I’m now on what amounts to a surprise vacation of sorts from The Las Vegas Sportsline, the weekday radio show I’m a part of that airs on ESPN Las Vegas. Thursday and Friday were scheduled days off due to the holiday. But there will now be no show on either Tuesday or Wednesday, as we’re to be pre-empted by UNLV basketball.
The Runnin’ Rebels lost a close game to UCLA on Monday night, and in the process got knocked into the early sessions for the next two days at the Maui Invitational. UNLV will face Chaminade later today, and assuming they win that game, the Rebs will square off in the 5th place game on Wednesday, likely against Indiana.
UNLV did some good things against UCLA on Monday evening. Unfortunately, it was the same old story for the Rebels in two key areas. They again failed to convert free throws with enough frequency, and the late game offense lacked movement, resulting in low percentage shots that didn’t fall.
This has been an ongoing theme for some time now, and at some point, the belief simply starts to set in that it’s just not going to change. Of course, that’s just my two cents and you can decide for yourself whether mine is an informed opinion or not. But when a former player chimes in with some similar thoughts, I think it’s time to start paying attention.
Jovan “Wink” Adams enjoyed a stellar career at UNLV. He was a huge part of the last Runnin’ Rebels squad to make a real run at glory. That was the 2006-07 UNLV squad that put the program back on the map with a stirring run that ended just shy of a spot in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. That was a team that absolutely maxed out on its talent and the buzz in this city was the best it had been in many years.
Wink has become what every program should desire from its former players. He’s done playing organized basketball, but is now coaching high school kids right here in Las Vegas, thus giving back to the community that he became a part of a decade ago. And, based on his tweets last night as the Rebels lost to UCLA, Adams is still very much one who cares about his alma mater’s basketball program.
You can read what Wink had to say by following him on Twitter @jovanunlv1. I thought the constructive criticism offered was rock solid and on target. There were some who felt it was out of place. I couldn’t disagree more with that assessment. It’s fine for some to maintain a glass half full state of mind and always focus on the positives. But when the same negatives continue to prevail year after year, I really feel as though someone who is not just a fan to speak up.
Opinions from guys like me are a dime a dozen. When it comes from someone with a far greater perspective, as is clearly the case here with Wink Adams, maybe it’s time to start listening. This season might be just getting started, so I understand the argument from those who are saying it’s too soon for any flaming. But the fact is, this is deja vu, as the same issues that have stymied the program for the last few years are just not going away. Personally, I really like it that a former Rebel who wants to see his school win is speaking his mind. I hope to see more of this moving forward.
Following a terrific Saturday, my last two days have been terrible. End game issues have been a real problem for me in this nasty little run, and let’s just say that I managed to give back everything I won on Saturday. The task now is to get the picks back on track as quickly as possible. As always, a quick reminder that my monthly program includes a strong guarantee, and for info on how to get all my plays, hopefully with better results than these last couple of days, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Monday free play on LSU failed as Marquette played with some real fire, shot the ball well and earned the victory against the Tigers. I was on the wrong side basically from start to finish, although I still really like this LSU team moving forward. Today’s comp is on a Saturday football game that I’ve already played.
145 OHIO STATE at 146 MICHIGAN
Take: MICHIGAN -1.5
Right off the top, I can offer that my numbers say Ohio State is slightly superior to Michigan. Therefore, under ordinary circumstances, there’s no way I would give points with the Wolverines. In fact, I might normally be looking to tail the Buckeyes in a bounce back scenario against their main rival. But these are clearly not your everyday, garden variety circumstances.
The last-second loss to Michigan State on Saturday was absolutely demoralizing for the Buckeyes. The dream of a perfect season and a successful defense of their national championship is shot on one count and more than likely toast on the other as well. Ohio State obviously cannot go unbeaten, so that’s off the table. As for getting to the playoffs, they still have a pulse but it’s as faint as it gets. Ohio State would have to beat Michigan Saturday, while also having Michigan State lose to Penn State. Then the Buckeyes would have to knock off Iowa in the Big Ten title game, and would also need either Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and/or Notre Dame to lose a game. Even if all that happens, it’s up in the air as to whether the Buckeyes get the playoff invite.
Based on what took place following the loss to the Spartans, I don’t know if any of the previously mentioned scenarios matter. No doubt, emotion played a role, but the comments of Ezekiel Elliot and Cardale Jones are now a matter of record. From a team perspective, the statements made were unquestionably damaging, and I doubt that harmony is going to suddenly prevail in a matter of just a few days.
Michigan is likely to enter this ultimate rivalry game with a completely different state of mind. The Wolverines didn’t play a great game at Penn State, but they maintained their momentum with the win and are now poised for what is their most meaningful game. Make no mistake, while there’s a big bowl invite waiting, the win that Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines really want is this one. The 2015 campaign has been sensational for Michigan in terms of exceeding expectations. But losing to Ohio State would render all of that meaningless.
I think this is a game where one should simply ignore the data and focus on the intangibles. This game could not come at a worse time for the Buckeyes, and I could say that if they were facing Michigan Tech rather than Michigan. The Wolverines, on the other hand, will have zero need for any pep talks to get prepped for this game. I’ve been around long enough to realize that almost nothing that takes place in any sporting venue should be considered shocking. But the advantages here for Michigan are really substantial. The number being where it is right now is barely a concern and I’m already on Michigan to nail the win and cover in this one.