#3-villanova-logo#3 Villanova
9:00 pm, January 28
#7-iowa-logo#7 Iowa
#19-illinois-logo#19 Illinois
9:00 pm, January 29
#9-alabama-logo#9 Alabama
#24-oklahoma-logo#24 Oklahoma
12:00 pm, January 30
#11-west-virginia-logo#11 West Virginia
2:00 pm, January 30
#15-kansas-logo#15 Kansas
#18-tennessee-logo#18 Tennessee
6:00 pm, January 30
#8-virginia-logo#8 Virginia
#20-virginia-tech-logo#20 Virginia Tech
6:00 pm, January 30
#21-minnesota-logo#21 Minnesota
7:30 pm, January 30
#10-texas-tech-logo#10 Texas Tech93
#11-west-virginia-logo#11 West Virginia88
#24-oklahoma-logo#24 Oklahoma80
#5-texas-logo#5 Texas79
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  • College Basketball Picks Week 1 – (Nov 25-Nov 29)

College Basketball Picks Week 1 – (Nov 25-Nov 29)

Wednesday, November 25th

Memphis vs. Saint Mary’s in Sioux Falls, SD
Crossover Classic Quarterfinal

Memphis didn’t live up to expectations last year, and the best players are gone from that team. Meanwhile, Randy Bennett’s Gaels are one of the most consistent teams in college basketball. I expect SMC, led by an offense that can shoot well and won’t turn the ball over, to pull what some may consider an upset to open up the Crossover Classic.

Pick: Saint Mary’s

Northern Iowa vs Western Kentucky in Sioux Falls, SD
Crossover Classic Quarterfinal

The big names are missing, but the Crossover Classic has turned into a tournament of some of the very best mid-majors in the country. I love it. Both of these teams should be favored to win their conference and be trendy upset picks in March. WKU has a ton of talent for a C-USA team, but struggled on the defensive end mightily last year. I expect UNI, coached by Ben Jacobson, to be ready for this game. Defense will be the difference.

Pick: Northern Iowa

Liberty vs Purdue in Melbourne, FL
Space Coast Challenge Semifinal

Liberty will lose some key pieces from last year’s 30-4 team; the Flames had three seniors in their starting five. However, they should be poised to win the ASUN again. That being said, Purdue, led be Trevion Williams, will cruise to win in Melbourne as the talent gap between these two programs is just too large.

Pick: Purdue

#15 West Virginia vs South Dakota State in Sioux Falls, SD
Crossover Classic Quarterfinal

South Dakota State held steady in the first year post-Mike Daum. The Jackrabbits went 22-10 and finished in a tie atop the Summit League standings despite a starting five entirely consisted of underclassmen. SDSU will be the Summit League favorites this year, and will be a dangerous mid-major for years to come, but West Virginia is clearly the best team in Sioux Falls this week. Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver (combined 21.6 PPG, 17.6 RPG) are one of the best big men duos in the country, and PG Miles McBride looks poised for a breakout year. I expect the Mountaineers to cruise.

Pick: West Virginia

Clemson vs Mississippi State in Melbourne, FL
Space Coast Challenge Semifinal

Some high roster turnover, most notably Reggie Perry, means that I expect a down year for Mississippi State. Expect Clemson, led by an awesome two-way center, Aamir Simms, to kick off their tournament resume with a victory. I expect a big step forward for Brad Brownell’s Tigers this year.

Pick: Clemson

Utah State vs VCU in Sioux Falls, SD
9:30 PM ET, ESPN2
Crossover Classic Quarterfinal

VCU loses four starters from a 2019-20 squad that already was on the downswing (1-7 in their last eight games). Utah State, meanwhile, does lose some key pieces, including Sam Merrill, but brings back Neemias Queta, a big man with a ton of potential that only played 22 games last year due to injury. Queta, along with the the efficient Justin Bean, will lead the Aggies to a victory here, although I expect both programs to take a step back in 2020.

Pick: Utah State

#22 UCLA @ San Diego State

With the cancellation of Arizona State-Baylor, this is the game of the day on Wednesday. UCLA, led by Mick Cronin, won 11 of their last 14 games a season ago and returns every starter, but they have to go on the road to take on a San Diego State team that comes off an awesome 30-2 year. The best player on that team, Malachi Flynn, is gone, but Matt Mitchell (12.2 PPG) returns, and the Aztecs bring in a Cal State Northridge transfer, Terrell Gomez, who averaged close to 20 a game last year. I think the homecourt is the difference and SDSU pulls the upset.

Pick: San Diego State

Thursday, November 26th

Memphis (1-0) vs Western Kentucky (1-0) in Sioux Falls, SD
Crossover Classic Semifinal

After dropping behind 8-0 early, Memphis rallied against Saint Mary’s, and Boogie Ellis put up 24 points off the bench (including 18 from deep) to lift the Tigers to an impressive 73-56 victory over Randy Bennett’s Gaels. For Western Kentucky, freshman Dayvion McKnight was the guy, leading the Hilltoppers with 21 points, four rebounds, and three assists. That being said, the talent gap will just be too big here. Expect Memphis to advance to the title game.

Pick: Memphis

#6 Kansas vs #1 Gonzaga in Fort Myers, FL
1:30 PM ET, FOX

The game of the week will take place (knock on wood) early on Thanksgiving’s afternoon as Kansas faces off against Gonzaga in one of the best non-conference matchups of the season. I’m higher on Kansas than most, the Jayhawks were the best team in college basketball last year and while they do lose some key pieces, they return some too, including the best defender in the sport: Marcus Garrett. Five-star Bryce Thompson joins the squad along with a talented cast of returnees highlighted by Ochia Agbaji, David McCormack, and Christian Braun.

KU, though, will run into the juggernaut that is Gonzaga. I’ve said it since the day that the 2020 NCAA Tournament was canceled: 2021 is Gonzaga’s year. Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi are one of the best returning duos in the country, and if you talk to anyone connected to west coast basketball they will talk to you endlessly about the potential of sophomore Drew Timme, who had limited scoring opportunities last year behind Filip Petrusev but could blossom into a star. That’s not to mention the best recruiting class in Gonzaga history, led by five-star guard Jalen Suggs. The high roster turnover for Kansas (Devon Dotson + Udoka Azbuike are gone) and Gonzaga’s upside leads me to lean Bulldogs, but these two teams are talented enough that a rematch in Indianapolis is very possible.

Pick: Gonzaga

#15 West Virginia (1-0) vs VCU (1-0) in Sioux Falls, SD
2:30 PM ET, ESPN
Crossover Classic Semifinal

VCU impressed me in their upset victory over Utah State on Wednesday. The Rams were buoyed by a 42% clip from long-distance and a strong 23 point performance from sophomore Nah’shon Hyland. That being said, this is still a very young VCU squad, and I don’t expect them to be able to keep up with the experience and depth of West Virginia. Expect Miles McBride and the Mountaineers to march into the Crossover Classic title game.

Pick: West Virginia

#3 Villanova (1-0) vs #18 Arizona State (1-0) in Uncasville, CT
9:30 PM ET, ESPN
2K Empire Classic Championship

Both of these teams struggled with inferior competition on Wednesday, but you could see the makings of why both squads are highly rated. For Arizona State, it is all centered around Remy Martin, the Sun Devils’ senior leader. Martin put up 26 points and added six boards and five assists in ASU’s 94-88 win over Rhode Island.

As for Villanova, anyone could’ve told you that Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was a prime candidate for a breakout season, and he showed why in his very first game out of the gate, putting up 18 points and adding ten boards for what will be the first of many double-doubles for him this year.

I loved Villanova’s “put your head down and grind” attitude after going down to BC, and I just do not trust Arizona State’s defense. The Sun Devils struggled to close on shooters in space vs URI and could not stop fouling to save their lives. Jay Wright’s offense is just too good for the ASU D, and the Wildcats will leave Bubbleville unbeaten.

Pick: Villanova

Purdue (1-0) vs Clemson (1-0) in Melbourne, FL
Space Coast Challenge Championship

The Clemson offense struggled against Mississippi State on Wednesday (5-24 from deep), the good news, Mississippi State struggled even more, and the Tigers squeaked by with a 53-42 win. However, Brad Brownell’s group runs into a much better Purdue team, led by freshman Zach Edey (19 points in his debut). I’ll take the Boilermakers to win the Space Coast Challenge, big.

Pick: Purdue

Friday, November 27th

Western Kentucky (2-0) vs #15 West Virginia (2-0) in Sioux Falls, SD
1:30 PM ET, ESPN
Crossover Classic Championship

Both of these squads have impressed, beating two quality opponents to reach the championship of the Crossover Classic, one of just a handful of tournaments that remained post-pandemic. For WKU, the names to know are former top-ten prospect Charles Bassey and stud freshman Dayvion McKnight. The Hilltoppers are incredibly talented for a C-USA team, but with that being said, they run into a West Virginia squad that is playing like a top-ten team in the country this year. Derek Culver is playing like a potential All-American, and young guns Miles McBride and Oscar Tshiebwe have been dominating the competition in Sioux Falls. I expect WVU’s suffocating defense to get the Mountaineers a victory here, but it may be closer than most think.

Pick: West Virginia

Seton Hall @ Louisville (1-0)

Louisville was dominant in a 79-44 throbbing of Evansville to open the season. Senior leader Carlik Jones was the star, putting up 18 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists against the Purple Aces. We still have not seen Seton Hall play, but the Pirates lose one of the best players in school history: Myles Powell, and they’ll be on the road. Louisville improves to 2-0.

Pick: Louisville

Saturday, November 28th

LSU (1-0) @ Saint Louis (1-0)

Both of these teams opened their seasons with big wins over SIU Edwardsville, and they now meet in the premier game of this St. Louis based MTE. The Billikens looked stronger in their opener, dominating en route to an 89-52 win thanks to a turnover-creating defense. That being said, the LSU offense may just be too much. The Tigers are among the best shooting teams in the country (62.1 eFG%) and won’t turn the ball over like SIU Edwardsville did. I think Will Wade’s group picks up a road win, but close.

Pick: LSU

#3 Villanova (2-0) vs Virginia Tech (1-0) in Uncasville, CT

Villanova opened their season with an impressive performance in the 2K Empire Classic, which was highlighted by an 83-74 win over Arizona State on Thanksgiving night. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (28 points, eight rebounds) looked like a legit player of the year contender. I expect an improved year for Mike Young’s Hokies as he establishes his culture, but they won’t be able to keep up with the Wildcats.

Pick: Villanova

Sunday, November 29th

#17 Houston (2-0) @ #14 Texas Tech (2-0)

Houston took care of a solid Boise State team on Friday, 68-58. The Cougars, led by Quentin Grimes (25 points, eight rebounds) dominated the Broncos from start to finish. UH will need to travel to take on an awesome Texas Tech team that has crushed their competition so far this year by a combined score of 185-110. These two teams are both second-weekend caliber, but Texas Tech’s defense will be the difference as the Red Raiders knock off Houston.

Pick: Texas Tech

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