11-6-19 College Basketball Games to Watch
Here's my preview for the college basketball slate for Wednesday, November 6, 2019.
Cincinnati at #18 Ohio St. (-6) at 8:30 p.m. (FS1)
#11 Virginia (-3 ½) at Syracuse (ACC) at 9 p.m. (ACCN)
These two games won’t generate the hype that yesterday’s Champions Classic did (which admittedly they pretty much lived up to the hype), but these are a couple of solid follow ups to what was one of the best college “opening days” in recent history (maybe the best in my lifetime). I am wondering (hoping) Cincinnati finds its offense under new coach John Brannen, and if they do, will they still be a defensive nightmare to play? Chris Holtmann is widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the country and rightly so in my opinion. If the Buckeyes can build some depth behind a good starting crew (Kaleb Wesson and friends), I think this is a Top Ten team late in the season. Expect a grind it out contest for an opener and I like Cincy to cover but the Buckeyes to win.
Defending national champ Virginia loses A LOT, and playing at the Carrier Dome is no joke for a season opener. While Cuse may again be a bubble team (this program has slipped from a consistent Top 25 team to a constant bubble team), I think getting a re-tooling UVa team in the first game is a huge advantage. I am not sold that Mamadi Diakite and Kihei Clark can elevate their game to get this team anywhere near the level they have been the last 2-3 years. But Tony Bennett has managed to keep this team top tier regardless (up till now). My feel for this one is pretty weak (if you can’t tell). I am taking Cuse to cover and win, but I can see Virginia winning this one going away or any outcome in between.
“ACC! ACC! ACC!” part 2-Conference games of note
Wake Forest at Boston College (-2) (ACC) at 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
Notre Dame at North Carolina (-10 ½) (ACC) at 7 p.m. (ACCN)
FSU (-4 ½) at Pittsburgh (ACC) at 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
With E$PN still pushing the ACC Network (hello Comcast?), we get a second night of ACC action at the beginning of the season. The ACC Network features the defending champs in the late game (see above), and Notre Dame at North Carolina in the early game. UNC debuts Cole Anthony to the world in his first game that counts, while Notre Dame tries to bounce back from their worst season in a long time under Mike Brey. I think this will be a fun game likely to be more high scoring than most of the other season openers due to the expected pace. I think Notre Dame covers but UNC wins.
Wake and BC get the early game on the “U” because they are Wake and BC. This game should be called the “hot seat” game as both Danny Manning and Jim Christian need a lot of wins to likely survive this year. So there’s that.
As an FSU alum and huge basketball fan, I was less than thrilled to see us draw Pitt on the road to open the season (and we get UF next on the road, geez). We NEVER win at Pitt (see last year). We haven’t played that much there, but we usually stink when we do. So, I am unfortunately taking Pitt to win a close one. I will be happy to be wrong. If freshmen Patrick Williams and Balsa Koprivica live up to their recruiting rankings, FSU may pull it out, but that’s asking a lot in your first game on the road and as a conference game. Jeff Capel has Pitt coming along with a lot of young talent including Trey McGowens and Xavier Johnson.
Upset Watch Games
Mercer at St. John’s (-11) at 6:30 p.m. (FS1)
Montana at Stanford (-9 ½) at 10 p.m. (Pac-12N-Bay Area)
Not many upset picks for tonight but these are a few that wouldn’t surprise me.
Mid-major Games to Watch
NJIT at Colgate (-8) at 7 p.m. (PLN)
McNeese St. at W. Michigan (-8) at 7 p.m. (ESPN+) $$
Charlotte at James Madison (-4 ½) at 7:30 p.m. (FloHoops) $$
Belmont (-5 ½) at Illinois St. at 8 p.m. (ESPN+) $$
These mid-major games should be fun. I love the Belmont-Ill State game, and I think the other three have a chance to be good ones too.
Long Beach St. at UCLA (-16 ½) at 11 p.m. (Pac-12N)
If you like seeing Mick Cronin look pissed off and scowling, then turn into this one. I think it will be interesting to see Cronin’s defense-first style at UCLA considering Ben Howland was run off with a similar philosophy. The Beach is always fun to watch the first few months as they embark on yet another ridiculous non-conference schedule. Dan Monson got the ball rolling at Gonzaga then moved on to Minnesota, where it didn’t work out. He’s been at Long Beach now for over a decade with not a lot of recent success after a few good stretches. Deep thoughts. Enjoy!