College Basketball Picks Week 9 – Conference Play Begins!

Note: I’ve decided to use the KenPom Top 25 just because I find it much more accurate than the AP, plus, its updated daily

These picks will be updated every day.

Monday, 12/31

Creighton (9-4) @ Providence (10-3) – 4 PM ET, FS1

Prediction: Creighton

Tuesday, 1/1

Notre Dame (10-3) @ #9Virginia Tech (11-1) – 1 PM ET, ESPNU

Prediction: Virginia Tech

Marquette (11-2) @ St. John’s (12-1, 0-1 Big East) – 7 PM ET, FS1

Prediction: Marquette

Wednesday, 1/2

#15Nebraska (11-2, 1-1 Big Ten) @ Maryland (10-3, 1-1 Big Ten) – 6:30 PM ET, BTN

Both of these schools split their two conference games back in early December. The Big Ten added those games to try and fit in 20 conference games, in case you were wondering. Nebraska didn’t really impress, beating a bad Illinois team at home and then dropping a winnable road game against Minnesota. Maryland, on the other hand, beat Penn State at home and then took Purdue to the buzzer on the road before ultimately falling 62-60. In fact, the Terps have lost three games this year, but none of them have been by more than five points, and all were to teams currently in my bracketology (Virginia, Purdue, Seton Hall), the Terps also have home court advantage, but despite all that, I’m taking Nebraska, and here’s why: Outside of that 7 point home win over Penn State on 12/1, Maryland has no other top 80 KenPom wins. Nebraska, on the other hand, has tested themselves, beating Seton Hall by 23 (the same Seton Hall team Maryland lost to), a great Clemson team on the road, and Creighton, who might be the favorites to win the Big East, by 19. Nebraska has been dominant when they’ve been playing their best basketball this year, and I think they walk into one of the toughest environments in college basketball and sneak out with a win.

Prediction: Nebraska

#24Oklahoma (11-1) @ #6Kansas (11-1) – 9 PM ET, ESPN2

You may not have noticed it, but Oklahoma and Kansas probably have the two best resumes in the nation, look at this.

Oklahoma: 11-1 vs #10 SOS, 2-1 vs KenPom A Level, 3-0 vs KenPom B Level
Kansas: 11-1 vs #9 SOS, 3-1 vs KenPom A Level, 1-0 vs KenPom B Level

If you extrapolate those resumes over the rest of the season, those are #1 overall seed type of resumes, but one of these two will take their second loss of the year on Wednesday, and I think it’ll be Oklahoma. The only road game against a top 180 team that the Sooners have played this season was against Northwestern about two weeks ago, and the Wildcats, who are decent, but nothing special, took Oklahoma to overtime in a game that was a lot closer than it should have been. While this Sooner group is one of the most experienced in the country, Allen Fieldhouse is a whole different environment, and I think Dedric Lawson leads the Jayhawks to a win, but one that will be closer than many think.

Prediction: Kansas

Seton Hall (10-3, 1-0 Big East) @ Xavier (9-5, 1-0 Big East) – 6:30 PM ET, FS1

Prediction: Seton Hall

#10Texas Tech (11-1) @ West Virginia (8-4) – 7 PM ET, ESPNU

Prediction: Texas Tech

Temple (10-2) @ UCF (10-2) – 7 PM ET, ESPNews

Prediction: UCF

Georgetown (10-3) @ Butler (9-4) – 7 PM ET, FSN

Prediction: Butler

Harvard (6-5) @ #8North Carolina (9-3) – 7 PM ET, ESPN2

Prediction: North Carolina

Northwestern (9-4, 0-2 Big Ten) @ #5Michigan State (11-2, 2-0 Big Ten) – 8:30 PM ET, BTN

Prediction: Michigan State

Texas (8-4) @ Kansas State (10-2) – 9 PM ET, ESPNU

Prediction: Kansas State

#18Iowa State (10-2) @ Oklahoma State (6-6) – 9 PM ET, ESPNews

Prediction: Oklahoma State

Utah State (10-3) @ #6Nevada (13-0) – 11 PM ET, ESPNU

Prediction: Nevada

Thursday, 1/3

Iowa (11-2, 0-2 Big Ten) @ #19Purdue (8-5, 1-1 Big Ten) – 7 PM ET, BTN

Prediction: Purdue

#21NC State (12-1) @ Miami (8-4) – 7 PM ET, ESPNU

Prediction: NC State

Penn State (7-6, 0-2 Big Ten) @ 5Michigan (13-0, 2-0 Big Ten) – 7 PM ET, ESPN

Prediction: Michigan

Saint Mary’s (9-6) @ San Francisco (12-2) – 9 PM ET, ESPN2

Prediction: San Francisco

Minnesota (11-2, 1-1 Big Ten) @ #14Wisconsin (10-3, 2-0 Big Ten) – 9 PM ET, BTN

Prediction: Wisconsin

Colorado (9-3) @ Arizona (9-4) – 9 PM ET, FS1

Prediction: Colorado

Friday, January 4th

Ball State (9-4) @ Toledo (12-1) – 7 PM ET, CBSSN

Prediction: Toledo

Saturday, January 5th

#4Michigan State (12-2, 3-0 Big Ten) @ #22Ohio State (12-1, 2-0 Big Ten) – 12 PM ET, FOX

What a way to kick off the first Saturday of full conference play as two teams coming into Saturday hot square off in Columbus on network tv. These two teams are on a combined win streak of 13 in a row coming into Saturday, but obviously one of those streaks will end. Both of these teams have tested themselves so far, Ohio State traveling to Cincinnati and Creighton, and Michigan State traveling to Florida and Louisville as well as taking part in big neutral court games against Kansas and Texas. Michigan State has definitely been the better team so far this year as their #4 ranking in KenPom suggests. They’ve faced tougher competition, shot better, rebounded better, defended better, et cetera, but this game is in Columbus, and in this rivalry, the home team has won nine of the past ten meetings during the regular season. Plus, it’s never a good policy to doubt Chris Holtmann. Give me the Buckeyes to pull the upset in a close one.

Prediction: Ohio State

#17Florida State (12-1) @ #2Virginia (12-0) – 3 PM ET, ESPN2

Florida State is a lot higher in the AP Poll than in KenPom, so while the Cavs should get a little boost in the polls from this win, I wouldn’t expect it to be the classic top-ten vs top-ten matchup, as the ‘Noles are clearly overvalued according to KenPom. UVa has the home court edge here, and while the Wahoos haven’t played much of anyone in the non-conference, their offense has looked tremendous, shooting all the way up to #8 in the nation in offensive efficiency. Last year, when UVa set the all-time record for ACC regular season wins, won the ACC Tournament, and was the unanimous choice to be the #1 overall seed, the offense ranked 30th. This Virginia team has been out of sight and out of mind so far, but they are dangerous, and while I don’t expect it, I wouldn’t be shocked if this is something like a 75-56 Cavalier victory when all is said and done. Two weeks until Tony Bennett’s squad has to head to Cameron.

Prediction: Virginia

#9Kansas (12-1, 1-0 Big 12) @ #16Iowa State (11-2, 1-0 Big 12) – 5 PM ET, ESPN2

This is the most interesting game of the day to me. Even when Kansas was #1 in the nation in the AP Poll, I (and many others) were calling out the Jayhawks for the frauds they were, and eventually, they lost a game after struggling with the likes of Stanford and New Mexico State at home. Toppling from their preseason #1 KenPom ranking to 9th. But…. now, I’m defending the Jayhawks. Vegas came in here and favored Iowa State in this game. I can understand why, they’ve got the home court edge, they can rebound and shoot well. I’m not buying it though. The Cyclones have faced two KenPom top-70 teams so far this year, and ISU lost both of them. I just can’t pick a team that unproven no matter how good they look against the likes of Eastern Illinois. Kansas was my preseason national title pick, and while they haven’t lived up to that billing, Dedric Lawson has been tremendous and I see him leading the Jayhawks into Hilton (the arena with statistically the #2 biggest HCA in college basketball by the way) and walking away with a tight win on the backs of KU’s transition defense against Marial Shayok and company.

Prediction: Kansas

Creighton (10-4, 1-0 Big East) @ Butler (9-5, 0-1 Big East) – 12 PM ET, FS1

Prediction: Creighton

Syracuse (9-4) @ Notre Dame (10-4, 0-1 ACC) – 12 PM ET, ESPN3

Prediction: Syracuse

#7North Carolina (10-3) @ Pittsburgh (10-3) – 12 PM ET, ESPN3

Prediction: North Carolina

UCF (11-2, 1-0 American) @ UConn (9-5, 0-1 American) – 12 PM ET, ESPNews

Prediction: UConn

#13Kentucky (10-2) @ Alabama (9-3) – 1 PM ET, ESPN

Prediction: Kentucky

St. John’s (13-1, 1-1 Big East) @ Georgetown (11-3, 1-0 Big East) – 1 PM ET, CBS

Prediction: Georgetown

Kansas State (10-3, 0-1 Big 12) @ #10Texas Tech (12-1, 1-0 Big 12) – 2 PM ET, ESPNU

Prediction: Texas Tech

Villanova (10-4, 1-0 Big East) @ Providence (10-4, 0-1 Big East) – 2 PM ET, FS1

Prediction: Villanova

Oklahoma State (6-7, 0-1 Big 12) @ #24Oklahoma (11-2, 0-1 Big 12) – 2 PM ET, Fox Sports Southwest

Prediction: Oklahoma

Maryland (11-3, 2-1 Big Ten) @ Rutgers (7-5, 0-2 Big Ten) – 2 PM ET, BTN

Prediction: Maryland

Georgia (8-4) @ #11Tennessee (11-1) – 3:30 PM ET, SEC Network

Prediction: Tennessee

Baylor (8-4) @ #25TCU (11-1) – 4 PM ET, ESPNU

Prediction: TCU

Colorado (9-4, 0-1 Pac-12) @ Arizona State (9-4, 0-1 Pac-12) – 6 PM ET, Pac-12 Network

Prediction: Arizona State

Arkansas (9-3) @ Texas A&M (6-5) – 6 PM ET, SEC Network

Prediction: Arkansas

Clemson (10-3) @ #1Duke (11-1) – 8 PM ET, ESPN

Prediction: Duke

Oregon State (8-4) @ Oregon (9-4) – 8 PM ET, Pac-12 Network

Prediction: Oregon

Ole Miss (10-2) @ Vanderbilt (9-3) – 8:30 PM ET, SEC Network

Prediction: Ole Miss

West Virginia (8-5, 0-1 Big 12) @ Texas (9-4, 1-0 Big 12) – 9 PM ET, ESPN2

Prediction: Texas

BYU (9-7, 1-0 WCC) @ Saint Mary’s (9-7, 0-1 WCC)

Prediction: Saint Mary’s

Sunday, 1/6

Xavier (9-6, 1-1 Big East) @ Marquette (11-3, 0-1 Big East) – 12 PM ET, FOX

Prediction: Marquette

Indiana (12-2, 3-0 Big Ten) @ #5Michigan (14-0, 3-0 Big Ten) – 4:30 PM ET, CBS

Prediction: Michigan

#13Nebraska (11-3, 1-2 Big Ten) @ Iowa (11-3, 0-3 Big Ten) – 5:30 PM ET, BTN

Prediction: Iowa

Miami (8-5, 0-1 ACC) @ Louisville (9-4) – 6 PM ET, ESPNU

Prediction: Louisville

Memphis (9-5, 1-0 American) @ Houston (14-0, 1-0 American) – 6 PM ET, ESPNews

Prediction: Houston

#18Wisconsin (10-4, 2-1 Big Ten) @ Penn State (7-7, 0-3 Big Ten) – 7:30 PM ET, BTN

Prediction: Wisconsin

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