Saturday's Hoop Picks
March 2, 2013
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March has arrived and with the “Madness” only a few weeks away, teams are wrapping up their regular seasons and preparing for their individual conference tournaments. That means this weekend is the final for some teams across the land as “Senior Day’s” are celebrated in final home games for many teams. The final few games also mean that some teams get another shot at a rival that did them wrong earlier this year and those are the games that have got my attention this weekend:
ESPN Plus - 2:00 p.m. ET - UConn vs. Cincinnati
These two met about 10 days ago and it was UConn who used the home-court advantage to propel themselves to the OT win. The Huskies have a propensity for playing close contests as four of their last 10 have needed extra time and they are 3-1 SU in that span.
The Bearcats couldn’t recover mentally from that loss as they went into Notre Dame a few days later and got blown out 62-41. They have now lost three in a row and five of six and need a quality performance at home to get things going again. This is their opportunity to do that against a UConn team that hasn’t played quality competition in a hostile environment for some time now (been road favorites in last four vs. weak rivals), so don’t be surprised to see the younger Huskies overwhelmed at the beginning from the hostile environment. Cincinnati will come out as an angry, motivated team ready to pounce and I see them running away with this game.
ESPN, 6:00 p.m. ET - Miami vs. Duke
This is the biggest rematch of the day as Duke gets another shot at the Hurricanes. Duke was the #1 team in the land when they went to Miami and got their butts handed to them in a 90-63 beating that was never close. Now Miami must face the Cameron Crazies and a Duke team that is a little more agitated after losing to Virginia earlier this week.
Duke is 14-0 SU at home this year and is already 1-0 ATS in this type of revenge scenario. After they lost their first game of the year @ NC State, Duke came back in the rematch and won by 13 in a game that the final score made it look a lot closer than it was. The Blue Devils lead 58-37 at halftime in that game and took their foot off the gas down the stretch. Duke won’t be doing that this time around against a Miami team that thoroughly embarrassed them and the loss to Virginia on Wednesday has only added fuel to the fire for the Blue Devils.
Take Duke in a romp.
ESPN, 9:00 p.m. ET - Arizona vs. UCLA
Unlike the previous two games, this one has the road team hungry for revenge after UCLA went into Arizona and beat the Wildcats 84-73 earlier this year. UCLA were 8.5-point underdogs in that game as they were the first to beat Arizona at home this year. The Wildcats haven’t forgotten about that game and were even caught looking ahead to this rematch last time out, losing by 11 to a USC team that were 7.5-point underdogs.
Many will point to that game and Arizona’s recent struggles on the road as reasons to stay away from them in this game but I have to disagree. They are fighting valiantly with Oregon and this UCLA team for the Pac-12 regular season title and they need this win to have a shot at catching Oregon.
UCLA hasn’t been great ATS at home this year, going 1-4 ATS in their last five at home, all of which were when they were favored. After they beat Arizona so easily earlier, I expect them to be laying numerous points again and envision them going to 1-5 ATS in their last six at home.