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Best Bets: College basketball futures and win totals you have to bet

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College basketball season is just around the corner, which means that time is running out for you to lock in your preseason futures bets.

We’ve looked at the best bets that are available previously in this space. Since then, the odds have changed, meaning that the teams that are worth investing in have changed somewhat as well.

Here are the best national title futures, the best longshots, a couple of worthwhile fades and my favorite win total over/unders.

Odds are via a legal sports book in New Jersey.

BEST FUTURES

MICHIGAN STATE (9-1)

I have Michigan State listed here because of the price. At most books, the Spartans are somewhere in the 5-1 or 6-1 range. Considering the fact that they are the consensus preseason No. 1 team in the country, it makes sense that they would be priced there. What doesn’t make sense is where they are getting 9-1 odds. That’s the line that is available to me. If you can get Michigan State at 9-1, that’s worth it. If the Spartans are 5-1 or 6-1 where you wager, then I would pass at this point.

KANSAS (11-1)

The Jayhawks are currently priced as the sixth best team in the country. For my money, they are one of the consensus top three teams in the sport, along with Michigan State and Kentucky. They are also a veteran group with an elite point guard in Devon Dotson, plenty of talent on the wings and arguably the most unstoppable force in America in Udoka Azubuike. At 11-1, they are mispriced and worth the investment.

LOUISVILLE (14-1)

It’s as simple as this: Louisville is, for my money, the best team in the ACC. They are currently priced as the third-best team in the ACC and closer to a top ten team in America than a top five team. There are some questions about their point guard play. There are some concerns about their health, with David Johnson and Malik Williams banged up. And yes, Chris Mack is probably the best coach in the America that doesn’t have a Final Four on his resume. But I think you can make the argument that this is the best team he has ever had. No better time than now to get there.

FLORIDA (20-1)

The odds keep creeping down for Florida. I got the Gators at 50-1 before Kerry Blackshear announced that he will be playing his senior season in Gainesville, and then doubled down at 33-1 after he announced. They are now at 20-1, and I think this is still too cheap. This group has elite guard play, a McDonald’s All-Americans (Tre Mann, Scottie Lewis) that will complement the returning studs (Andrew Nembhard, Keyontae Johnson) and a coach that should be able to put all the pieces together. I think they’re clearly a top seven team in the country and right now, they are still not being priced that way.

OREGON (28-1)

Last week, the Ducks were still sitting at 33-1. That number has dropped a bit, but this is still a great price. Admittedly, I’m higher on the Ducks that most. But that’s because their head coach is one of the best in the country at getting new guys to buy into a role and he has an All-American point guard in senior Payton Pritchard leading the way. I think the Ducks should be priced around 18-1.

LONGSHOTS

OHIO STATE (40-1)

I am not as high on the Buckeyes as some people are, but I’m very surprised they are still available at 40-1 in some books. They have an All-American in Kaleb Wesson. They have plenty of talent on the wing, and if D.J. Carton lives up to the hype, they have one of the most exciting young guards in the country at the point. Oh, and should I mention that this Chris Holtmann guy coaching them is pretty good? They’re closer to a top 15 team in America than this, and I think that they should be priced at 25-1.

UTAH STATE (60-1)

I’ve already fired at the Aggies at 100-1 odds, and the number is still dropping. This is a team that is going to run through the Mountain West again this season. They are a pair of potential All-Americans and future NBA players in Neemias Queta and Sam Merrill. Throw in one of the better young coaches in the country in Craig Smith, and there is a lot to like in Logan. They’re still worth the flier.

HOUSTON (66-1)

My book has not yet adjusted to the fact that the Cougars have Quentin Grimes eligible immediately. I still think DeJon Jarreau is going to be their best guard, but adding a former top ten prospect is big. They are the best team in the American, but the payout betting on them is 4X the payout for betting on Memphis.

MARQUETTE (66-1)

The market has overcorrected on Marquette. They are too cheap. The reasoning is too long to type out. Watch this:

FADES

MEMPHIS (16-1)

Confession: I currently hold a ticket for a Memphis national title future.

The price?

50-1.

The current odds are just too expensive for my taste. I’ve made this point ad nauseum during the offseason, but this is a program that is going to end up starting five freshmen with seven freshmen and two sophomores in their ten-man rotation. Their best player – James Wiseman – may or may not have an ankle injury, or a shoulder injury, or something. I just have no interest in this group at 16-1.

DUKE (8-1) and NORTH CAROLINA (9-1)

These are easy fades for me. I certainly understand the upside, but I just think they’re too expensive at this point. My issues with Duke have to do with how the pieces are going to fit together (see the video below) and while I love Cole Anthony, I do think that asking the Tar Heels to win a national title with a completely is a big ask. If they were, say, 25-1, then it would be interesting. But as it currently stand, there are just two teams with lower odds than the Tar Heels: Duke and Kentucky. I cannot justify that cost.

KENTUCKY (8-1)

So Kentucky is not a full fade for me. I think that, come February, this is going to be one of the best teams in college basketball. I also think that, in November, they are going to take some lumps. I see this team having a similar learning curve to last year’s group. If you recall, they got smoked by Duke in the Champions Classic, struggled through a few buy games and then lost to Seton Hall in New York City before turning into the team that they were down the stretch. What I am going to do is wait for this line to drop and, hopefully, snag Kentucky at around 16-1 while eating Thanksgiving dinner.

WIN TOTALS

DUKE: Under 25.5

The ACC is going to be tough at the top this year, Duke has a roster that doesn’t exactly fit together all that well. In the last six years, since Coach K has gone all-in on the one-and-done movement, Duke has had more than 25 regular season wins twice. Once when they won the national title and once when they had Zion.

FLORIDA: Over 23.5

This best is fairly obvious. I love Florida this year. I have two Florida national title future. Of course I’m going to bet them to win 24 regular season games.

KANSAS: Over 24

Kansas is undervalued by the metrics. They are a consensus preseason top three team, and last season was the first time since 2014 that the Jayhawks didn’t win at least 24 regular season games. Since the 2006-07 season, Kansas has only won fewer than 24 fewer season games twice.

OREGON: Over 22

I think the Ducks are the best team in the Pac-12. They should be able to get to 23-8 pretty easily.

TEXAS: Over 18.5

This line is much lower than I expected it to be. I’m bullish on Texas this season. I think Shaka Smart finally has a bit of roster continuity and a team that looks to be older than in the past. They look like a team that will compete for top three in the Big 12, believe it or not. Getting to 19 wins seems very doable.

KENTUCKY: Under 24.5 (+110)

The odds are what makes this bet more attractive. I’m assuming that Kentucky is going to lose to Michigan State on opening night. They then have to play a full SEC schedule (Florida, Auburn and Tennessee twice and at LSU) plus Texas Tech away, Ohio State on a neutral and Louisville at home. That’s a lot of tough games. If they lose seven, you more than double your money.

GONZAGA: Under 27.5

Killian Tillie is banged up, Gonzaga’s starting backcourt is made up of grad transfers (Ryan Woolridge, Admon Gilder) that may or may not be good enough to play for a top ten team, Oumar Ballo has to redshirt and Brock Ravet is taking a leave of absence from the program. In the non-conference, they play at Washington, at Arizona and North Carolina at home plus the Battle 4 Atlantis, and that’s before you consider home-and-homes with a good BYU and a really good St. Mary’s. Four losses means the bet hits.

LOUISVILLE: Over 22.5 (-134)

I think Louisville is a top five team, I think they are the best team in the ACC and if they go 23-8, you win your bet. The odds aren’t ideal, but a win is a win is a win.

Chris Mack: David Johnson’s shoulder ‘is fine’

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The biggest concern coming out of Louisville’s win at Duke on Saturday evening was the status of David Johnson’s shoulder.

Johnson was the best player on the floor for Louisville, finishing with 19 points, seven assists, four boards, three steals and two blocks as the Cardinals landed a much-needed win in Cameron. But with three minutes left in the game, he landed on his surgically-repaired left shoulder and had to leave the game. He returned to the bench, but he did not return to the game.

Head coach Chris Mack did not seem overly concerned about the injury after the game, and he confirmed as much in a conference call on Monday.

“The shoulder is fine,” Mack said. “He’s just a little sore, but he’ll practice the next couple of days and we fully expect him to play on Wednesday.”

Bracketology: Welcome to the top line, San Diego State

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Here is the latest NCAA tournament bracketology projection.

Welcome to the top line, San Diego State.  The Aztecs join Baylor, Gonzaga, and Kansas as No. 1 seeds in our latest bracket update.  SDSU remains the only unbeaten team in college hoops, buoyed by wins over tournament teams Iowa, Creighton and BYU.

The West-leaning geographical slate of top seeds means someone has to go East.  As SDSU is the fourth overall seed, that adventure belongs to them.  Several additional power conference teams are pushing for the top line, too – including Florida State, Michigan State and surging Seton Hall.  And let’s not forget about Louisville, a preseason top seed.  The Cardinals put together an impressive road win at Duke on Saturday.

The latest look at where our NCAA tournament bracketology projection stands …

UPDATED: January 20, 2020

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
EAST REGION Virginia Tech vs. Georgetown
WEST REGION NC State vs. VCU
SOUTH REGION  PR VIEW-AM vs. NORFOLK ST
WEST REGION MONMOUTH vs. ST. FRANCIS (PA)

SOUTH Houston                           WEST – Los Angeles
Omaha Spokane
1) BAYLOR 1) GONZAGA
16) PV-AM / NORFOLK ST 16) MONMOUTH / ST. FRANCIS (PA)
8) Arkansas 8) Illinois
9) Memphis 9) HOUSTON
Tampa Sacramento
5) Colorado 5) Arizona
12) EAST TENNESSEE ST 12) NC State / VCU
4) Maryland 4) Iowa
13) S.F. AUSTIN 13) NEW MEXICO ST
St. Louis Greensboro
6) Marquette 6) Michigan
11) NORTHERN IOWA 11) Saint Mary’s
3) LOUISVILLE 3) Duke
14) NORTH TEXAS 14) LITTLE ROCK
Albany Spokane
7) Wisconsin 7) LSU
10) USC 10) Oklahoma
2) SETON HALL 2) Oregon
15) WILLIAM-MARY 15) UC-IRVINE
EAST – New York MIDWEST – Indianapolis
Sacramento Omaha
1) SAN DIEGO STATE 1) Kansas
16) RADFORD 16) MONTANA
8) Rutgers 8) Indiana
9) STANFORD 9) Florida
Albany Cleveland
5) Kentucky 5) Creighton
12) LIBERTY 12) YALE
4) Villanova 4) DAYTON
13) AKRON 13) VERMONT
Greensboro St. Louis
6) Penn State 6) Auburn
11) Virginia Tech / Georgetown 11) BYU
3) West Virginia 3) Butler
14) COLGATE 14) WRIGHT STATE
Tampa Cleveland
7) Ohio State 7) Wichita State
10) DePaul 10) Texas Tech
2) Florida State 2) MICHIGAN STATE
15) AUSTIN PEAY 15) NORTH DAKOTA ST

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
USC Virginia Tech Purdue Washington
DePaul NC State Minnesota Saint Louis
Saint Mary’s Georgetown Arizona State St. John’s
BYU VCU Xavier Richmond

Top Seed Line
Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas, San Diego State
Seed List

Breakdown by Conference …
Big Ten (10)
Big East (7)
ACC (5)
SEC (5)

Big 12 (5)
Pac 12 (5)
American (3)

West Coast (3)
Atlantic 10 (2)
Mountain West (1)

AP Poll: Baylor leapfrogs Gonzaga, seventh No. 1 team this season

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Here is the latest college basketball AP Poll.

For those interested, here is the NBC Sports Top 25.

Baylor and Gonzaga were the only two teams in the top five that took care of business last week.

That doesn’t mean they didn’t move around, too.

The Bears (15-1) leaped over the Bulldogs and into the No. 1 spot in college basketball AP poll on Monday, using wins over Iowa State and Oklahoma State to give the Top 25 its seventh team on top this season. That matches the record set in 1983 for the most No. 1s in the history of the poll, which dates to the 1948-49 season.

Gonzaga (20-1) was merely a victim of its conference schedule. The Bulldogs blew out Santa Clara and BYU, but just enough voters considered those wins to be less impressive than the Bears’ perfect Big 12 start. Baylor received 33 first-place votes and had 1,591 points from the 65-member media panel while Gonzaga received 31 first-place votes for 1,588 points.

“It takes a team to win,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team also reached the top of the poll two years ago. “As a coach, you’re just really proud when different people step up, especially guys that have been working hard.”

The rest of the top five looks a whole lot different after Duke, Auburn and Butler all lost both of their games last week.

Kansas (14-3) rose three spots to No. 3 in the college basketball AP poll after victories over Oklahoma and Texas, the latter requiring a big comeback in Austin. San Diego State (19-0) remained perfect with wins over Fresno State and Nevada, and Florida State (16-2) barged into the fifth spot after it beat reigning national champion Virginia and survived overtime to best Miami.

The Seminoles haven’t lost since playing Indiana in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge the first week of December.

Louisville, which tasted the top spot earlier this season, jumped five spots to sixth after beating Pittsburgh in overtime and handling the Blue Devils. Dayton was next, followed by Duke, Villanova and Seton Hall to round out the top 10.

Duke also lost to Clemson earlier in the week, sending coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team tumbling five spots.

“We just have to get older,” he said after the Blue Devils’ 79-73 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. “I’m really up on my team. It’s a long journey. I’ve never told you that we’re great. It’s a process for us, playing these two teams. Getting beat, we have to learn from it and move on. It’s a long journey.”

Krzyzewski’s team wasn’t alone in getting a tough lesson last week. Fourth-ranked Auburn fell all the way to No. 16 after losing a pair of blowouts to Alabama and Florida, and fifth-ranked Butler was bounced all the way to 13th after the Bulldogs followed up a loss to Seton Hall by getting soundly beaten by DePaul.

“It’s the time of the year when we should be trying to elevate our play, and we’re not,” said Tigers coach Bruce Pearl, whose team had won its first 15 games. “Obviously, there’s a pretty big price on our head being ranked fourth in the country. And so I think we have to respond to the step-up that we saw this week from both Alabama and Florida.”

Here is the full college basketball AP poll:

1. Baylor (33 first-place votes)
2. Gonzaga (31)
3. Kansas (1)
4. San Diego State
5. Florida State
6. Louisville
7. Dayton
8. Duke
9. Villanova
10. Seton Hall
11. Michigan State
12. Oregon
13. Butler
14. West Virginia
15. Kentucky
16. Auburn
17. Maryland
18. Texas Tech
19. Iowa
20. Memphis
21. Illinois
22. Arizona
23. Colorado
24. Rutgers
25. Houston

Others receiving votes: Wichita St. 94, LSU 83, Michigan 73, N Iowa 42, Ohio St. 36, Stanford 28, Wisconsin 28, Penn St. 24, Liberty 21, Florida 21, Arkansas 19, Virginia 13, Creighton 13, Duquesne 13, Purdue 9, ETSU 6, Indiana 6, Southern Cal 4, Marquette 2, BYU 2, Harvard 1.

Here’s a closer look at the other big news in another fresh Top 25:

RUTGERS ON THE RISE

The Scarlet Knights bounced back from a loss to Illinois by beating Indiana and Minnesota at home, running their record at the RAC to 13-0 this season — the best start in school history. That was enough to get Rutgers (14-4) into the poll at No. 24 for the first time since the final poll of the 1978-79 season. And with Seton Hall at No. 10, the state of New Jersey has two teams ranked for the first time since the Pirates were joined by Princeton in the last poll of the 1990-91 season.

OTHER NEWCOMERS

Iowa, which has been in and out of the poll all season, made the biggest jump back in at No. 19 after its win over then-No. 19 Michigan. The Hawkeyes were joined by No. 22 Arizona — which beat a ranked team in Colorado — and No. 25 Houston, which romped through SMU and then-No. 16 Wichita State last week.

ON THE WAY OUT

The Shockers dropped all the way out after losing to Houston and Temple. The Wolverines also fell out, along with Big Ten rival Ohio State and Creighton, whose one-week stay ended with a loss early last week to Georgetown.

BUCKEYES BUMMER

No team has been falling as steadily as Ohio State, which was 9-0, was ranked in the top five and received first-place votes just six weeks ago. The Buckeyes have lost six of their last nine games, and five of their last six, to complete their tumble from the poll. Their lone victory in the last few weeks was against lowly Nebraska.

___

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

Monday’s Overreaction: Myles Powell, Payton Pritchard, David Johnson and the two worst chokes of the year

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Myles Powell, Seton Hall

Seton Hall improved to 6-0 in Big East play this season with wins over Butler and St. John’s, but that doesn’t come anywhere close to telling the whose story here.

The Pirates trailed by double-figures at halftime of both of those games. Both of those games were on the road. They were down 40-30 at the break at No. 5 Butler, but Myles Powell came to the rescue, scoring 19 of his 29 points after the break to lead the Pirates to a 78-70 win.

Then on Saturday, Seton Hall trailed St. John’s 43-30 at the Garden at halftime, but Powell — again — took over, scoring 23 of his 29 points in the second half as Seton Hall remained perfect in the Big East.

It took him a while to get fully healthy, but now that he is, Powell is showing everyone why he is a favorite to win National Player of the Year.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

What Steve Pikiell has done with this Rutgers program should never, ever be overlooked.

After a week in which the Scarlet Knights beat both Indiana and Minnesota at the RAC, They are now sitting at 14-4 over and 5-2 in the Big Ten, good for second in the toughest conference in college basketball. They are 24th in KenPom, which is the highest that this program has ever ranked in the metric we all use the most when evaluating teams. They are 18th in the NET with a 2-3 mark against Quad 1 opponents and five Quad 1 and Quad 2 wins combined.

Put another way, Rutgers is very much in a position where missing the NCAA tournament this season would be something of a disappointment.

Now, it should be noted that this is when their schedule gets tough. They play at Iowa on Wednesday and still face off with Michigan twice, Maryland twice, Purdue twice and play at Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State. A home game against No. 24 Illinois is about their sixth-toughest game left on the schedule.

It won’t be easy.

But getting to 14-4 wasn’t easy in the first place.

MONDAY’S OVERREACTIONS

1. DAVID JOHNSON MAKES LOUISVILLE GREAT AGAIN

Louisville may have finally found an answer to their point guard problems.

David Johnson, a freshman from Louisville that has spent the season to date trying to get back up to speed after offseason shoulder surgery, had his coming out party in a big way on Saturday, going for 19 points and seven assists as Louisville went into Cameron and knocked off Duke.

That is incredibly important news for a Louisville team that has desperately been searching for a guy to do all of the things that Johnson did on Saturday night.

The way he scored those points is the most significant part of the equation. He broke down defenses. He dribbled right past Jordan Goldwire and drove the lane for a dunk. He created out of ball-screens. He handled Duke’s ball-pressure like he was playing against high school opponents.

And then there was the passing (see below):

 

This is what the Cardinals have been waiting for. It’s been a talking point all season long, and every time I have mentioned it, I have also mentioned that Louisville was just waiting to see if Johnson would ever get healthy. That staff believed he was a pro after getting him on campus, and anyone that watched him play on Saturday night would be inclined to agree.

If he can remain healthy and play somewhere close to this level for the rest of the season, then this Louisville team is much, much more dangerous.

2. PAYTON PRITCHARD IS A KILLER

The reason Payton Pritchard is one of the frontrunners for National Player of the Year is the fact that he is putting up terrific numbers this season for a top ten team and doing so while putting together some incredibly impressive performances in crunchtime.

Saturday might have been his statement game.

Oregon erased a 13-point second half deficit thanks in large part to Pritchard, who hit a huge three with a minute left to tie the game. In overtime, he hit a floater to give the Ducks the lead before burying this insane three to win the game with 3.2 seconds left:

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Payton Pritchard called game!!!!!!

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No. 8 Oregon avoided going 0-2 on the Washington road trip with a 64-61 win. Pritchard finished with 22 points. The Ducks are now 3-0 in overtime games this season largely due to the fact that Pritchard is arguably the most clutch player in college basketball.

Is there anyone that you would want taking a big shot in a big game more than him?

3. BAYLOR IS A KILLER, TOO

I talked about this in depth at the 19:00 mark of the podcast, but with the exception of an early season loss against Washington — I’ll get to that — the Bears have been arguably the best team in college basketball down the stretch of close games.

Whether it’s wins at Texas Tech, or Kansas, or Oklahoma State, Baylor has consistently been able to execute in situations where teams like Duke have not been able to execute. That is why they are sitting at No. 1 in the country right now and Duke has three losses to their name.

And as far as the Washington game is concerned, the Huskies play zone. Baylor was totally lost against that zone down the stretch. Oklahoma State played zone as well, and Baylor discovered the answer in the second half: Matthew Mayer. They plugged him in at the high post, and it launched a comeback.

So now they have an answer for that, too.

4. WE ALL SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS WEEK COMING FOR AUBURN

Auburn entered this seek as one of just two undefeated teams left in college basketball, but there were question marks.

The Tigers don’t have a single win over a team ranked in the top 40 on KenPom. They have only played three Quad 1 games this season. Their only Quad 1 win is barely a Quad 1 win: It came at Mississippi State, who currently ranks 70th in the NET; the cutoff for Quad 1 road wins is top 75.

The other two Quad 1 games that Auburn has played this season?

They were both this week.

And they were both ugly losses.

On Tuesday, it was Alabama that ran over Auburn in the basketball version of the Iron Bowl, 83-64. On Saturday, it was Florida doing the damage, as they held Auburn to 25.5 percent shooting from the field, 4-for-23 shooting from three (17.4%) and to just a single point during an eight-minute stretch late in the second half that saw the Gators push their lead from 47-43 to 69-44. They won 69-47.

Suddenly, those concerns look prescient.

The truth is this: Auburn is dangerous. They are a team that can make a lot of threes, that can force turnovers and play in transition and has the ability to play big (with Austin Wiley) or small (without Austin Wiley). They have a lottery pick in Isaac Okoro and they have a couple of guards on their roster capable of taking games over in J’Von McCormick and Samir Doughty.

But they haven’t consistently played up to the level of a top five team, and their 15-0 record was inflated by feasting on teams that are just good enough to make us believe.

Auburn is still good.

They’re just not a top five team.

5. STANFORD AND UTAH STATE, WHO CHOKED WORSE?

Stanford was up 46-25 in the second half of their loss at USC on Saturday evening. They led by 15 points with less than 10 minutes left. They were up by five points with 15 seconds left and the ball out of bounds underneath USC’s basket, and not only did they find a way to lose that game in overtime, but they got lucky to actually get to OT. USC missed a free throw that could have won the game in regulation.

According to KenPom, USC had a 3.8% chance to win this game at the half, a 3.6% chance to win the game with 10 minutes left and just a 0.7% chance to win with 15 seconds left.

But that’s not as bad as what happened to Utah State.

The Aggies led 66-48 with less than 4:10 remaining. Boise State had a 0.3% chance of winning this game with five minutes left. Turnovers, fouls, missed threes. Utah State did it all, but they still led 73-67 with 15 seconds left, 75-70 with eight seconds left and 75-73 with three seconds left and the ball.

And they lost.

That just does not seem possible.

Monday’s Overreactions: Louisville beat Duke, Auburn lost, Butler lost, Get The Gat

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It was an absolutely wild weekend in college hoops, and Rob Dauster and Bobby Reagan are here to break it all down for you. Is Louisville’s David Johnson actually the greatest point guard in the history of the sport, or just top five? Which top five team is in the most trouble: Auburn or Butler? Who would you rather have in crunch time, Myles Powell or Payton Pritchard? Should you Get The Gat?