooting an anemic 27 percent from downtown. Anthony Grant has a talented trio in JaMychal Green (14.2 ppg, 6.6rpg), Tony Mitchell (14.5ppg, 7.5rpg) and Trevor Releford (12.5ppg, 3.2apg) but after that his team lacks the scoring bunch to keep up with a team as talented and skilled as Kentucky. On the road in a hostile environment against a more talented team I can’t see Alabama winning this one as Kentucky is the pick to at home. Look for a huge game from Anthony Davis as Alabama has no center capable of keeping up with the fabulous freshman. Kentucky is a pretty safe pick here as they come in against Alabama on a 10 game roll and should extend their home winning streak to 47 with a win over the scrappy but offensively challenged Tide.
Prediction: Kentucky 74 Alabama 60
K.M: I was on the Kidd-Gilchrist train from the first game of the season. Don’t believe me? I’m on twitter at @rawkurface and you are welcome to add me, discuss any sports you want, and also go through my timeline, weed through all the boring crap I tweet about the Canucks, the Knicks, the GOP, and pointless tweets I make just to use swear words, and see the proof for yourself. Kidd-Gilchrist rules. I’ve seen at least 13 Kentucky games because my best friend is a huge UK fan. UK is talented but can be sloppy, they tend to get into games they shouldn’t be in when Teague does not play well. The best bet you can probably make in this game is Alabama on the first half line, because Cal is such a slow starter (trust me, I’m a Memphis fan, remember?), but over the full 40 minutes, I’ll take Kentucky to cover this line, but I’ll tell you right now DO NOT bet too much on this one. You can be more and more sure of UK the more season that goes on, we may all agree on this game it looks like, but tread lightly, when bad UK shows up, it can find itself in quite a battle. If you want to hammer this game, I suggest the UK moneyline before the spread as the place where the most value is.
Prediction: Kentucky 73, Alabama 61
Bryan: Kentucky is one of the few teams in America I’ve seen multiple times this season along with UNC, Duke, Clemson and naturally my Arizona Wildcats. Now I’ve covered this before that I’m far from ready to judge most college basketball teams given the lack of viewing time, but Kentucky is…umm…yea, pretty good. Kidd-Gilchrist is a monster. Everytime I watch him play I question whether Davis is really the best freshman on Calipari’s team. Alabama I know nothing about. I’ve seen them play once this season in an early season tournament and they did impress. Still, we’re talking about Kentucky at home, vs an inferior team, that lost their only tough games in SEC play this far and just lost by 10 at home to Vandy who isn’t Kentucky quality. I’m going to bet against Kentucky a few times this year on pure Calipari hate, but it’s a little early to get into that. When I do, it won’t be on a team at Lexington with vastly inferior talent. Lay the points.
Prediction: Kentucky 68 Alabama 53
VERDICT: We all Bet the House on Kentucky
Update: Kentucky wins 77-71, K.M: 1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS, Bryan: 1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS, Guru: 1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS, 0-1 Bet The House
Monday – 1/23
#1 Syracuse (-4.5) at Cincinnati
Guru: Last Monday the Syracuse Orange set a school record with their 20th straight win to start the season but as their schedule toughens as we approach February the luck may soon run out for the ‘Cuse. After playing at the always tough Joyce Center on Saturday against Notre Dame, the Orange surely will be tested on the road on short rest against a scrappy Cincinnati team. In this game Cincy will look to slow down the high octane offense of the Orange and turn the game into a half court slugfest in which the Bearcats will try to outugly Syracuse. I don’t see this happening as Syracuse has so much offensive fire power this season as they have tremendous balance in terms of scoring and also have the ability to go as many as 10 deep. The key storyline in this game will be Cincinnati’s stout defense against Syracuse’s high powered offense. Cincinnati although not a pretty team to watch is very strong defensively as they rank 18th in the country in scoring defense (58.8 ppg), 22nd in steals (8.7 spg) and 34th in blocks (4.9bpg). On the other hand Syracuse’s offense is making some noise of its’ own as the ‘Cuse rank 15th in scoring (80ppg), 21st in field goal percentage (48.6%) and 10thin assists at over 17 per game. In this classic matchup of offense versus defense, I’m going with offense as Syracuse is overall the more talented and deeper team. As I said Syracuse has outstanding offensive balance as Kris Joseph and Dion Waiters lead a group of 7 players who average over 7 points a game for what may be Jim Boeheim’s deepest team ever. The one chance for Cincy in this one will be if Syracuse has that dreaded off night that they seem to be due for, as the Bearcats are a tough enough and scrappy enough team to take advantage of a Syracuse off game. One other interesting matchup to look for is Yancy Gates (12.3ppg, 8.9rpg) inside against Fab Melo as the Bearcats will need the talented Gates to control the glass if they have any shot of pulling off an upset of the top ranked Orange. Cincinnati’s defense will not be enough against Syracuse’s high powered offense as the Bearcats do not shoot the ball well enough (only 42%) to keep up with Dion Waiters and the rest of the Syracuse Orange.
Prediction: Syracuse 72 Cincy 62
K.M: Not in the mood to go in depth for Monday after watching my Niners choke a Super Bowl place away. I saw some of Syracuse without Fab Melo vs. ND. It was terrible. I’ll take Cincy straight up.
Prediction: Cincinnati 69, Syracuse 64
Bryan: Know what’s better than starting 0-2 ATS? 0-3 BECAUSE YOU FORGOT TO FILL YOUR PICK OUT!!!! WOO!!! I had Cuse (with the email to support it) and probably would have laid the points, but hey, you don’t show up, you take the loss.
Update: Syracuse wins 60-53, Bryan: 1-2 SU, 0-3 ATS, K.M: 1-2 SU, 0-3 ATS, Guru: 3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS,
Tuesday – 1/24
#19 Michigan at Purdue (-5)
Guru: In a classic closely contested Big Ten contest #19 Michigan travels to Mackey Arena to take on Robbie Hummel and the 14-5 Boilermakers. In a game that figures to be very physical and played in the 50’s and 60’s, 2nd chance points and timely shot making will be a key factor. With just 2 games separating 2nd place from 10th place this is a really important game as the Big 10 race goes as Purdue will hope to defend their home court and move into the upper echelon of the Big 10 standings. One matchup I look for within this game is the battle between speedy point guards Trey Burke of Michigan (14.6ppg, 4.8apg) and Lewis Jackson of Purdue(10ppg, 3.7apg). This game within the game will be one to keep an eye on as the exciting freshman Burke takes on the savvy senior Jackson who is known as one of the better perimeter defenders in the conference. Both teams will get after it on the defensive end and I anticipate a tightly contested game with a lot of lead changes but in the end I’m going with Purdue at home as the Boilermakers are almost unbeatable at Mackey arena. The most important factor in this game is how well Purdue plays at home as the Boilermakers lone loss at home over the past 2 seasons came just 2 weeks ago against Wisconsin. The loss at home against Wisconsin snapped a 26 game home winning streak for the Boilermakers, and I don’t see the Boilermakers losing another game at home as Purdue doesn’t seem to make a habit of losing games at Keady Court. Michigan may have the more talented team but at Mackey Arena in front of the “Paint Crew” I’m going with the rugged Boilermakers to eke out another home win. Robbie Hummel is the key player for Purdue as the 5thyear senior is Purdue’s top scorer at 16.1 ppg and their unquestioned emotional and physical leader. This will be what ESPN’s Dan Dakich calls a “senior game” where veterans will need to step up and at home I like Purdue to pull out a nail biter late behind their talisman Robbie Hummel.
Prediction: Purdue 64 Michigan 62
K.M: Purdue just seems lost right now. They dropped a home game for the first time in a long time, and don’t have the typical talent we expect out of the Boilermakers. I’ve seen the Wolverines a couple times this year as well, including against my Memphis Tigers, and I’m just not impressed as the voters seem to have been in this team. When in doubt, I’ll take the excellent home court at Mackey Arena, and, true to my calling, lay some points. What’s the worst that can happen, I start 0-4? It’s not a betting season at TSHQ unless I build a giant hole and dig myself out of it, so not like that is going to phase me.
Prediction: Purdue 73, Michigan 64
Bryan: Michigan hasn’t won a game all season on the road and I know from my limited viewership that Big Ten teams as a whole have done poorly on the road this year. Frankly, I’m seen Michigan a couple times this year and while the talent is there I think they play stupid basketball. Plus, I’m dying for a win here but 5 points with Purdue who has one win all year I care about isn’t raising my confidence level so I’m reluctantly rolling with Michigan here.
Prediction: Michigan 70 Purdue 65
Update: Michigan wins 66-64, Bryan: 2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS, K.M: 1-3 SU, 0-4 ATS, 0-1 Crapshoots Guru: 3-1 SU, 3-1 ATS,
Wednesday – 1/25
#4 Duke at Maryland
Guru: In one of the best rivalries in the ACC #4 Duke travels to College Park to take on Mark Turgeon and the undermanned Maryland Terrapins. Despite losing their top 3 scorers to the NBA the Blue Devils have remained a national contender thanks to improved play from former subs like Andre Dawkins and Mile Plumlee and the addition of top freshmen like Austin Rivers. Maryland on the hand is in rebuilding mode as they have a very young roster under 1st year coach head coach Mark Turgeon. While the Terrapins stand at 12-5 on the season their win loss record is a bit deceiving as Maryland really only has 2 wins of note, beating mediocre opponents Notre Dame and Colorado at neutral sites. The Terps have had plenty of ups and downs this season under Turgeon but with a young team against an elite opponent like Duke, I fear the Terrapins are in way over their heads. Duke is the pick on the road against Maryland as they have too much size, too much talent and are too well coached to lose to a Maryland team that has struggled against almost every opponent they have played this season. Maryland will be big underdogs even at home at the Comcast Center as the Terps will need monster games for standout sophomore Terrell Stoglin(21.2ppg) and Ukrainian import Alex Len(8.9ppg, 6.9rpg in 7 games)to even keep the score reasonable. Duke has too many weapons with Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins, Austin Rivers, the Plumlees, etc. so don’t expect Maryland to stay in this one for more than a half. Maryland will see better days under Turgeon but this season the Terrapins lack the talent and depth to truly compete in the ACC with the conference’s elite. Look for Duke to devote extra attention to Stoglin as Mike Krzyzewski will force one of the other 4 Terrapins to beat him, something that I don’t believe they can do. Although I believe Duke is a little bit overrated in a game against a down opponent like Maryland I expect the Blue Devils to handle their business effectively and win comfortably at the Comcast Center.
Prediction: Duke 82 Maryland 63
K.M: Opps, forgot about this. Duke big. Note: it’s 6:59.
Prediction: Duke by 20
Bryan: I’ve watched a decent share of ACC hoops this year since, you know, I go to school in ACC country. There’s 2 things abundantly clear about ACC basketball this year: 1) UNC is drastically underachieving and 2) if you aren’t Duke, UNC, UVA or FSU right now, you suck. Maryland, take a minute and check that list. That’s right, you’re not on it. Duke is coming off a loss to FSU at home and I don’t know the last time Duke lost back to back games but I imagine it was last year or something because every time I make a big deal about a team not losing “x # of games” in an “x time period” I am usually wrong. But one thing I AM very confident in is that the Maryland Terrapins of 2012 are not beating Duke in Maryland, Duke, on the moon, or in my backyard. Duke rolls. Only question is what side of the line I fall on.This should make it easy.
Prediction: Duke 78 Maryland 57
Verdict: Bet The House on Duke
Update: Duke wins 74-61, Bryan: 3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS, K.M: 2-3 SU, 1-4 ATS, Guru: 4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS, 1-1 Bet The Houses
Thursday – 1/26
#13 Indiana at Wisconsin (-7)
Guru: At the beginning of the season one would have thought Wisconsin would have been ranked 13th and Indiana unranked but after half a season it is the other way around as the Hoosiers have been one of the biggest stories of the college basketball season while Wisconsin has been a little bit disappointing. That being said Wisconsin is still a formidable opponent at 15-5 and are even tougher at home at the Kohl Center where they have uncharacteristically lost 3 games this year. This game figures to be a very closely contested game between to top 25 caliber teams but at the Kohl Center it’s tough to pick against the Badgers in this one. Wisconsin even with the 3 losses this season is an incredible 166-15 under Bo Ryan at the Kohl Center a statistic I am not picking against. Add in the fact that some of the magic that Indiana had earlier in the season is starting to wear off (3 straight losses) and that Indiana is 1-3 in the Big Ten on the road and you’ll know why I like the Badgers. Wisconsin is not sexy or enjoyable to watch but with senior point guard Jordan Taylor (13.9ppg, 4.4apg) running the show the Badgers just continue to win tightly contested games in the Big 10. Indiana will have an advantage inside with Cody Zeller and Christian Watford but on the road in a hostile environment I like Wisconsin behind guards Jordan Taylor, Ben Brust and Josh Gasser. Wisconsin like they do annually under Bo Ryan seem to be getting stronger as the season goes on and against a scuffling Indiana team I see the Badgers taking care of business at home. Indiana’s revival has been a tremendous storyline this season and despite their recent losing streak look for the Hoosiers to rebound and remain a top 25ish team even into the NCAA Tournament. Even though I like Wisconsin in this game Indiana does have the more athletic and explosive offensive team and could pose problems for Wisconsin if the game turns into an up and down contest. Whichever team is able to dictate the tempo and their style will win this game and at home look for the Badgers to slow down the pace and win a classic ugly Big 10 conference tilt. Wisconsin’s the pick as senior Jordan Taylor will control the game on both ends of the floor as his leadership and court vision guide the Badgers to a big home win over a dangerous Indiana team led by Cody Zeller, Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls.
Prediction: Wisconsin 65 Indiana 60
K.M: Wisconsin was playing really bad basketball about 3 weeks ago. Indiana is playing really bad basketball right about now. I’ve seen Indiana play once, where they home-cooked a win out of Kentucky. I was not impressed. Seven points? I’ll lay that noise. I WAS BORN IN WISCONSIN. Sorry, just wanted to say a little more about this game that I’m not going to watch one second of to make it seem like I care. I don’t care, if you didn’t pick that up already. Why is this game on at 9, anyway? That’s totally going to bump into my watching of…(checks NBA schedule) Celtics/Magic? Damn it. Maybe I’ll watch my DVR tomorrow.
Prediction: Wisconsin 60, Indiana 50
Bryan: Wisconsin and Indiana. Wisconsin never loses at home. Except this year where they’ve lost 3 times. Indiana has beaten Kentucky, Ohio St. and Michigan and yet lost on the road to Nebraska and at home to Minnesota. I could spend time BS’ing you on this game and throw stats your way. But I’d rather save my opinion on this game for after I’ve seen either team play because SPOILER ALERT: I haven’t seen either team play. So I’ll take the good home team vs the one who lost at Nebraska not long ago. WHAT ANALYSIS!!!
Prediction: Wisconsin 67 Indiana 59
Update: Wisconsin wins 57-50, Bryan: 4-2 SU, 2-3-1 ATS, K.M: 3-3 SU, 1-4-1 ATS, Guru: 5-1 SU, 4-1-1 ATS, 0-1-1 Roll The Dices