Last week’s picks started off well with an early 5-1 record -- the only loss was taking Kansas on the road at Iowa State. The finish left much to be desired, missing on three of four, including Cincinnati’s late rally to beat Connecticut and Oregon dominating Arizona.
This week’s slate features a lot of games that could go either way. That’s a true indication that conference schedules are heating up:
No. 2 North Carolina at No. 16 Louisville (Louisville, Kentucky), 7 p.m., ESPN, Monday: Louisville figures to come out with a bit more urgency after being held to a season-low 47 points in Saturday’s loss to Virginia. The good news for the Cardinals is that Carolina’s defense isn’t known for being stingy. The tough part, though, will be containing the Tar Heels’ scoring power. Five players average double-digit scoring for the Heels, and a sixth, Isaiah Hicks, has averaged double digits in ACC play.
Prediction: North Carolina 79, Louisville 72
Texas at No. 17 Baylor (Waco, Texas), 9 p.m., ESPN, Monday: Baylor is the hottest team in the Big 12 after winning seven of its last eight games. But Texas may be transforming into the team no one wants to play. The Longhorns have gradually started to play with the edge and aggressiveness that defines Shaka Smart’s “havoc.” The Horns are 3-1 this season against teams ranked in the top 20. It'll soon be 4-1.
Prediction: Texas 71, Baylor 67
No. 19 Indiana at Michigan (Ann Arbor, Michigan), 7 p.m., ESPN, Tuesday: Michigan under John Beilein seems like it always reaches a point in the season where things start to click. The Wolverines have won five of their last six, including a home win over Maryland. Indiana saw some of its bad defensive habits resurface last week when it allowed Minnesota to rally from a 16-point deficit to take a second-half lead before the Hoosiers ultimately beat the Gophers.
Prediction: Michigan 75, Indiana 70
No. 9 West Virginia at No. 14 Iowa State (Ames, Iowa), 9 p.m., ESPN2, Tuesday: Iowa State coach Steve Prohm may have to use all his timeouts. It's either that or use players on his bench that he hasn’t used much before. The Cyclones are showing signs of physically wearing down, with Georges Niang’s foot and hip issues and Jameel McKay’s tendinitis. West Virginia will be pressing to tire the Cyclones’ short rotation out and cause turnovers. Does Hilton Magic cover energy boosts? We think so.
Prediction: Iowa State 83, West Virginia 74
No. 25 Notre Dame at No. 15 Miami (Coral Gables, Florida), 7 p.m., ESPN2, Wednesday: The Hurricanes followed their best win of the season (Duke) with arguably their worst loss (NC State.) Wolfpack guard Cat Barber went for 30 against Miami in a 85-69 win. What does that mean for the Canes considering the Irish welcome back a healthy Demetrius Jackson to the lineup? The answer just might determine the outcome.
Prediction: Miami 84, Notre Dame 80
Southern Illinois at No. 22 Wichita State (Wichita, Kansas), 9 p.m., ESPN3, Wednesday: The Shockers are rolling in Missouri Valley play. They just dispatched Evansville on the road and now will take on the other team tied for second place in the league. The Salukis looked like a formidable challenger a week ago. After losing to Evansville in overtime and at Northern Iowa, they look like another game added to the Shockers' winning streak.
Prediction: Wichita State 73, Southern Illinois 58
Ohio State at Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin), 7 p.m., ESPN, Thursday: It’s never too early for bubble watch, even though it is too early to declare this a must-win game. Both teams are hovering right around a potential cutoff point for a seventh Big Ten bid. This game, the only meeting this season between the Buckeyes and Badgers, could have major ramifications come Selection Sunday. Wisconsin has taken down Michigan State and Indiana at home. Add the Buckeyes to the list.
Prediction: Wisconsin 65, Ohio State 60
No. 5 Texas A&M at Vanderbilt (Nashville, Tennessee), 7 p.m., ESPN2, Thursday: Let’s face it: The Commodores haven’t been this disappointing since Lionel Richie left the group. OK, so that joke was a couple generations too late, but it’s not too late for Vanderbilt to rejuvenate its faint NCAA tournament hopes. It can only happen if the Commodores hold serve at home.
Prediction: Vanderbilt 70, Texas A&M 67
Saint Mary’s at BYU (Provo, Utah), 9 p.m., Thursday: BYU’s 69-68 win at Gonzaga signaled that the West Coast Conference would be up for grabs. Now the Cougars will try to take down the team currently in first place. The Gaels won the pair's first meeting, 85-74, and held the NCAA’s leader in triple-doubles, Kyle Collinsworth, to a season-low eight points.
Prediction: BYU 82, Saint Mary’s 79 (OT)
Colorado at No. 23 Oregon (Eugene, Oregon), 9 p.m., FS1, Thursday: A win would pull Colorado into a first-place tie with Oregon (and three other teams with three Pac-12 losses). The Buffaloes are the worst shooting team contending for the conference crown. That said, they’re also the best offensive rebounding team. Colorado won the first meeting at home 91-87 by out-rebounding the Ducks by 14. Control the boards, control the game.
Prediction: Oregon 77, Colorado 70.
Last week’s record: 6-4 (.600)
Season record: 60-30 (.667)