By Chris Carlson
Wisconsin and West Virginia pulled the biggest upsets that littered the landscape across the country proving once again winning on the road in College Basketball at times can be crap shoot. The Big 12/SEC challenge along with a few Big Ten and ACC games make up the Marquee Matchups over the next chunk of days.
Marquee Matchups on Saturday
#8 Kentucky vs. #9 Kansas: Two of the top 4 or 5 most storied and recognizable programs in the country square off in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The Jayhawks are adjusting to life without veteran center Udoka Azubuike. The Wildcats are adjusting to life without a starting lineup of one and done’s. Kentucky got a great road win over a short-handed Auburn and added a home victory over #22 Mississippi State now look to add to their non-conference resume. Kansas was able to survive a charging Iowa State team that beat them early this month. This game is close to a pick’em with the home team in Kentucky getting the nod.
The Pick: The Wildcats add a valuable victory that will go a long way in mid-March.
#16 Auburn vs. #22 Mississippi State: Auburn started their portion of the SEC conference very well before losing two in a row. The Tigers are missing the services of Austin Wiley and will need all hands on deck to win this game. The Bulldogs started slow with back to back losses in league play, after sneaking by Florida and sparking-out Vanderbilt they were soundly beat by Kentucky. This one should be a barnburner full of ebbs and flows all the way down to the wire.
The Pick: Auburn stops their losing streak by defeating the Bulldogs on the road.
Marquee Matchup on Tuesday
#3 Virginia vs. #21 North Carolina State: The Cavaliers dropped a very competitive game to Duke last Saturday but now forced to put that loss in the rear view window as they prepare for N.C. State on Tuesday. North Carolina State looked like a team on a mission during their non-conference schedule. Since entering ACC play it’s been a tough-go for the Wolfpack as they sit currently in 7th place. N.C. State comes into this difficult matchup averaging 86-points per game but will be lucky to hit 75 against Virginia. After 3 straight road games the Wolfpack finally get to play on their home floor.
The Pick: Virginia starts slow only to come from behind to win in the closing minutes.
Upset Special of the Week
Minnesota upsets #19 Iowa at the Barrn to make up for getting dominated at Illinois last week.
Under The Radar
#6 Michigan State vs. Purdue: The Spartans beat Maryland and Iowa in their last two games. It took a few months for the Boilermakers to figure their new parts around Carson Edwards but now sit in 4th place in the Big Ten conference. This could be the upset of the week or maybe the game of the week either way keep an eye on this one in the 2nd half.
#14 Texas Tech vs. TCU: The Red Raiders stumbled last week but remain a hard-nosed squad capable of winning the Big-12. The Horned Frogs are a bit of a surprise team this year and look to keep their good mojo going. Logic tells us Texas Tech will finally get their head out of their behinds.
Quick Hits Recap
-Wisconsin upset previously undefeated Michigan 64-53 behind Ethan Happ’s 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists, good for his third 25-10-5 game this season.
-Zion Williamson and Barrett led Duke to a 72-70 over Virginia gaining an important early conference victory.
-The new NET rating system replaced the R.P.I. and has drawn sharp criticism for its worthlessness on paper. In some cases strength of schedule is less important, with importance placed on how bad you beat a horrible team.
-4 teams in the Top-10 Associated Press Poll were defeated, 3of them lost to unranked opponents on the road.
-A 4-way tie at the top of the Big 12 conference early in the week, now 8 teams within two wins hopefully equates to Kansas getting knocked off their throne of dominance over the last 14 years.
-Kansas State held Texas Tech to 45 points this last week which was the fewest points allowed in the Big-12 since 2007.
-Those same Red Raiders lost to 3 straight unranked opponents for the first time in school history.
-Virginia and Duke stand alone as the only programs to rank in the Top-5 efficiency in both offense and defense.
*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