A battle to go 3-4 yesterday with Arkansas and Gonzaga late. That's the theme this year though. Battle. There are plenty of days in the season, just fight through a losing day. There's today's pep talk. We get the Battle 4 Atlantis starting today which is by far the best early season tournament this year.
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. Suggestions on how to add to the blog, etc. Just send them over.
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: 44-42-1
My biggest bet here is the fact I *think* Michigan State realized Max Christie is its best player. He's such a mismatch, especially in this sort of game. It's also the first real challenge for Loyola. Not to diminish the fact they are blowing teams out but they've played Coppin State, FGCU, Chicago State and UIC. One team is ranked better than 200th in the country and that's 196 FGCU. More importantly this is the first team that has some size and length for Loyola to defend and deal with. I like Drew Valentine a ton and think he'll keep Loyola more than relevant. But they are due a little bit for shooting regression and I'm mostly betting on Max Christie here.
Pick: Michigan State -2.5
Guys, Oregon is bad. Correction: Oregon sucks. They aren't good. That said, I'm going to get suckered into them every single day because this is what Oregon does. They look like shit early on, figure out something around mid-January and then come March they are in the Sweet 16. I don't want to be wrong on them this year. But they are bad right now. They don't have point guard play. Their offense is complete shit. They have no plan and no go-to guy. Now Houston will likely come out pissed off. That's how Kelvin coaches. Wisconsin embarrassed them defensively the first half. Just straight up took them out of everything they wanted to do and then torched them on missed communications. Now here's the difference. Houston likes to throw two on ball, especially off screens. Oregon doesn't have the guys to kill you out of that. Wisconsin has Johnny Davis. I debated taking the under here, but Oregon's defense isn't there yet either. Guards that are able to handle the pressure and beat it are having field days - look at BYU and St. Mary's.
Pick: Houston -4.5
One of the, if not the, most intriguing matchups today. I really wish Auburn had Allen Flanigan for this game. So here's the thing. Auburn's defense has actually been really good and if you can prevent them from running the offense hasn't been great, yet. UConn also hasn't played anyone, just beating the shit out of bad teams. But both teams actually have good size and can match up with each other there. UConn doesn't shoot a ton of threes, but they are making them at a ridiculous rate. I don't know if that continues. They just aren't typically made to shoot this well. Both teams are going to be determined to slow down transition. At least that's what I'm betting here because both offenses aren't made to run in the halfcourt consistently yet.
Pick: Under 143.5
This has nothing to do with Syracuse and everything to do with VCU. This team simply can't score. They can barely get to 40 points and they sure as hell can't shoot. I don't care if the 2-3 zone has been average this year. It's still better than anything VCU has. Sure I'm worried that Syracuse's offense isn't enough, especially good enough to handle pressure. But they just need to get to like 56 points. It's not that much!
Pick: Syracuse -5.5
Alright Wisconsin, you guys pulled off one of the more impressive wins holding on to beat Houston. The reason why? Well, two main reasons. 1) Johnny Davis is someone you guys haven't had since Sam Dekker and rarely had. An athletic wing that can get his own bucket and save you out of a bad possession. 2) Tyler Wahl was unbelievable defensively. His ability to hold his ground and versatility is huge for what they need to do. Now we get a matchup with two teams that are incredibly slow tempo wise and sort of similar. Some bigs that can stretch the floor. Two 45-year old basketball players in Tommy Kuhse and Brad Davison. This is basically just betting on Johnny Davis staying hot. He's been one of the best players this week.
Pick: Wisconsin -1
I actually really, really like what Mike White has Florida doing this year especially defensively. We can talk about how they are playing faster and finding ways to score. But the defense is the real story. They have a handful of guys to throw on EJ Liddell and really bother him with size. They also can bother OSU's guards and that's the biggest story here for me. Ohio State has good guards, but they are young. Meechie Johnson has a 25% turnover rate. Jamari Wheeler has a 16% TO rate. That's not ideal when you're going against Florida. Another huge key is OSU is actually a bad defensive rebounding team. Florida is a pretty prolific offensive rebounding team. If it's a rock fight that could be huge in getting Florida some free points.
Pick: Florida -1
I'm terrified of how many favorites I like today.
So basically this game comes down to who can control tempo. Memphis is at its best when it's forcing tempo and running that press/trap defense. They have two elite talents in Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren. But Mike Young is one of the best designed coaches in the country. He's brought the Wofford offense to Virginia Tech and they have no problem turning this into a halfcourt game. If they can do that, they win this game. If Memphis is able to get out and run, Tech can't really answer Bates/Duren in transition. Something also has to give at the 3pt line. Tech is 13th in the country in 3pt shooting while Memphis is 19th in defense there. Penny does like to take away the 3pt line, but this is where Mike Young is so good at getting guys off of screens. One weird thing? Memphis is 353rd in turnover percentage. They've been a little sloppy, especially since the majority of those turnovers are steals.
Pick: Virginia Tech +3