By Chris Carlson: Last week College Basketball fans were treated to a variety of great games not just from the weekend but all week long with Kentucky and Marquette standing out the most. This week features another jam-packed schedule especially in the Big-12 and Big Ten the nation’s top tier conferences in 2022.
Marquee Matchups on Saturday
#8 Baylor vs. #10 Kansas: On paper this important Big-12 matchup could pay dividends to the winner come early March. The Jayhawks got smacked around on their homecourt by Kentucky and will surely be looking to re-focus on a tight conference race. For Baylor getting back leading scorer LJ Cryer will be a must, that and Akinjo will need to play better for the Bears to find their offensive groove again. What are the odds of Kansas losing two big games in a short period at home?
The Pick: Kansas extends their lead on top of the Big-12
#12 Villanova vs. #17 UConn: The month of February for the Huskies will be a rocky road as far as opposition in conference play starting Saturday. UConn faces Villanova and Xavier twice along with Marquette, at St. John’s, and Seton Hall. Although a clear underdog the Huskies have put together a nice resume win or lose having faced Auburn, Michigan State, Providence, Marquette before their Covid-19 pause. Nova has lost to Marquette twice and still faces Providence and UConn two more times before it’s all said and done. Long story short this Big East game is super meaningful for both teams. Me as a college hoops podcaster favors the home team looking to right the ship after the Wednesday’s Marquette loss.
The Pick: Villanova turns up the heat defensively and does enough on offense to win.
Marquee Matchups on Tuesday
#4 Purdue vs. #18 Illinois: A Big Ten themed Tuesday night heats up with a rematch from a few weeks ago that saw Purdue win in double overtime. Yes, the Fighting Illini did lose at home but the real problem was their hangover performance in a loss to Maryland the very next game. However, Illinois did eke out a victory over a damn good Sparty club and then beat the Badgers. Meanwhile Purdue has won 7 out of last 8 head into this anticipated contest. One thing that stands out is Illini center Kofi Cockburn fouled out the last time these two teams met which hurts on both sides of the ball.
The Pick: The battle of the big man goes to Illinois in a huge road victory
#11 Wisconsin vs. #12 Michigan State: Another example of a loaded schedule to preview and predict with this Big Ten marquee matchup between the Badgers and Michigan State. The Spartans a few Friday’s ago defeated Wisconsin on their home floor of the Kohl center and a win here could give MSU the push they need in this tight league race. A better first half and leveling out the free throw attempts disparity (28-11) is a must if Wisconsin wants to win this one.
The Pick: Michigan State sweeps the Badgers in a razor-close victory.
Upset Special of the Week
Vanderbilt shocks #25 LSU or really going out on a limb is BYU upsetting #2 Gonzaga.
Under The Radar
#5 Kentucky vs. Alabama: When full strength the Wildcats look every bit the part of a Final Four squad. But don’t sleep on the Crimson Tide we just don’t know which Alabama team will show up Saturday night. Bama has wins over Gonzaga, Baylor, Houston, Miami, LSU, and Tennessee.
#9 Duke vs. North Carolina: Normally an event surrounded by lots of hype, this year not much buzz going into this ACC matchup which by the way could help the Tarheels majorly in conference. Duke is way more talented but can’t overlook this rivalry game with North Carolina desperately needing a quality wins on their resume.
College Ball Show: Recap, Debate, & Predictions! Baylor vs Kansas & Much More! 01/31 by RopeADopeRadio | Sports (blogtalkradio.com)
Quick Hits Recap
-Xavier had to comeback down 17 points at the half to beat Creighton 74-64. (Xavier started the 2nd half on a 19-0)
-Kentucky big man Oscar Tshiebwe had 21 points & 22 rebounds becoming the first 20/20 Wildcat player since Mike Phillips in 1976.
-Auburn and Gonzaga sit in the Top-2 spots of the A.P. Poll with the Zags going 6-2 and the Tigers 10-1 against Quad 1 and 2 opponents.
-Speaking of Auburn the Tigers locked up their head coach Bruce Pearl for a deal that extends to 2030.
-The streaking Providence Friars are the most experienced team in the country with 549 games played combined for their 5 graduate players.
-UNLV’s Bryce Hamilton scored 45 points good for the 2nd most in D1 this year and tied for 3rd most in the school history.
*Note: The rankings used in this prediction article will not reflect the 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