That’s right ladies and gents, you know the deal by now. It’s the Guru vs. the Gamblers Week 4. The chance for K.M and I to show why we’re the gamblers here (owners of 5 profitable gambling seasons in 6 attempts combined) and Gus to show why he is the John Wooden of College Basketball writers. Pat Forde? Who is that stiff? The Guru has gotten off to a nice lead but even the Guru is aware of the potential for us to hit a hot streak. You should know the rules by now. I explained them to you each of the first 3 weeks. Forget? Here you go: Bet the House is a universal agreement. Roll the Dice is K.M and I on a side vs Gus and a crapshoot is K.M or I standing alone. K.M and I are 1-6 on crapshoots. Don’t trust us. Here’s the weeks to date so when we profit there’s no question of twisting numbers:
Gus “The Guru” Elvin: 12-6 SU, 10-7-1 ATS
K.M: 8-10 SU, 4-13-1 ATS
Bryan: 10-8 SU, 7-10-1 ATS
Bet The Houses: 2-5
Roll The Dices: 0-1-1
K.M Crapshoots: 1-5
Bryan Crapshoots: 0-1
*Two INC due to me (Bryan) and K.M being idiots and forfeiting a pick each
Week 4, we’ve got Mid-Majors, Gus’ Alma Mater, and stupid Big Ten games. WOO!!! Off we go…
Wichita State at #15 Creighton (-1.5)
Guru: In a rematch between the 2 heavyweights of the MVC, the suddenly in 1st place Shockers travel to Omaha to take on National Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott and the #15 Creighton Bluejays. While both teams appear to be NCAA Tournament locks as of right now whoever wins this matchup will move into the driver’s seat in terms of the Missouri Valley regular season championship. While Creighton has been the most talked about team in the Valley all season largely because of the individual efforts of Doug McDermott (23.3ppg, 8.4rpg), the Shockers have moved into 1st in the MVC after back to back losses by Creighton and with a win would almost clinch the MVC title with a 2 game lead and 3 games to play. Even before the recent slide by Creighton I would have liked Wichita State in this payback game but with Creighton’s recent struggles I am sticking to my guns and going with the underdog Shockers on the road to knock off the #15th ranked Bluejays. Creighton is one of the most efficient offensive teams in the entire country (10th in points, 1st in field goal percentage, 2nd in assists, 2nd in 3-point percentage) but against a stout Shocker defense that surrenders just 63 points per game and holds opponents to just a 40 percent clip from the field don’t expect offense to come easy for the Bluejays. Despite the star power Creighton has individually with McDermott, I like WSU on the road in this one because of their ability to guard the perimeter and their offensive balance. The Shockers have 6 players who average upwards of 9 points per game led by Garrett Stutz (14.5ppg, 8rpg) and are tough to stop because any one of their top 6 is capable of beating you on a given night. If WSU can slow down McDermott(easier said than done) I like the Shockers because they have the balance and better role players in this matchup. The key stat in deciding this game will be who wins the battle behind the 3-point line as Creighton shoots almost 44 percent from 3, while WSU’s defense holds opponents to 30 percent from beyond the arc. Once again I am going with the Shockers because of their balance and defense as I expect them to slow down one of the top ranked offenses in the country in a back forth game that goes to the Shockers at the very end. WSU is the pick on the road in a slight upset as Greg Marshall’s Shockers may not get the hype that Creighton does nationally but are right there with the Bluejays in terms of the best mid-major’s in the country. WSU avenges the New Year’s Eve home loss to Creighton with a little road payback as WSU steals one in Omaha at the wire.
Prediction: Wichita State-74-Creighton-72
K.M: Sure, I’m down right now. But like Jeremy Lin, when I get rolling, I won’t stop. I know who Doug McDermott is. Other then that I don’t know a damn thing about either team. But this line is fishy as hell, and I see where it opened at Wichita State -2 and moved to Creighton -1.5. I smell a public move here, so I’m going to fade the public and hope I’m not mistaking a public move for a sharp move. Go Shockers? Sure, why not.
Prediction: Wichita State 73, Creighton 68
Bryan: It’s pretty simple, I’m already chasing the Guru and it’s only 3 weeks into the season. I have a chance to get the higher-ranked team at home with the best player on the court and I’m only asked to lay a basket? That’s something I’ll take every time.
Prediction: Creighton 78 Wichita State 72
Bryan crapshoots on Creighton
Update: Wichita State wins 89-68, K.M: 1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS, Bryan: 0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS, 0-1 Crapshoots, Guru: 1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS
#12 Michigan State at #3 Ohio State (-9.5)
Guru: In a game between the current #1 and #2 in the Big Ten, MSU travels to Columbus, Ohio just a game behind #3 Ohio State in the Big Ten standings. This matchup for the top spot in the Big 10 features 2 of the best big men in the country and likely 2 All-Americans Jared Sullinger of OSU and Draymond Green of Michigan State. Sullinger a National Player of the Year candidate comes in leading OSU in scoring and rebounding with averages of 17.4 points and 9 boards and this year has even added the element of the 3-point shot (9-20 from 3-pt FG’s). Green on the other hand is a hybrid and more of a point forward type who can score in a variety of ways and does it all for a very young Spartan team leading them in scoring (15.2ppg), rebounding (10.6rpg) and ranking 2nd in assists with 3.6 apg. This should be a tough matchup and as good as these 2 are statistically they are even better and mean considerably more when it comes to toughness and leadership for their respective teams. While this matchup should be relatively close this game to me comes down to other factors. First Ohio State is the home team and will have the advantage of playing in front of their home crowd where they have won 39 straight games going back to February 17th, 2010 and 56 of their last 57 games overall going back to 2008-09. The 2nd and maybe even bigger factor in this game will be both teams supporting casts. This is why I go with Ohio State as OSU’s supporting cast is so much better than MSU’s, as after Sullinger and Green the next 3 best players will be wearing white and red on Saturday. Michigan State has a solid group led by Brandon Wood, Keith Appling and Branden Dawson but I’ll take OSU’s supporting cast any day as William Buford (15.5ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.1 apg), Deshaun Thomas (14.6ppg) and Aaron Craft (8.1ppg, 4.8apg) give OSU as good a foursome as there is in college basketball. As much as I love my boy Day Day Green I got to go with the Buckeyes at home as the stage is set for William Buford to steal the show. OSU has the better supporting players so they are the pick at home against an MSU team that maybe isn’t as good as their record would indicate.
Prediction: Ohio State 68-Michigan State 59
K.M: I’ve caught more MSU games then most teams this year. I do not think they are very good at all. Ohio State, who I have also seen, looks to me to be the #2 team in the nation. I need a 10 point win? I think I can get that out of this game. Then again I think a lot of things so far this year. Broken clock is right twice a day, which would be a nice change of pace for myself to be right twice in one day, so I’ll attempt to stop time by laying the points with the Buckeyes. What, you though I was taking TWO underdogs in one day?
Prediction: Ohio State 71, Michigan State 57
Bryan: Good matchup on paper. The Buckeyes appear to have hit their stride of late and are making a push for a #1 seed in the tournament. The Spartans have bounced back from a mediocre 2011 season largely in part because my boy Draymond Green has been a beast. Double digits is a lot of points to lay between two top twenty teams but last time I had this chance I got beaten like a pulp by trusting Florida on the road to cover 9.5. Can’t do it. I don’t see Buckeyes winning by 10+.
Prediction: Ohio St. 67 Michigan State 61
K.M. crapshoots on the Buckeyes
Update: Michigan State wins 58-48, K.M: 1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS, 0-1 Crapshoots, Bryan: 0-2 SU, 1-1 ATS, Guru: 1-1 SU, 2-0 ATS
Illinois at #25 Michigan (-6)
Guru: In a Sunday afternoon Big Ten clash bubble team Illinois travels to Ann Arbor to take on the 25th ranked Michigan Wolverines. While Illinois after a midweek loss at Indiana seems destined to hover around the NCAA bubble again this season, the Wolverines also come in struggling a bit as the Wolverines have alternated wins and losses over their past 8 games. Illinois visits the Crisler Center needing a win as the Illini have lost 2 straight and 5 of 6 and have gone from a top 8 seed to a team that is slipping closer to that bubble. Michigan on the other hand is playing mediocre ball as they are starting to look like the team people expected them to be at the beginning of the season not the squad that jumped out to a 12-2 start. In a game in which Illinois truly needs a win I like the Illini on the road as Meyers Leonard (13.3ppg, 8rpg) should have a huge game against a smaller guard oriented team like Michigan. The other reason I like Illinois is the fact that they come in desperate and hungry for a win something that I think will help them steal a key resume road win at Michigan. Illinois seems to be able to come up with the big win when their backs are against the wall and in a desperate situation I like the Illini behind Leonard and their veteran backcourt to sneak out of Ann Arbor with a much needed win. This game does not have a lot of sex appeal as both teams are mediocre offensively and rely on toughness, scrappiness and defense to win games in the mid 60’s. Illinois is the pick as with a veteran backcourt of Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson and Sam Maniscalco the Illini have the leadership, ability and experience necessary to get a win against a tough opponent in a hostile environment. I wouldn’t bet my life savings on this one but I got a hunch Illinois is due for a big win and with their backs against the wall I like the Illini to knock off a good but not great Michigan Wolverine team.
Prediction: Illinois 63-Michigan 59
K.M: Michigan, to my utter surprise, is undefeated at home. The Illini look to me to be more smoke and mirrors then even your typical Big Ten team this season is. I like Michigan to win, but this is a strong line. I think the Wolverine offense is the only one of the two that has an explosive side, and that Michigan can cover this without an offensive outpouring, but with one, covering the 6 should be no problem at all. Illinois is the more desperate team, so I’m hesitant, but I’ll roll with Michigan here.
Prediction: Michigan 70, Illinois 60
Bryan: Two teams I don’t trust at all based on my viewing of them this season. Michigan has done well for themselves at home this season with wins over Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa St and Michigan State. Meanwhile Illinois has road losses to Penn State, Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota in league play. One team has been great at home, the other poor on the road. So that pretty much guarantees an Illinois win.
Prediction: Michigan 60 Illinois 53
Bryan and K.M. roll the dice on Michigan
Update: Michigan wins 70-61, K.M: 2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS, Bryan: 1-2 SU, 2-1 ATS, Guru: 1-2 SU, 2-1 ATS, 1-0 Roll the Dices
#2 Syracuse at #23 Louisville (+2)
Guru: Before we get started with this one throw out the rankings here for 2 reasons, first the game is at Louisville where the Cardinals are tough against anyone at Freedom Hall…..I mean damn the KFC YUM! Center and secondly if you take a look at the recent series rankings don’t seem to matters as Louisville has won 7 straight despite often facing higher ranked Syracuse teams. Well by now you all know I am a Syracuse graduate and I make no secret of that but I’m telling all of you to jump on board with me for this game as I like Syracuse on the road to take down Louisville and exercise their recent demons against Rick Pitino and the Cards. Why should you trust me especially considering I am probably just a biased fan….because I am going to win you this game as I am telling you that Louisville is not as good as you think that and Syracuse is tougher defensively than they have been in recent years. Syracuse is coming off the heels of a dramatic, ugly but tough win over a game Georgetown team and have suddenly reeled off 4 straight since losing at the Joyce Center to a suddenly surging Notre Dame side. Louisville also comes in hot as they have won 5 straight albeit against mediocre competition including maybe their best game of the season a 21 point shellacking of UConn that quite honestly wasn’t even that close. Per usual Louisville is a top defensive team as they are 3rd in the country in field goal defense (37%), 5th in steals per game (10spg) and 30th in blocks (5.2bpg) largely due to Gorgui Dieng’s 3.4 bpg. Syracuse on the other hand has been an offensive juggernaut all season averaging around 80 points per game led by a balanced attack of 7 players who average 7 points per game. That being said the Orange offense has seemed to hit a rut as the ‘Cuse has tallied 65 points just once in their last 5 games and that was in a blowout 95-70 win over freshmen laden 10-14 St. John’s club. Yes, recent history has been on Lousiville’s side as Kyle Kuric seems to annually torch the Orange….trust me I have seen it in person but I am going to tell you why Louisville won’t win this game with one stat…. .322. What does .322 or 32% mean exactly? Well that’s Louisville’s 3-point percentage on the season a number that is incredibly low for a Cardinal team that usual relies on their defense and the 3-point shot for success. The number is by far the lowest number of any of the Louisville teams that have beaten Syracuse during this run and the main reason I like the Orange even on the road. Louisville has had success against Syracuse over the past 5 or so years because they have picked apart Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone by hitting the 3 but this season Louisville has struggled from the perimeter and against a zone team like Syracuse the 3-ball is the way to win. Syracuse is the unbiased pick….largely unbiased pick as Kris Joseph builds on a 29 point outing against Georgetown to lead Jim Boeheim to win 882. Louisville has had an easier stretch in the schedule of late but with a game at WV and then at home against ‘Cuse we will see the real Louisville Cardinals stand up. This will be a fun game to watch as both teams like to get up and down but Syracuse is the more efficient team( 48%-FG, 34%-3pt, 11tpg) especially compared to(44%-FG, 32%-3pt, 15tpg) for Louisville and that’s why I like Jimmy B’s boy on the road. Want another reason to not trust Louisville …..they lost to Providence by 31 points….I rest my case.
Prediction: Syracuse 75-Louisville-67
K.M: Yea, you can comfortably count on the fact that I won’t be taking Louisville at any point this season. Louisville is the Egg McMuffin of suck. You see that Providence game? Lucky you if you said no.
Prediction: Syracuse 77, Louisville 60
Bryan: Cuse has been good to me all year, covering when I bet on them, failing to cover when I don’t. I’m not sure what the spread will be on this one but I think Cuse wins rather comfortably even with the game on the road. I’ll put myself firmly on the Cuse side just to be safe.
Prediction: Syracuse 76 Louisville 62
Verdict: Bet The House on Syracuse
Update: Syracuse wins 52-51, K.M: 3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS, Bryan: 2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS, Guru: 2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS, 0-1 Bet The Houses
#10 Kansas at Kansas State (+3.5)
Guru: In what is sure to be a ruckus environment in Mahattan ,Kansas the surging Jayhawks take on Frank Martin and his defensive minded KSU Wildcats. In a historically one sided rivalry I like the Jayhawks to continue their dominance with a tough road win. KSU will battle and defend against Kansas especially at home at the “Octagon of Doom” but in the end KSU just won’t have an answer for National POY candidate Thomas Robinson(18ppg, 12rpg). Jayhawks are the pick on the road as Robinson goes for 25 and 12 in a signature showcase for POY.
Prediction: Kansas 74 Kansas St 67
K.M: Kansas is good. K-State is not. OCTAGON OF FAIL.
Prediction: Same as Bryan. I like his.
Bryan: Kansas is heating up and I’m hearing rumblings (though I take the Guru’s word over Palm or Lunardi) that Kansas may be a 1 seed right now. They have now blown Baylor out twice and came within a few plays of beating Mizzou in Missouri. They already blew Kansas St. out at home earlier this year. Kansas St. has one win over Mizzou which can’t be ignored but other than that has nothing in Big 12 play that impresses me. Hard for me to back an inferior team against a scorching hot Kansas team, even if homecourt is in their favor.
Prediction: Kansas 75 Kansas St. 59
Verdict: Bet The House on Kansas
Update: Kansas wins 59-53, K.M: 4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS, Bryan: 3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS, Guru: 3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS, 1-1 Bet The Houses
New Mexico at # 14 San Diego State (+1)
Guru: In a showdown between 2 of the Mountain West’s elite, New Mexico visits San Diego State looking to avenge a home loss to the Aztecs back on January 18th(75-70). While SDSU has made noise both in conference and non-conference play with wins over California, Arizona, UNLV and New Mexico, the Lobos have gone under the radar as they boast a 20-4 overall record but really only have one “true” resume win over Saint Louis of the A-10. All that being said both teams enter this contest tied with UNLV in a 3 way tie atop the MWC standings with just a handful of regular season games remaining. Getting down to brass tax I like SDSU at home in this game because first of all the Aztecs are at home at the Aztec Bowl and secondly SDSU is the more battle tested and proven team. As much talent as New Mexico has with Drew Gordon, Kendall Williams, Tony Snell and Phillip McDonald they have yet to put it together against the top contenders in the Mountain West that they have played(UNLV, SDSU) and that to me is the key difference between these 2 teams. SDSU is a very athletic team led by Chase Tapley (16.2ppg) and Jamaal Franklin (16ppg) and at home I like SDSU to out tough and outslug the Lobos in a matchup between 2 defenses that hold opponents below 40 percent shooting from the field. Jamaal Franklin is the x-factor in this game for me as he has scored in double figures in 12 straight games and 20 of the 23 games he has played this season for the Aztecs. This will be a back and forth tightly contested contest but I like the home Aztecs to squeak out the win as they have prepared themselves well for tight games playing a tough non-conference schedule while the Lobos come in with a 20-4 record that lacks much gusto.
Prediction: San Diego State 69 – New Mexico 65
K.M: So you’re allllllll on the Aztecs? No really, that’s all I got here. Like I’m going to pretend I know anything about the MWC. K.M. VENNE DOES NOT INSULT HIS READERSHIP BY PRETENDING TO KNOW THINGS, OR BY LEARNING THINGS, WAIT HOLD ON FORGET I SAID THE SECOND ONE. I see the bets in Vegas are coming down at about a 3:1 ration on the Aztecs, so I’ll take the Lobos. As some of you may know, I really love spots where a ranked team is a home dog to an unranked team. This spot is cash for me, I’d guess I hit this spot about 2 out of every 3 times. No need to stop now.
Prediction: New Mexico 61, San Diego State 58
Bryan: Steve Mother-F***ing Fisher is just getting it done again. Mid-Major with some losses? No sweat. Kawhi Leonard who? The Aztecs just nearly grabbed a big win at UNLV and in order to stay in the MWC race really can’t drop a home game to New Mexico. Speaking of New Mexico. My god that game vs Wyoming was hideous. Here I am casually enjoying Blue Moon Saturday afternoon watching a little college hoops and I see it’s 38-34 or something like that with 3:15 left. I’m figuring it’s the first half. Then as I go to CBSsports gametracker with the national scores I realize it was 3:15 left IN THE GAME. So I’m making a vow for 2012. I will NEVER back a team on the line that couldn’t break 40 points in 36 minutes against Wyoming. Consider that stamped.
Prediction: San Diego St. 68 New Mexico 54
K.M. crapshoots on New Mexico
Update: New Mexico wins 77-67, K.M: 5-1 SU, 4-2 ATS, 1-1 crapshoots, Bryan: 3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS, Guru: 3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS