I’m constantly looking for my next bet.
At this time of the college basketball season, I’m searching for highly-ranked teams playing poorly or lowly-rated teams playing well.
Meet Ohio State and DePaul, the former a highly-rated team in a season-low funk and the latter a team continuing to play hard despite a lack of success.
The Buckeyes have lost two of their last three games, failing to cash for their backers in three of their last four contests.
Following the Buckeyes’ 10-point home loss to Michigan State on February 11, several Ohio State players complained about a lack of offensive aggressiveness and more disturbingly an unwillingness to help teammates on both ends of the floor.
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State’s most high-profile player, often sulks on the court and his teammates rarely rally around the overrated star.
Here’s my favorite reason to fade Ohio State: instead of executing the offensive game plan and playing defense with energy and enthusiasm, the Buckeyes (Sullinger specifically) have played sloppy basketball, constantly looking at the scoreboard in the second half as if to play only as well as required.
The best teams in the country, especially well-coached teams, focus on the plan and the process, allowing the score to take care of itself.
DePaul is one of the worst teams in the Big East but it’s not due to a lack of heart or hustle but rather a lack of talent.
Oliver Purnell’s team continues to play hard despite losing 14 of its 16 Big East games.
The Blue Demons last Saturday missed a golden opportunity to post an upset over Louisville when losing to the Cardinals in overtime, 90-82.
DePaul, a 10-point home underdog, came out ready and focused to play at Allstate Arena, shooting nearly 55% from the field in the first half and posting a pair of impressive scoring runs (16-0 and 16-2) against a shell-shocked Louisville squad.
Following the game, opposing coach Rick Pitino paid DePaul a worthy compliment when he said, “They (DePaul) play their butts off every night and they don’t come away with much at times—but that’s the building process you’ve got to go through. They play everybody tough.”
More on the DePaul Blue Demons later in this blog entry.
DERBY 138…..Hansen won the Eclipse Award as champion two-year-old colt of 2011, but Union Rags is the better Derby prospect.
That was my opinion last November following the running of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs — a race won by Hansen over Union Rags — and it remains my opinion today, 75 days prior to the first Saturday in May.
EOG contributors Ray Luca and Discreet Cat went on record this weekend with their early thoughts on the most exciting two minutes in sports.
Luca hesitated to mention his top Derby contenders before seeing the leading candidates in prep races at the all-important distance of nine furlongs.
“The four fastest horses as of today are Union Rags, Algorithms, Creative Cause and El Padrino. A lot can change between now and May 5. If you want a price horse, take a look at Empire Way,” replied Luca.
“Cat” wrote, “I’ve been impressed with a few Bob Baffert-trained horses. Fed Biz looked good, so did Bodemeister and don’t forget about Baffert’s filly, Princess Arabella. It’s a longshot, but if Baffert’s colts fail in some of the leading prep races, he may look to his star filly. I hear she’s built like an amazon. Strictly back-burner stuff right now, but you never know.”
My top three-year-olds for Derby 138 are Union Rags, El Padrino and Creative Cause, in that order.
MONDAY’S BEST BET……Play 527 DEPAUL +5.5 over St. John’s.
The Blue Demons look to avenge an 87-81 home loss to the Red Storm on February 1, when D’Angelo Harrison went 7-for-11 from beyond the arc for a Johnnies team among the worst in Division I (ranked 334 of 344) in three-point shooting accuracy.
St. John’s played only six players in its mild upset over UCLA last Saturday with its starting lineup featuring five freshman.
DePaul has led or been tied at halftime in five of its last six games.
The game will be played at Carnesecca Arena in Queens, not Madison Square Garden where the arena was only one-third full for the Saturday game against UCLA.
There’s not a lot of excitement surrounding St. John’s basketball right now.
Head coach Steve Lavin, still recovering from prostate cancer surgery, will not be on the sidelines for St. John’s.
COMING TUESDAY…..A look at the not-so-shocking Wichita State win on the road against Davidson.
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