College basketball enjoyed its first weekend without football, which allowed fans to see a wealth of games on ESPN, Fox and even WGN.
The Chicago superstation aired the Wooden Classic, featuring the UCLA-Davidson matchup in nearby Anaheim. It was my first long look at the Bruins, and after a very rugged start, they were very impressive. UCLA is acting like a Final Four team, along with North Carolina. The other two teams I’ll wait on.
The little guys are enjoying a fine start to the season. Recall Gardner Webb beating Kentucky, which by the way is 0-4 against the spread and getting booed. Then there’s Michigan falling to Duke by 28 points and just 2-6 ATS. Wolverines fans can’t blame Lloyd Carr for basketball failure.
On the plus side, how about the trio of Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin and Rhode Island! The Southland Conference has never stood taller with Sam Houston, which is off to an 8-0 start and owning wins over Saint Louis, Fresno State and Texas Tech.
Bob Knight’s Texas Tech Red Raiders also fell to another upstart Stephen F. Austin, which upset Oklahoma in Norman 66-62 to improve to 7-1.
Last but not least are the Rams of Rhode Island, which defeated Syracuse by 2 at the Carrier Dome to improve to 10-1 overall and 9-1 ATS. URI also beat Providence in the Big East and lost to Boston College by just 4.
Now for this week’s selections.
Tuesday, Dec. 11
Bradley at Wright St: The visiting Braves are 3-4 ATS and playing just their third road game. Wright State is off a 1-point win over previously unbeaten Butler. Two straight upsets may be a bit too much to ask. BRADLEY.
Wednesday, Dec. 12
Cincinnati at Xavier: The battle of Cincinnati has lost some zest with Bob "Huggy Bear" Huggins moving from Cincy to W. Virginia. The Bearcats are 0-5 ATS. Why break up a good trend? XAVIER.
UMass at BC: This should be a battle to the finish between two solid teams. We’ll go with the home boys, which is good policy in college hoops. BC.
Thursday, Dec. 13
Miami, FL at Miss St: The Hurricanes are off to a stellar 8-0 start and 5-0 ATS. The UNDER is also 5-0 in Miami’s games where a total was posted. The Bulldogs are 4-1 at home, the lone loss by 2 to unbeaten Clemson. MISS ST.
Friday, Dec. 14
Drake at Iowa: A traditional in-state war. Iowa is just 2-7 ATS and having problems. Drake, of the Missouri Valley, has won seven in a row and is smelling blood. DRAKE.
Saturday, Dec. 15
UAB at Kentucky: We have documented Kentucky’s woes. As for Alabama-Birmingham, it has won five of the last six and will not fear this Wildcats bunch. UAB.
Pepperdine at BYU: Visiting Waves have the unlucky task of facing an angry group of Cougars, which lost at home to Michigan State. Bombs away. BYU.
Arkansas at Oklahoma: This wouldn’t be a bad football game. The Sooners need to get over a stunning loss to Stephen F. Austin. Arkansas is 7-1 but has not played an actual road game until now. OKLAHOMA.
Niagara at St. John’s: Calvin Murphy against Chris Mullin. Not really. Niagara is 4-1 ATS and lost by 15 to Duquesne. St. John’s is trying to rebuild. The points look good. NIAGARA.
Sunday, Dec. 16
N. Carolina at Rutgers: The No. 1 ranked Tar Heels are well rested and have been excellent on the road. Playing in Piscataway shouldn’t be a problem. UNC.
Monday, Dec. 17
Wofford at Alabama: The Crimson Tide comes off a laugher against Nicholls State. Some more cupcakes on the menu. Wofford lost by 27 points at Wisconsin and 22 at Arkansas. That sounds right. ALABAMA.