A just narrow enough loss from California Santa Barbara over the weekend in Anchorage was enough to bring that early college basketball record back to .500 and even push the net into the green for the first time all year. Play resumes today with yet another great Super Tuesday on the schedule. And there’s some revenge to be had in Baton Rouge. Louisiana State hosts Massachusetts in a matchup that the Minutemen walked away winners from last year after an entertaining 40 minutes. But that game was in Amherst and now it’s UMass that must make the long trip down South. This one doesn’t have a spread in either direction, which means we should be in for another great game.
First and foremost, Jordan Mickey is on the injury report for LSU. But the Tigers’ best player looks to be a go with a less than 100 percent ankle. The sophomore will be paramount to anything LSU tries to do because of the physicality he brings down low against a UMass team that isn’t the biggest squad out there. Assuming Mickey is healthy enough to be effective, he should put up numbers similar to his season average of 18 points and 10 rebounds in this one.
I talked a little bit about how the Minutemen squeaked out the win at their place last season. They also went on to have the better overall season – getting into the NCAA Tournament as a six-seed before being upset by Tennessee. Since then, each program has lost its best player – Chazz Williams for UMass and Johnny O’Bryant III for LSU. But what remains is a pretty solid collection of talent on either side. UMass retains Cady Lalanne, Trey Davis, Maxie Esho and Derrick Gordon. The Tigers bring back Mickey along with Jarell Martin and Keith Hornsby. And, of course, they’ll play at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Ultimately, I think the location and the revenge factor make the difference for LSU in this one. Lalanne is one of the more underrated players in the country, but he will have his hands full with Mickey. And I’m not sure the UMass perimeter guys will be able to exploit any mismatch with the LSU athletes outside. That said, if UMass stays in this one until the end, I think Trey Davis will be the man leading the way. But I’m just not confident enough in Davis to lead his team to a win. LSU poses some value as a PK here.
Free Pick: LSU PK (-110)
2014 CBB: 3-3 0.70