MACtion is tough, though. We already knew that. So let's change gears and exploit some early-season question marks in the college basketball world. There are two games featuring teams from major conferences (the Big East still counts, right?):
Oklahoma (-220) @ Creighton (+185), 7pm on Fox Sports 1
Line: Oklahoma -5.5
Quote: "TaShawn Thomas is a season-changing addition for Oklahoma. The Sooners are going to be able to beat teams from the outside, in the paint and in transition." SB Nation
Oklahoma is projected to finish in the top half of the Big 12 (although probably in the second tier behind the Kansas-Texas-Iowa State trio). In addition to the newly-approved Thomas, they are returning talent in the frontcourt and backcourt. Read the SB Nation post for the details there, but this should be a good season for them. Creighton will be a middle-of-the-pack Big East team, so I don't think they have a shot here, even at home.
Pick: Oklahoma -5.5
Wake Forest (+700) @ Arkansas (-1100), 9pm on SEC Network
Line: Arkansas -13.5
Arkansas is projected to finish in the top third of the SEC, somewhere on the tier below Kentucky (along with Florida, Georgia, and LSU). Wake Forest is expected to be in the bottom 4-5 teams of the 15-team ACC. WFU coach Danny Manning is in his first season with the team. Arkansas forward Bobby Portis is going to be a lottery pick.
This game scares me. Arkansas is clearly the better team, and they could use a big win over a traditionally decent team to make a statement. But 13.5 is a lot of points, and I'm nervous that Wake is a notch better than Alabama State, who put up 79 against Arkansas (but lost by 18). In the end, I'm taking the Deeks to cover the two touchdowns because they have talented guards, decent enough depth at forward, and a promising coach in Danny Manning (who won a national title at Kansas and the Conference USA title at Tulsa). Add it all up, and 13.5 is just too much.
Pick: Wake Forest +13.5