By Chris Carlson
Last Saturday there were 8 Associated Press Top-25 teams that lost to unranked opponents along with an impressive week from Maryland and a rising Creighton club of late. The Big-12 has the biggest matchup over the next few days starting Saturday but don’t sleep meaningful games in the ACC & Big East.
Marquee Matchup on Saturday
#1 Baylor vs. #3 Kansas: The Baylor Bears are on a terror through the Big-12 portion of their schedule but face a red-hot Kansas squad that will go a long way in deciding which team wins the regular season crown. This is a great matchup obviously on paper, 34-combined wins in a row between these programs with Baylor winners of 23 straight. The guard play is impressive to say the least matching Wooden Finalist Devon Dotson of Kansas and Baylor’s Jared Butler. In their first meeting the Bears beat the Jayhawks 67-55 earning their first win in 18 tries at Allen Fieldhouse.
Baylor got just 1 bucket off their bench the starting unit was productive led by Butler’s 22 points. Kansas center Udoka Azubuike had 7 blocks but just one starter was in double figures and the Jayhawks had more turnovers than assists. Kansas is shooting almost 6 percent better from the field and will need to take advantage of easy baskets around the rim.
The Pick: Kansas freezes Baylor’s win streak at 23 and gets a crucial road win.
#2 Gonzaga vs. #23 BYU: It’s been quite a while since Gonzaga played a ranked team dating all the way back to December 14th of last year. In their first meeting the Zags handled their business cruising to an easy victory at home. BYU has strung together 7 straight wins and 8 of their last 9 games. The Zags can out-rebound BYU with ease and the talent gap is too wide to put any money on this one. Barring a sensational 3-pointing shooting fest by BYU, look for this competitive game to go down to the last few minutes with the Cougars falling short.
The Pick: The Zags have to work for this one in front of a live BYU crowd.
Marquee Matchup on Sunday
#7 Maryland vs. #25 Ohio State: The Terrapins are in 1st place of the Big Ten but now travel on the road at Ohio State. Maryland loss back to back games versus Iowa and Wisconsin only to win 9 consecutive games. In the non-conference Ohio State looked the part of an improved squad from recent years but fell flat on their face once league play started. The Buckeyes are healthier and have settled in nicely making them a team to put on the upset watch list. The Big Ten has been unkind to teams traveling on the road, although Maryland has been down-right-stellar the last month and change something has to give. Ohio State will shoot better than 18.5% from behind the arc as they did back in early January and secure a huge home victory.
The Pick: Ohio State gets their biggest win of the season on the free-throw line to close it out.
Marquee Matchup on Monday
#8 Florida State vs. #11 Louisville: At the beginning of 2020 the Cardinals got beat by the Seminoles then proceed to win 10 straight. In first place of the ACC, Louisville went on the road and lost their way falling to Georgia Tech and Clemson. As previously mentioned, Florida State won their January matchup with the Cardinals and look to make up ground in conference sitting only a half of game back. If FSU can win at Louisville then they surely can defeat the Cards at home. The Seminoles are averaging almost 4 more steals a game signaling this defensive battle will be won in an ugly fashion. With Duke beating FSU but losing on Wednesday night to N.C. State the door is now ajar for either team to slither up to the top of the ACC.
The Pick: Florida State uses a whole bunch of grit to gain a key ACC win.
Upset Special for the Week
It’s been tough-sledding for Michigan State in February but Sparty takes out #20 Iowa at home. Also, #25 Ohio State Upends #7 Maryland.
Under The Radar
#15 Creighton vs. #21 Butler: Creighton has won 9 of their last 10 outings and now sit just 1 game behind Seton Hall in the Big East race. This league has been a blast to follow and as soon as we think we know where it stands something wild happens as was the case with Butler winning at the buzzer on the road at Seton Hall on Wednesday night.
#14 Oregon vs. #24 Arizona: The Pac-12 is flying under the radar as far as neck and neck conference race regardless of how far a conference team will go in the Big Dance. These two teams haven’t exactly separated from the pack in the Pac-12 but are probably the clubs that will go the furthest in the big dance.
Quick Hits Recap
-North Carolina State upsets #6 Duke halting their 7 game winning strea, also becoming the largest points-loss by an unranked team versus Duke under the legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski.
-#4 San Diego is still unbeaten at 26-0 but will see how far they can go in March.
-#5 Dayton’s win streak continues now up to 15 victories in a row.
-Cincinnati broke an AAC record by playing in 4 consecutive overtime games in a span of just 11 games.
-North Carolina’s horrible season hit rock bottom, losing 6 games in a row for the first time since the 2001-2002 season.
-Seton Hall’s 3 game lead has shrunk to just 1 with Creighton and Villanova right on the Pirates tail.
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