With Selection Sunday just a week away from determining who’s in and who’s out for this year’s NCAA Tournament, this week is the last opportunity for teams to bolster their resumes and earn impressive wins to sway the committee. Of course, some teams already know what postseason tournament they are headed to, but would still love to improve their seeding by finishing the regular season strong. Although much of that last minute shuffling will happen after the results from conference tournaments are in, today’s games – which are the final regular season games for many of the teams in action – will have a large impact.
#3 Duke +2 at North Carolina -2
Duke and North Carolina will renew one of the oldest and most bitter rivalries in all of sports one last time this season, as they square off at Chapel Hill.
It hasn’t been a banner year for the Tar Heels, who are entering today’s game unranked, but the 22-8 Heels will likely have a spot in the NCAA Tournament waiting for them and they could end the regular year on a pretty sweet note by beating Duke at home.
The Blue Devils haven’t lost at Cameron Indoor, but they are just 4-4 away from it and that’s the biggest reason why they are actually a two-point underdog today. Still, the Devils will be confident with their array of offensive weapons and with the fact that they have already defeated the Heels once this season – 73-68 back on Feb. 13.
And considering that one of Duke’s stars, Ryan Kelly, is back from injury, the Devils should be even stronger this time around. In Duke’s last two victories, Kelly has been the major spark, scoring a combined 54 points in those contests.
Even though North Carolina is on a hot streak of its own (6 games), I like Duke in this match-up. Duke has the size with Mason Plumlee, the perimeter game and with Kelly, an outstanding defender and all-around scorer. Take Duke to cover +2 today in the win.
#11 Florida -6 at Kentucky +6
The Gators have stumbled a bit towards the end of the season, but they’ll still have a six-point edge on the Wildcats, who desperately need a win to improve their tourney chances after losses to Arkansas and Georgia.
Florida is definitely in, but they could give the committee something to think about in regards to a No. 1 seed if they finish off the Cats and perform well in the SEC Tournament.
With the nation’s highest ranked recruiting class (again), the Wildcats were surrounded by hype, but the defending champions have not performed to expectations and find themselves on the tourney bubble at 20-10 on the season. They need a win today, but even at home it will be tough to come by. After all, Florida did dismantle the Cats back on Feb.12, winning 69-52.
However, I expect Kentucky to come out and play well with so much more on the line. The home floor and the extra motivation should push Kentucky to at least keep things close. Take the Wildcats to cover +6.
Here’s a quick peek at some of the other significant games today:
#4 Kansas -4 at Baylor +4 – Baylor needs the win, but Kansas just has too much firepower. Take the Jayhawks to cover -4.
#17 Syracuse +1 at #5 Georgetown -1 – Odds makers were right here. Things will be close, but I like Georgetown at home by also taking into account that the Hoyas beat the Orange earlier this season.
#24 Notre Dame +13 at #8 Louisville -13 – Louisville will certainly be gunning for a No. 1 tourney seed and they’ll likely beat the Irish, but not by 13. We have to give a good Notre Dame team some credit and take the Irish to cover +13.