By Chris Carlson
Last week Baylor, Duke, FSU, Creighton, Maryland, Villanova all took steps backwards in heated league races by losing, some to teams they were favored to win. This week the Big Ten is unsurprisingly wide open because the top-4 teams have to face ranked opponents in their final games besides Wisconsin. The ACC and Big East are up for grabs as well so it should be a great weekend of College Hoops to end the regular season.
Marquee Matchups on Saturday
#8 Louisville vs. #22 Virginia: With Duke and FSU going down last week, Louisville found itself back in 1st place just for a moment as they attempt to hold on dearly for the regular season crown. As of Thursday night FSU had tied with the Cardinals and have an easier path to win versus Boston College. The key to this ACC matchup will be an offense versus defense style game, no surprise with Virginia being one of the stingiest defensive teams in the nation over the last several years. That’s not to say the Cardinals can’t defend giving up 64 points a game while the Cavaliers hold foes to around 53. A huge gap in offensive points 74.7 to 57.4 and 45% to 41% shooting from the field, all this to say we should have a grind it out ugly but close game here. Virginia comes in winners of 7 in a row and 10 of 11 games and with the homecourt advantage the Cavs will get it done.
The Pick: Virginia keeps the hot spurt rolling with a great win at home played in the 60’s.
#8 Seton Hall vs. #11 Creighton: This game was close to being not for all-the-marbles in the Big East when Creighton dropped the ball getting stomped by St. Johns on Sunday. Lucky for us fans Villanova defeated Seton Hall so the Blue Jays still have a chance. In their first meeting the Blue Jays were victorious 87-82, which was Creighton’s second time defeating a Top-10 squad having beaten Villanova earlier in February. Creighton had 5 players in double-figures, 4 with 18 points randomly. This Marquee Matchup will be played in front of a live audience on FOX in the afternoon slot and should come down to the last few minutes if not under a minute or OT. The folks supporting Creighton will be going crazy and I only mention that because this game will be on the road for Seton Hall. What will be the mindset of the Pirates after losing such a crucial a home game, albeit to a ranked team?
The Pick: Creighton does the unthinkable a few weeks back down 3 games to Seton Hall.
Marquee Matchups on Sunday
#9 Maryland vs. #25 Michigan: Another important matchup to close the regular season schedule and regardless who wins, it’s yet another opportunity to get a quality win to help their seeds in the NCAA tourney. The Terrapins have stumbled of late losing to Michigan State and Rutgers losing their grip on the top spot in the Big Ten. The Wolverines saved their season beginning at the end of January, stringing together 8 wins out of 9 games but like Maryland, recently lost back to back games. One could make the argument that Michigan needs this win more the Maryland as it pertains to the NCAA tourney. On the flip side the Terrapins need to get their act together to back to looking like the team it had over the last chunk of weeks.
The Pick: Another home team in Maryland wins and impressively by double digits.
#16 Michigan State vs. #19 Ohio State: Hate to sound like a broken record but here we are with another huge Marquee Matchup in the, you guessed it Big Ten. Ohio State’s ‘MO’ is either red-hot or ice-cold all year long so it will be interesting to see which Buckeye squad shows up on Sunday. Speaking of herky-jerky, Sparty has been inconsistent as well over the last several weeks but it does seem now that Coach Izzo has his boys ready for the stretch run of March Madness. Ohio State did get a good win on Thursday over Illinois at home but this one will be on the road. Everything points to the Spartans to do what is expected and beat OSU and this College Basketball junkie is on board with that sentiment.
The Pick: Coach Izzo and Cassius Winston do what is necessary and beat the Buckeyes in the last few possessions.
Upset Special for the Week
Don’t let the ranking fool you #24 Wisconsin will lose at an ever-improving Indiana. Or if you want to live life more dangerously, Florida upsets #6 Kentucky.
Under The Radar
#18 Iowa vs. #23 Illinois: Nothing overly important on the line but pride and seeding both in the Big Ten Tourney. No to mention the winner of this game only helps impress the seeding committee as March Madness approaches. Good luck beating Iowa at home but when the Hawkeyes travel it’s a much different story.
Quick Hits Recap
-#1 Kansas earned their 2,330th victory in school history trailing only Kentucky for all-time wins in College Basketball history.
-The win over in-state rival Kansas State was Kansas’s 14th straight victory.
-#8 Seton Hall beat Marquette 88-79 earning their most wins in the Big East since 1992-93 with 13.
-#18 Iowa’s Luka Garza put up 25 points, 17 rebounds, and 4 blocks in a big win over Penn State 77-68.
-#17 Auburn moved to 2-44 all-time at Lexington losing to Kentucky 73-66, the Tigers last win was in 1988.
-#4 Baylor took their first road loss of the season coming by the hands of unranked TCU on Saturday.
-That victory over Baylor was the highest ranked home win ever for the Horned Frogs previously going 2-20 against Top-3 teams.
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