This will turn around. It (almost) always does.
UC Santa Barbara (+7) over Creighton: The Bluejays’ problems began just before Greg McDermott traveled back to the Antebellum South — Creighton’s coach was suspended and offered to resign after making a racially insensitive remark to his team — and the team’s play has predictably dipped in the aftermath. Creighton, which has lost two straight first round tournament games under McDermott as a higher-seed, enters the dance 3-3 in its past six games and is coming off an embarrassing 25-point loss to Georgetown. Meanwhile, the Gauchos have been one of the most consistent teams in the nation, winning 18 of their past 19 games, utilizing size, balance and stellar two-way play. I’m quite fond of the money line (+265), too.
Alabama (-16.5) over Iona: Rick Pitino is the best coach of his generation, but he knows he doesn’t have the horses to keep up in this race. Though the Gaels were able to overcome numerous COVID-19 pauses and escape from a fairly weak field in the MAAC Tournament, the SEC champion’s elite defense will have little trouble silencing the country’s 210th-most efficient offense. An Alabama attack that scores more than 40 percent of its points from behind the arc will also help to crush the will of the underdog, which hasn’t played a power conference team since November.
Colorado (-6) over Georgetown: The Hoyas had a moment to remember for all-time. Whatever happens during the rest of Patrick Ewing’s tenure as coach, the Georgetown legend now has a memory that can comfortably live alongside his on-court accomplishments. But before the Big East Tournament, the Hoyas were 9-12. Don’t let the thrill of four great days distract you from four strong months from Colorado. The Buffaloes won’t be bothered by Georgetown’s size — they went 3-0 against USC’s superior frontline, featuring projected No. 2 pick Evan Mobley — and the Hoyas won’t be able to slow senior star guard McKinley Wright.
Ohio (+7.5) over Virginia: It was going to be hard enough for the most recent tournament winner to make another deep run without Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter. But even reaching the second weekend — or second round — looks like a stretch now. The Cavaliers just came out of quarantine to travel to Indianapolis on Friday, and have been unable to practice since a positive test booted them from the ACC Tournament. Virginia, which has gone 3-3 in its past six games, isn’t playing its pack-line defense to perfection, and Ohio’s unlikely NBA prospect, Jason Preston, will take advantage.
Oregon (-5) over VCU: Dana Altman is always dangerous this time of year, and the seventh-seeded Ducks have a high ceiling, with five double-digit scorers, a strong defense and plenty of experience. VCU’s survival is dependent on forcing steals, but the Ducks don’t give the ball away, averaging just 11.4 turnovers this season.
This season: 13-17
2011-20 record: 261-223-9
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