By Chris Carlson
It was a rough week for Illinois and West Virginia but Duke and Auburn found a way to go 2-0 on the week along with 8e Top-25 teams losing to unranked opponents from Saturday to the end of the week. Unfortunately, both West Virginia and Illinois still have their work cut out for them this week and Tuesday night is jammed packed with an abundance of great games.
Marquee Matchup on Saturday
#1 Baylor vs. #14 West Virginia: The Mountaineers got caught look ahead to their important meetings with Baylor and Kansas dropping a game to unranked Oklahoma. Baylor has been in cruise control mode for quite some time but this will be their first ranked opponent in a while. It’s hard to believe the Bears haven’t dropped a game yet in the Big-12 but could this be the moment? Baylor has plenty of quality wins but how the heck did they lose to Washington? Anyway, on paper these two foes actually matchup well stats wise on paper, so something’s got to give right? Both teams play solid defense and can score in bunches making for a tight game throughout.
The Pick: Baylor grinds out a competitive game in the closing minutes.
Marquee Matchup on Tuesday
#12 Kentucky vs. #25 LSU: Auburn owns a ‘W’ over both of clubs so whoever wins this great SEC matchup will keep pace. Kentucky does have one more meeting with Auburn so they could win here and get revenge before it’s all said and done. LSU is coming off a heartbreaker of a loss in overtime to Auburn but have the easiest schedule remaining of the 3 top teams. The Tigers can put up a ton of points but also give up way too many which was the case in their recent loss to Vanderbilt sitting in 14th place in the SEC. Kentucky has the pieces per usually it’s just a matter of them living up to yearly expectations. Look for this game to be played in the high 70’s to low 80’s and be neck and neck down the stretch.
The Pick: A few key defensive stops by Kentucky help them get this crucial road win.
#13 Penn State vs. #22 Illinois: It was a rough week for Illinois losing to Maryland and Michigan State at home. To make matters worse the Fighting Illini may have lost PG Ayo Dosunmu on the last play of the Spartans game. It’s been a banner year for the Nittany Lions currently riding a 7-game winning streak heading into this Big Ten scrap. Every top team in the league has suffered a losing streak so maybe Illinois can dig their way out of this minor hole losing 3 in a row. My gut tells me Penn State will win because of the uncertainty of Dosunmu and this game being played at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Pick: Illinois’s hangs in the game for the first 30 minutes but Penn State sends then packing.
Marquee Matchup on Wednesday
#10 Seton Hall vs. #19: Butler: Butler got a big victory over Villanova but then turned right around and lost to Marquette. Besides Seton Hall the revolving door theme has been fun to watch in a respectable Big East this year. It would appear that Seton Hall has the conference regular season wrapped up but they can’t count their eggs before they hatch. Creighton did pull of an impressive road win on Wednesday but it’s a big ask for Butler to win at the Prudential Center. In their first meeting Myles Powell rallied his Pirates squad to a road win over Butler. One thing is for certain Butler will need more production out of their starting lineup versus the top team in the league.
The Pick: The scrapper Pirates will their win to victory in a tight one to the wire.
Upset Special for the Week
SMU defeats a red-hot 20th ranked Houston at home or ASU knocks off #17 Oregon.
Under The Radar
#9 Maryland vs. Michigan State: Michigan State finally won a game but it was ugly in sense because they almost lost after having a large lead on Illinois. Since losing back to back games Maryland has rolled off 7 wins in a row as they hope to keep their lead in the Big Ten race that won’t be decided until the fat lady sings. Look for Michigan State to protect home court as they tune back up for the stretch run. If Maryland gets this road win wow that would be impressive regardless of what type of season Sparty is having.
#18 Marquette vs. #23 Creighton: The battle of the tier two teams should be a barnburner after both teams jumped back in the Top-25 rankings because of key victories. There are so many great marquee matchups on Tuesday but this one will fly under the radar. Defiantly worth a DVR if you are watching the other big name games.
Quick Hits Recap
-The 13th ranked Penn State Nittany Lions is the highest Associated Press ranking they’ve charted since the 1995-96 season.
-Penn State has now won 4 straight conference games for the first time since joining the Big Ten.
-#5 Louisville finally got the monkey off their back by defeating Virginia the Cards had lost 9 in a row before last Saturday’s victory.
#11 Auburn just keeps on winning the close and crucial SEC games first it was Kentucky then last Saturday the defeated LSU in overtime. The Tigers hold a tiebreaker for now in a 3-way tie for 1st place in the league.
-Michigan State fell out of the Top-25 losing 3 straight games to become the first preseason #1 team to do such since Kentucky in 2013-14.
-In a losing effort to #7 Duke FSU’s Trent Forrest had 8 steals which is the most by an opposing player at Cameron Indoor
Note: The rankings used in this prediction article will not reflect Monday’s New Associated Press Top-25 Rankings.
Written by Chris Carlson Host of The College Ball Show Podcast available at blogtalkradio.com/ ropeadoperadio & Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio