The Atlantic 10 (now 14) has always been a "redheaded stepchild" to the Big East, but there are a couple of moneymakers worth following.
Xavier, ranked ninth in the Sagarin (used by USA Today), is 12-3 overall. George Washington — not the president or bridge — is 15-1. Granted GW’s schedule is ranked 322 (that’s softer than Downy), but one of the victories came at Maryland as a 3-point underdog, 68-60.
Georgetown’s upset of Duke and St. John’s win over Pittsburgh enhanced the reputation of college basketball’s 16-team "super conference." The Big East was formed a generation ago to keep inner city kids (NYC, Philly, D.C.) from heading for Tobacco Road and points beyond.
The A-10 has failed to carve an identity and it doesn’t help when GW’s schedules nonconference "powers" like Stony Brook, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Morgan State and Florida International. Not one Stony Brook game line has been posted in Las Vegas sports books in a 3-14 season!
Now for this week’s best picks using GT lines as a guide.
Villanova -13Â½ at USF (Tue): Tampa is new ground for the Wildcats, who could get bit coming off the Syracuse romp. USF
GW -21 at Duquesne (Wed): That’s DO-CANE for those unfamiliar with the Pittsburgh school in the A-nonymous 10. Dukes opened the year 2-14. GW.
Duke -15Â½ at VT (Thu): Last-second 3-pointer saved Duke from a stunning upset the first time around. Bad news for Hokies — Dukies are in off a loss. DUKE.
Dartmouth +6Â½ at Brown (Fri): Stony Brook beat Dartmouth. The prosecution rests. BROWN.
Arizona +4 at UNC (Sat): Tough spot for Arizona coming into Chapel Hill off Pac 10 grind. Young Tar Heels have been OK with their brand new starting five. NORTH CAROLINA.
Cincinnati +2 at G’town (Sat): The Hoyas beat visiting Duke on their homecourt last week. Cincy without Huggy Bear is not as intimidating. G’TOWN.
Arkansas +1Â½ at Kentucky (Sun): Even without Nolan Richardson, it will be 40 minutes of hell for the Wildcats. Still the line favors Big Blue. Ashley Judd wills Cats to the cover in a thriller. UK.
Last week: 5-2. Season: 15-6.