By Chris CARLSON: Last week saw several underdogs knocking off ranked teams including Indiana, Maryland, and Oklahoma among others. This week features the Big-12/SEC challenge along with many other important matchups in the Big Ten and ACC.
Marquee Matchups on Saturday
#9 Alabama vs. #24 Oklahoma: The Alabama football program has been a dominate force for over a decade but this season the Crimson Tide basketball squad has yet to lose a game in the SEC. Sure, the league may not be as strong without stalwart’s like Kentucky, Florida, and even Auburn missing their star freshman up until 6 games ago. Alabama got off to a rough start in the non-conference but with 10 straight victories they’ve proven to be force to be reckoned with 3 players shooting above 40% from the 3-point line. The Sooners started 1-3 in the Big-12 they’ve managed to string together 4 wins in a row most recently coming against Kansas and a short-handed Texas. Oklahoma’s backcourt is a handful consisting of Austin Reaves, De’Voin Harmon, and Umoja Gibson.
The Pick: Oklahoma puts a halt to the Bama’s streak winning in the closing minutes.
#8 Virginia vs. #20 Virginia Tech: The Cavaliers hadn’t defeated a ranked opponent until January 16th versus Clemson, prior to that Virginia loss to a now 10-8 San Francisco. Normally securing 2 wins against Notre Dame would mean something but the Irish stand at 5-8. Covid-19 has made this season difficult to know exactly what were dealing with when predicting games and just how good a team really is. Luckily this particular matchup has a key Hokie out in guard Tyrece Radford which makes it easier to pick Virginia to win.
The Pick: The Cavs win with great defense per normal against the short-handed Hokies.
#15 Kansas vs. #18 Tennessee: In this Big-12/SEC matchup both Kansas and Tennessee have stumbled badly of late to find their groove at the end of January making for a very important outcome. The Vols on their homecourt is not as much of an advantage because of Covid-19 but the defense and energy Tennessee plays with will be enough to frustrate a struggling Kansas squad. Speaking of Kansas their 3-game losing streak hasn’t happen since 2013 but a road game under these circumstances won’t turn the tide.
The Pick: Tennessee outhustles and out-runs Kansas to secure a home victory.
Marquee Matchup on Tuesday:
#2 Baylor vs. #5 Texas: On paper this is the best head to head matchup of the week barring the return of the Longhorn players that missed time from Covid-19. This game was originally schedule to take place back in December so let’s hope that it actually happens. Coach Shaka Smart will probably be back on the sidelines and it seems the momentum the Texas build last year has carried over to this season. It’s taken a little longer for Smart than most would’ve assumed to build up the program after being such a giant success at VCU. Baylor has produced plenty of NBA drafted players but don’t have a Final Four run to show for it which has this basketball podcast wonder if they can finally break thru. Baylor has 5 players averaging at least 41% from the 3-point arc along with two real deal big men in Jonathan Tchatchoua and Mark Vital. At some point the Bears have to lose but will it be Tuesday?
The Pick: Safe bet is Baylor wins because of the unknown Covid-19 related stuff for Texas.
Upset Special for the Week
Michigan State upsets #13 Ohio State on Sunday as Coach Izzo attempts to save the season.
Under The Radar
# 10 Texas Tech vs. #24 Oklahoma: What a hell of a run of opposition for the Sooners starting with Kansas, Texas, red-hot Alabama and then this one against the Red Raiders. Texas Tech’s brand of defense and clutch shot ability will the difference maker. It will end up being a case of burnout after such a daunting schedule for the Sooners.
The Pick: Grind it out style of play and a few key shots get it done for Texas Tech.
Quick Hits Recap
-Alabama completed their first season sweep of Kentucky dating back to the 1988-89 season.
-Missouri had held 19-straight opponents to under 80 points until freshmen stud Sharife Cooper and Auburn put up 88 in a road loss for the Tigers.
-Creighton delivered a 14-2 run late in a game they trailed Seton Hall by 16 to win 85-81.
-Both Gonzaga and Baylor have yet to lose collecting 6 and 5 wins over quad 1 team’s which leads the country.
-West Virginia finished their victory over Texas Tech going a perfect 10 of 10 from the field not missing a FG attempt in the last 9 ½ minutes.
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 or Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio