Getting on with it! Here are my college football picks for Week 14 (Conference Championship Week). Enjoy!
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles @ Houston Cougars (-14)
The Cougars have killed me one too many time for me not to take them here. It seemed like my value meter had them taking a hit for like five straight weeks – but obviously, I ended up taking the hit. Right now their offense is too ridiculously explosive to go against them in a game that should very well score over 100 total points. Crazy, these Cougs! I’ll take them, finally.
Connecticut Huskies (+9.5) @ Cincinnati Bearcats
I don’t think the Bearcats are much better than the Huskies. Connecticut does well against teams like Cinci, and I think they stick with them enough here to make it a game. Goodness the Big East is bad.
Texas Longhorns (+3) @ Baylor Bears
I like the Bears and I sure hope they win – it’s just that they played perfect last week and I don’t see it happening again. Texas can really run the ball and that consistency, along with a couple big plays on defense, should give the Longhorns the upset.
Georgia Bulldogs @ LSU Tigers (-13.5) *
The Bulldogs have been very good down the stretch here. But they aren’t LSU or Alabama good. There are only two teams like that. Expect LSU to continue on their demolition of every team but ‘Bama.
New Mexico Lobos @ Boise State Broncos (-49)
This might be the definition of crazy, taking a team to win by more than 7 touchdowns – but I’ve been know to take a wild stab or two. My thinking is this, last regular season game for the Moore, he goes off for like 8 touchdowns like a boss.
Oklahoma Sooners (+3.5) @ Oklahoma State Cowboys
I’m not sure which of these teams is better, but I watched Oklahoma State play last time they had a National Championship on the line – and that looked gross.
Virginia Tech Hokies @ Clemson Tigers (+7)*
The Hokies have been playing great and the Tigers have really hit a lull – but can Clemson really continue to turn the all over like they have the last 4 games? I don’t think they do, and because of that, I think they keep this one close.
Wisconsin Badgers @ Michigan State Spartans (+10)*
The Spartans won outright last time, even though Wisconsin looked like the better team to me. I know the Spartans usually poo themselves late in the year, so that could happen here. I just think they might be ready to take that next step and come to play. Plus, come on, the Badgers defense just isn’t very good.
NCAA Basketball National Championship Game
Butler Bulldogs VS Connecticut Huskies
I will be rooting as hard as I can for those Butler Bulldogs. I love when less talented teams come in and stun the big boys, and Butler would have done it a number of times during their tournament run. Coming in as an 8-seed is no easy task, you play a tough team in Round 1 and then a #1-seed in Round 2. After that, nobody knows for sure, but the Bulldogs had to go through Wisconsin and then Florida to get into the Final Four – then they had to oust a VCU team that came in playing better basketball than anyone in the tournament. I’ll be rooting for them alright, but that doesn’t mean I think they’re going to win.
In fact, my money is on Connecticut. As smart as Butler plays, and as consistently effective as they are, I just think Kemba Walker, Lamb, and their cast of role players will be too much for the Bulldogs. Kemba Walker was the best player in college basketball this year, and those that want to argue for Jimmer need to re-watch all his games and pay attention to the defensive side of the ball. Walker was his teams’ offense and he was one of the best defensive players on the court every time he laced them up. Plus, he’s COLD BLOODED. Kemba has hit big shot after big shot, and he really can get a good shot off any time.
Butler will be a tough challenge, no doubt, and this game could go either way – but the Huskies could eliminate a tough low-post presence from Butler, because they have plenty of big athletes all over the court. I hope I’m wrong! But I’m taking UConn.
Butler Bulldogs VS Connecticut Huskies (-3)
2011 Final 4 Prediction Kentucky Wildcats @ Connecticut Huskies: More than a few people are disappointed with the Final Four. No 1-seeds, no awesome teams, just flaws and plenty of them with Butler and VCU the main culprits. But Kemba Walker was one of the best players in all the land all season long, a guy that no opponent wanted to see with the ball in the waning seconds of a close game – the kid is a winner, what makes college basketball great. Kentucky is full of stellar freshmen that took a little longer than expected to mature, but just in the nick of time, they certainly have. The NBA is scouting them plenty, you’ll see a few Wildcats playing for big money in the years to come.
Whomever wins this game is certainly the favorite to win the Championship, and that makes sense. These are both major players from the power conferences, and they have more NBA talent, a pedigree of winning, and two coaches that have years of experience on this stage, experience that the youngsters just don’t have. But who’s going to win this game?
Kemba Walker has been amazing, and it’s tough to bet against him. He’s willed his team to victory more than a few times, and this tournament has been his playground. But I see Kentucky’s full starting line-up as a difficult match-up for Walker and company. Kentucky is tough in the post, they have elite athleticism all over the floor, and with Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones, they have two freshman that are only getting better. I’d love to see Walker win another game, but my money’s on Kentucky.
(4) Kentucky Wildcats (-2) @ (3) Connecticut Huskies (8:49 PM EST) (CBS)
Connecticut Huskies @ San Diego State Aztecs NCAA Basketball Pick: Tough to bet against Kemba Walker – in fact, in big games, tournaments, and crazy last shot contests, it’s just flat out dumb. So call me dumb, that’s cool, I’m taking the Aztecs. First and foremost, I think they’re better than the Huskies. But I just think they have too many team players and some very good guys that will do work against UConn’s defense. Plus, Kemba has to miss one of those shots, right?
SDSU needed some extra time to beat Temple, but they got the job done, and really managed the game well to always be taking the shot to win in do or tie opportunities. In the end, their rebounding bested the Owls, and that’s no small task. Temple’s a very good team.
UConn smacked Bucknell around, then did Cincinnati right out of the tournament as some Big East on Big East crime went down. (Speaking of the Big East, what happened to the Super Conference anyway? They have 2 teams left, and one of those is 11-seed Marquette).
The Huskies haven’t been tested too much of late, but they are ready for the big game, so I can’t have that as a reason for the loss. However, I do think that UConn has been playing up and down all year, and they’ve been rocking the UP switch for a while now. I’m ready for the down, and I think SDSU is going to capitalize.
(3) Connecticut Huskies @ (2) San Diego State Aztecs (+1) (3/24) (CBS)
Connecticut Huskies @ Georgetown Hoyas Big East Tournament Pick: Wednesday morning has a big one in the Big East tournament, and when isn’t a Big East game big? This conference is killing it these days. While they might not have the best team in the country, they have 8 or 9 teams that could and have beat some of the Nation’s best. It’s early in the tournament, but already two ranked teams are going at it as Georgetown takes on Connecticut.
UConn won it’s 1st round game as Georgetown had a bye. The Huskies played really well against DePaul, putting up 97 points and winning by 26. Kemba Walker put up 26, going 8 of 15 from the floor and making 10 free throws. It looks like he’s turning it on, and this time of year seems like his kind of time. But Georgetown is certainly a tougher test.
Georgetown lost to UConn earlier in the season at Connecticut – falling by 8 in a game where Kemba went ballistic on the Hoyas, dropping 31 points 10 assists and 7 rebounds. Talk about BEAST Mode.
Both teams lost 4 of 5 coming into the Conference Tournament, but Georgetown hasn’t won a game since Chris Wright went down with a broken hand, and obviously their lead ball handler is a huge part of their success. He won’t be playing on Wednesday, and that has to give UConn the advantage.
The question is by how much. It’s late on Tuesday Night, or really early on Wednesday morning (whichever time zone you’re in) and there still aren’t any lines out for this game – so now I have to pick a winner and a score, and you can bet accordingly if you’re with me.
Neither team has been playing well, but despite being 1-4 in their last 5 (just like Georgetown) I think the Huskies have been playing better ball. Their best player is playing, and it’s tourney time where he will be playing at his biggest. Kemba started the season hot, and I think he finishes strong – so I have to take the Huskies by 7. If the line is greater than that, and the Hoyas are a big dog, I’d go with them. Even without Wright, they’ll come to fight and probably keep it within single digits.
#19 Connecticut Huskies @ #22 Georgetown Hoyas (3/9) (ESPN)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ Connecticut Huskies Point Spread Pick: The Irish of Notre Dame go to Connecticut to play the Huskies. It’s another big time battle in the Big East, and while it might not mean much for the Big East tournament – because just about every game is a tough one, it might go a long way in making some momentum for the victor heading into the post season. Notre Dame has been really good, and even on the road, you have to give them your full attention.
The Irish have surprised a lot of people this year, but that seems a little bit silly considering how well they played late last year without Luke Harangody in the line-up. They just play really smart basketball, buy into whatever their coach wants them to do against a specific opponent – then win the game if it’s there for the taking.
The Huskies have been up and down, but still have produced a nice 21-8 season thus far. They lost by three at home last time they played Notre Dame. They’ve also gone 1-3 over their last 4 games.
The Irish have been too consistent, and the Huskies have depended way too much on Kemba Walker having a great game. UConn could certainly pull this one out, Notre Dame is far from unbeatable – but it almost completely depends on Kemba playing out of his mind, and I think Notre Dame plays too smart to let that happen. I like the Irish.
#7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+3) @ #16 Connecticut Huskies (3/5) (ESPN)
Connecticut Huskies @ Louisville Cardinals Friday Night College Basketball: UConn and Louisville play on Friday Night, and it should be another big battle in the Big East. Both of these teams have shown flashes of dominance at times, always competitive, and on the right night they can beat anyone. So who has the advantage on Friday?
Good question, UConn will either be coming off a home win over 9th ranked Georgetown or, of course, a home loss. That will make a big difference, especially traveling to Louisville to play the Cardinals.
Louisville plays Cincinnati on Wednesday Night, at Cincinnati, and that will be a huge one for the Bearcats who are fighting and scratching for a ticket to the big dance. Another week in the Big East!
As it turned out, the Bearcats beat the Cardinals on Wednesday Night as Connecticut found a way to oust the Hoyas. Some would think that means the Huskies should be favored in this one, coming off a big win, gaining some of that confidence back – but I’m going the other way in this one.
The Cardinals are a solid team with hard workers up and down the line. That loss to Cincinnati will only act as motivation, and playing at home should give them that extra kick they need. The Huskies are coming off a big win, and that often has the making of a lull.
I think this one will be one heck of a game, Friday Night, two ranked teams squaring off in Louisville – it will be great. But the home team coming off a down performance gets the nod.
#12 Connecticut Huskies @ #16 Louisville Cardinals (-3.5) (2/18) (ESPN)
Connecticut Huskies @ Oklahoma Sooners Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Pick: Oh the Sooners couldn’t be a bigger public favorite. At a couple big books I know, Oklahoma is rocking public favoritism by over 80%. It looks like they’re about 65% as a whole on most of the sites I recognize. Twice as many people are on the Sooners – and I get it, the Sooners come from the Big bad 12 and UConn took the BCS spot because they won the pathetic Big East with an 8-4 record and a loss to Notre Dame, of all teams. The Huskies should be underdogs, no doubt, but the consistent acknowledgment that they “don’t belong in a BCS Bowl game” or how they “aren’t even ranked” helps raise that spread to where it is today. Give them a little credit.
The Huskies won 5 straight to win the Big East title, including a big 19-16 win over South Florida. They smoked Cincinnati, walked past Syracuse, and beat both Pitt and West Virginia to help win them the title. They ran the ball very well down the stretch, and despite a passing game that rarely accrues impressive numbers, the Huskies have found ways to win football games – a very important part of football, for sure.
The Sooners put up heaps of points and loads of wins, but they also played in a Big 10 that sports absolutely no defense and high scoring games every time out. When they play in anything different, it gets foreign. The Soones barely beat Cincinnati early in the season, and we know Connecticut is better than them. UConn should lose this game, but 17 is way too many – all the value is on the Huskies.
Connecticut Huskies (+17) @ #7 Oklahoma Sooners
Pittsburgh Panthers @ Connecticut Huskies NCAA Football Free Picks: There’s a lot to like about the Panthers here. They have won 3 straight games, and they’ve actually dominated those games. In 4 straight they’ve out-rushed and out-passed their competition – not always in easy feat. They really seem to be getting on track, and especially QB Tino Sunseri is playing at his highest level this season. They are 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 games, each of which they’ve out-gained their opponents offensively. They beat Louisville 20-3, Rutgers 41-21, and Syracuse 45-14 over their last three while Thursday’s opponent, UConn, lost at both Rutgers and Louisville lately – 24-27 and 0-26, shutout by the Cardinals. Like I said, there’s a lot to like about the Panthers.
But the Huskies aren’t chopped liver, they have some things working on their side, too. They’re getting points and they have shown the ability to play close games. They are playing their best defense of the season and they have made big plays when they needed them most. But most of all, they are a very good home team and on Thursday’s that advantage is a huge one. Pittsburgh hasn’t been terrible on the road, though, and momentum can be a great thing.
It’s really a tough call for me. Not as easy as it seems. That Thursday Night home field advantage can just be so good and UConn is 4-0 at home this season, upsetting West Virginia last week.
But I have to give my nod to Pittsburgh – it’s about momentum, and it’s about the way UConn got ran right over last week and lucked out with a victory anyway. They were out-gained by nearly 150 rushing yards and 136 total yards. They took the game into OT where they beat the Mountaineers at home. That huge win can push a team in the wrong direction, and I think Pittsburgh takes advantage of that – plus, they’ve just been so solid lately it’d be a crime to go against them.
Pittsburgh Panthers (-5) @ Connecticut Huskies
West Virginia Mountaineers @ Connecticut Huskies Football Pick: This is a tough start to the week for me. I did head off the week with a win as Louisiana Tech pulled through with a nice cover against Boise State, but going for three road teams in a row in week-day prime time is a dangerous method to master. I by no means think West Virginia is a great team, I just don’t think the Huskies are very good.
There’s something about UConn’s 3-4 record that just doesn’t excite me. Maybe it’s the fact that they’ve only beaten Vanderbilt, Buffalo, and Texas Southern thus far. Now, one thing going in their favor is that all of those games were at home – where Friday Night’s game will be played, but none of those teams are good. Vandy is 2-5, Buffalo is 2-5, and Texas Southern is Texas Freaking Southern for the love of all things football – they don’t even count. Their losses were all on the road, Michigan, Temple, Rutgers, and Louisville (they were shut out by Louisville last week). None of those teams are great football teams or even better than West Virginia. I know the home court has something to do with it, but I can’t rely solely on that.
West Virginia played like pigeon poo last week at home against Syracuse, and for their poor play, they lost. That’s what they get. But that’s also a nice wake-up call before they head on the road to play a Huskies team that can’t be taken lightly. West Virginia is just 1-1 on the road, but they haven’t played poorly there. They lost to LSU by just 6 points, but they did play close with Marshall (winning 24-21). What I’m saying is it’s not like they have the road blues. I’ll take the road favorite, as much as I hate it.
West Virginia Mountaineers (-6) @ Connecticut Huskies