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Alan Boston's College Hoops Picks

This is all a confidence game for me, because of the way I bet. I am a human being, I don't plug things into a computer and bet what it says. This means I have biases and my feelings play into my gambling. I'm doing really good work this year, but suffering a lot of bad beats and they're getting to me like never before. It seems the other team is constantly getting the last four or the last six points to beat me. Everyone has a breaking point and I am about ready to break.

Last night I told myself if I could get Wake plus-two against Duke. I was going to bet it big. I thought it would be a home run game for Wake. But there was a rumor around town that a lot of smart money had Duke. I respected that money, something most bettors should do, but it's not something I normally do. I didn't put down as much money as I wanted to. It cost me. These close games have been playing with my confidence. Take a couple nights ago: I had my biggest bet of the year on BYU plus-four against Utah. They were winning the entire game, then it goes into OT and BYU loses by six.

Discouraged, I did not go to war with Wake against Duke. And I should have. That is a major error that, under different circumstances would never happen. Confidence is fleeting.

My picks:

Gonzaga minus-8.5 over St. Mary's

First of all my power rating made the game 10.5, so it's an automatic bet. Anything two off my number that I don't hate is an automatic. Why is it higher than the oddsmakers? It's because of St. Mary's resume. Their last game was an ultra-impressive win over San Diego, but one game does not a season make. And if you look at their prior games, they haven't played a very tough schedule. Their tougher games were UTEP, who blew them out, and Providence, who they beat by six. But the Friars were getting used to a new coach and system. San Diego State they beat by three, but the game was on a neutral court and nip and tuck the whole time. Their win at Kent State, which was a struggle, does not look good at all now. And the win in Oregon is tainted because Oregon hasn't won a conference game this year. SIU on a neutral court was against a young team looking to find its way. St. Mary's key wins were not that impressive because all of the teams have turned out to not be that good, except San Diego State. And a team that is going to hang with Gonzaga can't play a war with San Diego State.

Gonzaga, meanwhile, well, some of its key games are kind of impressive. Most recently winning against Tennessee. The Vols had lost to Gonzaga and were super motivated to play them and it impressed me to no end the way Gonzaga pulled it out. And the game against Connecticut was a game the Zags should have won. Those two results obliterate anything St. Mary's has done. The game is at Gonzaga and the talent gap is huge. I think Gonzaga blows them out.

Arizona plus-1.5 over Washington

A key part of handicapping is finding a team that will play like their lives depend on it. I think I found one tonight with Arizona. I made this game a pick 'em. The 'Cats are NIT-bound at best. Arizona is 2-5 in the conference and was lucky to beat Houston recently. But the reality is that they played a game against ASU they could and should have won and still have the talent that can put in a home run effort. I don't like the coach or the way they play—but all that said, they play another team I don't like. I don't think Washington is particularly well-coached and because they are not very smart it's a good match-up for Arizona. The Wildcats are catching Washington coming off a sweep of the LA schools, which is huge for them and it puts them in the NCAA tourney on most boards. It's hard to knock anything they've done, really, but that doesn't mean they are good enough to beat a motivated and focused Arizona team. I think there is a chance of a letdown and I think the Cats' best effort at home is enough to beat a mindless Washington team prone to imploding on the road when it feels the heat. If Arizona plays the way it played against Arizona State I expect them to win.