College Basketball: Top 25 Matchups Headline Weekend Slate of Games
At the midpoint of many of the college basketball world’s conference seasons, the top conferences have several teams that are in the overall Top 25 rankings. Several of those teams will clash over the next few days, with the games not only having an impact on the race for seeding in conference tournaments but also a significant blow to the Top 25 rankings themselves. With only about six weeks left in the conference seasons, it’s time for some teams to make their moves (home team in CAPS, pick in bold).
#22 Kansas State (+9) vs. #16 IOWA STATE
Both of these teams have been in a bit of a free-fall as of late. Kansas State has lost two of their last four games, including a shocking buzzer beater three by Texas earlier this week. Iowa State, after reaching the Top Ten earlier this month, has lost three consecutive games and hasn’t played since last Saturday when they lost to the same Texas team that knocked off the Wildcats.
If either team loses again, it is entirely conceivable that they would drop off the Top 25 list. Thus, it is going to be a close game. Although I believe that the Cyclones will be able to pull off the victory (their home floor at the Hilton Coliseum is one of the most difficult places to play in the country), they aren’t going to take it down by more than nine points. With that in mind, I’ll put the bet on Kansas State to cover the spread at the minimum.
#21 Michigan vs. #3 MICHIGAN STATE (-4.5)
This battle in the Big 10 features the last two unbeaten conference foes going at it and it doesn’t hurt that it is a natural rivalry. The Spartans were barely able to squeak by a game Indiana squad earlier this week, winning but not covering the spread, while the Wolverines earned a big win by taking down #10 Iowa.
Both teams are on a good winning streak right now (Michigan has won their last eight games, Michigan State their last 11) and the game should be a barn burner. The Spartans have had some injury issues, though, that may have an effect on this game. Two of their big men, Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson, will be out for this game, leaving Spartans’ guards Keith Appling and Gary Harris to try to run the Wolverines ragged. Those two men, as well as a deep Spartan bench, should prove to be the difference maker in this battle for Michigan state supremacy.
#4 Villanova vs. GEORGETOWN
When this game begins Monday night, the Villanova Wildcats will not be in that #4 slot in the Top 25. The ‘Cats were completely blown out of their home arena in Philadelphia when the Creighton Bluejays shot the lights out from 3-point land in a 96-68 drubbing. Although the Hoyas have an adequate team, don’t expect Villanova to drop a second consecutive game and fall even further behind Creighton in the Big East standings.
#18 Duke vs. #20 PITTSBURGH
This isn’t your father’s Duke Blue Devils team. Lacking size, even with super freshman sensation Jabari Parker, the Blue Devils don’t have consistency inside to be able to bang with other ACC teams. Their trip into the “Oakland Zoo” to take on the Pitt Panthers will show this deficiency painfully as Pitt, who hasn’t lost a home conference game yet in their first season in the ACC, should pound the Devils down low and win the game to remain in the race with Syracuse for the ACC regular season crown.
#11 Oklahoma State vs. #25 OKLAHOMA
This should be a shootout as both teams are ranked in the Top Ten in offense in college basketball. The Sooners have been a bit of a surprise in the Big 12, defeating Baylor on their home court and knocking off Iowa State at home. The Cowboys, led by sophomore guard Marcus Smart, have had some difficulty on the road this season, with their two losses in the Big 12 coming on the road. In one of the big rivalry games you’ll see in college sports, I am going for the slight upset here and taking the Sooners at home, but it won’t be by much.
Earlier this week: A nice 3-2 record, with the Hoosiers almost knocking off Michigan State in East Lansing pretty much our only embarrassment.
Season: 6-2-1, a pretty good start!
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