Cokin’s Corner, Saturday 2/27/16

  • February 27, 2016

The finish line is nearly here for the 2015-16 college basketball regular season. That also means only a couple more weeks where the time constraints limit me to just the free play analysis in this space. But as is always the case on late Friday/early Saturday, that’s all I’ve got here today.


Take: 560 SANTA CLARA -1.5

Loads of big games with post-season ramifications on the Saturday college basketball schedule. This is decidedly not one of them.

But I like the dynamics in play here enough to go ahead and make a play on Santa Clara.

First, let’s examine Pacific. This is the final game for the Tigers. They won’t be making the trip to Las Vegas for the WCC Tournament due to a self-imposed ban resulting from academic issues. Pacific wrapped up their home schedule on Thursday with an emotional win over San Francisco. Next up following this game is the basketball banquet that will take place back on campus on Sunday. I’m not suggesting the Tigers are simply going to mail it in here. But it’s clearly not a great spot for the team, as the game means nothing and they were all-out to win the Thursday clash with the Dons.

On the Santa Clara side, the general consensus is that this is it for head coach Kerry Keating. The Broncos are probably safe as far as avoiding the play-in game in the WCC tourney, although that’s not chiseled in granite just yet. But realistically, they’re one and done next week here in Las Vegas, and I would say this is a more meaningful game.

Nothing official on Keating’s future yet. But word is he barely survived last season, and with a new athletic director not exactly offering overwhelming support, the belief is that Keating will get some kind of buyout and will then be replaced. Lame duck coaches, or at least those thought to be in that category, are generally go against types for me. But that’s not the case when it’s the home finale, as is the case for Keating and Santa Clara tonight.

As for the matchup, the first meeting between these two was a beauty. The Broncos reached out to an early lead but Pacific scratched and clawed its way back into the battle, and eventually scored an exciting 73-72 overtime win.

There’s no denying that my play here is more on feel than anything else. On paper, there’s mot much to choose from, and if anything, I’d probably give a slight edge to Pacific. But my read is that one team is still alive, with more practices on deck and at least one more game after this. The other squad might have accomplished their objective on Thursday with a thrilling Senior Night win at home, and after tonight the equipment gets packed away till next season. I’ll gamble on Santa Clara to squeeze out the win and cover this evening.