Dave’s Free Play, Wednesday 2/25/15

  • February 25, 2015

I suppose it’s logical to assume that I’m somewhat jaded as a fan. That’s a sensible conclusion, as my emphasis is on the gambling aspect of most sports. I really can’t argue with that assessment, as I can no longer be classified as a passionate fan of any team, not even the Red Sox. I’ll still pull for the Sawx if I’m not involved with the opponent on a particular day. But the days of almost being obsessed with the Bosox are long gone. I think finally getting to see them win it all in 2004 was the ultimate satisfaction, and while I still hope they win, it’s not a life or death deal any more.

But I am still a huge fan of watching great athletes performing at their best, and that’s why the latest Derrick Rose injury is really troubling. It’s becoming unfortunately clear that his knees are just no good. I’m afraid we’re never going to really know just how amazing he could have been if blessed with better health.

I know I’ve made this observation before, but I think it’s worth repeating. Derrick Rose is turning into this generation’s version of Grant Hill. Hill ended up having a very solid career. But anyone who saw him play before the injuries took their toll knows what could have been. Hill was an incredible talent and we didn’t get to see the total package for nearly as long as we should have. I’m afraid the same thing will end being said about Rose.

For Bulls fans, this latest setback has to be brutal. Chicago has been on the cusp of making a major title run for a little bit now. But the team is built around Rose and if he can’t perform at his expected level, it’s unlikely the Bulls can be anything more than just a good squad that is just kind of in the conversation, but nothing more.

Obviously, I’d be thrilled to be dead wrong about Rose. Maybe he returns from the latest problem as good as new and stays that way for the next several years. Unfortunately, that’s just not something I would bet on. That’s too bad for anyone who’s a fan of seeing the best at their best.

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3-0 Tuesday, and all three were sweat free as well. Central Michigan, Niagara and Utah State were pretty much rockin’ chair material. It’s good right now to be sure, but one thing you won’t see me doing is taking anything for granted. The worm can always turn in a hurry. Nevertheless, I’m feeling pretty locked in right now, and the college numbers are clearly the strongest they’ve been at any point this season.

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The Utah State game went almost exactly as anticipated. I’m looking at a chalk piece for Wednesday as well.

(773) EVANSVILLE at  (774) NORTHERN IOWA

Take: (774) NORTHERN IOWA -12

If you’re looking for a sneaky value spot on tonight’s college slate, well, this isn’t it. Fact is, Northern Iowa is going to be a popular choice tonight for pretty clear cut “public” reasons.

It’s Senior Night for the Panthers and that means it’s the swan song for four key guys, including the brilliant Seth Tuttle. I actually am not crazy with this aspect of the matchup against Evansville, as there are sometimes mixed emotions for the host teams on these nights, and you know Evansville would love to ruin the evening.

It’s also revenge for Northern Iowa. The Panthers are literally just a couple baskets away from being 28-0 and there can’t be any doubt this team wants to avenge that earlier loss to the Purple Aces. Of course, the oddsmaker also realizes this and make no mistake, it’s in the line.

But if those are cautionary notes, here’s one that isn’t. Northern Iowa has been a killer instinct team, and that’s the type I don’t mind laying lumber with under the right conditions. I think it’s also worth mentioning that while the Aces are a capable team, they’ve had some problems when stepping up in class. Evansville has done a great job of taking care of business against the lesser lights they’re supposed to handle in the MVC. But they’ve also been exposed against the tougher competition, that first game against Northern Iowa being the exception.

I just don’t see Northern Iowa losing its focus and getting away from what they do best. This team is as fundamentally sound as any squad in the country, and they know they’ve got a shot at a very high seed if there are no missteps between now and Selection Sunday. I’m on Northern Iowa minus the points for the Wednesday free play.