You know the game by now ladies and gentlemen. We’re down to about 2.5 weeks in the regular season before we start the free for all that is Championship Week and then ultimately the NCAA tourney. The Guru Gus Elvin heads the college basketball parts here at TSHQ and this year he’s out in front of the pack, though the last two weeks have slowed him down a bit. K.M and I are sitting in the wings hoping to make a run at some point. What do we aim to do? Win you money. Don’t trust us? Then don’t check our recent seasons in CFB and CBB. Because if you do you’ll see you missed a chance at stone cold cash. The game is simple, the 3 of us play against the spread, if we all agree, it’s a Bet The House. If K.M and I go against the Guru, it’s a Roll the Dice. If K.M or I sit alone, we’re crapshooting. You should know how gambling works, if not look it up. This isn’t Wikipedia, it’s TSHQ people. With that said, here’s a list of the past 4 weeks and the records to date as we enter Week 5…
Gus “The Guru” Elvin: 15-9 SU, 13-10-1 ATS
K.M: 13-11 SU, 8-15-1 ATS
Bryan: 13-11 SU, 10-13-1 ATS
Bet The Houses: 3-6
Roll The Dices: 1-1-1
K.M Crapshoots: 2-6
Bryan Crapshoots: 0-2
So lets get to Week 5 action where we dive into Bracket Busters, and hit each of the 5 big-time conferences (yea, my PAC-12 got dropped from that table this year). It’s the Guru vs. The Gamblers Week 5….
#16 Saint Mary’s at #14 Murray State (+1.5)
Guru: I told y’all (y’all Guru? I thought I was the one in the confederacy?) a few weeks ago Murray State was going down at home against Saint Mary’s in Bracketbusters but now that the Gaels have suddenly dropped 2 of 3 has my pick changed? Nope and here’s why. While Murray State has been a tremendous story all season long losing just once so far this season, for the most part they have not faced the level of competition that Saint Mary’s has playing in the WCC with the likes of Gonzaga and BYU. That is one major reason I like the Gaels even though they have to travel across the country to take on Murray State in what should be a wild scene at the small but loud CFSB Center. The key matchup in this game that everyone is talking about is at point guard as this game features 2 of the country’s best guards in Murray States Isaiah Canaan(19.6ppg, 3.8 apg) and Mathew Dellavedova of Saint Mary’s (15.7ppg, 6.4apg). As good as both of these guards are I see the two almost playing to a wash as this game will most likely be decided by the supporting casts. This is the reason I like Saint Mary’s as Murray State relies heavily on Canaan while the Gaels can survive an off night from Dellavedova because they have another star in forward Rob Jones (15ppg, 10.7rpg) and other capable guards in Jordan Page and Stephen Holt. The key matchup for me will be in the low block as Rob Jones will go against the Racers best post player Ivan Aska (11.7ppg and 5.8 rpg). While Jones is an inch shorter than Aska his strength and ability to stretch the floor from the perimeter will be a key in deciding this game between 2 guard oriented teams. In what should be a classic look for Rob Jones to be the difference as Murray State has not faced many post players in the OVC with the strength, rebounding ability and perimeter touch that Jones has. Despite being one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country (8that 41%) and having home court advantage Murray State to me will not have enough come Saturday as Saint Mary’s has too much balance and too much size for the regular season champs of the OVC. Saint Mary’s is the pick as Rob Jones wins the battle down low with 20 and 10, stealing the show from heralded guards Canaan and Dellavedova.
Prediction: Saint Mary’s 78- Murray State 72
K.M: I was never not taking Murray State here. The fact it lets me stand on an island on this game only makes it all the more sweet for me. Unless I lose. Then it sucks. But I’m very excited for Murray State to prove they are more then just the random team who ended up unbeaten the longest. I’m legitimately excited for this one. At least for now.
Prediction: Murray State 73 Saint Mary’s 70
Bryan: Listen Murray St. is a nice little story. They really became America’s Sweetheart there for a little bit. But at some point you just have to call a spade a spade. Murray St. isn’t and really never was one of the best 15 teams in America. They were inflated on principle because they were unbeaten. St. Mary’s just dropped a game last night at home to Loyola Marymount. It’s as simple as this: I think St. Mary’s is the best mid-major in the country. So for that reason I’m going to play St. Mary’s on the road and hope I’m getting a good line in my favor.
Prediction: St. Mary’s 76 Murray St. 64
K.M. crapshoots on Murray State
Update: Murray St. wins 65-51 , K.M: 1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS, 1-0 Crapshoots, Bryan: 0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS, Guru: 0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS
#6 Ohio State at #19 Michigan (+5)
Guru: In another clash that could go a long way in deciding the regular season champion in the Big Ten, Ohio State travels to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan in this week’s College Gameday game. In my head I don’t think this game should be that close as OSU is definitely the bigger, stronger, more talented and more explosive team. That being said OSU has been tough to trust lately squeaking by a mediocre Purdue team at home and then losing at home to a MSU team that I also thought they would handle relatively easily. Another factor I usually consider when picking these games is home court advantage and in Ann Arbor with the College Gameday crew on campus you can’t underestimate the home court advantage the Wolverines will have with a packed house of rowdy students. Like I said on paper OSU is the pick as with POY candidate Jared Sullinger (17.6ppg, 9.2rpg) and senior guard William Buford(15.3ppg) the Buckeyes have one of the best inside-outside combos in not only the Big Ten but the entire country. Michigan on the other hand is a less explosive and less sexy team which relies on scrappy defense, toughness and clutch shot making to win. The Wolverines don’t rank anywhere near the top 50 in terms of offensive team statistics like scoring, assists, or field goal percentage but with scrappy players like Zack Novak, and clutch shot makers like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke the Wolverines seem to always hang around. Michigan can be painful to watch at times offensively but their toughness, defense and discipline (10.6tpg-8th fewest) have them still in contention in the Big Ten race which is a compliment to the coaching of John Beilein. Despite the “College Gameday Factor” I am sticking with my gut and going with the Buckeyes on the road because of their huge advantage in terms of size and their superiority on the boards. If you throw out all the individual names and statistics the one statistic you cannot throw away is team rebounding and while the Buckeyes rank 75th nationally with 37 rebounds a game, Michigan comes in as one of the worst rebounding teams in the country ranking 306th out of 345 Division 1 teams with just 31 rebounds per game. Michigan will feed off the crowd early and their scrappiness and heart will keep them around for a while but against a bigger, more talented team like Ohio State the Wolverines will be overmatched even at home at the Crisler Center. Same deal as last week I like OSU because of their superior talent and depth but I tread with caution as the Bucks are just 5-3 on the road overall with 3 of those wins coming against lowly competition in Iowa, Nebraska and South Carolina. OSU needs to start showing me they can win the big game as they have scuffled in most of their big opportunities this season and I am starting to wonder if they really can be trusted. This is OSU’s last straw as far as I am concerned as they have already burnt me a few times and if they let me down here …..I’m done with them.
Prediction: Ohio State 67- Michigan 56
K.M: Ohio State is really starting to piss me off. I can only call them my second best team in the nation so many times only to watch them fail me over and over again. Michigan has been a fortress at home this year, and yes, that scares me. But if ANY game should be so pressure packed that home court is somewhat mitigated, it should be this one. Ohio State is the square pick here, I know this, you know this, we all know this. But I am not buying the Wolverines, and I’ve already made my bed with the Buckeyes, so my hands are tied here. If Ohio State can’t take this one down comfortably, I may just make a huge wager on Kentucky to win the Big Dance, because once I’m done with Ohio State, I don’t see another team that is going to stand in the Wildcats way. Save me from myself, OSU.
Prediction: Ohio State 66, Michigan 55
Bryan: Buckeyes see the light at the end of the tunnel. A #1 seed is there for the taking. After Cuse and Kentucky you’re looking at 2 #1 seeds that they’ll battle Kansas, Mizzou, UNC and Duke for. The Buckeyes looked damn good Tuesday night in beating down Minnesota on the road. Michigan has been solid at home. We referenced that in Week 4 when they hosted Illinois and won. They haven’t lost this year at home yet. But it comes to an end Saturday when the Buckeyes go to Ann Arbor and knock the Wolverines off. Haven’t seen any lines but pretty sure I’ll be laying points here.
Prediction: Ohio State 65 Michigan 58
Bet the House on Ohio State
Update: Michigan wins 56-53, K.M 1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS, Bryan: 0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS, Guru: 0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS, 0-1 Bet The Houses
#10 Baylor at Texas (-2)
Guru: In a Texas sized serving of Big Monday #13 Baylor visits Austin in a game that both teams really need. While Baylor is a lock for the NCAA tournament the Bears really need a win to right the ship as they have lost 3 of 4 since starting the season at 21-2. Texas on the other hand needs every win it can get as they are fighting for their tournament lives at 17-10 and are currently firmly on the NCAA bubble. The game is even more of a must win for the Longhorns after Texas dropped a winnable game at Oklahoma State over the weekend and now have almost zero margin for error going forward. For me this game comes down to whether I go with the better team or the team that plays well at home The logic for picking Texas is that they are playing at home with a sense of desperation where they are 14-2 on the season with their only losses coming to top 10 teams Kansas and Missouri. Everything else seems to point to Baylor as they have the advantage in terms of personnel and statistics as the Bears have one of the top frontcourts in the nation and face a very young and inexperienced frontcourt of Texas. As good as Texas has been at home thus far this season I like Baylor behind their athletic frontcourt to win a big game on the road. Baylor has been slumping of late but a road win over Texas is just what the Bears need to turn things around as they prepare for the Big 12 Tournament. In this matchup Texas’ frontcourt of Jaylen Bond, Alex Wangmene, Jonathan Holmes and Clint Chapman will be no match for Baylor’s Perry Jones, Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller as Baylor’s athleticism, skill and length will win them this game on the road. Baylor stops their slide with a tight road win in Austin as Texas has no answer for the athleticism and length of Jones and Acy on the low block.
Prediction: Baylor 74- Texas 70
K.M: I had a good theory working that Baylor was good enough to beat every team they were better then and not beat any team better then they were, until they lost to Kansas State. So much for that theory? NO! Why would I change my mind? Because my record sucks? That’s a terrible reason to stop what I’m doing! Or a great reason. Either way, it’s not enough of a reason. Baylor, big, because in this game more then any other, their terrible coaching is matched by equally awful coaching on the other side.
Prediction: Baylor 71, Texas 61
Bryan: Jesus Christ, 0-2 already this week. Arizona laid an egg at Washington. Clemson got blown the hell out at UNC. Just been a miserable college basketball week for me. Do me right Baylor. Go win a game on the road vs a middle of the pack Big 12 team.
Prediction: Baylor 74 Texas 66
Verdict: Bet the House on Baylor
Update: Baylor wins 77-72, K.M: 2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS, Bryan: 1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS, Guru: 1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS, Bet The Houses: 1-1
#23 Mississippi State at #1 Kentucky (-9.5)
Guru: The Wildcats continue to pass every test in SEC play as they are now 12-0 in the SEC and are a last second 3 by Christian Watford of Indiana away from being undefeated on the season. Mississippi State on the other hand has been up and down particularly in conference play where they have lost 3 straight and now are just 6-6 in conference play. At home at “The Hump” the Bulldogs are 15-2 on the season but albeit at home against the top ranked Wildcats the Bulldogs will face their toughest opposition of the season. Mississippi State will have a tough time with the Wildcats who seem to be clicking on all cylinders right now having won 18 straight, many of those of the blowout variety. This game will be a battle inside as Mississippi State’s frontcourt of Renardo Sidney (10.4, 4.2rpg) and Arnett Moultrie (16.5ppg, 10.8rpg) goes against the nation’s top shot blocker Anthony Davis(4.9bpg) and Kentucky forwards Terrence Jones and Michael Kidd- Gilchrist. While Mississippi State is a solid rebounding team (58th in the country at 37 rebounds per game), Kentucky is an even better team on the boards as they rank 17th in the nation in rebounding and 43rd in offensive rebounds at over 11 per game. Kentucky on paper is a slam dunk as they are better that MSU in virtually every statistical category and have more talent and more momentum than the suddenly struggling Bulldogs. Anthony Davis’s length and shot blocking will be the key in this game as the Wildcat freshman’s presence will force a frontcourt oriented team like Mississippi State to settle for perimeter shots. MSU has played Kentucky tough in the past but the way both teams are playing I’m not picking against the Wildcats who have looked close to unbeatable the last month or so led by Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist.
Prediction: Kentucky 77 Mississippi St. 67
K.M: Kentucky by a ton. Pick and prediction all in one. Hey, that rhymed!
Bryan: Mississippi St. has lost 3 games recently to LSU, Georgia and…wait for it…wait for it….AUBURN. Now they get Kentucky? UK….by A LOT.
Prediction: Kentucky 78 Mississippi St. 61
Bet the house on Kentucky
Update: Kentucky wins 73-64, K.M: 3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS, Bryan: 2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS, Guru: 2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS, Bet The Houses 1-2
West Virginia at #25 Notre Dame (-3)
Guru: In a match-up of Big East teams heading in opposite directions slumping West Virginia visits the Joyce Center to take on a Notre Dame that has won 8 straight. West Virginia’s stock has been plummeting over the last few weeks as the Mountaineers have lost 5 of 6 and have gone from top 4 seed to team that is starting to approach bubble territory. Notre Dame on the other hand has rediscovered themselves without Tim Abromaitis as the Irish have willed their way to wins over the past month including most recently rallying from 20 down to beat Villanova on Saturday. The Irish have been surging of late due to the emergence of 2 players, first junior and Luke Harangody look a like Jack Cooley has more than tripled his scoring and rebounding averages this season averaging 12.2ppg and 9.4rpg. The other has been 6-5 freshman Pat Connaughton who is shooting 39 percent from 3-point range this season and has gone for over 20 points in 2 of his last 5 games. In what is bound to be an ugly slugfest between 2 tough defensive teams, Notre Dame’s home court advantage could be the difference as the Irish have won 33 of 34 games at home at the always rowdy Joyce Center. Despite Notre Dame’s success at home and recent run I’m not buying all the hype surrounding the Irish as I still think this team lacks a go to scorer and is vulnerable against the top half of the Big East. West Virginia on the other hand despite their recent run in my opinion is one of the more mentally tough teams in the Big East and if anyone is capable of winning at the Joyce Center it might be the scrappy but not pretty West Virginia Mountaineers. West Virginia has their backs against the wall at the moment but with 2 senior leaders like Darryl “Truck” Bryant(16.7ppg) and All-America candidate Kevin Jones(20.4ppg, 11.3rpg) I like West Virginia on the road to squeeze out a tough win. West Virginia needs this game and I don’t see anyone wearing a Notre Dame jersey denying Kevin Jones and Bob Huggins of this win. Notre Dame has had a nice run but they are not as good as advertised and look for a tougher and better rebounding West Virginia team to outwork, outhustle and outslug the streaking Irish. If you are looking for free flowing play and high scoring this isn’t the game for you but expect a closely contested affair that could go down to the final possession. I’m rolling the dice here picking against the Irish at the Joyce Center but I’m not sold on this young upstart Irish team yet and believe that even a middle of the pack team like West Virginia will humble them and bring the Irish back down to earth.
Prediction: West Virginia 63- Notre Dame-59
K.M: How well will Notre Dame shoot the three against the 1-3-1 zone? This is the question that will decide this game. I have declared it right now, so that is official now. I’ve seen both these teams, I saw ND wax the Orange, and I saw West Virginia get screwed by the Orange. Who cares? If West Virginia needs this win to get a better resume, they will get it. The Big East loves to mess with results and try to get 15 teams in the Big Dance. It’s pretty much the reason the Big East exists. You can’t go too wrong betting on the team that really needs this one as you go down the stretch in Big East conference play? Notice how I don’t capitalize EAST like I do in NCAA football? I’m a lot lazier now.
Prediction: West Virginia 65, Notre Dame 63
Bryan: I’m hearing whispers in the grapevines that the Mountaineers are on the bubble with many bracketologists. Really? Well listen, I know Notre Dame has surprised a lot of people and Mike Brey has had praise thrown all over him for the job he’s done this year, but if you’re telling me my boy Huggie Bear needs a big win late in the year on the road, I’m likely taking him. If that team is a fringe top 25 team who has been down it’s top player all year, I like my chances even more. Finally it’s a chance to redeem an earlier season home loss????? Sealed and stamped.
Prediction: West Virginia 60 Notre Dame 54
Verdict: Bet The House on West Virginia
Update: Notre Dame wins 71-44, K.M: 3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS, Bryan: 2-3 SU, 1-4 ATS, Guru: 2-3 SU, 1-4 ATS, Bet the Houses 1-3
#4 Duke at # 21 Florida State (+1)
Guru: In a “payback” game #4 Duke travels to Tallahassee looking to avenge a loss to the Seminoles at Cameron Indoor Stadium back on January 21st, which snapped Duke’s 45 game home winning streak. Both teams come in riding hot streaks as the Seminole shave won 10 of 11, while Duke has won 4 straight and 7 of their past 8 games. This game also is key in terms of the ACC standings as the winner will stay tied with North Carolina at the top but the loser will drop back a game with just 3 games remaining. In this game I like Duke on the road as the Blue Devils are the more talented team and will be playing with a chip on their shoulder after losing the first game to FSU. Duke will come out hungry and focused tonight as you can bet the image of FSU celebrating in Durham is fresh in their minds. The key matchup in this game for me is Duke’s perimeter offense against FSU’s nationally ranked defense. FSU annually has one of the tougher defenses in the nation and this season is no exception as the ‘Noles rank 2nd in the nation in field goal percentage defense (37%), 16th in 3-point defense(29.1%) and 30th in fewest points allowed. The Blue Devils hope to counter FSU’s suffocating defense with a strength of their own as Duke’s shooting percentage(47th) and 3-point percentage(38.9%) both rank in the top 50 in the nation. In terms of personnel Duke will need the Plumlees to hold their own on the glass as FSU is a very good rebounding team (40th nationally) led by Bernard James, Xavier Gibson and Okaro White. Duke is tough enough to beat once but it is almost impossible to beat them twice in a season as Coach K will have his players amped for this one as Duke should come out firing as they look to return the favor to FSU. The Blue Devils have been playing well lately and the recent play of Austin Rivers(15ppg) and Seth Curry(13.6ppg) make this team a lot better than the Duke team that FSU beat about a month ago. Duke is the pick even on the road as the Blue Devils are the more efficient team and definitely will not be caught off guard by the Seminoles a 2nd time.
Prediction: Duke 73-FSU-63
K.M: Florida State sweeping? You have to be kidding. Dukies…
Prediction: Duke by more than 1.
Bryan: Well in order to keep myself above water I need this game to end the week. Florida State got Duke in Cameron Indoor earlier this year and it is a MONSTER game for the top of the ACC’s sake. If FSU wins they control their fate to win the league. Duke’s #1 seed in the NCAAs also is in the balance as a loss here likely means they have to win the ACC tourney to get one. It’s a tough game. Wish I could roll with the Noles who I’ll be pulling for most likely but tough to beat Duke once, let alone twice. Give me the Devils on the road.
Prediction: Duke 67 Florida State 60
Verdict: Bet The House on Duke
Update: Duke wins 74-66, K.M: 4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS, Bryan: 3-3 SU, 2-4 ATS, Guru: 3-3 SU, 2-4 ATS, Bet The Houses 2-3