Syracuse Shows Why Its Best
4-0 Night In Basketball Sets Stage For Tonight’s 50-Unit
College Blowout Winner…3-0 In My Last 3
Syracuse Confirms My #1 Ranking With Powerful
Win At Notre Dame…Now 6-0 On Road
Bettors Can Take Nothing For Granted In College
Basketball World Now Ruled By Circumstances
By Kelso Sturgeon
I take nothing for granted when I handicap college basketball. This is a game more often that not ruled by circumstances and situations and the best team does not always win or cover the number. It is a game in which a team such as minor mid-major such as College of Charleston can beat nationally-ranked North Carolina.
College basketball is a game in which a team that has been beating everybody loses a key starter and all at once starts losing to everybody. It is a game in which a team that has been losing to everybody can add a player who becomes eligible and start beating everybody.
It is a game in which the home court is the single most significant factor in trying to decide whether a team can win or cover the number. It is a game in which lesser talented home teams get their 15 minutes of fame by playing at a new-found high level of play that is nothing short of a miracle.
And, then, in the game following their miraculous victory they lose to a team that is 4-14.
For certain college basketball is no game for little boys in short pants.
I went 4-0 in basketball last night—2-0 in the colleges and 2-0 in the NBA—and won those games not because I necessarily took the best team but in large part because of the circumstances under which the games were played.
For the record, I won in the NBA with a 15-unit Chairman’s Club play on the Los Angeles Clippers (-8.0) over the New Jersey Nets, 106-95, and with a 5-unit Best Bets Club play on the underdog Dallas Mavericks (+5.0) over the Boston Celtics, 99-90. In the colleges it was two winning Best Bet Club plays—a 5-unit wager on Kansas State (-1.5) over top-ranked Texas, 71-62, and a 3-unit play on underdog Towson (+7.5) which got the cover in a 64-57 loss to St. Joseph’s.
There were no Personal Best Club plays Monday because no team graded out at the required 25-unit level. My Personal Best Club gets back into action tonight with a 50-unit blowout play in college basketball and, for the record, I was a perfect 3-0 in these games last week—two in the colleges and one in the NBA.
50-Unit College Winner Tonight
You can get the 50-unit play on this site, or toll free at 1-800-755-2255, for just $50, charged to your major credit card. There is no Chairman’s Club play tonight but I am coming right back with two more standout Best Bet Club games, also being released on this site and at the number listed above for just $25.
Now, back to the basic basketball handicapping element of the circumstances and situations in which games are played.
There is no better explanation of how I looked into last night’s games than to share with you exactly what I told clients who received these games last night. Here are all four, with those comments:
BEST BETS CLUB
Dallas Mavericks (26-14) +5.0 over BOSTON CELTICS (27-11)
Prediction: Dallas by 3-4
Comments: Boston is still without starters Kevin Garnett (hyper-extended right knee) and Rasheed Wallace (sore left foot), have lost their last two at home, stand 4-6 in their last 10 games and are facing a Dallas team in a major bounce-back mode as the Mavericks come off an embarrassing 110-88 loss at Toronto yesterday. Other than the home court, all the edges belong to Dallas and I do expect the Mavericks to win straight up.
* * * *
BEST BETS CLUB
KANSAS STATE (15-2) -1.5 over Texas (17-0)
Prediction: Kansas State by 6-7
Comments: Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Texas found out just how quickly a number one ranking can get teams fired up when they play you when in their first game in the top spot they were life-and-death to beat Texas A&M at home, 72-67. Now, 48 hours later they find themselves in Manhattan to take on 13th-ranked Kansas State—a team loaded with talent, the ability to match Texas in the speed and quickness department and determined to knock off numero uno. The host Wildcats have every single edge in this one and should get the money.
Towson (4-12) +7.5 over ST. JOSEPH’S (5-11)
Prediction: Towson by 1-2
Comments: While Towson is just 1-6 on the road this season it has played on even terms with every weak team on its away schedule and St. Joseph’s, which should not be a 7.5-point favorite over anybody, certain qualifies as a “weak” team.
* * * *
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (17-22) -8.0 over New Jersey Nets (3-36)
Prediction: Los Angeles by 14-15
Comments: Los Angeles still has injury issues but is playing decent basketball right now, a fact supported by its last game, a 1-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Clippers have lost four straight—to the aforementioned Cavaliers, 102-101, to the Lakers, 126-86, and at New Orleans, 108-94, and at Memphis, 104-102—but take a tremendous drop in class to take on what may be the worst team in BA history. The Nets are 1-19 on the road this season and, L.A. injury problems, or not, they are dramatically outmanned in this one.
* * * *
As you can see in each of these games it was not necessarily the talent level that convinced me they would cover the number but the hidden circumstances under which they were played. It is a reality that talent and pointspreads are all a single issue that supposedly determines the outright winners. It is the circumstances under which games are played that decides the team that covers.
Syracuse Proves Me Right
Syracuse confirmed my decision this past Sunday to put it in the number one spot in my Top 25 rankings last night when it went into South Bend and as a 3-point favorite buried Notre Dame, 84-71.
Syracuse had jumped to the top of my college basketball Top 25 for one reason—they are playing as if they are the best NCAA basketball team in the land. This is not to knock the next four teams in my rankings—Kansas, Kentucky, Texas and Villanova—but the figures support the Orange.
The first thing I require of a college team to even qualify as being a good team is to win on the road. If a team cannot meet that requirement, it is not a good team. Please do not take this to mean a team has to win every game on the road, but it is worth note that Syracuse has done just that—going 7-0 in games away from the Carrier Dome, with four of those on the enemy courts and three more on neutral floors.
The teams the Orange have beaten away from Syracuse are worth noting, because they were quality wins against quality teams.
Jan. 18—At Notre Dame: Syracuse 84. Notre Dame 71
Jan. 16—At West Virginia: Syracuse (+5.5) 72, West Virginia 71
Jan. 13—At Rutgers: Syracuse (-12.5) 81, Rutgers 65
Dec. 29—At Seton Hall: Syracuse (-2) 80, Seton Hall 73
Dec. 10—Neutral Site: Syracuse (-3.5) 85, Florida 73
Nov. 20—Neutral Site: Syracuse (+1) 87, North Carolina 71
Nov. 19—Neutral Site: Syracuse (Pick’em) 95, California 73
The only loss Syracuse has suffered this season came at home at the hands of a very good Pittsburgh team, 82-72, on Jan. 2. No excuses are necessary for a team that has lost a single game this season. It happens to every team, regardless of how good a team is, before the season is over.
Stats Support Orange Ranking
Syracuse starts four veterans and a super-star freshman, averages better than 6-8 on the front line and leads the nation in field goal percentage (53.2), is second in assists (21.1) and steals (12.9) per game, third in scoring offense (averaging 90.3 points per game), seventh in blocked shots per game (9.4), ninth in fewest personal fouls per game (12.9) and 11th in field goal defense (35.1).
This is the complete basketball team in every aspect of the game and it should be no surprise to anyone if the Orange win their second NCAA championship. The got all the money in 2003 and there is every reason to believe this edition is better than the team that took home the title that year.
Kelso’s College Top 25
(Records Through Saturday, Jan. 16)
1. Syracuse (18-1)
2. Kansas (16-1)
3. Kentucky (18-0)
4. Texas (17-1)
5. Villanova (15-1)
6. Kansas State (15-2)
7. Northern Iowa (16-1)
8. Michigan State (14-3)
9. Duke (14-2)
10. Pittsburgh (15-2)
11. BYU (18-1)
12. Baylor (14-2)
13. Clemson (15-3)
14. West Virginia (13-3)
15. Ohio State (13-5)
16. Georgetown (13-2)
17. Gonzaga (14-3)
18. UNLV (14-4)
19. Wisconsin (14-4)
20. Georgia Tech (13-4)
21. Purdue (14-3)
22. Mississippi State (15-3)
23. Maryland (11-5)
24. Virginia Tech (13-3)
25. Temple (15-3)
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