Georgia cashing tickets galore
Published on Wednesday, 2/3/16, at 7:38 a.m. Eastern.
As loyal readers know, the Florida Gators are My Team — always have been, always will be.
With that said, I normally find an affection for a number of teams throughout various seasons. For instance, there was the 2012 Utah St. football team playing in the WAC’s final season of existence. This was before Chuckie Keeton suffered two major knee injuries and was one of the best QBs in the country. Keeton led the Aggies to an 11-2 record both straight up and against the spread and we rode the Aggies to profit galore for at least eight of those covers.
There was Michigan’s 2010-2011 basketball team that might be my favorite. The Wolverines were undersized but they had a 6’4″ glue-guy by the name of Zack Novak, who played power forward, hit timely 3-balls, never missed a box out, devoured loose balls like ice-cold Budweisers on a Saturday in October and drew over-the-back fouls from opponents’ best ‘bigs’ to get them in foul trouble.
John Beilein’s team also had a point guard in Darius Morris who led the Big Ten in assists, many of them distributed to a true freshman shooter named Tim Hardaway Jr. All this Michigan squad did was cover the spread in each of its last nine games. The Wolverines went 14-1 ATS in their last 15 and I was on them for at least 12 of those winners, including a Round of 32 loss to Duke. They easily took the money as 12.5-point ‘dogs, but Morris’s elbow jumper for the tie just before the horn resulted in a 73-71 loss.
My favorite pick for this team was its opening-round game against Tennessee. This was the year when Bruce Pearl was a Dead Man Walking. Due to his lying to the NCAA about eventual Ohio St. player Aaron Craft attending a dinner at his house, the worst-kept secret in college sports was that incompetent former UT AD Mike Hamilton was going to send Pearl packing when the Vols were eliminated from the Tournament. He implied as much in an interview less than 48 hours before the Vols and Wolverines were set to do battle.
Somehow Michigan was made a one-point underdog to UT. What a gift! The Wolverines rolled to a 75-45 win. During the 14-1 ATS surge, Beilein’s troops were inexplicably made underdogs in 11 of those 14 cashers.
Without diving into too much detail, other memorable teams include my Gators in 2008 on the gridiron. They compiled a 12-1 spread record. When Justin Jackson was protecting the rim for Mick Cronin’s Cincy Bearcats and Sean Kilpatrick was the only reliable scorer, Cronin’s bunch had a two-year run of ‘unders’ galore that were basically an automatic play for me when the totals were 120 combined points or more.
Then during the 2015 college football campaign, Washington St. had an amazing run. Chris Vernon, who mans the top sports radio show in Memphis and has me on every Friday during football season, was on the Cougars with me. Vernon went so far as to order Wazzu gear and sport it on Saturdays starting in early November. Until the regular-season finale at Washington when star QB Luke Falk was out with a concussion, Mike Leach’s team covered the spread in every Pac-12 game. The Cougars sent us out a winner by beating Miami and covering the spread in their bowl game.
Anyway, where I’m going with all this is to the 2015-2016 Georgia Bulldogs, who are quickly becoming my Washington St. of this hoops campaign. Once again last night, UGA hooked me up in its 69-56 win over South Carolina as a 1.5-point underdog.
Yante Maten was the catalyst against the Gamecocks, producing 18 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots. The 6’8″ sophomore is rapidly developing a lethal offensive game. He has excellent back-to-the-basket moves and a nice jump hook with a little range to it. On Tuesday in Athens, he decided to show off his perimeter jumper and on several occasions, he shot faked to get his man in the air and then took a dribble and drained a mid-range ‘J.’ The sky in the limit for this kid.
But Georgia is all about its three-guard combo of Charles Mann, Kenny Gaines and J.J. Frazier. Gaines had 17 points, seven boards, three assists, two steals and one blocked shot vs. USC. Frazier chipped in with 13 points, six boards, five assists and four steals. Mann was also in double figures with 11 points.
Mark Fox’s team has covered the spread in five consecutive games and eight of its last nine. I’ve backed UGA for four straight winners.
UGA dropped a pair of heartbreakers at LSU and at Baylor last week, but Frazier was sensational in sparking a pair of backdoor covers. His crazy heroics helped UGA cut an 11-point deficit with 52 seconds left down to one with more than 20 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs had a chance to tie on their last possession in Baton Rouge, only to miss a great look that would’ve forced OT.
This UGA team is 12-8 overall and 5-4 in the SEC, so it obviously needs to get hot to make the NCAA Tournament. That’s certainly possible, though, because the Dawgs don’t have any bad losses. All of their defeats have come against RPI Top-100 foes. In fact, their only three losses to teams outside of the RPI Top 50 came by seven combined points.
Fox’s bunch plays host to Auburn on Saturday. With a win over Pearl’s bunch, UGA would be 13-8 and 6-4 going into an eight-game stretch to close the regular season. The Bulldogs will face four RPI Top-50 opponents during that stretch and only a trip to Starkville to face Mississippi St. will represent a game against a foe outside of the Top 100.
For Gaines and Mann, a pair of seniors who’ve helped me cash winners galore throughout their careers, I hope UGA gets its name called on Selection Sunday. But if that doesn’t happen, we might get a deeper run from this team in the NIT, and that could equate to cashing even more tickets.