Dave’s Free Play, Sunday 2/23/14

  • February 23, 2014

Some people need to lighten up. I’m referring to those who have decided Boise State coach Leon Rice is the worst person on earth because he got excited at the sudden win his team got yesterday against UNLV.

If you missed what happened leading up to the coach celebrating, search it. The bottom line is that Boise State gets credit for a 91-90 OT win and UNLV comes home with a tough loss. There’s no question the culprit here was the malfunctioning light that should have clearly indicated basket or no basket.

As for Leon Rice, I think he thought his team was toast and when the call went in his favor, he displayed his satisfaction with emphasis. This has rubbed lots of people the wrong way, particularly those in the UNLV camp.

I have zero problem with Rice being overjoyed. It was spur of the moment ecstasy. Had he started running around the court whooping it up, that would be another story. He celebrated the win for what, three seconds tops? Big deal.

The irony here is that UNLV coach Dave Rice draws constant criticism from many Rebel fans for being too flat emotionally. Yet when a coach for another team exhibits some big time energy, that’s no good and he’s a poor sport. Sorry, you can’t have it both ways. Again, lighten up.

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My Saturday was not good overall, but it was not as bad as it looked to be at one point. I got out of the gate in terrible form yesterday, but managed to do some significant damage control with a recovery on the night games. The big problem for me was on a late season angle that had been cruising along, but hit a big speed bump yesterday. Anyway, lousy day overall but not the disaster it looked as though it was going to be.

I’m going to pull the current special Sunday night. There will be a tournament package appearing in the next few days, but meanwhile there’s still one more day on the special. It’s for one full month of all my plays, and that means buying it today would run you right through the first weekend of the Big Dance. Utilize the “buy now” function on this page, and then click on “Feb Special” to get rolling. You can also reach me directly via email at cokin@cox.net.

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Baylor was a good call as the Saturday free play, with the Bears hanging in early in spite of some lopsided officiating and then taking command in the second half. Baylor is suddenly back in the NCAA conversation. That won’t be the case for today’s choice as the comp selection, but they’re kind of a hot team in their own way right now.

02/23 11:00 AM  CB   (823) NORTHERN ILLINOIS (824) CENTRAL MICHIGAN

Take: (823) NORTHERN ILLINOIS +1.5

It’s amazing what a little confidence can do. No one is going to label Northern Illinois as a MAC powerhouse. But the Huskies are turning into one of the better way under the radar stories this college season. NIU will try to extend their recent run of success as they visit Central Michigan today.

Northern Illinois has definite limitations. They simply aren’t very talented offensively. Points can be tough to come by for the Huskies, and when you watch them play, it’s clear that they have to grind out almost every basket.

But there is no ceiling on determination, and that’s where Mark Montgomery and his players warrant lots of praise. NIU scratches and claws and refuses to yield even when way behind. The Huskies have put together some amazing rallies this season to pull out wins. They’ve been down by at least nine points in four of their last five wins.

My one concern today is that the visiting Huskies have a letdown against a team they already smashed by 25. But with a chance to get to .500 both overall and in the MAC, I’m banking on that not being a problem.

Central Michigan is really struggling. The Chippewas have won just twice in league play and barely got there in each victory. CMU is a very poor defensive team, and it’s not like they’re a juggernaut with the ball. The one thing CMU does well is take care of the rock, and that’s the one edge I’ll give them in today’s matchup.

Both NIU and CMU are off thrilling wins. The Huskies got past a pretty good Eastern Michigan squad in two OT last game, while CMU got it done in three OT against Ball State. Suffice to say the more impressive of those two wins is obviously the one by the Huskies.

I think the number on this game is right where it’s supposed to be as far as the math goes. But the team with the arrow pointing up right now is Northern Illinois, and unless they don’t show up mentally today, the Huskies look like the right side to me.