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Barstool Sports Around College Hoops: Four Massive Games Tonight, Preview/Picks and Oklahoma Proved Itself


Well, hello.

Last night Oklahoma lived up to the ranking I bestowed on the Sooners. The best team in the country. That was a dominating performance over Villanova, where the game was really only close for about five minutes. The biggest surprise? Oklahoma holding Nova to 12.5 percent shooting from deep. That was all the defensive rotations by Oklahoma and nothing to do with the gym.

More importantly it was another winner given out by the best college basketball blogger on this website. The win moves me to 27-12-2 on the year on picks on here and the ML bet gave us all a little bit more money.

That said, it’s a loaded night of hoops tonight with four big games. Follow me @barstoolreags for all your college hoops talk tonight and this season.

West Virginia (+5) vs Virginia – 7pm, Madison Square Garden

The Jimmy V Classic is tonight, which is one of the best things out there. Seriously, fuck cancer.

But, in terms of hoops we have two great games kicking off with West Virginia taking on (East) Virginia. Virginia’s biggest strength is taking care of the ball and defensive rebounding. Well, the Mountaineers excel at partying, forcing turnovers and are currently the best offensive rebounding team in the country. We’re talking about two polar opposites as you have rednecks vs yuppies, Bob Huggins in a sweatsuit vs Tony Bennett dressed to the nine and Press Virginia vs the Cavaliers slower pace. Right now, West Virginia is a tough matchup for Virginia as the Cavaliers struggle with physical play. The Mountaineers are deep as shit, playing 11 guys at least 10 minutes. I believe West Virginia will dictate this game and win the turnover battle.

The Pick: West Virginia covers the +5

Florida (+7) at Miami – 7pm

It seems like forever ago Miami was the talk of the country. The Hurricanes were coming off an impressive run in Puerto Rico where they blew out Utah then beat Butler fairly easily. Since then Mark Richt got hired, they lost at home to Northeastern (gross) and struggled against Nebraska on the road. Florida on the meantime has been better than I imagined heading into the first season under Michael White. The Gatos have one loss on the year – to Purdue and most recently ran all over a good Richmond team. Kasey Hill, a McDonald’s All-American a couple years ago, is finally looking like a top point guard under White. He’s directing the team, despite putting up just nine points and 3.5 assists per game. The return of Dorian Finney-Smith has been huge for the Gators as he’s putting up 14.3 ppg and 9rpg. This game will be close as Miami is struggling a little bit of the moment. If this game is at the O-Dome in Gainesville, Florida would win this.

The Pick: Florida covers, Miami wins by 5

Michigan (+8) at SMU – 9pm

Michigan is heading on the road to face a real good SMU team, who would probably be the favorite to win the AAC if it wasn’t for Larry fucking Brown ruining yet another program. The fact people still want to hire this asshat is the biggest joke in the world. Nic Moore is going to fly under the radar all season because of the sanctions, but he’s putting together a year that could land him back-to-back AAC Player of the Year awards. The Mustangs also are incredibly balanced with five guys averaging at least 10 points and a sixth at 9.7. There’s also the chance Moore could be going up against an injured Derrick Walton and an injured Spike Albrecht, giving him the chance to go off tonight. On the flip side Michigan does have Caris LeVert, who is playing like many expected him to last year, averaging 19.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Not too shabby. The Wolverines also have Duncan Robinson, a transfer from a D3 school who is the best shooter in college basketball in my opinion. He’s shooting 59 percent from deep on 52 attempts. That’s outrageous. Anytime he is open, the shot is going in and with Beilein’s offensive scheme that happens a lot. Monitor this game to see if Walton plays, it will tell a lot about his injury.

The Pick: Michigan covers, SMU wins by 6 if Walton plays. If Walton is out, SMU

Maryland (-1) vs UConn – 9pm, Madison Square Garden

The second game of the Jimmy V Classic and the best game of the night. Look, saying it’s a tossup is too fucking cliché, but this game is as 50/50 as you get. This game is essentially a home game for UConn at Madison Square Garden, where we’ve seen Kemba Walker break some ankles, a gross 5OT game with Syracuse and all the other Big East magic. Maryland’s offense finally looked like it’s starting to gel, granted against St. Francis. There are a couple of key storylines within this game though.

The first being, who does Melo Trimble guard? He’s somewhat of a defensive liability in the sense that he’s awful on the ball. North Carolina would run his guy in screen and rolls, trying to get him to switch onto Paige or confuse him defensively. UConn’s strength is at the guard spot with Rodney Purvis and Sterling Gibbs. He can’t hide defensively in this game against a weaker offensive guard. Second, when UConn goes small and moves Daniel Hamilton to the four spot, what does Maryland do? Personally, I’d move Robert Carter Jr., to center and slide Jake Layman to the four spot and go zone defensively. Layman will struggle sticking with Hamilton one on one in that scenario and the zone at least neutralizes that possible mismatch on the defensive side of the ball. On the flip side can Amida Brimah stick with guys 20-30 pounds heavier than him in the post? Expect Maryland to try and use the post advantage this game, getting Diamond Stone early touches and letting Carter drive against Brimah, Facey or Miller.

I don’t think Trimble will turn the ball over 38 times like against North Carolina, which was the difference in that game. I expect a little lean on the high scoring side and it never really getting to double digits.

The Pick: Maryland by 4

PS: Trent is sitting down with me tonight to record the weekly podcast, touching on the Iowa/Iowa State game later in the week. Submit your questions to @barstoolreags