National Signing Day came and passed by with schools across the country receiving orals from kids who are deciding about their future. Something about this irks me especially having watched ESPNU's coverage most of the day. I realize a lot of these kids are very good and will be good additions to the school's they choose. My problem is the way this is being done and the networks feeding into their egos. One of the players wore a hat that said "Nick Who." Really, these kids don't need the pomp and circumstance. Sign your LOI and fax it in without the rest of us watching. Make your impact on the field and then we'll cover you in the media. Until then, you are just another player going to just another school.
The festivities made me wonder about other things that I'd like to announce and how I could spice it up. What if I went to a bar, stood on a barstool there and pulled out the picture of a woman there that I'd like to go out with? When I'm done, the next guy can do so as well. It's National Dating Intention Day. On a smaller scale, the man or woman of the house can stand in front of the family and declare what's for dinner that evening. They pull out a steak or chicken from a paper bag and declares it's Steak Day! Another declaration that could be made is the official team of choice. When a child turns five, he is able to stand up at his birthday party and declare which sports team he will officially throw his allegiance to. He can put a bunch of memorabilia on a table to make us think he's going to go one way when he's really going another. Finally, we could have a guy stand up in his house and declare that he's not paying this bill anymore. The problem with this one is that there's consequences with it.
I'm trying to use some humor in my column because my picks have been in the dumps as of late. The problem is that I'm in no man's land. I've shown flashes of brilliance in handicapping, but currently I'm mired in a slump. It happens in the world of gambling. When someone gets cold, you can use their picks for fade material. Anyways, we're going to give a few totals including one for a game that could be real fun to watch....if it was on TV.
South Alabama/Western Kentucky Over 143.5 -- South Alabama hits the road after going thru a stretch of four home games in five. They'll take on Western Kentucky on Thursday night. The Jaguars started a stretch of 70 points or more with the Hilltoppers on January 20th losing 84-75 at home. South Alabama doesn't mind running with it's opponents doing so in their last four. They average 70.9 points per game while giving up 72.2. Martino Brock (14.8 ppg), Tim Williams (13.3 ppg) and Augustine Rubit (12.7 ppg) are the Jags main threats with two other players averaging at least eight points per game. Much like their opponent, Western Kentucky also allows 72.2 points per game. They score 70.3 and rely on Sergio Kerusch (15.9 ppg), Steffphon Pettigrew (13.6 ppg) and Juan Patillo (14.1 ppg). This team has played just seven home games where they average 73.1 points per game. That goes well against South Alabama who gives up 76.3 points per game on the road. This one should be a shootout. The Hilltoopers have shot 50% or better in two straight against South Alabama.
FIU/Troy Over 154.5 -- “I think it’s going to be one of the highest-scoring games in the league.” That's a quote from Troy's head coach referring to Thursday night's contest between FIU and Troy. The two schools are the 2nd and 3rd best scoring teams in the conference while inhabiting the bottom two spots in scoring defense. The Golden Panthers have scored 70 or more in every game since December 18th. They come at you in many ways with DeJuan Wright (14.7 ppg), Eric Frederick (13.9 ppg), Alex Legion (13 ppg), Marvin Roberts (11.4 ppg) and Phil Gary (10 ppg). Legion is questionable for the contest due to some disciplinary issues. Troy allows nearly 80 points per contest. They turn to Vernon Taylor (15.2 ppg), Will Weathers (13.1 ppg) and Bernard Toombs (10 ppg) along with three others averaging at least eight points for scoring. The Trojans have scored at least 70 in four straight and five of their last six home games. These two have combined to go over in 20 of 28 games. Last year Troy won at home 81-78 and at FIU 84-68 so we think this number may not be high enough.
Notre Dame/DePaul Over 142.5 -- It's been a real struggle for DePaul this season as they look for their first conference win of the season. The Blue Demons get another shot on Thursday when they host Notre Dame. The biggest issue for them is defense as they've given up at least 70 points to all but one Big East opponent. DePaul hasn't scored enough to be allowing 70-80 points per contest. They have the 140th ranked defense allowing nearly 75 per game. DePaul has a few scorers in Cleveland Melvin (14.5 ppg), Brandon Young (11.7 ppg) and Tony Freeland (10.7 ppg). They'll face a Fighting Irish team that loves to score. They are putting up almost 75 per contest. Ben Hansbrough (16.5 ppg), Tim Abromaitis (14.2 ppg) and Carleton Scott (11.7 ppg) lead the way. Notre Dame has won three straight contests after losing two in a row to Marquette and St. John's. ND is all over the map with regards to scoring. They have put up 76 and 73 against UConn and St. Johns, but have also been held to 54 and 56 by St. John's and Pittsburgh. We feel like the Irish should be able to score at will on DePaul. Last year, Notre Dame defeated DePaul 87-77. Eight of their last 12 meetings have gone over the total.