Both Wisconsin and St. Louis get a break from the weather hitting the middle of our country in late November and skip down to Cancun to participate in the Cancun Challenge. This game promises to be one of the better we will see early on in the college hoops season with two teams that will certainly be dancing in March battling it out on a paradise island. With the neutral floor, #10 Wisconsin opens as a narrow two-point favorite over the Billikens.
Wisconsin has vaulted up the top-25 rankings with six straight wins that include a victory over the then-ranked #11 Florida Gators. It pretty much seems that Wisconsin has the same team every single year with a group of hard-nosed players that can all handle the ball well and shoot from the outside. This team isn’t much different. The Badgers shoot just under 50 percent from the floor as at team and over a staggering 45 percent from beyond the arch. Seven foot Junior, Frank Kaminsky paces Wisconsin with over 17 points per game with lethal efficiency. Sam Decker, Ben Brust and Traevon Jackson all return and are in double-figure scoring as well. The Badgers are loaded but will not prove to be overwhelming for a St. Louis team that returns much of last year’s team that won the A-10 outright before being upset in the second round of the tournament by Oregon.
SLU was probably the most impressive team in the country for me last year. The Billikens do lose Cody Ellis and Kwamain Mitchell but they return a bevy of talent that includes Dwayne Evans, Jordair Jett, Rob Loe and Mike McCall Jr. Much like Wisconsin, SLU features an incredibly deep roster with six, seven guys that can easily put up double-digits in any given game. For as good as Kaminsky is, Rob Loe will be a tough guard because he is essentially the same player. A native Kiwi, Loe matches Kaminsky’s 7’0″ frame and plays a similar style – often times preferring the perimeter to the low block. Kaminsky won’t have an agility advantage like he does with just about anyone else his size that tries to guard him. Dwayne Evans is an absolute star that really blossomed throughout the A-10 and National Tournament last year. Evans only averaged 13.6 points per game this year because he’s not a high-volume enough scorer to get more than that – at least during the regular year. Evans brings a bulldog-like mentality to the game where he outworks and out-muscles his opponents for position and uses a pretty touch to finish all the way out to the three-point line.
This will be an incredible matchup between two really overlooked ball teams that I think will play into the second weekend in March. I ‘cap this game at a coin flip so by default I’ll take SLU with the points. I do suggest waiting until game time to make this play when the Billikens could be as high at +2.5 or +3.
Free Pick: Saint Louis +2