Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:45 PM EST.
South Dakota -7½ -108 over Air Force
Sanford Pentagon at Heritage Court in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
2:30 PM EST. This is a neutral site game in name alone, as it will tip-off from the Sanford Pentagon at Heritage Court in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. With that in mind, let's start with the Coyotes, who return three starters from last season and 10 letter winners overall. Senior guard Xavier Fuller (who was a JUCO addition last season that turned out to be a diamond in the rough) is expected to lead South Dakota, where he shot .500 from the floor and just over 89% from the foul line. Up front, junior forward Tasos Kamateros, who really showed what he could do in the Coyotes’ Summit League tournament run to the semifinals in 2020-2021 by posting a near double-double (17pts, 9rbs) against Western Illinois in the quarterfinals and a 14 point game on a 6-or-8 night shooting including 1-of-2 from 3-point land. Unfortunately, the Coyotes were knocked out 79-75 in that semi-final, which had to be considered a disappointment for the #2 seed.
The devastating injury to AJ Plitzuweit, arguably the best all-around guard in the mid-majors, has the Coyotes stock trending downward, and most outlets have also downgraded their prospects this season; however, head coach Todd Lee, had dipped his toes back into the JUCO pools and pulled Erik Oliver, the reigning NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American pumped in 20-points a game last season while at Laramie Country. Dude also went 40% from downtown. Not bad, kid. It was not expected that Oliver would be thrust into the fire right away, but the scoring vacuum created by the loss of Plitzuweit has Oliver in a position to make an immediate impact. In Vermilion, expectations are always high, but Lee has the pieces here (even without his star guard) to make another run at a Summit League title.
The Falcons are the dregs of the Mountain West (MW) and have been for a long time. Air Force’s best season in the last decade or so was an 8-8 conference mark posted way back in 2012-13. Aside from that, the Falcons have been at or near the bottom looking way, way, way up at the top of the MW.
Last season, the Falcons reached deep into their bag of tricks to convince Joe Scott to return to Colorado Springs 15 years after he led Air Force to the NCAAs. Absence did not make the heart grow fonder, however, as Scott was given a rude awakening. Coach Scott might want to wipe the slate clean, saying, “It’s almost like last year was a lost year. I’m viewing (2021-22) like it’s year one.” Good luck with that coach. The stench is already wafting from Colorado Springs. Buyer beware on Air Force, as the books have hung a pretty sweet looking number on a Mountain West team playing a Summit League team and that, too, caught our attention. You see, Mountain West has market cred while the Summit does not so taking back these points would seem prudent when in fact the opposite is true.
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South Dakota -7½ -108 (Risking 2.16 units - To Win: 2.00)