The Carolina Panthers will host the Indianapolis Colts next year, which is probably not a game you cared about when you woke up this morning. Hell, it may not be a game you care about now, but it's a game that got a lot more personal Thursday afternoon because the Panthers announced the hiring of former Colts head coach Frank Reich.
Reich was fired by the Colts about halfway through the season after getting off to a 3-5-1. He got off to a great start in Indianapolis, going 28-20 in his first three seasons with two playoff appearances, but the franchise's failure to find a QB doomed him in the end.
Now he'll take over a Carolina team that has failed to find its QB since Cam Newton stopped being CAM NEWTON. The Panthers do have two picks in the top 40 this spring, and it's possible Reich and the front office could use them to move up and get the QB they want. Whatever the case, that's one open NFL job off the board.
I believe the children are our future, so let's bet on them.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
No. 1 Purdue at Michigan, 9 p.m. | TV: FS1
- Key Trend: The underdog is 7-2-1 ATS in the last 10 meetings.
- The Pick: Michigan +5 (-110)
No. 1 Purdue hits the road to take on Michigan, but there's a big question about the game without an answer at the moment. Will Michigan's Jett Howard play? Howard is the son of Michigan coach Juwan Howard, and he's averaged 14.6 points per game and is one of the team's best three-point shooters. He hurt his ankle in the first half of Michigan's win over Minnesota on Sunday.
It's had an impact on the line, but even if Howard doesn't play, I like the Wolverines at this number. Purdue may be No. 1 in the AP Poll, but it's the only Big Ten team currently ranked. That doesn't mean the conference is down. KenPom has it rated as the second-best conference in the country, with 10 teams in the top 50. The problem it faces in the opinion polls is everybody keeps beating everybody else, which leads to win-loss records that don't look sexy enough to rank.
All that said, Purdue has been the most dominant team in the Big Ten, but this matchup is one of the more difficult ones it'll face. Michigan's Hunter Dickinson is 7'1, meaning he won't be nearly as intimidated by going against Purdue's 7'4 Zach Edey. Nor is Edey accustomed to dealing with other 7-footers. Plus, Michigan is very good at home! They're 8-2 at the Crisler Center, and since Juwan Howard took over the program, they've been home dogs only three times and covered in each of them.
Meanwhile, Purdue's only 5-11-1 ATS as a favorite this season. Toss in the fact that No. 1 teams in the country are like 2-104 this season (estimate), and Michigan seems like a good play tonight.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model has the slightest of leans with me on the spread. It's a much bigger fan of a play on the total.
💰 More College Basketball Picks
Colorado at Oregon, 9 p.m. | TV: Pac-12 Network
The Pick: Colorado +6.5 (-110) -- I deem this line to be disrespectful! Earlier this season, the Buffs laid a 68-41 beatdown on the Ducks in Boulder that was no fluke. While tonight's game will be played in Eugene, and the Ducks have played much better since (including a 19-point win over Arizona), I don't think enough has changed to justify the Ducks being favored by this much.
Colorado didn't even have K.J. Simpson in the first meeting, and he's the most important player on the offensive end. He'll be back tonight, and while Oregon's size should keep it from getting killed on the boards again as it did in the first game, we can't assume the Ducks will be better from three (they were 1/14 that night) because they're one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the country. Colorado's catching too many points here.
Arizona State at Washington, 11 p.m. | TV: ESPNU
The Pick: Under 143.5 (-110) -- When these teams met a few weeks ago, it was a pretty ugly affair. Arizona State won 73-65, with both teams combining to shoot 38.4% from the field while averaging 0.95 points per possession
I don't know that there's a reason to expect the rematch to look any different.
Arizona State's offensive efficiency ranks 81st nationally, and its eFG% ranks 226th. In Pac-12 play, its overall efficiency has gotten worse, and the Sun Devils have shot only 28.8% from three. They're a team that relies on excellent defense to hang in games, and tonight, at home against a weaker team, I don't see them straying far from the script.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Today's letter is all college basketball, but if you're looking for an NBA play, the Projection Model loves the value available on the spread in tonight's game between the Celtics and Knicks.