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Trae Young Visits “Press Virginia” and Top Picks for January 6th

Trae Young Visits “Press Virginia” and Top Picks for January 6th

It’s a big day in college hoops, loaded with pivotal conference matchups and some of the more interesting story lines of the season. Kentucky has been the dominant force in the SEC for the majority of its expanded existence. Tennessee has never loved that fact. Today, they host the Wildcats, who looks as vulnerable as any time in the last five years, in Thompson-Bolling Arena, famously built to be specifically larger than Rupp (it no longer seats more since the renovation in 2007).  Alas, the animosity remains in the rivalry.  UT will be looking for a third straight home win tonight.

And how about the opportunity today for Jamie Dixon’s Horned Frogs??  If Kentucky has dominated the SEC, than Kansas has owned the Big XII like an ancient monarchy.  The Jayhawks ALREADY have a conference loss, and the Horned Frogs can take TWO giant steps today with a win at home; dethroning the Jayhawks decade-plus streak of dominance, and legitimizing their own.

But the game of the day is a different Big XII matchup as two of the nation’s longest winning streaks collide when West Virginia hosts Oklahoma. It is the only matchup between Top Ten teams today, but it is far from the only game worth tuning to see.  Virginia hosts North Carolina, Arizona has a tricky game at Colorado (just ask Arizona State), ranked Arkansas visits 13-1 and unranked Auburn, ranked Seton Hall visits unranked Butler (ask Villanova about Hinkle…) and Texas A&M looks to avoid an 0-3 start in SEC play hosting LSU.

It’s a loaded day of hoops!  Here’s my three favorite games from a wagering, not necessarily “interesting” standpoint.


butler bulldog#21 Seton Hall Pirates (13-2) at Butler Bulldogs (12-4)

When will we learn?  Do not bet against Butler at home.  Because even when it seems like they SHOULD lose, when SURELY THIS TIME will be different. They win. Last week it was a pummeling of undefeated and #1 ranked Villanova.  They get a chance for a remix today with Seton Hall.

I don’t think they will blow them out, but I do think the Butler will do it again in Hinkle. It isn’t Butler’s flashiest team, not their most talented or athletic. But they do have all the traditional Butler trademarks; smart with the ball, tough on defense, able to make open shots, and able to score from multiple positions on the floor.

Seton Hall is very good, and they will win a ton of games and be a legit Sweet Sixteen contender in March. But there is no shame in losing on the road to Butler.  Most Big East teams do.



tony bennett#12 North Carolina Tarheels (12-3) vs. #8 Virginia Cavaliers (13-1)

It’s probably also time to stop doubting Tony Bennett and his Cavaliers. The rosters change, but the results don’t.  They defend, control the ball, and WIN year after year. This year, despite some tempered expectations, it is more of the same.  Virginia enters 13-1 and fresh of a 78-52 domination of Virginia Tech.  They have held Wisconsin to 37 points. They have broken the 70 point barrier on offense in nine of their 13 wins.

North Carolina is solid, but this team is not even close to the team that won the National Title last season.  I think they will struggle today on the road and some of their offensive woes will be exposed with a smother Virginia defense playing in their home arena.

In North Carolina’s last five games, they were lucky to escape Tennessee, lost to Wofford, were unimpressive in a win over Wake and lost to Florida State. Today could be a real rough day for Roy Williams and the defending champs.



trae young#7 Oklahoma Sooners (12-1) at #6 West Virginia Mountaineers (13-1)

This game is the highlight of the day and I can’t wait to see what Bob Huggins has cooked up defensively to try and corral the nation’s most dynamic player, Trae Young. Both teams have double digit win streaks. Both have just a single loss. Both have excellent resumes; Oklahoma with wins over Northwestern, Oregon and USC and road wins over Oklahoma State and Wichita State, West Virginia with the win over Virginia and opening league play with road wins over Okie State and Kansas State.

This pick is predicated more on the line than anything else.  I like getting Trae Young and five points.  They have already proven they can win on the road, so that leaves me with a toss up, and I think Oklahoma is the slightly better basketball team on both sides of the ball.  Yes, they are extremely dependent on one player, but at least that player is a true facilitator who allows the entire team to be dangerous.

West Virginia is always a scary “fade bet.” You never know how a team will respond to the pressure of Morgantown, both literally in terms of the smothering defense and figuratively, in terms of the smothering crowd noise.  The place will be raucous today, but I think Young and the Sooners can handle it.  It is fairly similar to the Wichita State game, in which they acquitted themselves well.  They may not get the win, but I’ll take the fistful of points.



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