February 11, 2017
There are two college pick today.
#1: Take Florida State (PK) against Notre Dame for 3% of the bankroll.
This is an interesting matchup as these two teams squared off just one month ago, and the Florida State Seminoles barely managed to escape Tallahassee with an 83-80 victory. Having won by only three points at home, we expected Vegas to list this game with rather short odds and we were correct with our prediction, however we believe this is a slight mistake by the oddsmakers as Florida State is the better overall team in our opinion.
In the first meeting, Notre Dame managed to keep things close simply because of their hot shooting from beyond the arc. The Irish went an extremely efficient 15 of 21 from downtown. For them to shoot 71% from beyond the arc, while impressive, is severely above their seasonal average and not the type of shooting performance we expect to repeat itself. Had it not been for their outside shot falling, the Irish could have arguably been blown right out of the Donald Tucker Center.
While they have certainly cooled off slightly from their incredibly hot start to the season, let's not forget that the Florida State Seminoles are one of the most talented and offensively explosive teams in the nation. They have the ability to put points on the board in a hurry. While their offense is the staple of this team, their defense is widely overlooked and underrated. The Seminoles are an incredibly 'long' team and will certainly have the advantage down low against a Notre Dame team who has been implementing smaller lineups as of late. If Notre Dame tries to counter the height advantage of FSU with speed, they are going to need to ensure that they make their shots count as FSU will have the advantage on the glass and likely limit the Irish to single shot possessions.
Mike Brey's squad, while one of the best offenses in the country, has struggled mightily when they have taken a step up in competition this season. Against teams ranked in the Top 20, Notre Dame is just 1-6 on the season and have suffered double-digit home losses to the likes of Virginia and Duke in just the last three weeks. This is a team that seems to allow the moment to get too big for them and cannot close out a game when it matters most, especially against elite competition. We believe that will happen again in this meeting tonight.
Florida State has had their fair share of struggles on the road themselves, however they may have turned the corner recently as they shut down and completely blew out an extremely solid Miami Hurricane team in their own building. It was an incredibly impressive display by Florida State and we believe that victory will have instilled the confidence in the players that they can win on the road and that is a very dangerous notion for the Fighting Irish. Florida State has been rolling as of late and have defeated their last three opponents by margins of 18, 48 & 24 respectively.
At the end of the day, Florida State is the better overall team, playing the better overall basketball at the moment. Notre Dame will have the advantage playing in front of their home crowd, but that is where we believe the advantages end. This will likely be close game; however, Florida State has shown their ability to make plays when the game is on the line and we expect them to be the ones to make the plays necessary to come away with the victory.
#2: Take Gonzaga -3 spread (buy half a point) against Saint Mary's for 3% of the bankroll.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are ranked number one in the nation. They are not only perfect in conference play, but they are undefeated on the season and own the nation's longest winning streak currently at 25 games with notable wins over the likes of Florida, Arizona, Tennessee, and Iowa State. They have defeated every conference opponent by double-digits and own the largest average margin of victory at just under 24 points per game. They are hands down the best team in the nation at the moment and tonight face what many are expecting to be their toughest test to date.
There has been a lot of hype surrounding this rematch between Gonzaga and St Mary's. The Zags managed to blow out the Gaels in their first meeting this season by a score of 79-56 back on Jan 14th. Many are expecting the Gaels to get their revenge tonight in Moraga and that includes the oddsmakers. Despite their utter dominance thus far this season, the oddsmakers have favored the Zags by their second lowest point spread of the season which is an extremely telling move. Many believe that this is the point where Gonzaga is going to stumble, however we are not one of them.
St Mary's has been a force on the defensive side of the basketball, there is no question about that having held their last two opponents to just 67 combined points. As impressive as that is, their offense has been inconsistent at best this season and that will likely hurt them again in this contest. Gonzaga has scored 80 or more points in half of their games this season and even eclipsed the 100-point mark twice. They absolutely shredded the Gaels defense in the first meeting and we don't believe much changes for this contest. Gonzaga has multiple ways that they can score the basketball and we expect them all to be on display for tonight's matchup.
Yes, St Mary's will be out for revenge. Yes, they have the home court advantage in this contest. With all that being said, Gonzaga is still, without question, the better team in this contest and they are a team that has owned the Gaels over the years. Gonzaga has won 10 of the last 12 meetings with St Mary's and since Mark Few has been at the helm (18 seasons), Gonzaga owns a 38-9 advantage in the series. While this matchup is likely to be closer than the first contest, we don't believe it should be overthought. We have not seen a point spread this low on Gonzaga in quite some time and the value is simply too good to pass up. Gonzaga passes this test once again with another stellar performance.
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