By Chris Carlson
Last Saturday’s schedule underperformed compared to the spoils of surprise underdogs against Top-10 programs the last month or so. Instead it was Sunday and Monday that produced some great games and shockers amongst the top tier. This week several matchups will shape the ACC & Big 12 standings. Last Sunday the Selection Committee put out their ‘Sneak Peak’ Top-16 Seeds, which signaled we are less than a month away from March Madness and official start of the Big Dance.
Marquee Matchups on Saturday
#3 Kansas at #4 Baylor: The last few weeks the Jayhawks have weathered a nasty storm of a schedule and it won’t get any easier this Saturday. On Monday, the Baylor Bears dropped a game on the road to Texas Tech, obviously getting caught red-handed looking ahead to this one. Baylor badly needs this win not just for positioning in the Big-12 standings but as a confidence booster having lost 3 out of their last 5 outings. Per usual, Baylor will search for a few players to help out all-purpose player Jonathan Motley. The bad news for Baylor is senior guard Frank Mason III literally just had his bad game due to sickness and his teammates were there to pick him up. Kansas may not have their normal lottery pick stars galore but are as good as any basketball team in the country.
The Pick: With that all said Baylor will respond to their recent struggles with an impressive victory at home.
#10 North Carolina vs. #14 Virginia: A clash of styles highlights this crucial ACC tilt with the winner sure to get momentum heading into March. The Cavaliers rely on do-it-all PG London Perrantes to not only score but run their offense as a playmaker. The Heels are full of talent on offense but lack the defensive intensity to be labeled championship caliber. Look for Perrantes to bounce back from an awful night versus Duke earlier in the week which will make for an ugly yet close contest. The Tarheels veteran laced backcourt will be the difference maker.
The Pick: North Carolina will hit just enough outside shots to seal the win and tightening their grip on the ACC lead.
Marquee Matchups on Sunday
#11 Wisconsin vs. #23 Maryland: We know what to expect from the Badgers beyond stud sophomore forward Ethan Happ. Wisconsin can turn to seniors Nigel Hayes and Bronson Keonig when in need. Who will fill those same roles for Maryland to take the pressure of Melo Trimble? This game will be a low-scoring affair and will likely come down to the wire. The Badgers have lost a step in the last few games but will not lose another game in the Kohl Center.
The Pick: The Badgers protect their home court tying them with Purdue at the top of the Big Ten.
Marquee Matchups on Tuesday
#15 Florida vs. #21 South Carolina: South Carolina travels to Gainesville, Florida to Gator country in rematch with a chance to separate in the SEC. It was just about 10 days ago when the Gamecocks led the SEC standings. Now a week and change later, South Carolina has dropped two home games in a row sliding them to third place behind the usual suspects in the SEC, Kentucky and Florida. Which South Carolina team will show up is anyone’s guess but either way it won’t be enough to get the ‘W’.
The Pick: Florida takes a commanding lead of the SEC adding another scalp to their chest.
Upset Special of the Week
In the comforts of the Carrier Dome the Syracuse Orangemen will knock off a red hot #12 Duke Blue Devils on Wednesday night.
Quick Hits Recap
-Standout Kansas senior guard Frank Mason came through in the clutch at the free-throw line in capping an impressive comeback overtime victory versus West Virginia on Monday. Mason extended a 25-game streak of consecutive games with a 3-point field goal.
-SMU knocked of highly-ranked Cincinnati in the biggest game in the AAC this season. The Mustangs got their first road victory over a ranked opponent since February 2014.
-The NCAA Basketball Selection Committee released their Top-16 seeds a full month in front of the official Selection Sunday. Some critics wondered why Wisconsin and Purdue were left out and debating if Baylor or Gonzaga deserved their #1 seeds.
-The Virginia Cavaliers will no doubt be tested down the stretch, still having to face North Carolina twice, that’s coming on the heels of Duke, Louisville, and Villanova.
Written by Chris Carlson Host of the College Ball Show Podcast available at blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio or Subscribe on iTunes under the Rope A Dope Radio Podcast & Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio