Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 11/29/15

  • November 29, 2015

Just a couple weeks ago, it looked like a wild free for all with some likely controversy as far as the College Playoff Series goes. That’s not the case anymore.

As it now stands, one team appears to have locked up a spot in the Final Four. Oklahoma’s dismantling of Oklahoma State virtually cinches the Sooners an invite.

As for the other three, Alabama will be a substantial favorite to get past a beat up Florida team, and the winner of Michigan State-Iowa will be in. Clemson is obviously a lock if they defeat North Carolina, and there’s your four teams.

The only suspense will result with a Clemson loss. And that’s where things would indeed get very interesting. Personally, I think that if North Carolina pulls the upset, and it really wouldn’t be a huge shock if they do, the Tar Heels have to be in. Their only loss was a bad one, as it came against a South Carolina squad that had a rough season. But it was in the very first game of the year, it went right down to the wire, and the Tar Heels have done nothing wrong since.

I just don’t see where there’s a compelling argument for anyone else. If we’re talking power ratings, perhaps there’s a dispute. Ohio State has a case on the numbers, and they’re a one-loss team, with that loss coming on the final play of the game against Michigan State.

But I don’t think that’s good enough, even if the Buckeyes are a favorite against North Carolina on the math. The reason for me is that they didn’t win their conference, and if the Tar Heels knock off Clemson, they will be an undisputed league champion.

I believe that has to take precedence for this system to work properly. Conference championships have to carry extreme weight, and to me they have to be what amounts to the ultimate tie breaker in a situation like we could have as of next Saturday. And for Buckeye fans who might choose to disagree, it needs to be pointed out that’s why Ohio State got in last season. They won their league and deserved the invite.

The Buckeyes have only one way in from this vantage point. That would be if Florida manages to stun Alabama. In that event, even though the Gators would be SEC kings, the two losses on their resume would not be enough to get them the bid ahead of the Buckeyes.

Of course, this is all advance opinion in the event something crazy takes place. If Clemson and Alabama win their games, there’s no discussion and we’ve got our Final Four.

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My nice three-day run did not get extended to four days, as I dropped 1.95 net units on Saturday. I graded Canisius as a loss in college hoops, although I would imagine some clients pushed that game. Either way, a tough loss as Buffalo hit a turnaround three to get it to overtime and then also scored the last five points in the extra session to win by a deuce. The other CBB play worked, as Loyola Marymount got the job done. The college football went 2-3, with a 1.5x loser on Colorado State.

A quick word on that game. I really liked the Rams in this spot, as they’d been playing good football lately. But I also thought Fresno State would mail this one in. The Bulldogs have done that on a few occasions, and with all the coaching staff chaos taking place there this week (the OC was fired, the DC was demoted), I was convinced CSU would win easily. The Rams ended up getting the victory, but couldn’t cover after getting manhandled in the opening half. Fact is, if not for some amazing stuff on special teams by the Rams, Fresno wins the game outright. So bad pick, bad result. But I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t make that same play again tomorrow given the situation. Sometimes they just don’t work out.

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Nice work by Loyola Marymount as the Saturday free play. Here’s this week’s NFL comp.

GIANTS  at  REDSKINS

Take: GIANTS -2.5

There’s always a certain amount of consternation involved when choosing to back the Giants. I don’t think there’s a team in the NFL that has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as often as the Giants have this season. Nevertheless, they’re still the team on top in the NFC East, and even with a tough closing schedule, the Giants will be in command of the division with a win today at Washington.

Looking at the matchup on paper, with no situational analysis, the Giants are simply better than the Redskins across the board. They’ve got the better efficiency numbers on offense, on defense, and on special teams as well. They’re in possession of the better RPI data for the most part as well. Basically, the Giants do almost everything a little better than Washington does. They aren’t slam dunk wins, but the pattern can’t be disputed.

Then there’s the scheduling, and I would consider this to be somewhat vital. The Giants are off the bye week following a really tough loss to the Patriots. They’ve had plenty of time to get that difficult decision out of their system, while also healing up physically, which can be huge at this time of year.

As for Washington, they got their lunch handed to them last week at Carolina. The good news is it’s easy to put that loss in the archives and not dwell on it. The bad news is they got knocked all over the place by the Panthers and I can’t see the hosts being as fresh as the visitors here.

There’s also a nifty angle in play here for those who like a little technical support. Rested divisional road favorites are a very strong situational winner going back several seasons.

The fly in the ointment remains the Giants disturbing propensity for screwing things up at the end of the game. That has to be at least a mild concern here. But with so many variables, both from a statistical and intangible standpoint, favoring the Giants, that’s the side I have to play here. I’m on the Giants minus the small spot.