NCAAB: Under the Radar
Every team not in the Big East, Big Ten or ACC yearns to be the next Butler. Players dream of getting a long look from NBA scouts, coaches can't wait to walk away from their contracts and get big-money deals at the next level. And administrators can’t wait for the big checks that will arrive if their team suddenly and unexpectedly finds its way into a Final 4 appearance or two.
Here are a few teams that are on fire and off the radar right now that could be this year’s Butler:
LOUISIANA TECH (24-3)
Not much will remain of the Western Athletic Conference after this season when half the league sprints for greener pastures, but the Bulldogs are making an impression before they themselves depart for Conference USA. At 14-0 going into Thursday night’s game at home against Utah State, Tech has just about wrapped up the league title. And they’ve done it with only one double-figures scorer (Raheem Appleby 14.7). The Bulldogs take opponents out of their games with full-court pressure defense reminiscent of Nolan Richardson’s 40 Minutes of Hell Arkansas teams in the 1980s and ‘90s. LAT has 16 wins in a row and probably will enter tourney play with a 20-game winning streak.
ST. LOUIS (20-5)
The Billikens have gone on a tear since a back-to-back mid-January losses to Temple and Rhode, and are peaking as the season grinds to a close. They have 8 straight wins and 8 straight covers heading into Friday night’s huge game at Butler which could determine top seeding in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The Billikens (9-2 in the A-10), crushed Butler (9-3) three weeks ago, but the Bulldogs rarely lose at home. St. Louis has momentum to spare after its huge win over VCU on Tuesday in which the Billikens held the best offensive team in the conference scoreless for 10 minutes and raced to a game-deciding 32-9 lead.
The Zips haven’t lost since mid-December and will take a 17-game winning streak (longest in the country) into weekend action. They haven’t yet locked up the Mid-American Conference, but can pretty much do that next week by taking care of Miami of Ohio at home. Akron has a nice blend of size and experience, led by shot-blocking 7-foot center Zeke Marshall, who has brashly predicted a national championship. Interestingly, the city’s most famous athlete says he keeps a close eye on the team. "They're on top of the MAC and they're playing some really, really good ball right now,” notes LeBron James.
- Ben Burns
- February 10, 2016 - 7:00 PM
- Offered at:
- pinnacle @ -8.5 -101 Wisconsin
**UNBELIEVEABLE BUT TRUE!** Ben Burns was a PERFECT 7-0 on Tuesday and is now an ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS 20-2 over the past four days. Here, Ben takes a look at this evening's Nebraska/Wisconsin contest.
The coaching change a distant memory, Wisconsin is playing its best basketball these days. The Badgers check in off a double-digit win over Ohio State and with a 5-0 SU/ATS record over their past five games.
The Huskers are also off a big win. However, it was a costly one. Senior forward Shavon Shields suffered a concussion and won't be at tonight's game. He hasn't even been able to attend classes this week and its been emotional for the entire team. Shields is both a skilled scorer and an inspirational leader. He's started more than 100 consecutive games for this team; only five other players in school history can say that. I believe he's going to be missed.
With an O/U line in the mid-high 130s, the pace figures to favor the Badgers. Nebraska is 8-18-1 ATS (5-22 SU) the last 27 times it played a road game with an O/U line in the 135 to 139.5 range. Wisconsin, on the other hand, is 18-8-1 ATS (25-2 SU) the last 27 times it played a home game with a total in the 135 to 139.5 range.
The Huskers won last season's meeting here by 15 points. Given the way they're playing right now and with Nebraska playing sans Shields, another double-digit win won't surprise. Consider laying the points.