Weekend Predictions: Texas A&M's rise continues


Another weekend. Another round of predictions.

Not much out there on a holiday weekend. So let's discuss last weekend.

Will Wade's VCU squad tussled with a Duke team that put behind a messy start against Kentucky. Give the Blue Devils credit for a great week in New York City. Missed that one.

But Miami-Utah followed the script. Here's what we knew: A Utah squad that lacks the swagger it had with Delon Wright faced a veteran Miami team in a big matchup in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Angel Rodriguez's hometown. The Utes couldn't handle the Hurricanes, who looked like a legitimate ACC title threat during that run.

And Xavier knocked Michigan from the national rankings with a great win in Ann Arbor. It’s early but the Big East looks stronger than it did a week ago.

What about this weekend? Well, not much to discuss. But we'll do our best to pick a few appealing games and give you a reason to sit on the couch and watch games. Not that you need another reason on a holiday weekend.

Last week: 2-1

Overall: 9-4

No. 18 Connecticut vs. No. 10 Gonzaga (Paradise Island, Bahamas), 12:30 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN: Both teams suffered losses in tough matchups during the Battle 4 Atlantis semifinals on Thursday, UConn to old Big East foe Syracuse, Gonzaga to a rising Texas A&M squad. The good news is that both losses are easy to explain: poor efforts from star players against quality opponents. The Huskies won't win significant games if Sterling Gibbs and Rodney Purvis finish 7-for-22, as they did against Cuse. Gonzaga, which had a chance to win on Kyle Wiltjer’s shot in the final seconds, will always struggle if projected first-round pick Domantas Sabonis goes 1-for-3 and fouls out after 18 minutes of action. Both teams should bounce back in this matchup. They've already played a couple of contentious affairs. They should prepare for another.

Prediction: Connecticut 88, Gonzaga 86 (OT)

Syracuse vs. No. 25 Texas A&M (Paradise Island, Bahamas), 3 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN: The Battle 4 Atlantis title game features an ACC squad that's getting a lot from a handful of players and an SEC squad that looks like a serious contender. Cuse knocked off a quality UConn squad to get here. Jim Boeheim’s squad also found a star in Tyler Lydon. But the Aggies are built to disrupt Cuse's zone. They have a trustworthy guard in Danuel House. They're in the top 10 nationally shooting 45.5 percent from the 3-point line, and that should allow them to thrive in the gaps of Cuse's defense. They also can throw Tyler Davis and three other big men who are 6-foot-8 or taller at the Orange. Only six Cuse players logged 13 or more minutes in Thursday's win over Connecticut. Texas A&M's depth will be another advantage in a great game.

Prediction: Texas A&M 77, Syracuse 73

Wisconsin at No. 7 Oklahoma, 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, ESPN2: After losing to Western Illinois, Wisconsin lost by 10 to Georgetown and scored a one-point win over VCU in the 2K Classic. That's a tough stretch for any team, and now they face a squad capable of contending for the national and Big 12 titles. Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig could carry Wisconsin to the NCAA tournament and maintain Bo Ryan's streak of tournament appearances. But as the Badgers continue to evolve, they'll be asked to disrupt a guard rotation that includes potential All-American Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard -- in Norman. Ryan Spangler (10.7 PPG, 8.7 RPG) remains one of the country's most underrated forwards. Tough Sunday ahead for the Badgers.

Prediction: Oklahoma 74, Wisconsin 69