BY MARK MAYER
Early returns from the nation’s best conference, the Atlantic Coast, suggest that road wins will probably decide the regular season champion.
Take North Carolina, which walloped Maryland, Virginia and Georgia Tech by double digits in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels finally hit the road to Wake Forest and gagged on its own medicine, losing 95-82 as a pick’em.
Then there’s Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets left friendly Atlanta and fell on the road to North Carolina and N.C. State And, Maryland whipped Temple after losing big at North Carolina and Georgia Tech.
Out on the West Coast, St. Mary’s became the latest "what have you done for me lately" team.
The Gaels posted an eight-point win last week over West Coast Conference powerhouse Gonzaga. Saturday, archrival Santa Clara held the Gaels to 42 in a 23-point road win that ended St. Mary’s nine-game winning streak.
BOOK REPORT: At 11 a.m., the underdogs enjoyed at 14-7 edge against the spread after jumping out to an early 5-1 margin. By 5 p.m., the favorites caught up and took a 32-26 lead. The 11 p.m. final count was favorites 39-37 with three pick’ems after the Louisiana Tech-Hawaii game concluded.
Favorites enjoyed an 11-8 margin on the Added Games list with one pick’em. We absorbed a tough setback with Providence on late free throws, but will move on with great vigor to this week.
Tuesday, Jan. 18
W.Forest at FSU: The visiting Demon Deacons are off an emotional double-digit win over North Carolina. Now they have to go on the road as a heavy favorite and take on the Seminoles. We see a letdown and a possible FSU upset in Tallahassee. FSU.
Wednesday, Jan. 19
St. Joseph’s at Dayton: The Hawks took their lumps early after losing arguably the nation’s top backcourt last year. St. Joe’s is off a 35-point blowout win over Big Five rival LaSalle. Dayton is always tough at home, but we like the points. ST. JOE’S.
Thursday, Jan. 20
Arizona at Oregon: The visiting Wildcats barely escaped USC (without Tim Floyd) and could easily go down at Eugene. The Ducks are on the verge of Top 25 status. OREGON.
Saturday, Jan. 22
Kansas at Villanova: The excitement of Sunday’s NFC title game with Eagles carries over to the host Wildcats in Philly. Nova as an underdog is dangerous and it’s a good spot for Kansas to taste defeat. VILLANOVA.
Santa Clara at Pepperdine: The Broncos take advantage of St. Mary’s having visited Pepperdine two nights earlier. Santa Clara could be the nation’s best 9-9 team, with victories over North Carolina and St. Mary’s. SANTA CLARA.
Last week: 2-2 (using +3Â½ Stardust line for PC-Syracuse. PC lost, 75-71).
Season: 10-7-1 (adding 3-2 record from Leroy’s Challenge).