A big day on the college basketball odds schedule signals the end of the Christmas break, including a Bluegrass State battle between top-ranked Kentucky and No. 4 Louisville.
Indiana Hoosiers vs. Georgetown Hoyas
Nobody likes to work weekends, including myself. Not that you'll hear me complain much about my Saturday job, though, since it means spending the afternoon and evening at a brewery serving up dee-lish craft ales to thirsty patrons.
This time of year, it also means stopping off at one of my favorite sports bars in town for a bit of lunch and some hoops on my way to the taproom. Such will be the case later this morning when the college basketball betting slate comes out of its holiday snooze and cranks up in earnest with a lineup that involves seven ranked teams. A pair of teams just outside the top 25 will help get my day started, along with an order of wings and rings, as the Georgetown Hoyas and Indiana Hoosiers collide in the Indeed Invitational at Madison Square Garden.
The noon (ET) tip will be televised by ESPN2 with the Hoyas 3 point favorites. The total has yet to show up on SBR's live NCAA basketball odds.
Georgetown is picking up the rock for the first time in a week and currently 26th according to both the writers and coaches. Pomeroy has the Hoyas at No. 30, which still isn't too bad for a team with three losses. Two of the defeats came on neutral courts to Wisconsin and Butler in the Battle 4 Atlantis, the other taking pace at home to Kansas and all three by a combined 14 points.
Indiana is drawing a few nods in the AP and coaches polls while placing 42nd on the KenPom list. The Hoosiers were throttled by Louisville, dropping that contest by 20, and still have that black-eye loss at home to Eastern Washington, a team they were favored to beat by 12½.
This is the final non-conference tune-up for both teams, Indiana traveling to Nebraska for a New Year's Eve battle in the Big Ten while Georgetown is at Xavier for its Big East opener the same evening. It's the second time in about two years that the Hoosiers and Hoyas are meeting in the Big Apple, Indiana winning the championship game of the 2012 Legends Classic, 82-72 in overtime to take a 2-1 lead in the series all-time.
At the end of the day, I'm liking Indiana to win outright and will gladly take the Hoosiers and three points for my free NCAA basketball pick.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Indiana +3 at Pinnacle
Kentucky Wildcats vs. Louisville Cardinals
The bad news is I will not be able to catch the day's biggest game live; the good news is it will be waiting for me on the DVR when I get home from the brewery. Indeed, it's not only the biggest game today but also one of the biggest of the season so far, and quite possibly the best chance between now and February 7 that the top team in the country stands a good chance to lose a game.
The battle of the Bluegrass State's best takes place this time in Louisville where Rick Pitino and the No. 4 Cardinals collide with John Calipari and the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats. A rematch from one of last March's Midwest Region semifinals, television coverage begins at 2 PM (ET) with UK backers giving up 6 points, the spread having doubled on some college basketball betting boards from when it first went out.
Kentucky won and covered both meetings in this rivalry a year ago, upping its series lead to 32-15, 11-8 in Louisville. The Wildcats have caught fire offensively, especially from beyond the arc, their last two games to whip both North Carolina and UCLA, something that will be put to the test against perimeter pressure from The 'Ville. Gimme' the points and the home team this time.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Louisville +6 at 5Dimes
Gonzaga Bulldogs at BYU Cougars
The West Coast Conference isn't wasting anytime getting its schedule started in style with a matchup between the two teams expected to compete for the league crown, just as they did a year ago. The Gonzaga Bulldogs and BYU Cougars open up their WCC slates a little past 6 PM (ET) with ESPN2 providing coverage from Provo's Marriott Center.
Gonzaga is giving up 6 points after first going out -5 on SBR's live college basketball odds, and once again it's a home underdog I like in this battle. This rivalry has blossomed quickly since BYU joined the WCC, the Cougars covering all three games played in Provo. Brigham Young backers should move to 4-0 ATS at home vs. the 'Zags this evening for my final free NCAA basketball pick of the day.
NCAA Basketball Pick: BYU +6 at BetOnline
Season: 5-9 (-4.90)