The NBA analysts and NCAAB analysts do a crossover every year. The NBA analysts work college games and the college anlaysts do NBA games. Kind of a cool gimmick if you ask me, these guys aren’t as familiar with all the players like they are in their original sports. It’s nice to get some different voices and different opinions in there every once in awhile. I am not a huge fan of the things that ESPN has done recently, but this is pretty cool.
Virginia Tech vs Duke (-10.5)
The analysts working this game will be Hubie Brown, Jay Bilas and Mark Jones. Gonna hold my hand up here, I had to look up Hubie Brown to make sure I was talking about the right guy. All I can tell you about this combination of analysts is Jay Bilas will more than likely turn analyzing the game into an interview with Hubie Brown. Bilas is one of my favorite college analysts, but he tends to talk about more off the court things when he’s on TV, which is part of the reason he appeals to me.
Duke has been playing mediocre basketball lately, going 2-3 after previously winning 5 in a row. I don’t think any of that factors into this game, and as much as I hate to write it, I think Grayson Allen steps up and has a big game in this one. He has shown spurts of it this season and throughout his career that he can be the big playmaker on his team, but it doesn’t seem like he shows up with the same intensity on some days. Gary Trent Jr. has been an important part of Duke’s success this year. He has shown that he can shoot the three with ease and drive to create an opportunity if he needs to.
Virginia tech just came off of their biggest win of the year, knocking off at the time #2 Virginia who has moved up to #1 in the latest poll. That was the national championship of their season. That game has been circled on their calendar for the past year and it could not have been a better situation for them. They went into Charlottesville, beat their rival on national television and got to go home and party after the win. I think they are an extremely talented basketball team, but I also think they come out with a winners hangover in the first half and don’t make up enough ground in the second half to compete in the game. Justin Robinson will be a key player in this game for them. He ranks second in the ACC in assists and has posted three consecutive 20+ point games. Look for him to try and facilitate the offense through himself and create open looks for his teammates.
Keys to the Game
Duke: Attack. Attack. Attack. Virginia Tech ranks 202 in opponents points per game this year and the Blue Devils have a high scoring offense. The over has gone 18-7 in their games this season and it has largely been because of their offense. If Duke sticks to its game plan and their threes start falling, I smell a blowout.
Virginia Tech: Go at Wendell Carter Jr., he may rank in the top 5 in ACC in blocks with 2.2/game, but he often is in foul trouble and getting him out of the game early will open up the inside where Justin Robinson can create shots for himself. Duke ranks 14th in the nation in blocks, but if Virginia Tech can get their tall athletic guys in the middle into foul trouble, they have a better chance at not losing in an embarrassing fashion
I think Duke wins this game. Being back at Cameron Indoor Stadium and being able to stay on campus will bode well for a team that looked like they needed some rest after the Georgia Tech game. If Marvin Bagley is in the line up, Duke -10.5 and if he’s out, VT +10.5.
Kentucky vs Auburn (-8.5)
We got PJ Carlesimo with Dan Dakich and Adam Amin on this game. If I watch it, it’s going to be with the sound off. Hate Kentucky, not a fan of Dakich.
This isn’t going to be as in depth as the previous one for the simple fact that I don’t know if I can be completely unbiased and say anything good about Kentucky.
From what I’ve seen of Kentucky this year, they don’t have an alpha on the court. It’s really as simple as that. They don’t have one guy that wants the ball more than anyone else and they don’t have one guy that wants to be a play maker in a big spot. I guess it’s a positive because no one is selfish with the ball, but at some point someone has to step up and distinguish themselves from the rest of the team. Just seems like they have a lot of one and done players that don’t care about this season and just want to move on. I think it’s sad, honestly I feel for them and fans of college basketball everywhere. It’s good for college basketball when Kentucky is good because their fans are nuts and its a bunch of fun to hate them.
Auburn is a team that has come our of nowhere to climb up the AP Poll this season. They have been the surprise of the year in my opinion. Bruce Pearl really has this team trending in the right direction. They have been playing live by the three and die by the three basketball this season, but the few games I’ve caught have been fun to watch. There aren’t any indications of their offensive efficiency tapering off in this game, so they should come out on top here.
Keys to the Game
Kentucky: Dominate on the glass. Auburn has an incredibly short lineup with no player taller than 6’7″. Kentucky has some good length down low and should be able to bully the smaller Auburn line up on defensive as well as offensive rebounds.
Auburn: Make the threes rain down. The Tigers rank 24th in the country with 253 threes made. Because of their smaller line up, driving to the basket will likely not yield them many points. If they can get open and create shots around the perimeter, they will see success with their small line up like they did against Georgia.
Auburn will have to play with a smaller line up, but checking their Twitter account helped me make the decision that they are going to win tomorrow. A white out, folks. The whole crowd wearing white and going absolutely nuts when the Tigers jump out to an early lead will surely ignite a fire under the team. Give me some Calipari tears tonight.