Last week one of my Twitter followers (@kistek) told me my Big 12 picks were “a kiss of death.” That could be taken two ways. Did it mean I doom the teams I pick, such as when I chose Iowa State to beat West Virginia -- and the Mountaineers won? Or did it mean the teams I picked against were the ones in trouble, like getting Texas’ upset win at Baylor correct? Anyway, per her request, I went back and tallied the records by conference for the first 100 picks I’ve made this season.
(If I lost a non-conference game, the loss would go toward the league of the team picked to win. So by picking Wake Forest to upset Xavier, for example, the Demon Deacons’ 78-70 loss goes against the ACC record, not the Big East.)
I’m clearly best at choosing Big Ten winners, with a 12-3 record (.800). Of the three losses, I clearly need to stop taking Michigan, which failed me against SMU and Indiana.
The American Athletic Conference is the only one in which I had a losing record (.428), and that would be different if I could figure Cincinnati out. I picked the Bearcats in losses to Iowa State (81-79) and SMU (59-57) and picked against them in a 58-57 win at Connecticut.
The rest of the percentages by conference: Missouri Valley .750, ACC .724, Big East .667, Atlantic 10 .667, Pac-12 .600, Big 12 .538 and SEC .500. With a combined total of just six games, I was perfect in taking Mountain West, West Coast Conference and Horizon League teams.
This week's picks:
No. 19 Louisville at Duke (Durham, North Carolina), 7 p.m., ESPN, Monday: Louisville’s Damion Lee is expected to return to the lineup after sitting out Saturday’s win over Boston College with a bruised knee. With no chance of playing in the postseason after a self-imposed ban, the Cardinals are out to bruise ACC egos.
Prediction: Louisville 82, Duke 78.
Texas at No. 1 Oklahoma (Norman, Oklahoma), 9 p.m., ESPN, Monday: It’s tempting to take Texas and its 4-1 record against AP top 20 opponents this season. But Oklahoma is coming off a loss at Kansas State, and there's no chance the Longhorns catch the Sooners sleeping.
Prediction: Oklahoma 85, Texas 77.
No. 10 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue (West Lafayette, Indiana), 7 p.m., ESPN, Tuesday: Both teams are trying to separate themselves in a three-way tie with Michigan for fourth place in the Big Ten. Neither can afford to fall four games back of Iowa in first.
Prediction: Michigan State 65, Purdue 61.
No. 14 West Virginia at No. 7 Kansas (Lawrence, Kansas), 7 p.m., ESPN2, Tuesday: The Mountaineers won the first meeting in Morgantown by forcing Kansas into 22 turnovers. The Jayhawks take much better care of the ball at home, where they haven’t lost in their past 36 appearances. Now’s not the time to start.
Prediction: Kansas 70, West Virginia 61.
No. 6 Xavier at Creighton (Omaha, Nebraska), 8 p.m., CBSSN, Tuesday: The Bluejays are tough at home, but the Musketeers have Villanova and first place in the Big East in their sights. Don’t bet against a team fighting to keep pace.
Prediction: Xavier 73, Creighton 72.
LSU at No. 25 South Carolina (Columbia, South Carolina), 7 p.m., ESPN2, Wednesday: The Gamecocks just validated their season with an 81-78 win at Texas A&M. Now they’ll take a swing at the team atop the SEC standings and pull into a first-place tie with LSU.
Prediction: South Carolina 76, LSU 69.
Connecticut at Temple (Philadelphia), 7 p.m., ESPN2, Thursday: Both teams trail American Athletic frontrunner SMU by just a game in the loss column. The Huskies lost to Temple at home by a basket; they return that favor with Brotherly Love.
Prediction: UConn 68, Temple 66.
No. 5 Iowa at No. 22 Indiana (Bloomington, Indiana), 9 p.m., ESPN, Thursday: The Hoosiers basically erased the goodwill created by their 80-67 win at Michigan on Tuesday with an unexpected stumble in their 68-63 loss to Penn State on Saturday. IU is still being sabotaged by the same problem: the highest turnover percentage in the conference. The Hawkeyes, thanks to Penn State, are alone atop the Big Ten standings. They’ll stay that way on Friday morning too.
Prediction: Iowa 84, Indiana 81.
No. 16 Oregon at California (Berkeley, California), 9 p.m., ESPN2, Thursday: The Golden Bears haven’t lost at home yet this season. Don’t expect that to change, despite the Ducks entering Haas Pavilion as the hottest team in the Pac-12.
Prediction: California 65, Oregon 64.
UC Irvine at Hawaii (Honolulu), 1 a.m., Friday: Sole possession of first place in the Big West Conference is on the line. The matchup features the most efficient offense (Hawaii) in the Big West versus its top defense (Irvine), according to Ken Pomeroy. Go with the team that can get buckets.
Prediction: Hawaii 71, UC Irvine 64.
Last week’s record: 7-3 (.700)
Season record: 67-33 (.670)