It’s all fun and games with these picks until somebody enters mid-January trying to avoid a .500 record. What is happening right now? These picks, man.
I take a risk (Tennessee over Texas A&M). Wrong. I go with the obvious pick (Iowa State over Baylor). Wrong.
Meanwhile, my homeboy C.L. Brown wins Best Dressed College Basketball Reporter in North America and enters the week with a 70 percent success rate on his weekday picks.
I can’t win.
But there’s still time for redemption. Maybe.
Last week: 4-4
No. 11 West Virginia at No. 2 Oklahoma, 4 p.m. ET, Saturday, ESPN2: How good is West Virginia? Kansas hit 50 percent of its 3-point attempts but still managed to score just 0.85 points per possession in Wednesday’s loss to the Mountaineers. The Jayhawks committed turnovers on nearly 30 percent of their possessions against West Virginia’s pressure. But the Mountaineers will face another tough foe when they travel to Norman on Saturday. Buddy Hield leads all major conference players with 7.7 transition points per game. And Oklahoma shoots better than 46 percent from the 3-point line. Plus, Ryan Spangler's pick-and-pop will present a unique challenge to Bob Huggins’ squad. The Mountaineers are an excellent squad. But Oklahoma’s victory on Saturday will prove that this Big 12 race remains in flux.
Prediction: Oklahoma 75, West Virginia 73
No. 6 Villanova at Georgetown, 1 p.m. ET, Saturday, CBS: After a rough nonconference slate that included losses to UNC-Asheville, Monmouth and Radford, the Hoyas are now 4-1 in Big East play. And they’ve held their league opponents to a 40.3 percent clip inside the arc and recorded a 41.0 percent mark from the 3-point line, both No. 1 in the conference. But they’re entering a stretch that includes matchups against Villanova, Xavier (road), Providence (home) and Butler (road) all by Feb. 2. This is the real test to see if Georgetown can complete this turnaround and contend for the Big East crown. But Josh Hart & Co. have bulldozed the league thus far and reminded college basketball that they still run the Big East. Saturday? Just another reminder.
Prediction: Villanova 74, Georgetown 64
Notre Dame at No. 9 Duke, 2 p.m. ET, Saturday, ESPN2: Duke’s greatest challenge in Wednesday’s loss at Clemson was foul trouble. Brandon Ingram had three fouls by halftime. Both he and Marshall Plumlee drew their fourth fouls in the second half. That’s when Amile Jefferson's absence hurt most. Now they’ll face a Notre Dame team that’s second in adjusted offensive efficiency but sub-200 in adjusted defensive efficiency. So the Fighting Irish might have a chance in a shootout but they can’t seem to guard a YMCA pickup squad right now. They’ll struggle against Ingram and Duke’s impressive backcourt.
Prediction: Duke 80, Notre Dame 74
No. 8 Miami at Clemson, 2 p.m. ET, Saturday, ESPN3: Brad Brownell’s team has kicked off ACC play with a furious 4-1 start that’s featured wins over Florida State, Syracuse, Louisville and Duke. The Tigers are the ACC’s per-possession leader in reaching the free throw line and sending opponents to the charity stripe. They shot 44 free throws against Louisville. But they’ll face a Miami squad that’s led by Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez. They anchor an offense that connects on 56 percent of its shots inside the arc and a team that’s second in league play in defensive efficiency. The Tigers should feel good about their great start. They’ve outplayed some of the nation’s best teams. But that run ends this weekend.
Prediction: Miami 82, Clemson 74
Michigan at No. 16 Iowa, 4:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, BTN: Well, it’s time. The battle for Big Ten supremacy with Maryland and Michigan State scuffling in … Wait. This wasn’t the plan. A 3-1 Michigan team that knocked off Maryland without Caris LeVert earlier this week will travel to Iowa City, where the Big Ten’s current king returned home following its Thursday night victory over Michigan State. That’s a sweep of the Spartans, folks. So now, this is the Hawkeyes’ league, it seems. In basketball. They’re protecting the ball. They’ve recorded a top-20 clip from beyond the arc. LeVert is questionable for this weekend’s action. But, right now, Iowa could defeat any team in the league at full strength. So his presence, or lack thereof, might not affect the outcome.
Prediction: Iowa 82, Michigan 76