College hoops fans are slowly getting used to the rhythms of a new season. The first full week of play continues this weekend at gymnasiums and arenas all over the country.
Ohio State Buckeyes @ Marquette Golden Eagles
Odds: Ohio State -1.5
The Ohio State Buckeyes and the Marquette Golden Eagles share one thing in common, relative to the 2012-2013 college basketball season: They both lost in the Elite Eight on the same day. Marquette lost to Syracuse in the East Regional final, and just a few hours later, Ohio State fell to Wichita State in the West Regional final. These teams are both going to be highly motivated to take that one extra step forward in 2013 and 2014. Ohio State has the defensive ability of guard Aaron Craft, while Marquette is powered by the brawn and skill of big man Davante Gardner, a player who is just about impossible to move from his space in the low post area of the floor. Gardner’s strength near the rim offers the kind of presence that Ohio State really can’t match up with. It’s essential to note that in an early-season game, when a lot of players are still trying to find their way and are trying to gain an increased feel for what they’re doing on the court, it is harder to expect long-distance shooters to thrive. If a team has a low-post bruiser who can get a lot of easy baskets within five or six feet of the rim, that team should have an advantage in a mid-November game if all other things are equal. Ohio State needs to find something special in order to combat Gardner on Saturday afternoon. Since this game is being played on Marquette’s home floor in Milwaukee, one should not expect the Buckeyes to succeed. Take Marquette on the college basketball lines at home.
Hawaii Warriors vs. Missouri Tigers (game in Kansas City)
Odds: Missouri -10.5
This is a game in which Missouri is likely to win, but only because its opponent shouldn’t amount to much. Hawaii looked fairly ordinary this past Monday night against New Mexico State. The Warriors lacked size and strength near the basket, and they do not figure to do very much in the Big West Conference this season. Missouri is not what it was a year ago, but the Tigers should be able to defeat an average opponent in Kansas City, where they’ll have a partisan crowd on hand for this neutral-site contest. Bet Missouri and expect them to play with more energy on Saturday and grab a non-conference win.
Princeton Tigers @ Butler Bulldogs
Odds: Butler -6.5
The Butler Bulldogs aren’t going to be what they were when they made back-to-back appearances in the national championship game of college basketball, but Princeton will find it difficult to go into Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and knock off Butler. The new member of the Big East should be able to scratch out a home-court win thanks to its defense, which has remained consistent over time.