Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:00 AM EST odds are subject to change.
San Francisco -2½ over Wichita St
T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, MO
Streaming: CBS Sports Network (CBSSN)
2:00 PM EST. Game is listed as a neutral site game but it is in Wichita’s backyard so there will certainly be a stronger Wichita contingent in the stands. We care not. Wichita is 3-1 with victories over Richmond, Grand Canyon and Central Arkansas. They lost to Alcorn St. They’ll likely lose a bunch more games too. Last yearn the Shockers finished under .500 in conference play for the first time since 2009 — then seven scholarship players transferred this offseason, and Tyson Etienne went pro. A major roster overhaul ensued, and while 2021-22 could prove to be a mere hiccup, that is no certainty. It’s worth noting that several of the players who left were doing so as COVID super seniors. Losing that many veterans did not sit well with HC Isaac Brown, so he set out to correct the issue, bringing in six upperclassmen from the transfer portal and another via the junior college ranks. The trick now is bringing all of those pieces together under the Wichita State identity. That identity is defense first.
“You win championships with your defense,” said Brown. “That’s what we’ve focused on all summer. You have to defend hard, you have to rebound, you have to play with toughness. That’s Wichita State basketball. Translation: we can’t shoot the damn ball.
Todd Golden sprung for the SEC this spring. Golden’s exit parted the seas for top assistant Chris Gerlufsen to run the show for San Francisco. Gerlufsen has worked for some tremendously sharp college basketball minds: from the esteemed John Gallagher at Hartford, to Lamont Smith and Sam Scholl at San Diego, to Eran Ganot at Hawaii. He helped engineer a monumental turnaround at USD in 2016, notching 21 wins a year after winning just 9 games.
Gerlufsen has taken a page out of all of their playbooks to form his own super deluxe version. He credits his offensive mind to Gallagher and his defensive principles to Smith at USD. As for Ganot, Gerlufsen says few are better at operating a program in all facets; thus, he aims to emulate his former boss’ brilliant program management habits. For reference, both Golden and Ganot hail from the heralded Randy Bennett coaching tree.
San Francisco’s ability to attract top talent on the transfer wire was at the heart of last year’s run, too. This season, versatility adorns the roster, aided by targeted transfer additions this summer. Gerlufsen inherited an expectations bar that sits higher than it’s ever sat on The Hilltop. There’s little reason to doubt he’s up for the challenge, though, given his own impact on the Dons’ recent success. Gerlufsen’s vast array of prior coaching experiences enables him to see the game from every angle. This intelligence edge is mission critical to USF’s success in the first chapter of this new era. On paper, the versatility littered throughout the personnel gives Gerlufsen a giant switchboard of tactical buttons to press. In a sense, they’ll be a formidable chameleon type of foe, able to shapeshift to their opponent as needed. Let’s be honest. No one is catching Gonzaga this year in the WCC title race. But there’s an opening for the Dons to seize the silver medal and today we get them at a lower cost than we should be.
San Francisco -2½ -104 (Risking 2.08 units - To Win: 2.00)