College basketball fans are going to have a much more fascinating Friday slate than they initially anticipated. Snow-based weather problems in the Northeast will put two ranked teams on the floor on Valentine’s Day. We’ll see if those teams feel the love against upset-minded opponents, all while sharing our free NCAAB picks for your consideration.
Arizona Wildcats vs. Arizona State Sun Devils
The Arizona Wildcats don’t have Brandon Ashley, a powerful two-way player, but they still have many resources they can use in this Pac-12 rivalry game. Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon are two of the better players in the country, and Arizona is held together by point guard T.J. McConnell and bruiser Kaleb Tarczewski. The Wildcats’ offense doesn’t always flourish, but their defense can be depended on to get the job done. Arizona’s physicality is going to be a problem for an Arizona State team that doesn’t always take good shots. Arizona’s offense probably won’t thrive in this game, but the Wildcats can definitely shut down the Sun Devils.
Pick: Arizona -5.5 at BetOnline
Louisville Cardinals vs. Temple Owls
This is a game in which Louisville should be able to win but by the basketball equivalent of two touchdowns? That seems like a reach. Temple has been looking forward to this game for quite some time. The Owls have endured a miserable journey through their schedule, but this is a moment of opportunity and a time in which each Temple player can potentially make a name for himself. The emotional compositions of whole teams and their players do change from game to game. Temple is probably going to ride a wave of positive emotion in this situation, while Louisville won’t. If Temple can hit three-point shots in the first half and build any sort of lead beyond six or seven points, Louisville could very realistically panic in the second half and shoot the ball without much of any conviction. The Cardinals’ offense has not been that impressive this season, so while Louisville should be able to defend Temple well, coach Rick Pitino’s team might not score enough to register a blowout.
Pick: Temple +14 at Bookmaker
Southern Methodist Mustangs vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
This is a game in which Southern Methodist has to be very careful. The Mustangs have won three games in a row, but they were all at home. SMU is a much more wobbly and hesitant team in road games, something proven by a loss to South Florida late in the month of January. SMU’s lack of dependability in road games will have an impact on the psyches of the Mustangs, at least to the extent that if Rutgers shows well in the first 10 to 15 minutes, SMU’s players could get distracted and, moreover, rattled. If Rutgers gets a six- or seven-point lead late in the first half, SMU could tighten up, and a snowball effect – one in which the leading team soars with confidence while the trailing team freezes up and forgets what it’s supposed to do – could very easily develop. SMU has a target on its back, and in the Northeast lands of New Jersey – far away from the Ponies’ home in Dallas – the environment could be so uncomfortable so as to lead to an SMU loss. Yes, Rutgers will win outright.
Pick: Rutgers +8.5 at SportsInteraction[gameodds]14/258706/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]