By Chris Carlson – The door has been left wide open this year in College Basketball for teams with dreams of cutting down the nets in April. Louisville, Florida, & DePaul had the best week along with 7 teams ranked inside the AP Top-25 losing on Saturday alone. This weekend and in to next week there are several key matchups as well as the Big-12 vs. SEC Challenge. Unfortunately, most of the attention was on the brawl that broke out late in the game between bitter-rivals in Kansas and Kansas State.
Marquee Matchup on Saturday
#15 Kentucky vs. #18 Texas Tech: Just like the game of basketball, this season thus far has been a game of runs for the Red Raiders. After losing 3 in a row to Iowa, Creighton, and DePaul, Texas Tech rattled off 5 straight until losing back to back. Two more wins and now a most recent loss to TCU on the road, which begs the question of can they stop their losing at just one game? Kentucky hasn’t been the model of consistency either starting the season by knocking off then #1 Michigan State only to somehow drop a game to Evansville. So which Wildcat team will show up in the most high profile game of the Big-12/SEC Challenge? Will it be the one that lost to South Carolina or the one who beat Louisville?
The Pick: The combo of forward Nick Richards and guard Ashton Hagans steal this one on the road for Kentucky.
Marquee Matchup on Wednesday
#14 West Virginia vs. #18 Texas Tech: No rest for the wary with Texas Tech squaring off versus Kentucky, West Virginia, and next on the schedule at Kansas. Needless to say were going to find out a lot about the Red Raiders over the next few games. It seems as though the Mountaineers are legit this year as they collected some quality wins in the non-conference over Ohio State and Wichita State. This will be a defensive grind-it-out style of game and the team that hits their free-throws down the stretch will get the victory.
The Pick: Texas Tech secures the ‘W’ out of desperate need to protect homecourt.
Marquee Matchup on Thursday
#17 Maryland vs. #19 Iowa: Iowa has an uphill climb this week facing the Terps here and also those always pesky Badgers on Monday night. Back on January 10th the Hawkeyes thoroughly defeated Maryland 67-49 on the strength of 5 3-pointers from Joe Wieskamp. This time around the Terrapins are at home and likely won’t go 4-22 from behind the arc or shoot a dreadful 11-20 from the stripe. If Maryland can knock down some 3’s early it should settle them in nicely for a competitive game until the last chunk of the 2nd half.
The Pick: Maryland gets revenge in a double digit home victory.
Upset Special for the Week
Minnesota keeps the theme of unranked home teams in the Big Ten winning against ranked opponents, so the Gophers upset #11 Michigan State.
Under The Radar
#20 Memphis vs. SMU: On Saturday afternoon Memphis will be looking to right a wrong that happened on Tuesday in the form a beat down by Tulsa 80-40. SMU is coming off an impressive performance hitting 15-3-pointers in an easy victory over East Carolina. Tyson Jolly is a man’s man when it comes to College Hoops so Memphis will have to contain him as best as possible. Both teams have 2 losses so this is an important matchup as it pertains to jockeying for position in the AAC.
#19 Iowa vs. Wisconsin: Don’t let the Badgers so-so record fool you Wisconsin is a tourney team based off several solid victories. The Hawkeyes have collected 6 very good wins at home, 3 of those came versus ranked opposition over the last two weeks. With Maryland next on the docket for Iowa and Wisconsin trying to keep pace in the Big Ten makes this a barnburner on paper this Monday.
Quick Hits Recap
-Last Saturday Louisville defeated a highly-ranked Duke on the road giving the Cardinals their first win over a Top-5 Duke team dating all the way back to 1986. (Louisville won the title in 86.)
-Last week there were 6 losses by AP Top-5 teams for the first time since February 1994.
-Seton Hall is in the midst of a fabulous season winning 9 games in row for the first time since 2011.
-Seton Hall’s top man Myles Powell became only the 5th player all time to reach 2000 points in school history.
-Florida State has won 9 straight and 16 out of their last 17 games.
-DePaul got their first victory over a Top-5 squad since 2006 by beating then #5 Butler.
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