Duke headlines this year's 2K Classic Benefiting The Wounded Warrior Project, and we're getting you primed early with a preview and free college basketball picks.
Yeah, I know. You're still disappointed you didn't get to see Duke take on what would've been an undefeated Kentucky team in last year's Men's College Basketball National Championship.
The good news is you'll get to see the Blue Devils and Wildcats go at each other in less than two weeks, and a week after that there's the chance we could see a Duke-Wisconsin rematch in what would be the finals of the 2K Classic Benefiting The Wounded Warrior Project. Just don't expect the VCU Rams and Georgetown Hoyas to make that easy for the Blue Devils or the Badgers.
Those four teams make up the meat of the 2K Classic bracket that finds the quartet taking on a couple of patsies each in the prelims before arriving at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, November 19 to tip the semifinals. ESPN2 has both games that night along with the consolation matchup the next day before handing off telecast duties to the Mother Ship for the championship clash, currently slated to tip Friday afternoon (Nov. 20).
Wisconsin takes on Georgetown in the Thursday opener before Duke collides with VCU. SBR will have the college basketball odds, but current futures certainly suggest the Blue Devils and Hoyas are the favorites for the tourney championship. Duke's an 8/1 wager at Bovada to win a second consecutive national title while Georgetown checks in around 65/1. Wisconsin trails at 75/1 while the Rams are huge long shots at 250/1.
Prelim Games Part Of The Process
I'm guessing the PC Police are already out to get me for using the term 'patsies' earlier, but they can't arrest me for regurgitating the old adage, "If the shoe fits..." The two challenged teams among the four in the preliminary rounds that I've targeted are Siena and Radford since they give me the opportunity to compare against the four big-timers, i.e, the semifinalists in New York.
Siena's first two games of the year are against Duke (Nov. 13) and Wisconsin (Nov. 15), so when someone starts talking about Strength of Schedule, ask them if that team began the year against last year's two finalists. Radford is taking on Georgetown (Nov. 14) and VCU (Nov. 16). Of course, all of those games are at some hostile gyms for the Saints and Highlanders.
Count me among those who are keen to see the spreads because I'm kinda' already leaning towards Siena plus points at Wisconsin and Radford plus points at Virginia Commonwealth.
1st Disclaimer Season Of My Bromance With Bo Ryan
Anyone who has been following my college basketball picks here for the last nine or so years here can tell you I love Bo Ryan and Wisconsin. I would love to pick them in this tourney, but instead believe the Badgers wind up in the consolation game with VCU. Wisconsin isn't really in a total rebuild process because of Ryan's recruiting, but the fact remains UW lost a lot of talent from a team that went to two consecutive title games.
Virginia Commonwealth is going to be adjusting to a new coach in Will Wade. Wade returns to the Rams after serving as an assistant in Richmond from 2009-13 under Shaka Smart, now running the show in Austin for the Texas Longhorns, so it won't be a new system, but I still adopt the wait-&-see approach.
That leaves Duke and Georgetown for the 2K Classic Championship, my initial nod here to taking the Hoyas plus the points. Let's remember that the Blue Devils will be entering this tourney off a game against Kentucky three days earlier in Chicago. It's a program that is used to being in the spotlight along with having success in the past at Madison Square Garden.
Georgetown, on the other hand, will be coming to the Big Apple off a true road game at Maryland, and dropped some offense from a year ago in seeing Joshua Smith and Jabril Trawick depart. Still, I like the team John Thompson III brings to this event which gives much of the nation its first glimpse of freshman center Jessie Govan.
My NCAAB pick: Georgetown + Points Over Duke