The gospel was bored on Friday night so he turned on some NBA basketball and was reminded why it just doesn't show up much on his radar. I'm a college basketball junkie and the thought of a midnight WAC or West Coast Conference game makes me so happy. I still don't understand why ESPN took away my beloved midnight game on Big Monday done by Stephen Bardo and Terry Gannon. It was a rare joy of mine to watch Gonzaga and Santa Clara do battle and have those two gentlemen call the game. I can watch a MAC conference game between the directional Michigan schools. I just can't say the same about a random NBA game.
Back to the NBA though, I just can't get into it. Watching the Lakers and Nuggets, there's so much I find missing in my basketball experience. First off, there's no juice in the stands. College games are littered with high powered alums and drunk college students screaming just because. NBA games are littered with celebrities and college students looking for study hall. The NBA also has a major competition issue with so few teams able to compete with the elite of the Celtics, Heat, Spurs, Lakers etc. College basketball also has their elite and their teams that don't have a chance, but there still isn't this helpless feeling it seems. These kids are playing for their futures while the NBA stars are playing for their next contract. It's easier to identify with a Jimmer Fredette and a Kemba Walker then a Kenyon Martin and an Andre Iguodala.
We move to the grand finale of each sport. In the NBA you get potentially seven matchups between the same two teams and the same stars doing the same things over and over again. Where's the fun in that? In college, you get a tournament with 68 teams and one chance to move on or not. It's that one chance that allows us to crown Cinderella's which are rarely found in the NBA. When's the last time a 6 seed made it to the NBA Finals? When's the last time an NBA team captured the heart of the casual fan like Butler did last year? I'd like to think those answers are close to never.
Finally, let's talk about TV coverage. To the common person, the NBA is filled with 12 teams or so because that's all you see on TV. How many times can I watch the Heat or Lakers without getting bored out of my mind? I realize the true NBA fan has no problem with this, but c'mon there's got to be some variety. The Clippers and T-Wolves aren't too good, but they have players worth watching so put them on TV. There are at least 26 college basketball games on Saturday for the fan. Yes, Duke and Ohio State and Connecticut are pretty much always on too, but there's enough channels with games on to get around them. I fully expect the hate mail from the NBA fan, but it's not going to change my mind. Give me Utah State-New Mexico State over Lakers-Nuggets any day of the week.
The gospel took the night off after another winning day on Thursday night. Saturday's are always difficult as I came up with at least 15 leans. These I feel are the best of that bunch so enjoy.
UCLA -6.5 -- UCLA welcomes a wounded Stanford Cardinal team to Pauley on Saturday afternoon. The Cardinal lost last time out 65-42 at Southern Cal. They had a lot of issues trying to contain the size of the Trojans with Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson doing a lot of the damage in Thursday's loss. UCLA has Joshua Smith, Reeves Nelson and Tyler Honeycutt to throw at the undersized Cardinal. Stanford has lost by 33 at Butler, 11 at Oklahoma State and 10 at Arizona. Jeremy Green (14.9 ppg) and Josh Owens (11.7 ppg) are Stanford's main threats. That's not saying much considering they score only 63.8 points per game. The Bruins average more then that at 72.1 points per contest. They are led by Reeves Nelson (14.5 ppg), Tyler Honeycutt (13.5 ppg), Malcolm Lee (12.2 ppg) and Lazeric Jones (11.2 ppg). UCLA has won three straight and has been real tough at home for the most part. They'll triumph in this one as well.
Kansas/Texas Over 143 -- Arguably, the two top teams in the Big 12 hit the court in Kansas on Saturday. The Jayhawks are one of the few unbeatens so far this season. They do it with an offense that averages 83.2 points per game while giving up only 61.1. This is a DEEP team with six guys averaging at least eight points per game. They've gotten even better since adding Josh Selby who has played nine games and averaged 12.1 points per game. They've scored at least 80 points in five of their last seven contests. The Longhorns are no slouch either offensively. They put up 78.2 points per game and have five players who average at least nine points per game. Texas has scored 83, 67 and 78 in their last three road games. This series has produced 10 overs in their last 15 matchups including five straight at Kansas. We think this will go over the total as well.
North Texas -8 -- We faded Arkansas State in their last road game against Denver and came up a winner so why not do it again. ASU lost 74-36 to a Denver team that is talented, but nowhere near as good as North Texas. They are now 1-10 on the road which is not a good number for a team that averages just below 70 points per game. Martavius Adams (12.6 ppg) and Donald Boone (10.2 ppg) are the Red Wolves main threats. The Mean Green put up 79.1 points per game this season. They are led by Tristan Thompson (18.1 ppg), Josh White (13.8 ppg), George Odufuwa (11.3 ppg) and Dominique Johnson (10.4 ppg). The Mean Green have lost four games this season and all came on the road. They have pounded each of their home Sun Belt opponents by 10 points or more. They won by 17 last time out at woeful Louisiana Monroe and can be a handful when they are running and gunning. Arkansas State will be in for a long evening on Saturday.
Idaho +1.5 -- The Vandals have won six straight contests and are alone in 2nd place of the WAC entering this home game against Boise State. Idaho is 3-1 against Boise under coach Don Verlin. The team has the conference's 2nd best defense and six players averaging between seven and 11 points per game. The best part of this win streak is that four of the games came on the road. They've used the 74-69 home loss to New Mexico State as motivation and have played great basketball since then. Boise State is 11-7 having lost two straight contests. They are led by Robert Arnold's 15.5 points per game. Boise's losses the last two games have come at home to Utah State and Nevada. They lost at Portland, Utah, Drake and UNLV on the road. Idaho's the better team so we'll take the points and the outright win in this one.