By Chris Carlson: Last week College Basketball delivered an action packed batch of games featuring several upsets with Michigan State and Kansas State standing out among all. The week included several nail-biters as well and a great give and take Big Ten matchup that lived up to the hype last Sunday. This week is filled to the brim with explosive and highly important marquee meetings in the Big Ten, Big-12, and Big East. With two weeks remaining in the regular season this slate of games will move the needle in league play and of course seeding in the Big Dance.
Marquee Matchups on Saturday
#2 Baylor vs. #17 Kansas: The streaking Jayhawks are getting hot as the calendar turns the page from February to March. What Baylor Bears team will show up on Saturday given the fact they had to take several games off from Covid-19? It wasn’t long ago Kansas was seen as vastly underachieving when in a fair fight against a game foe. On paper Baylor is the superior team in almost every important statistic beyond a few like Kansas averaging not even a rebound more per game and the exact same blocks at 4.1. Maybe the rust will still be on heavy enough for Baylor like it was in their unimpressive win over Iowa State. The deeper more talented team is Baylor and even if their shots beyond the arc aren’t falling they still hit 50% from the field overall and find a way to make it work.
The Pick: Wouldn’t be surprised if Baylor has to grind out this win in a very close affair.
#5 Illinois vs. #23 Wisconsin: This College Hoops fan is staring the Badgers club directly in the eye having picked Wisconsin to pull upsets in there last few matchups versus ranked opponents and they’ve lost every single one of them. As a Minnesota Gophers fan I’m perfectly fine with getting my picks wrong if it equates to the Badgers going down. The Illini recently took an ‘L’ against a desperate Michigan State squad so that takes the wind out of the sails thinking the Badgers will break through finally. We have seen plenty of quality teams go on multiple game losing streaks so this could be the case here for Illinois.
The Pick: Illinois attention fully focused after loss to MSU puts them out of danger of dropping back to back.
Marquee Matchup on Sunday
#4 Ohio State vs. #9 Iowa: The Big Ten is on fire in the way of marquee matchups so add this one to bin for anticipated games this weekend and early next week. In their first meeting the Buckeyes got the job done with an 89-85 victory at Iowa. A neck and neck first half played out the same about halfway thru the 2nd frame when Iowa closed the gap 67-66. Ohio State’s Justin Ahrens hit three 3-pointers in the last give or take 5 minutes sealing the deal for the Buckeyes. Ohio State looked very good even in a loss to Michigan last Sunday so there’s limited reasons to think the Buckeyes won’t bring their A game.
The Pick: Iowa plays well again but comes up short to Ohio State…..again.
Marquee Matchups on Tuesday
#3 Michigan vs. #5 Illinois: The last of the 3 hugely important games in the Big Ten and these two clubs have been on a hot streak of late (besides the Michigan State slip up) so buckle up for this right here. The Wolverines have been pushed to the brink against Wisconsin two weeks ago and Ohio State last Sunday but they have always found a way to close strong. It seems so long ago Michigan was beaten by a now floundering Minnesota team. The point guard matchup is intriguing with the advantage going to Illini’s Ayo Dosunmu over UM’s Mike Smith but Michigan with big men Hunter Dickinson and Isaiah Livers will be a lot to deal with for Kofi Cockburn who will need to bring the pain and draw fouls.
The Pick: Michigan sneaks by on the free throw line to keep their #1 seed alive and well.
Upset Special for the Week
#10 West Virginia Upsets #2 Baylor because the Bears will lose at some point right? And the Big-12 has delivered so many tight games this time it’s the Mountaineers.
Under The Radar
#8 Villanova vs. #13 Creighton: The rematch from a beat down Creighton put on Villanova 86-70 is just as meaningful as the first meeting. These two are tied at the top of the Big East in this funky Covid-19 year.
# 7 Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State: Fresh off a nice victory over Texas Tech by the Cowboys last Monday and now face the Sooners in back to back games. This guy is picking OKST to win one of them.
Quick Hits Recap
-Star Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu recorded his 2nd tripleheader 19 points 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the month of February. The Illini roasted the Gophers putting up 94 points good for the most points scored at Minnesota since 1991.
-Texas put up 53 points on 73% shooting from the field in the first half which was the most points scored versus a Top-25 since 2013. Too bad the Longhorns lost to West Virginia 84-82. WV trailed by 19 in the second half.
-Kansas finally defeated a ranked team beating Texas Tech 67-61 after losing 4 straight previously.
-Villanova has 4 victories in a row over the Connecticut Huskies something that hasn’t happen over the last 30 years.
-The Oklahoma Sooners earned their first win at Iowa State dating back to 2011.
-The Duke Blue Devils got a key win over Virginia making it their first against ranked opposition.
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