The Daily 1-3-1 (February 18th)

1  Thought from the Games Last Night

If I was the coach of a potential 2 or 3 seed, I would want to avoid drawing North Carolina as the 6 or 7 in my sub-regional.

Even with James Michael McAdoo dealing with foul trouble for the entirety of the game, the Heels were able to go on the road and beat a decent Florida State team. This team is fast, athletic, and is the only team to have knocked off a full-strength Michigan State squad – I don’t care if that game took place in early December; it’s still very impressive.

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3  Games to Watch Tonight

i. George Washington @ Richmond, NBC Sports Network – 7 PM
This game has Bubblicious written all over it; hopefully it doesn’t lose its intrigue and flavor as fast as the infamous chewing gum. The Colonials are looking to save their season and tournament hopes after back-to-back losses to VCU and Massachusetts. They control their own destiny, with two opportunities to get quality road wins this week – at Richmond and at Saint Louis. The Spiders are right on the cusp of the field – they must defend home court against the other top teams in the A10 to earn a tournament birth.

ii. (19) Texas @ (17) Iowa State, ESPN2 – 7 PM
It is a forgone conclusion that Kansas is the class of the Big 12. Who is the second best team in the conference? I think this game will do a lot to answer that question. The Cyclones have been less than impressive in their last two games, getting throttled by West Virginia and surviving at home against Texas Tech. Texas has yet to play the conference elite on the road, and this will be the start of a 4-game stretch that also features games in Lawrence and Norman; it’s time for the Longhorns to prove they belong in the conversation of contenders for a deep tournament run.

iii. (9) Villanova @ Providence, Fox Sports 1 – 7 PM
The Wildcats have been able to take care of business against everyone in the Big East not named Creighton, but on the road at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center isn’t going to be a cakewalk (stretch of a pun somewhat intended). Providence is in a similar situation to Richmond – another tournament-caliber conference foe is coming onto their floor, and they’re smack dab in the center of the bubble. If the Friars want to feel more comfortable about their tournament chances, they should probably win this game or their season finale at Creighton; winning this game seems like a much more feasible task.

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1  Bold Prediction for Tonight’s Slate

Marshall Henderson will attempt at least 7 three-point field goals, and will make less than half of those attempts.

He’s a dog without a leash, and Andy Kennedy has enabled him and allowed that to happen – for better or for worse. Henderson’s antics are polarizing, his confidence is incessant, and he’s never afraid to risk taking the blame in order to earn the glory. I’m fairly confident that John Calipari will have the Wildcats ready to shut him down and shut his mouth.

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The Daily 1-3-1 (February 12th)

1  Thought from the Games Last Night

San Diego State’s loss in Laramie last night might drop them two whole seed lines.

Alliterations aside, San Diego State can’t afford another loss the rest of the way if they want to have a résumé worthy of a 2-seed. It’s not the worst loss in the world, as Wyoming is at least a borderline NIT team and it was on the road. Nevertheless, watching this team play, I’ve always questioned their ability to put the ball in the basket against top-caliber opponents (which appears well-founded, with their Adjusted Offensive Efficiency outside of KenPom’s Top 50), so maybe they aren’t deserving of a 2-seed.

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3  Games to Watch Tonight

i. (8) Duke @ North Carolina, ESPN – 9 PM
With all do respect to Louisville/Kentucky, Michigan/Michigan State, Georgetown/Syracuse, and Cincinnati/Xavier, this is the best rivalry in college basketball. It is a mere 9 miles from Durham to Chapel Hill, and there is no love lost when the two Tobacco Road goliaths tango on the basketball court. This year’s edition promises to be filled with plenty of excitement and hoopla, as freshman phenom Jabari Parker has really settled into his role in the past few games. North Carolina also seems to have settled into their fast-paced style of play, having won 5 straight games by double digits.

ii. George Washington @ VCU, NBC Sports Network – 7 PM
VCU has their aptly-named “Havoc” defense, and George Washington has wooden teeth. In all seriousness, the Colonials are also capable of playing some high-pressure, lock-down defense when the time comes – and the time will come tonight. Tonight’s battle at the Siegel Center will be a means for determining (temporarily anyway) who is numero dos in the Atlantic 10 behind Saint Louis. Look for Mo Creek to have a big game if George Washington wants to go on the road and get a huge W.

iii. (1) Syracuse @ (25) Pittsburgh, ESPN – 7 PM
These two teams already met once earlier this season at the Carrier Dome, and the Orange slogged their way to an ugly 59-54 victory. The Panthers have the undefeated, unanimous #1 team in the country coming into their backyard; this gives them a chance to finally beat a quality opponent this season. Just to be clear, Pitt has played four legitimately good teams all season – Cincinnati, Syracuse, Duke, and Virginia. Their record in those four games? 0 wins, 4 losses. If they want the committee to take their over-inflated record seriously, they need to have a quality win on their team sheet for Selection Sunday.

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1  Bold Prediction for Tonight’s Slate

The three abovementioned games will all be decided by single digit margins.

Grab some popcorn and settle in for some great basketball tonight, ladies and gentlemen… I think we have three truly great matchups between six teams that are all capable of making the second weekend (and beyond in the case of Duke and Syracuse) come March. If you put a gun to my head and told me to pick each game, I might just flip a coin for each one, because it would be that tough for me to make a decision. Since you twisted my arm, I’ll make some picks: Duke goes on the road and picks up a big W, VCU uses their home court to nix GW, and Cuse’s bid for an undefeated regular season lives to see another day.