Home Sports Weekend preview: The time has come to make handshake lines optional

Weekend preview: The time has come to make handshake lines optional

Weekend preview: The time has come to make handshake lines optional


We’ve had a conversation about the value of handshake lines for years. Every time there is a problem after a game, we begin to question their purpose.

As we should.

On Wednesday, the Southland Conference announced the suspensions of eight players from Incarnate Word and Texas A&M-Commerce after their postgame melee that began — obviously — in the handshake line.

The line itself isn’t necessarily the problem, but collegiate sports could learn from the pros by not forcing athletes to shake hands after an emotional matchup. It should always be optional. That’s one way to help avoid some of the postgame drama we’ve witnessed in recent years.

For 40 minutes, players battle in contentious games. Compelling them to shake hands has always been a risky move. It’s time to make these handshake lines optional.

Odds provided by ESPN BET.

Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, CBS

In the past week, two teams that seemed on the brink of greatness — Purdue and UConn — suffered surprising defeats. It does not change their ceilings, but it is worth considering if Houston has done enough to secure a spot in that conversation.

The Cougars are 9-1 in their past 10 games, a stretch that includes five top-35 KenPom wins. A victory at Baylor would extend its lead in the Big 12 and continue to solidify its position as a likely top seed in the NCAA tournament.

Baylor has just one loss in its new arena, a triple-overtime affair against TCU. The Bears are second in 3-point shooting percentage but they’re also just 5-5 in their past 10 games. Ja’Kobe Walter (14.4 PPG) could be a top-five pick in this summer’s NBA draft. He’ll face the best defense he has seen all season.

Medcalf’s pick: Houston, 70-65; Against the spread: Houston (-2.5)

Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN

For two years, Hunter Sallis seemed lost in Gonzaga’s backcourt, as he averaged just 4.3 and 4.5 PPG during his freshman and sophomore seasons. At Wake Forest, however, he has blossomed into an All-ACC-level performer who is averaging 18.3 PPG and enjoying a 42% clip from beyond the arc. A win on Saturday against a top-10 Duke team would help the résumé of a Wake Forest program that’s on the bubble. But Sallis won’t be the only player in this game who has evolved this season.

Jared McCain has averaged 16.0 PPG during Duke’s past nine games (the Blue Devils are 8-1). The freshman’s development has made Duke a more promising Final Four contender. The Blue Devils have hit their stride at the right time.

Medcalf’s pick: Duke, 79-76; Against the spread: Duke (+1.5)

Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, CBS

College basketball is a long season. It begins two weeks before Thanksgiving and ends sometime around April Fool’s Day. And sometimes, the big-picture numbers do not mean as much as the recent trends. Kentucky’s defense has been much maligned this season, ranking 93rd in adjusted defensive efficiency, per BartTorvik.com. Since Feb. 6, however, the Wildcats are 29th in the country in that metric. That does not prove this is a good defensive team. It does show, however, it has the tools to play at a level to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. An Alabama team that entered the week ranked first in adjusted offensive efficiency and also has its own defensive issues is a great test for Kentucky’s newfound defensive prowess.

Medcalf’s pick: Kentucky, 90-85; Against the spread: Kentucky (-1.5)

Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

There was a time when Tony Bennett seemed to have cracked the code in college basketball. From the 2013-14 season through 2018-19, when Virginia won the national title, the Cavaliers won at least 29 games in five of six seasons with a balance that has eluded them this season. Virginia is basically Kentucky in reverse. The Cavaliers, who suffered a 34-point loss at rival Virginia Tech on Monday, have the second-worst adjusted offensive efficiency in Tony Bennett’s tenure (163rd on KenPom). A win over a first-place North Carolina team will demand a more effective scoring effort. That has worked for others. The Tar Heels (3-3 in their past six games) surrendered 132 points per 100 possessions (Syracuse) and 110 points per 100 possessions (Clemson) in their past two losses.

Medcalf’s pick: North Carolina, 67-62; Against the spread: North Carolina (-2.5)


Medcalf’s picks straight up: 32-23

Against the spread: 27-28


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