March is finally upon us, and Pat and Alex look to bounce back after a rough Wednesday in college hoops. Outside of an A-10 home team battling for a double bye in the upcoming conference tournament in Brooklyn, the research has kept us in the major conferences on Saturday. Our picks today look to take advantage of some teams fighting for regular conference titles versus inferior competition and share in their joy with victories today.
Pat: Kansas/Oklahoma State over 140
Kansas has been up and down offensively in Big 12 play, but a trip to Stillwater is exactly what they need to get hot. The Cowboys are eighth in the conference in defensive scoring, giving up over 73 points per game. They gave up 84 to Kansas in the first matchup between these two teams, and haven’t done anything since that leads me to believe they can slow the Jayhawks down this time around, as Kansas will give them several matchup issues.
While Oklahoma State doesn’t seem to be reliable enough to hold up their end of the scoring for this over to hit, they shot the ball well at Texas Tech, one of the country’s best defensive teams, on Wednesday. With a big time team like Kansas in town in front of what should be a great home crowd, expect the Cowboys to push the pace and be firing on all cylinders in hopes of pulling off the upset.
Alex: Texas Tech (-3.5) at TCU
The Red Raiders have proven to be a stout defensive team all season and currently sit atop the Big 12 conference as the regular season is coming to a close. Sophomore Jarrett Culver has had a brilliant season and has led the Red Raiders on their current six game winning streak. Previously when the two teams met in Lubbock, Texas Tech coasted to a 19 point victory over the Horned Frogs.
Coming off of a triple overtime thriller loss against a depleted West Virginia team, look for the Horned Frogs to come out aggressive again on this big day in college hoops. However, Chris Beard’s Red Raiders are playing with purpose and will be ready for the challenge as they look to close out their season strong. The Red Raiders aim to become the first team that isn’t Kansas to finish first in the Big 12 regular season since Texas was able to do so in the 2005-06 season.
Pat: West Virginia/Oklahoma over 142
This has been a nightmare season for Bob Huggins’ squad thanks to injuries to stars Sagaba Konate and Beetle Bolden, dismissal of two other starters for violating team rules, and of course, their current 11-17 (3-12) record. Despite the fact that the Mountaineers have struggled to score the rock this year, their recent roster changes make me like this over for two reasons.
First, having less depth helps raise the confidence of the guys on the floor, as they know that even if they turn the ball over or miss shots they won’t come out of the game. This gives players more confidence and will have them playing freely, which hopefully will lead to better shooting numbers. Second, Huggins’ press relies on depth and the ability to rotate guys in and out, so a shorter rotation could lead to fatigue for the Mountaineers in the second half. That could lead to some easy Oklahoma buckets. Expect a shootout in this one.
Alex: LSU (-1.5) at Alabama
The Tigers have been an all around solid team all season and are currently tied for first place with Tennessee and Kentucky, who are playing each other today, in the SEC. This game is important for Will Wade’s Tigers as they hope to secure a #1 seed. They play solid defense and create a lot of turnovers. This will give the Crimson Tide, who average just about 13 and a half turnovers a game, a challenge.
Alabama is coming off of back to back wins against Vanderbilt and South Carolina, but still remain in the lower half of a competitive SEC conference with a 8-7 record. The Crimson Tide will be locked in in front of their home crowd in Tuscaloosa and hope to get in a position for a better seed with the conference tournament around the corner. However, the return of guard Tremont Waters along with LSU’s physical style of play should be enough to steal a crucial road win against the Crimson Tide.
Pat: Duquesne (-6.5) vs Umass
The Dukes suffered a tough loss at St. Bonaventure on Wednesday, dropping them down to sixth in the A-10 standings. However, they’re still just a game out of fourth place and have a good opportunity to make up ground on Saturday with a home game versus the Minutemen, while St. Bonaventure and George Mason both have tough road games. Umass star guard Lawane Pipkins is doubtful, and the Minutemen offense will likely struggle without their leading scorer.
There’s a good chance Duquesne star freshman Sincere Carry will miss his third straight game, but the Dukes have already proven they can win without him, as they came away with an impressive road victory at George Mason last week. Pipkins means a lot more to his team’s success than Carry, and Umass has not won a conference road game all season. With the coveted double bye for the A-10 tournament still in play for Duquesne with a win, all signs point to the Dukes rolling today.
Alex: UNC (-4.0) at Clemson
Roy Williams’ Tar Heels have had a typical season, being nationally ranked for the whole year while putting up north of 80 points a game. The team is led by a mix of experienced upperclassmen such as seniors Kenny Williams and Cam Johnson and junior Luke Maye. The Tar Heels also have a lot of young talent in Nassir Little and Coby White, who have come on strong as of late. This explosive offense loves to run in transition and has the ability to light it up from deep or pound the ball inside.
The Clemson Tigers have had a lackluster season and are fighting for their life and the hopes of making the NCAA tournament. However, they do not have the same depth and offensive firepower to keep up with this fast paced UNC team. Look for the Tar Heels to get off to the races early and bury the Tigers tournament hopes.