As we enter the latter stages of the month of November, the top 25 schools are still flexing their muscles against the smaller schools. It’s not if they win, but by how much? We offer up our NCAA Basketball picks and predict if this trend will continue.
#18 Connecticut (4-0)
vs. Boston College (1-3)
The undefeated UConn Huskies square off against the Boston
College Eagles in the 2K Classic that will be played at Madison Square Garden
tonight. While Connecticut has a balanced attack led by Shabazz Napier, B.C. is
a team that possesses one of the best guards in the country in Olivier Hanlan.
In order for Boston College to have any chance in this
neutral site game, Hanlan must take over. This will be easier said than done
against a Huskies defense that allows a mere 48.5 points per game.
Hanlan is coming off of a huge 38 point performance as
Boston College slipped by Florida Atlantic University, 82-79, to earn their
first win of the season. Ryan Anderson (16.3 ppg., 6.3 rpg.) and 3-point
specialist, Joe Rahon (43.8 % from 3-point range) will give Hanlan much needed
support against a team with great depth in the Huskies. In addition, Anderson
will have to shake off a very poor outing against a sub-par FAU squad.
This is definitely not a Hanlan vs. Napier game, but senior
Shabazz Napier has many more options and uses them well as he averages a near
triple double on the season. Napier is averaging 13.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, and
7.8 assists per game. At 6 foot 1, the rebounding numbers clearly stand out as
Napier is coming off of a huge 12 point, 12 rebound, and 6 assist game in a
victory over Boston University.
He hasn’t had to look for his offense as much this season
with various options to defer to. Napier’s high basketball I.Q. and athletic
ability separate him from most players in the country and expect the
Massachusetts native to make an impression on the Garden fans and his friends
and family at home.
We may see a lot of junior guard Ryan Boatright in this
game. He keeps improving every game and much like Napier, has had to be less
selfish with the basketball this season in order to stay undefeated. That said, Boatright is a major 3-point
Connecticut is clearly the better team, and even though defending
against Hanlan will pose a major test for the Huskies, I think that the college basketball odds have been set too low.
-5.5 at Bet 365
(2-0) at #13 Gonzaga (3-0)
An Ugly Win?
A win is a win in most people’s book, but the Gonzaga Bulldogs will need
to play much better against Washington State if they expect to win tonight. The
Bulldogs are coming of a poor display in a 82-67 victory over Oakland. This was
an opponent that was winless, short-handed, and got destroyed in their first
three games of the season, but kept the game competitive against Gonzaga as the
Bulldogs only had a single-digit lead with 8 minutes to play. Needless to say,
Gonzaga was too strong in the end as their offense was strong as usual.
Gonzaga averages 92 points per game offensively and relies
on their “Big 3” in Gary Bell Jr., Kevin Pangos, and double-double machine Sam
Dower. Even in a poor effort against Oakland, all 3 players managed to shoot
nearly 50% apiece as Pangos came up huge in this game with 21 points and 5 for
9 from 3 point range. Their offense is nearly unstoppable and Washington State
will have to put up their best performance of the season in a season which has
included two victories over very weak opponents.
The Cougars don’t have nearly the same amount of offensive
depth that Gonzaga has, but the Bulldogs will have a huge test in stopping the
offensive machine known as Davonte Lacy. It’s only been 2 games, but Lacy has
started his junior season with a bang, averaging 24.5 points and 5 rebounds per
contest. This is a guard with great size, athleticism, and is not afraid to
shoot the basketball.
Washington State has looked good thus far, but the level of
opposition has skyrocketed for the Cougars as they face the Bulldogs. Gonzaga
is too deep a team for the Cougars to deal with. That said, 16 points are a lot
and Gonzaga didn’t play defense in their last game.
State +16 at Bet 365