College hoops

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Two of the seven unbeaten took their first losses of the season last week, and they were the odds on favorites in office pools to do so.

Central Florida (14-1) got a taste of losing at Houston (9-6) while Cincinnati (15-1) got a taste of life on the road in the Big East, losing at No. 7 Villanova (14-1). For Central Florida, its troubles may just be beginning. The Golden Knights travel to Southern Mississippi (12-3) this week, who are one of the best teams in Conference-USA.

Next up on the chopping block is No. 6 San Diego State (17-0) who welcome UNLV Wednesday night and then travel to New Mexico this Saturday. After being run off their home court by BYU last week, look for the Rebels to use that as motivation and pull off the upset. This will be only the third time all season that UNLV has been an underdog. The Rebels are 1-1 in those spots, losing to Louisville and winning at Kansas State.

The line has been catching up with the Aztecs through their 17-game winning streak, but they still have a very impressive 10-4 mark ATS. This will be their biggest test of the season since beating St. Mary’s on Dec. 1. Take UNLV to win by 3.
A team that is currently making some noise is Boise State (11-5), who upped its conference record to 4-0. We caught a glimpse of the Broncos in Las Vegas when they were 14-point underdogs to UNLV, but covered in a 75-72 loss.

Utah State (14-2) is the class of the WAC, but the Broncos will get to test themselves and see how far they have come when they face off Thursday night in Boise. The Broncos have only covered once in their last four games going 4-1 straight up over that span. The Aggies come in with a nine-game winning streak with their only losses on the season coming in road games at BYU and Georgetown.

Prior to Sunday’s 59-56 home loss to Missouri State, Wichita State (13-3) had covered four straight games. Once everyone got on the bandwagon and came in heavy on the Shockers with a two point move against the MSU, that was the kiss of death. The Missouri Valley battle down the stretch should be very entertaining with those two teams along with Creighton.

One of the better cover teams this season has been Colorado (12-4) who has got the money in five of their last six board games. The Buffaloes have padded their record with six victories against small schools. When it came time to start Big-12 play, they took it up a notch by beating then No. 8 Missouri as a six-point home underdog.

Colorado also has been one of the most predictable teams with totals going over. The Buffaloes force a fast-paced tempo and are currently seventh in the nation scoring 85 points-per-game.

One of the greatest stories of last week came in a game between Lamar and Louisiana College where junior guard Mike James scored 52 points. James became the first player to crack 50 this season. The best part of the story is that James doesn’t even start; he came off the bench and did most of the damage shooting 11-for-21 from the 3-point line.

Game of the Week: Pittsburgh at Georgetown this Wednesday night will be a great game, but the one I’m really looking forward to seeing is Thursday with No. 10 Purdue (15-1) on the road at No. 25 Minnesota (12-4).

The Gophers have lost their first three road games in Big-10 play, all to ranked teams, and Sunday’s three-point heartbreak loss at Ohio State should sting harsh enough to drive them to a home win. While Purdue has probably the best 1-2 tandem in college basketball with JaJuan Johnson and E‘Twaun Moore, the record doesn’t include any wins against ranked opponents.

The Boilermakers’ four Big-10 wins came against the four worst teams in the conference. It’s kind of early to call any game a must win, but it sort of is for Minnesota and I like playing good teams at home with mounting pressure.

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