By Chris Carlson: The revolving door atop College Basketball continues to swing as #1 ranked teams play hot-potato with the top spot. Both Kansas and Michigan State fell in the same state. Can Oklahoma hold on this week when they challenge Baylor on the road? Not that it matters with the Sooners dropping a game to Iowa State early this week. The Big 12 looks deep enough that we may finally see a team knock off Kansas for a league crown. The Pac-12 is back to an extent and the Big East looks very competitive. The Big Ten is down a bit but the SEC is wide open. Hardcore fans will appreciate the number of meaningful games in the coming days.
Marquee Matchups this Weekend
#1 Oklahoma vs. #13 Baylor: The Sooners coming fresh off a losing effort to Iowa State, visit Baylor in hopes of righting the ship. Senior SG Buddy Hield is the best scorer in the country and Oklahoma will look to feature him all game long. Baylor has the athlete’s to hang with the Sooners but do they have the discipline to stay focused throughout the contest. Oklahoma’s front court size and experience in the backcourt will be the difference.
The Pick: Oklahoma gets a much need conference road win.
#7 Maryland vs. #11 Michigan State: The Spartans come in limping having lost the last three games in league play. All-purpose G/F Denzel Valentine is back healthy again and his absence exploded Tom Izzo’s depth. The Terps only loss in conference came against Michigan, and since won two in a row. Maryland struggles to find explosive offensive output outside of the talented PG Melo Trimble. The Terps have a habit of playing teams close and this time it could cost them.
The Pick: Michigan State stops their losing streak with a huge road victory.
#9 Iowa vs. #22 Purdue: Iowa claimed two wins over highly-ranked Michigan State and now look to take the show on the road. Purdue has built some momentum heading into their rematch with Iowa from a few weeks ago. The Boilermakers have the height and size in the middle to contain Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff, something they struggled to do in their first meeting. Look for Mackey Arena to be jammed packed and loud enough to spurn Purdue to a razor-close victory. I wonder if the fans will storm the court.
The Pick: Purdue slows Uthoff down enough to sneak out a minor upset.
#16 Providence vs. #4 Villanova: This game was postponed and rescheduled for Sunday afternoon which shouldn’t change much. Villanova is once again starting fast in Big East play and have the look of a champion thus far. The outcome depends on which Providence team shows up. The one that eked out a game versus #18 Butler early in the week or the one that played poorly the previous game at home against Seton Hall. Providence’s has been very consistent traveling and struggle some at home, go figure.
The Pick: Providence’s impressive play on the road continues by upending Nova.
Marquee Matchups on Weekday
#20 Duke vs. #14 Miami: Thru the non-conference schedule the Hurricanes as a unit were clicking. It’s been a whole different story in the ACC and Miami may be hitting the panic button with Duke heading in to town. The Blue Devils are in an eerily similar spot and whoever wins this ACC title will likely gain a spark to help find their way back to the pack. It’s hard to believe that coach K won’t find a way to rally the troops to victory.
The Pick: Duke stops the bleeding and gains some balance to their season.
#3 Kansas vs. #19 Iowa State: Another marquee program to have lost games of late on the road. As you probably are aware by now, winning away from home in College Basketball is a difficult task. Kansas lost a close battle to West Virginia but then got smacked down by Oklahoma State on Tuesday night. Iowa State’s season has been herky-jerky sporting high-profile wins over Iowa and Oklahoma, while also losing 3 of 4 games prior. No matter which team comes out on top look for this to be an entertaining, high-scoring Big-12 scrap. The Jayhawks also play a surging Texas Longhorns team on Saturday.
The Pick: Kansas halts their recent dry spot and lessens the blow in the Big-12 standings.
Quick Hits Recap
-SMU remains unbeaten at 17-0 after a close-call versus Houston 77-73. The Mustangs are playing for pride only this season after being ruled ineligible for the 2015-16 postseason.
– Both #1 Michigan State and #1 Kansas lost in the state of Iowa in the past week. Both Iowa and Iowa State crowds rushed the floor from the shocking result.
-Villanova is 16-2, once again look the part of a final four club but can they perform up to potential come tourney time?
-North Carolina has all the pieces in place to make a title run but can their defense catch up to their offense?
Written by Chris Carlson Host of The College Ball Show blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio
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