Dearest reader, welcome to Championship Week in college basketball, a week I consider to be one of the two best weeks in college basketball. For my money (both literally and figuratively), it's on par with the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament and better than the final two weekends of the NCAA Tournament.
While the NCAA Tournament is fun, Championship Week is non-stop. There are games on constantly, just like the first four days of the NCAA Tournament.
So if the newsletters I write this week seem a bit shorter than usual, well, now you know why. I'm watching ball, baby! I'm also reading these stories.
- Derek Carr has a new home.
- The Cowboys are using the franchise tag on Tony Pollard.
- The Titans are shopping Derrick Henry.
To the picks!
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
San Francisco at No. 9 Gonzaga, 11:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN2
- Key Trend: The under is 14-6 in San Francisco's last 20 games following a win.
- The Pick: Under 161 (-110)
No offense to the rest of the league, but the West Coast Conference Tournament is just a few games being played until Gonzaga and Saint Mary's meet in the final, and this is one of those games. One in which I don't see much value in taking Gonzaga to cover, even if this will be the Dons' third game in four nights.
What I believe to be more likely is that if the Dons gas out, Gonzaga cruises to victory and takes its foot off the gas pedal late to save itself for the title game. That said, if San Francisco keeps this one close, it's still hard for me to see it getting over 161 points. Yes, these teams played a 99-81 game at Gonzaga last month, but the Zags were unconscious in the first half of the game and led 60-40 at halftime. Things cooled off considerably in the second half, and the Zags finished the night shooting 53.1% from the floor and making 25 of 33 free throws.
Not to mention, a San Francisco team that ranks only 93rd nationally in offensive efficiency averaged 1.11 points per possession that night while hitting 11 threes in the game. It's the kind of performance that's hard to repeat, particularly when you consider how often San Francisco turns the ball over offensively and how good Gonzaga is at forcing turnovers. This won't be a turgid affair, but 161 seems a bit optimistic.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model sees the total as a coinflip, but it's leaning heavily toward one side of the spread.
💰 The Picks
🏀 College Basketball
Chattanooga at Furman, 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Furman -4.5 (-110) -- We could be in for a proper dose of madness tonight. Furman went 15-3 in conference play during the regular season to earn the No. 1 seed in the Southern Conference tournament. Tonight it faces a Chattanooga team in the final that finished the season 7-11 in conference play with three straight losses. But now the Mocs are hot! They've reeled off wins over VMI, Samford -- the No. 2 seed -- and Wofford!
Can they finish the job, knock off the Paladins to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament and burst somebody else's bubble? Maybe! But I'm not betting on it! While Furman was forced to go to overtime yesterday and is playing its third game in three days, this is Chattanooga's fourth game in four nights. It has to be tired, and Furman outscored the Mocs 156-127 in their two regular-season meetings. Furman's better offensively, defensively, and it's the superior rebounding team. Expect the Paladins to punch their ticket tonight.
⚽ Champions League
Chelsea vs. Borussia Dortmund, Tuesday, 3 p.m. | TV: CBS/Paramount+
The Pick: Chelsea (-118) -- Borussia Dortmund won the first leg at home 1-0, but while Dortmund didn't play poorly, it did get a little lucky. Now, stop me if you've heard this one before, but a team managed by Graham Potter created a lot of chances and put a lot of shots on target but failed to score. I know, right? That never happens! Well, OK, it happens all the time. Chelsea had more possession in the attacking third and put seven shots on target to Dortmund's two, but one of Dortmund's two shots went into the net. That's an important part of the match.
But can Dortmund afford to put itself under fire as often on the road as it did at home? Dortmund is on fire, having won 10 straight matches. However, in the nine matches we have xG (expected goals) numbers for, Dortmund allowed seven goals on an xG of 12.3. Either Gregor Kobel is the greatest goalkeeper alive, or a reckoning is coming. You simply can't give up as many chances as Dortmund does and not expect it to bite you in the behind at some point. Factor in that Dortmund's been much worse defensively on the road all season, and well, this play seems obvious.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Projection Model's best value of the day is in the NBA as the Denver Nuggets host the Toronto Raptors.