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For the most part college basketball games played before Christmas are not really meant to offer much in the way of serious competition to the big name school which is playing some small college program that seeks to gain national recognition, and a lump of cash, by taking on a hoops team that they know they have little or no chance of beating.

Today’s coaches and sports commentators call them ‘warm-up games’. ESPN’s Lee Corso calls them ‘cupcake games’.  Whatever, these contests are more like pageants than basketball games, but, that’s the way it is folks.

It’s been that way for years.  Seldom does a contending team face another contending team before the first of the year unless it is in some exotic tournament somewhere.  These are called ‘marquee matchups’ and most hoops coaches despise them, especially those early in the season before they even really know what they have in the way of a basketball team.

So it is not a surprise to find the same powerhouse teams in college basketball holding down the top ten positions in both the AP and the Coaches Polls as last year, and the year before that. As usual we have Duke, Louisville, Michigan State, Kansas, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Gonzaga, Ohio State and Kentucky rounding off the top ten in the national polls this week.

Next week will most likely see the same teams there but perhaps in a somewhat scrambled order as none of these teams will be facing any really serious competition until just before Christmas when Kentucky hosts Ohio State and Louisville in back to back games at Rupp Arena in Lexington.

Duke, currently ranked as the number one team in the land, as usual, has the easiest schedule of all the top ten teams. They will not encounter any serious competition until January 18 when Louisville comes to town. The Blue Devils and the Louisville Cardinals are both currently listed at 10 to 1 to win the NCAA Tourney this year.

The Kentucky Wildcats started the season with a bang by defeating Michigan State 69-63 back on November 5th but then unexpectedly fell to the neighboring Evansville Aces at home on November 12th by a final score of 67-64.  They begin SEC play on January 4th when Missouri comes to town.

Michigan State begins Big 10 play on January 2nd hosting Illinois and then Michigan on January 5th.  They will not encounter any top ten teams until the Spartans host Ohio State on March 8th. Michigan State is the current favorite to win it all in ‘March Madness’ this season at 6 to 1 odds with the Kentucky Wildcats coming in with the second lowest odds at 8 to 1.

The Kansas Jayhawks and the North Carolina Tar Heels are at 12 to 1 going into December and five teams are bunched up at 20 to 1 including the Arizona Wildcats, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, the Maryland Terrapins, the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Oregon Ducks.

While the relative positions of these teams will be changing every week for the remainder of 2019, don’t look for any significant changes before 2020 gets rolling. Then the excitement will start to build with every game all the way up until March when the real ‘Madness’ begins!



When Tua Tagovailoa went down in such obvious pain during the second quarter of the game against Mississippi State in Starkville, the odds for Alabama winning the SEC title, or even qualifying for the CFP Finals, took the proverbial nose dive.  When later that evening it was announced that Tua would need surgery to repair his wounded hip and would be out for the remainder of the football season, bowls and all, the odds dipped once again.

The Crimson Tide went on to defeat Mississippi State easily by a final score of 38-7 with backup quarterback Mac Jones at the helm although only 3 points were scored in the entire second half of the contest. So easily if fact that the CFP committee has put Alabama in 5th place in the NCAA Football standings right outside the realm of the top 4 teams in the country headed by LSU.

The Tigers of LSU retained their number one status this week by beating arch rival Ole Miss, aka the University of Mississippi, at home in Oxford in front of Archie Manning and other SEC dignitaries scattered about the stands. After playing in the 102,000+ seat Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, the football facility on the campus at Ole Miss looked like a high school sports field.

The Rebels put up 37 points and some stiff competition featuring freshman quarterback John Rhys Plumlee whose slippery running style broke through the Tigers defensive line again and again until he had accumulated 212 yards on the ground resulting in 4 touchdowns to add to his 123 yards gained passing in an outstanding performance by a young man whose future looks bright in the SEC.

But the Tigers offensive was relentless and continued to score with Joe Burrow throwing for 5 touchdown passes himself and amassing an impressive 489 yards through the air and another 26 on the ground, and finishing with 58 points. Needless to say bettors who picked the over 66 in this one went home smiling although those who took the Tigers at -21 ended up with a push.

Elsewhere the games were a bit more one sided all the way. Even with quarterback Justin Fields and the Ohio State Buckeyes looking past Rutgers to their next 2 games against the #8 Penn State Nittany Lions at home and then taking on #13 Michigan at Ann Arbor, they managed to defeat the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers at their home field in Piscataway, New Jersey by a final score of 56-21 and thus remain as the #2 team selected in this weeks’ CFP standings.

Clemson had the easiest day of them all by soundly defeating Wake Forest by a final score of 52-3, thus retaining their #3 spot in the CFP standings for another week. Clemson also has the easiest path to finish the season with only one away game against neighboring South Carolina remaining to be played after enjoying a bye in week 13.

Far and away the best contest of Week 12 of NCAA College Football action had to have been the contest down at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama when the highly ranked Georgia Bulldogs came to town to take on Coach Gus Malzahn and his Auburn Tigers.

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm passed for only 110 yards, but managed to score 3 touchdowns in the process. In the end it was the tough ‘Dawgs defense that won the game for Georgia holding the resilient Auburn team scoreless for three quarters before allowing only 14 points in the 4th quarter and securing a 21-14 victory for the Bulldogs in a highly entertaining SEC battle.

The 7-3 Texas A&M Aggies are outside of the CFP playoff plans but could have serious influence in those plans as they will next travel to Athens to take on mighty Georgia Bulldogs as 13.5 point underdogs.  Then the Aggies will be in Baton Rouge to take on the #1 ranked LSU Tigers.  Two tough games for the guys from College Station, both away and both played as underdogs.  However, be assured that both LSU and Georgia are well aware that any team coached by Jimbo Fisher should at no point be under estimated.

Look forward to another exciting finish to this years’ College Football Playoffs.



Spreads and totals were on the line late in contests all across the board this weekend in the NFL as game after game came down to the wire or the scores changed dramatically late in the game.  Losers turned to winners and winners to losers in the closing minutes of games all day long and bettors either cried or cheered accordingly.

Take for instance the Minnesota Vikings, who sat around on their hands not scoring at all in the first half and falling behind the Denver Broncos 20-0 at half time.  Game over, right?  Wrong!

What was looking like a huge upset in the making, the Vikings were 10 point favorites to win the game, was brought to a screeching halt with 6:10 remaining in the 4th quarter when Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins passed short left to Kyle Rudolf for 32 yards and a touchdown putting Minnesota ahead of the Broncos for the first and final time in the game at 27-23.

The Vikings did not cover the -10 point spread, but they did win the game with one of the most incredible comebacks in recent memory. What did hit the ten point mark was the predicted total of 40 which went over by 10 points even though the Vikings defense managed to shut out the Broncos in the 4th quarter.

Out West it was another fantastic finish for the San Francisco 49ers as they put up 19 points in the 4th quarter against the Arizona Cardinals to take a come from behind victory by a final score of 36-26 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. by holding off a late surge when Cardinal quarterback Kyler Murray scored on a 22 yard keeper to put the Broncos ahead 26-23 with six and a half minutes left to play.

But stopping Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco offense in the 4th quarter was more than the Broncos defense could manage and the 49ers quarterback tossed a 25 yard touchdown pass to Jeff Wilson Jr. with only 31 seconds left in the game and San Francisco had come back from 16 points down to take a stunning 36-26 victory over the Denver Broncos.

Ironically the spread was San Francisco -10, and they won by 10, so the game was a push unless some savvy bookie managed to slip in a hook for the contest. Once again the game went way over the predicted 44 points ending with a total of 62 points put up by both teams.

The New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles did not score a point in the 4th quarter of their game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia giving fans a lackluster finish to a lackluster football game.  Tom Brady only completed 26 of 47 passes for 216 yards and not a single TD.

Carson Wentz did at least throw one touchdown pass but only completed 20 of 40 passes for 214 yards in the contest in which the Patriots covered the -4.5 spread and the totals went to the under this time as only 27 of the predicted 45 points were put on the board.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott gave credence to speculation that the Cowboys have the best offense in the NFL by putting up 444 yards in the air with an additional 18 yards rushing and scoring 3 touchdowns without throwing a single interception against the Detroit Lions.

Detroit quarterback Jeff Driskel, filling in for the injured Matt Stafford, threw for 209 yards and 2 TD’s in an exciting contest which went down to the wire with both teams scoring in the fourth quarter.  As in most games this week, the over bets won the day as the final score of 35-27 was 15.5 points over the predicted 46.5.  Over bettors did well with the NFL in week 11.

The Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, Sam Darnold of the Eagles and Jimmy Garoppolo of the 49ers each threw 4 touchdown passes in Week 11 while Drew Brees of the Saints, the Vikings’ Kirk Cousins, Dak Prescott of the Cowboys and Jeff Allen of the Buffalo Bills each threw 3 TD’s guiding their teams to another NFL victory.


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