LA Picks Big Monday (ND @ Louisville and Texas @ Oklahoma)

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Big Monday OFFICIALLY tips off tonight...LA tips you off on who to bet right nowBig Monday OFFICIALLY tips off tonight...LA tips you off on who to bet right nowMonday night and got the football blues?  No worries – as ESPN officially tips off their Big Monday slate tonight with a pair of tasty match ups and LA has the inside track on who to bet (pun intended) tonight.

Nice mulligan.  I thought ESPN’s Big Monday lineup officially got underway last Monday with Georgetown @ Notre Dame but, thanks to some “fine print” from ESPN, I am still 0-0 in predicting the Big Monday games…as tonight is the official start to the men’s basketball season.  And what a start it is – with two, top-25, match ups served up.

In the first game, my personal heart strings are pulled on once again as Notre Dame (+6.5) travels to Freedom Hall to face Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals.  Watching the Irish play against Georgetown last Monday night, I realized that ND will do well this season…until they run into teams that know how to block out, rebound and play solid defense.  Watching Louisville play against Villanova on Saturday, I realized that the Cardinals are not one of those teams.  However, give Pitino and his boys credit, they are finding ways to win the close ones (even if it is by luck) and are tough to beat in Freedom Hall.  Both teams are poor rebounding teams, so watch that stat for an early indication of who will come out on top in this early Big East standings shake-up game.  With a nice 6.5 points to play with, take the Irish in a close game – Louisville wins, 71-70.

Following the ND heartbreaker, Oklahoma plays “host” to Texas (+3.5) in the basketball version of the Red River Rivalry.  Not unlike the gridiron version, UT has owned Oklahoma in this series as of late.  The Longhorns have soundly thumped the Sooners by an average of almost 17 points whilst in the middle of a six game winning streak.  But this is not your typical OU basketball club.  The Sooners are in the Top Ten for the first time in three seasons and own a 13-game winning streak at the Noble Center.  Both lost to their only common opponent, Arkansas, and the way those games played out gives one a huge clue about how tonight should go.  Digging into the stats of that game, it is clear to me that UT’s front court will have an advantage tonight – as UT out rebounded the Hogs 45-32 while Oklahoma was caught watching Arkansas clean the glass to the tune of 29-42 wipes.  I think Vegas is way off on this one and call for Texas to win out right, 75-69.  Of course, that also means one should place money on Oklahoma to play for the National Championship in April while Texas sits at home and bitches about how they beat Oklahoma in the regular season...

Trifecta Bonus Pick:  Davidson (-11) @ Appalachian State