By Chris Carlson
The College Basketball regular season is winding down and time is running out across the nation for teams to add key victories. Michigan State used a miracle comeback to hold on to their top spot in the Big Ten. Kansas has once again worked their way into the lead of the Big-12. Villanova all but wrapped up the Big East with a win over Xavier. Here’s a preview and predictions for some of the key matchups over the weekend and early next week.
Marquee Matchup on Saturday
#6 Texas Tech vs. #8 Kansas: Texas Tech was in pole position to end Kansas’s 13-year streak of Big-12 titles. That was before the Red Raiders were caught looking ahead to this game and defeated by Oklahoma State. Tech’s dream is still alive but the path is bumpy having to play Kansas and West Virginia in a 3-day stretch. Red Raiders guard Keenan Evans is day to day with a toe injury, making it extra difficult to call this one. Look for Texas Tech to bounce back behind hard-nose defense and outside shot making.
The Pick: The Red Raiders get the win and add some drama on Monday.
Marquee Matchup on Monday
#6 Texas Tech vs. #21 West Virginia: The outcome of this game could be based off how Texas Tech plays on Saturday versus Kansas. If they are successful, a confident Red Raiders team will focus on the task at hand, likely learning from their recent road loss. If Texas Tech falters on Saturday that would be back to back losses, and the chances go up of being blown out by West Virginia. The Mountaineers should be motivated with an opportunity to gain another quality win just in time for March.
The Pick: Texas Tech closes out this game in the last minute and takes the Big-12 crown.
Under The Radar
#12 Auburn at Arkansas: The Tigers will win the SEC conference title, so Arkansas should be more desperate. Arkansas is 5-2 when facing Top-25 teams this season, generally playing well at home and underachieving on the road. In recent weeks, the Tigers secured wins over Kentucky and Alabama, giving them the necessary cushion at the top of the SEC. This year’s theme of a great performance, followed by a bad one will play out before our eyes.
The Pick: The Razorbacks make up for their lackluster outing against Kentucky by beating Auburn.
Upset Special of the Week
#25 Florida State worked their way back to being ranked right as March madness is upon us. Which sticking with the randomness of this College Basketball season, makes them primed for the upset. N.C State has played many quality teams tough, especially at home, and need a solid win to improve their tourney potential. It won’t be easy but the Wolfpack beat the Seminoles.
Quick Hits Recap
-#2 Michigan State was down 22 points at the half and 27 overall, but rallied back to defeat Northwestern 65-60. (2nd largest halftime deficit victory for a road team in last 10 years)
-South Carolina got a surprise victory over a highly ranked Auburn, the Gamecocks first road win versus a Top-10 team in 8 years.
-#11 Cincinnati was the last of the unbeaten teams in conference until #19 Wichita State pulled off the minor upset last Sunday.
-Arkansas raddled off 3 straight victories over ranked teams for the first time since 2006-07 season.
-Oklahoma guard Trey Young has shot 13 of 63 from the field in his last 5 games.
-Finally a week went by without a Top-4 Associated Press team suffering a setback.
-Beyond the stat above, in the last 10 days, 13 unranked underdogs knocked of ranked teams.
*Note: The rankings used in this prediction article will not reflect Monday’s new Associated Press Top-25.
Written by Chris Carlson Host of The College Ball Show Podcast available at blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio or TheGruelingTruth.Net
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