Nice little 5-2 yesterday to get this glorious week started. Just think about it. We get the Maui Invitational, we get all these smaller tournaments where Seton Hall/Ohio State absolutely delivered, the Battle 4 Atlantis is still to come and that doesn't even add in Gonzaga/UCLA (more on that later) and Gonzaga/Duke. It's a week where we're up until 2am, sleep for a few hours and get back to it in a few hours. I love this week.
Just a reminder. Sharp Cheese is the way you'll know you're going to read a picks blog for college basketball every single day. We're also going to incorporate it into social media perhaps posting on Instagram and going live on IG/Twitter Spaces. Twitter Spaces will absolutely happen 1-2 times a week, most likely on weekdays after big games. Just come on and talk whatever the hell you want about college basketball. The blog will mostly read the same. Breaking down games and making picks. I'm thinking maybe adding a Q&A part into the blog. Now most of the time I feel the same way about games, that said if there's a game I really love and attacking a few different ways you may see a Sharp Cheddar alert next to it. Sprinkle on the ML? Well, get out the shredded mozz. You get it. That said, always willing to listen to any adjustments you might have.
Let's get into today. Shoot stuff over at barstoolreags on Twitter.
As always - all the lines come from the Barstool Sportsbook. Download the app here.
2021-22 Season Record: 41-38-1
There is no doubt we're about to get hit with 'Gonzaga is a FRAUD' takes if they lose one of the games this week. It's insane. Gonzaga is not a fraud. Losing in a title game, even if Baylor kicked their ass, doesn't make them a fraud. It means Baylor was that fucking good, especially on that night. Now we get the Final Four rematch. I like Gonzaga here a lot. Why? First, Drew Timme. UCLA doesn't have someone that can defend him. We saw it in the Final Four and even though UCLA added Myles Johnson, that's not enough. He's not going to go get 37 like he did against Texas, but UCLA has to make a decision. Leave a shooter or Chet Holmgren and try to double Timme. Force him to make the pass. Or defend him straight up and hope you hit more shots. And while UCLA is a for sure top-10 team, they are a bit overvalued. They got lucky to beat Nova. They rely still on a ton of hero ball on offense, especially by Johnny Juzang late in the shot clock. Remember that UCLA doesn't even have Cody Riley tonight. This is one of those games where Gonzaga can take advantage of mismatches. While I like Jacquez a lot, can he defend Holmgren with the size difference? I also like Holmgren's ability to move on defense and at least challenge Jacquez on some outside shots.
Pick: Gonzaga -6
Can we hit two straight ugly overs in a row? Let's try. Butler is still banged up and dealing with injuries and I'm curious to see how A&M responds after blowing a 16-point lead to Wisconsin. But a key here is A&M, specifically their defense. They thrive on turning teams over and getting free points there. Butler is one of the most turnover prone teams in the country and live ball turnover teams in the country. They don't throw it out of bounds, the majority of their turnovers are steals. We also saw A&M willing to push tempo more and more. I also think Butler will be able to hit shots when they take care of the ball. They actually do shoot well. We need another strong Jair Bolden shooting night. But let's get ugly early here.
Pick: Over 124.5
Here we go with two of the slowest tempo teams in the country. Both teams rank sub-300 in offensive tempo which isn't shocking with Liberty's Virginia ties. They run packline, run a slow but efficient offense thanks to Darius McGhee. Now the problem here is neither team shoots well. Both are sub-250 in effective field goal percentage. Both are sub-200 2pt percentage and sub-225 3pt percentage. Hell neither team shoots over 70% from the free throw line either. So I expect Liberty to control this game, really holding back Bethune-Cookman from scoring while taking time off the clock on offense.
Pick: Under 131
Going back to the well here with Houston. They look like a top-10 team in the country. I know Wisconsin came back from 16-points down and with Johnny Davis are better offensively. But they have to find a way to score against Houston, not A&M. Houston gets after you defensively, really sag and dare you to shoot over them. That's not how Wisconsin wants to play. Throw in that Houston has a ton of depth to handle back-to-backs and can rotate bigs out there. We saw Sampson do that in the 2nd half yesterday when he was annoyed with how they started. I still don't trust Wisconsin's offense in this sort of game.
Pick: Houston -6.5
Nevada is an absolute mess right now. They can't defend. They just kicked AJ Bramah off the team. It's honestly kind of shocking because I love the Sherfield/Cambridge duo. George Mason has also been a little of a mess since beating Maryland. But this matchup plays well for them. George Mason should have a ton of clean looks from three, so it's just a matter of hitting them. Again, I think D'Shawn Schwartz is a nightmare matchup here.
Pick: George Mason +4
Wofford has to start shooting the ball better right? They still run the same offense, running guys off screens and looking to shoot threes, but they've shot terrible to start the year. They are due for a positive shooting regression here. At the same time South Carolina's offense is a mess. They rely on getting offensive rebounds and putbacks. Wofford is an average defensive rebounding team, so if they rebound alright they should win this game. They are going to dare South Carolina to shoot from outside.
Pick: Wofford +5.5
What Cincinnati did to Illinois was damn impressive and Wes Miller can coach his ass off. But this is a bit of a nightmare matchup. Arkansas relies on two things defensively. Protecting the rim and forcing steals. Can UC actually hit enough shots to keep it close? On the other side, you can't really press this Arkansas team. They thrive in that tempo and they have plenty of ball handlers to handle that sort of pressure. Arkansas shot terrible yesterday, the real question will be if a 2nd game in this gym helps.
Pick: Arkansas -5.5