By Chris Carlson
Last week Tennessee drop-kicked Kentucky and the Kansas streak dies along with a bunch of upsets inside the Top-25 including 4 by unranked teams. One last weekend of games before the major conference tournaments begin. The ACC and Big Ten is the place to be for Marquee Matchups.
Marquee Matchups on Saturday
#3 North Carolina vs. #4 Duke: The rematch of one of the best rivalries in all of sports takes place at the Dean E. Smith Center. A 7-mile stretch of Tobacco Road separates these storied programs as they square off with league & overall tourney seeding at stake. The Tarheels ran Duke out of their home court around 2 weeks ago but Mr. all-purpose Zion Williamson played less than a minute after suffering a minor knee injury. Winners of 6 straight ACC games this blogger can’t help to think North Carolina is due for a mediocre performance. Outside shooting for UNC has been huge now let’s see if Duke can keep the pace by hitting some 3’s, especially RJ Barrett.
The Pick: As long as Zion is back Duke pulls out a squeaker.
#7 Michigan vs. #9 Michigan State: These two in-state rivals are battling once again to close out the regular season in style with at least a share of the Big Ten title on the line. The Spartans are still down an important piece at center but that hasn’t stopped them from winning 6 out of the last 7 games. The Wolverines are not a deep team but their starting five is well put together with a great coach in Jim Beilein of course Michigan State’s coach Tom Izzo is no slouch as well, you can make a safe bet both men will have their teams ready to play on Saturday. At this moment MSU has the momentum it’s hard not to think Michigan won’t be motivated off the from loss two Sundays ago.
The Pick: Michigan uses great team defense and hot shooting from behind the arc to clinch the Big Ten title.
Marquee Matchup on Sunday
#12 Houston vs. #20 Cincinnati: Yet another Marquee Matchup this weekend features a quick turnaround rematch. The winner of this game will be AAC champs, Houston was victorious the first go round but recently were beat by UCF at home. Cincinnati is a solid hard-nosed club and could benefit greatly by beating the Cougars. The Bearcats will be a handful on the count they play furious defense. After 33 victories in a row at home Houston begins a new home winning streak.
The Pick: It won’t be a thing of beauty but Houston grinds out the victory.
Upset Special of the Week
#8 Texas Tech goes down swinging in an upset loss on the road at Iowa State.
Under The Radar
#5 Tennessee vs. Auburn: The Tigers we’re ranked not all that long ago and looked to compete for an SEC title until injuries and inconsistent play derailed them. Tennessee walloped Kentucky last week and seem to have their swagger back just in time for March. Auburn is the desperate team, so don’t count them out in this one on Saturday.
#17 Nevada vs. San Diego State: The Aztecs came out ahead back in February let us not forget that it is March so anything came happen. The Wolfpack need to rebound from two recent losses and finish the rest of their games strong, pretty much assuring this will be a competitive game.
Quick Hits Recap
-The Kansas Jayhawks streak of 14 Big-12 championships in a row has come to an end. Kansas has also been at least 1st or 2nd seed in the NCAA Tournament the last 9 years which now looks bleak.
-#2 Virginia made an astounding 18, 3-pointers in a 79-53 beat down of Syracuse.
-The Indiana Hoosiers won back to back games against ranked opponents trending upwards late in the Big Ten regular season.
-University of Central Florida upset Houston 69-64 on the road, the Cougars held the longest home winning at 33.
-Utah State defeated nationally ranked Nevada 81-76 marking it the first time since 2007 the Utes beat a Top-25 team.
-#14 FSU rallied from 15 points down at halftime to defeat #15 Virginia Tech in overtime.
-On Wednesday night Seton Hall hit a fever pitch going on an 18-0 run to shock #16 Marquette 73-64.
Written by Chris Carlson Host of The College Ball Show Podcast available at blogtalkradio.com/ ropeadoperadio Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio