#18 Miami (FL)
#8 Florida
7:00 pm, August 24
UCLA
Cincinnati
7:00 pm, August 29
Georgia Tech
#3 Clemson
8:00 pm, August 29
Utah
BYU
10:15 pm, August 29
Wisconsin
South Florida
7:00 pm, August 30
Florida Atlantic
#5 Ohio State
12:00 pm, August 31
#21 South Carolina
North Carolina
3:30 pm, August 31
Duke
#1 Alabama
3:30 pm, August 31
Boise State
Florida State
7:00 pm, August 31
#17 Oregon
#12 Auburn
7:30 pm, August 31
#2 Georgia
Vandebilt
7:30 pm, August 31
Houston
#6 Oklahoma
7:30 pm, September 1
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  • College Basketball Weekend Picks Week 12 – Big 12/SEC Challenge

College Basketball Weekend Picks Week 12 – Big 12/SEC Challenge

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.

Saturday, January 25th

GAMES TO WATCH

#13Iowa State (14-5) @ Ole Miss (14-4) – 12 PM ET, ESPN

After catapulting into the AP 25 after beating Auburn and Mississippi State in the span of the week, things were looking up for Ole Miss, but as usual, the computers got it right and the AP got it wrong, as since then the Rebels have lost two of three, albeit two tough games (vs LSU, @ Alabama), but they lost the two games by a combined 35 points (!). With the home court advantage at The Pavilion (one of the toughest places to play in all of college basketball) here, things are looking up for an Ole Miss win, but I’m high on Iowa State right now. A couple of their losses came early without key players, and this team dominated Kansas and then was able to beat Texas Tech on the road. I get the whole “no moral victories” thing, but they also came within four points at the Phog on Monday. Marial Shayok is the definition of a go-to-guy for the Cyclones. He can drive it, he can shout it, and of course being a Virginia transfer he contributes in a big way to this Iowa State defense, which is one of the best in the conference. Freshman Tyrese Haliburton ranks first in the entire country in KenPom’s individual offensive efficiency metric, and I think he and Shayok lead the Clones to get a tough road win and pick up a W for the Big 12 in the Big 12 vs SEC challenge.

Prediction: Iowa State 74, Ole Miss 72

Florida (11-7) @ #22TCU (14-4) – 12 PM ET, ESPN2

Florida has been a metric darling all year, and despite a 26th ranking in KenPom the Gators still hold just an 11-7 record due to their #12 ranked SOS and a seeming inability to close out games (All but two losses are by single digits). This team does not deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament right now, but they do get a chance to prove themselves on the road against TCU in what should be a close game, I just don’t have any confidence in the Gators to finish. TCU is on a bit of a slide right now (2-3 in their last five), but that’s life in the Big 12, all three of the losses came against top 40 teams on the road, so it is somewhat excusable. I’m riding with Jamie Dixon and the tempo here on the road as the Big 12 picks up another win in this conference challenge.

Prediction: TCU 76, Florida 74

Ohio State (12-6, 2-5 Big Ten) @ #14Nebraska (13-6, 3-5 Big Ten) – 12 PM ET, FS1

Things are getting into panic mode for Ohio State. The Buckeyes are almost out of the top 40 in KenPom after five straight losses, which have come by an average of 9.6 points. They’ve gone from the top team in the first-ever NET rankings to the seventh to last team in the field in the most recent bracketology (which, have I ever mentioned, was the most accurate in the world last year). I don’t think things get better here, and with a game @ Michigan on Tuesday, it could by a 0-7 start to 2019 for Chris Holtmann and company. Nebraska pulled the same thing Ohio State did a couple weeks ago, losing @ Rutgers, which doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in me, but they’ve got the home court advantage here and have only lost one game all year at home (#3 Michigan State by single digits), so I’ll take them to get a convincing victory.

Prediction: Nebraska 72, Ohio State 63

Alabama (12-6) @ Baylor (12-6) – 12 PM ET, ESPNU

These two teams fall squarely on the bubble in most bracketologies, although I’m a little higher on Alabama’s resume personally, because I tend to put more emphasis on the good wins (Kentucky, Ole Miss, @ Missouri) than the bad losses (Georgia State, Northeastern, Texas A&M). Baylor right now sits as my first team out, and a win here would pretty much guarantee they move into the field of 68, at least for a couple of days before they play @ Oklahoma. The Bears also have a few really good wins (Texas Tech, Iowa State, @ Arizona), but even worse bad losses (Texas Southern, @ Wichita State, Stephen F. Austin), but they do get the home court advantage here and are winners of four of five in the Big 12 which is near-impossible to do, with the only loss being by five to Kansas. I think the Bears are playing the best they have all season and that they go out and pick up a rare head-to-head win over a fellow bubble team, which will be invaluable come March.

Prediction: Baylor 72, Alabama 68

Pittsburgh (12-7, 2-4 ACC) @ #16Louisville (14-5, 5-1 ACC) – 2 PM ET, ESPN3

Pitt sits as a fringe bubble team right now, and a win on the road over a top 20 team would do wonders to boost them into the national conscience. The home win over the Cards is the crown jewel to the Panthers’ resume right now, but they haven’t won a single road game yet this year, something the committee puts more value in than you might expect. Outside of one real bad loss to Niagra, Jeff Capel’s guys have played way past their preseason expectations, but picking up a win in the Yum Center might be too tall of an ask, the only team with a road win over the Cards this year is Kentucky. I think UL wins this one pretty convincingly, but desperate for a win to boost the resume, I wouldn’t be shocked if Pitt pulled the upset here.

Prediction: Louisville 74, Pittsburgh 65

Davidson (14-5, 5-1 A 10) @ Saint Louis (14-5, 5-1 A 10) – 2 PM ET, CBSSN

Saint Louis is a legit bubble team, sitting at 14-5 with wins at Seton Hall and vs Butler. Davidson actually rates out better among most metrics but lacks any real non-conference wins to elicit any at-large buzz, although a win here would give them a good start. The only losses the Wildcats have taken thus far have come against power seven teams away from home plus a one-point loss @ Saint Joe’s a week and a half ago. You should really watch this game, because whoever the A 10 champ is, be it one of these two, VCU, Dayton, or somebody else, they will be a trendy pick for a 12-5 or possibly even 11-6 upset come March. I lean Saint Louis here despite the fact they are coming off a loss to a bad Duquesne on Wednesday. Chaifetz Arena provides one of the biggest home court advantages outside of the P7, and SLU’s defense ranks out as #2 non-P7 D in the country save for conference favorite VCU, ahead of Gonzaga and Nevada. This one should be tight from start to finish but I’m siding with the Billikens.

Prediction: Saint Louis 62, Davidson 61

VCU (13-6, 4-2 A 10) @ Duquesne (14-5, 5-1 A 10) – 2 PM ET, ESPN+

VCU was my preseason pick to win this conference, and if you put a gun to my head, they’d still be my pick right now despite two losses to open up conference play (@ Davidson and @ Rhode Island, both of which are excusable to some extent). The Rams are 1-4 this year in true road games against top 200 teams, the win coming early this season @ a decent Texas team, leading many to think that VCU could get up to the 10 or 11 line with a convincing performance in conference play, a hope that they haven’t quite lived up to thus far. Duquesne has had a surprisingly great start to the calendar year. The Dukes came into conference play ranked 178th in KenPom, then fired off five straight wins after dropping their 2019 opener @ Davidson by four. All of those games were at home or against sub-200 teams, but its an impressive start nonetheless and I expect them to keep this one a little closer than the computers think, with a decent chance to pick off a VCU team that struggles away from home. Were the Dukes able to pull off wins over SLU and VCU in one week, I’d be sold, but I’m not quite there yet so I’ll take Mike Rhoades’ team in a tight one.

Prediction: VCU 65, Duquesne 63

#12Kansas (16-3) @ #9Kentucky (15-3) – 6 PM ET, ESPN

The game of the day here comes from the Big 12-SEC challenge, although I’m not as excited for it as most people are. I’m higher on Kentucky than the consensus, I’m lower on Kansas, and Kentucky has the home court advantage here, making this one a pretty easy pick for me. Rupp Arena is one of the few famous arenas that actually is statistically proven to make a big difference (7th in the nation according to KenPom, Cameron Indoor actually ranks 91st and Allen Fieldhouse ranks 54th). Seemingly ever since Quade Green decided to leave Lexington, this team has meshed better, and they come into Saturday on a five-game winning streak and fresh off of a 21-point win over #28 Mississippi State on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Kansas’ last four games have been: win by five over a bubble team, home win by two over a bubble team, lose to the worst team in your conference, home win by four over Iowa State. Not exactly firing on all cylinders to the same degree. I think Kentucky dominates this one from start to finish and starts to become a realistic challenger to Tennessee in the SEC.

Prediction: Kentucky 74, Kansas 67

Side Note: I predicted all the SEC-Big 12 Challenge games (a lot are below in the Quick Hitters) and the Big 12 is projected to go 8-2, Tennessee and Kentucky being the only winners from the SEC.

Vermont (15-5, 5-1 Am. East) @ Stony Brook (17-3, 5-0 Am. East) – 7 PM ET, ESPN3

Perennial America East favorites Vermont has a challenger to their crown this year: the Stony Brook Seawolves. Stony Brook is looking to earn their 2nd ever trip to the NCAA tournament this year, and a win here over Vermont would be a good step towards getting the home court advantage in the America East tournament as it would give the Seawolves a one and a half game lead plus the tiebreaker over the Catamounts, who dropped a game against UMBC at home by 13 on Wednesday. The Seawolves haven’t lost a game since they played likely 12-seed and Colonial favorite Hofstra back before the Christmas break, but Vermont is the first top-100 team they’ve played since that Hofstra loss. VU is just too talented to drop two in a row in the AE, and even without star Anthony Lamb (20.6 PPG, 7.5 RPG, out with a concussion), who VU clearly missed against UMBC, I’ll stick with the Catamounts. They don’t turn the ball over, they rebound well, and they hit their free throws. This is a well-coached team, and I think they get the road win here and move into first place in the conference.

Prediction: Vermont 70, Stony Brook 66

Syracuse (14-5, 5-1 ACC) @ #11Virginia Tech (15-3, 4-2 ACC) – 8 PM ET, ESPN

Syracuse is right on the edge of being off the bubble in a good way, and a win here would probably do the trick. They get about as good as a matchup as you can ask for when you are facing a top-15 team on the road, taking on a reeling Virginia Tech team that is 1-2 in their last three with the two losses coming by a combined 43 points (the win was at home over Wake Forest, the worst team in any of the five best conferences in the country {Big East, not Pac-12 being the fifth}). This is a perfect opportunity for the zone master to take advantage of the Hokies, but I just think this VT team is too talented to let those two losses, Tech’s first since November, get into their head. Buzz Williams is a phenomenal coach and Nickeil Alexander-Walker doesn’t get enough credit as one of the best players in the conference because of the stars in Durham and Charlottesville. Give me Virginia Tech to get back on the right track and pick up a convincing win.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 73, Syracuse 64

#18Auburn (13-5, 2-3 SEC) @ Mississippi State (14-4, 2-3 SEC) – 8:30 PM ET, SEC Network

Both of these two teams currently sit on the seven line in my bracketology, far below their highs of post-offseason play due to 2-3 starts to conference play for both. They’ve dropped games @ #100 South Carolina and against Kentucky and Ole Miss (MSU played @ UK, Auburn played @ Ole Miss). Mississippi State at least made up for it to some degree with a win (albeit by three points at home) over Florida. To put it in fewer words, neither of these teams are impressing me right now and I’ve got to pick one. Mississippi State has the home court advantage, and I sold all my Auburn stock after the UAB game back in the non-conference so I can’t hop back on the train now. Quinndary Weatherspoon is not just an All-SEC player in name only, he’s a legit top-five player in the conference thanks to his shot. I don’t feel great about it, but I’ll ride with the Bulldogs here, even less than a week after they were embarrassed by Kentucky 76-55.

Prediction: Mississippi State 76, Auburn 74

QUICK HITTERS

#17 Maryland over Illinois (12 PM ET, BTN)
#2 Duke over Georgia Tech (12 PM ET, ESPN3)
#1 Virginia over Notre Dame (1 PM ET, CBS)
NC State over Clemson (2 PM ET, ESPN3)
#10 Wisconsin over Northwestern (2 PM ET, BTN)
Kansas State over Texas A&M (2 PM ET, ESPN)
Marquette over Xavier (2 PM ET, FS1)
Texas over Georgia (2 PM ET, ESPN2)
Oklahoma State over South Carolina (2 PM ET, ESPNU)
Washington over Oregon State (4 PM ET, Pac-12 Network)
#5 Tennessee over West Virginia (4 PM ET, ESPN)
#24 Oklahoma over Vanderbilt (4 PM ET, ESPN2)
South Florida over East Carolina (4 PM ET, ESPNU)
Utah State over New Mexico (4 PM ET, CBSSN)
Fresno State over Colorado State (4 PM ET, AT&T Sports Network)
UTSA over Old Dominion (4 PM ET, ESPN+)
South Dakota State over Nebraska Omaha (5 PM ET, ESPN3)
#15 Texas Tech over Arkansas (6 PM ET, ESPN2)
#25 LSU over Missouri (6 PM ET, SEC Network)
USC over Arizona State (8 PM ET, ESPN2)
St. Mary’s over Pepperdine (8 PM ET, AT&T Sports Network)
Montana over Weber State (9 PM ET, Pluto.TV)
UCLA over Arizona (10 PM ET, ESPN2)
San Francisco over San Diego (10 PM ET, TheW.tv)

Sunday, January 27th

GAMES TO WATCH

Cincinnati (17-3, 6-1 American) @ Temple (15-4, 5-1 American) – 12 PM ET, CBSSN

It is still super early in the process, but Temple sits right on the bubble right now. The Owls dropped out of my bracketology to my first four out after a home loss to Penn last Saturday (quick shoutout to the Quakers who went 4-0 against their fellow Big 5 schools, the first non-Villanova team to do so since Temple did it nine years ago), but they can earn their way back in with a win over a Cincinnati team that is comfortably in the field right now after five straight victories. Temple holds wins @ Missouri, against Davidson on a neutral, @ Wichita State, and vs Houston right now, and adding the Bearcats’ pelt to their collection would be a big get for their resume, I just don’t think they can do it. Temple likes to run, but Mick Cronin’s Cincinnati Bearcats are maybe the best team in the country at making teams play at their own pace. They’ve only played one game this year with over 70 possessions in regulations (Arkansas Pine Bluff, a 105-49 win), I believe that is tied for the fewest in the country with Virginia and a few others. If Cincy can successfully get the Owls to play at their pace, I think AAC POY contender Jarron Cumberland can take control of the game and pull out a tough road win for the Bearcats.

Prediction: Cincinnati 69, Temple 68

#2Michigan State (18-2, 9-0 Big Ten) @ #8Purdue (13-6, 6-2 Big Ten) – 1 PM ET, CBS

Purdue has been a metric darling all year, and there is a reason for that, the Boilermakers are awesome and if I was ranking a top ten based purely on who I think the top teams are, not taking into account resume, Purdue would certainly make the list. That isn’t how the casual college basketball fan looks at things though, and Purdue needs a big win to get back on the national radar after a lot of close losses earlier this year. Michigan State would surely do the trick. The Boilermakers have won seven of eight, the only loss coming against this same Michigan State team on the road by 18. As much as I want this team to start getting some national love, Purdue just doesn’t match up well with the Spartans and MSU hasn’t lost a game since November. I’m not picking against the hot hand here even on the road against a Purdue team I really like. Cassius Winston is a legit POY contender, and I think he carries Michigan State to a win in a relatively fast-paced game.

Prediction: Michigan State 78, Purdue 74

Seton Hall (12-7, 3-4 Big East) @ #24Villanova (15-4, 6-0 Big East) – 2:30 PM ET, FOX

Seton Hall is right on the bubble right now, and a road win over Villanova would distinguish the Pirates among their fellow at-large contenders. They’ve dropped three in a row, and four of their past five, getting swept by Big East bottom-feeder DePaul in what will be a huge blow to their resume. A win here would probably make of for that, but it is a really tall order asking Kevin Willard to take his team on the road and beat Villanova, who have been the class of the conference (as usual). The Wildcats haven’t dropped a home game since the second week of the season and I don’t see that changing here. Eric Paschall and Phil Booth are starting to find their roles as leaders of this team, and I think Nova takes this one from tip to buzzer.

Prediction: Villanova 78, Seton Hall 68

Iowa (16-4, 5-4 Big Ten) @ Minnesota (14-5, 4-4 Big Ten) – 5 PM ET, FS1

This is a big spot for Minnesota. The Golden Gophers right now would sit as one of my last four teams in the field, but picking up a win over an Iowa team that rates out highly across every metric would be a huge boost to Richard Pitino’s team’s resume. Wins vs Nebraska, vs Washington, and @ Wisconsin are the jewels of their resume right now, and adding Iowa to that list would keep them safe for now. Iowa is just too good. The Hawkeyes are 16-4 with the four losses coming against the three best teams they’ve played. They’ve racked up road wins over the likes of Northwestern and Penn State already this year and I think Minnesota is a lot closer to those two teams than a Purdue or Michigan State. Give me Iowa in a tight one.

Prediction: Iowa 78, Minnesota 76

QUICK HITTERS

St. John’s over Georgetown (12 PM ET, FOX)
Providence over DePaul (12 PM ET, FS1)
#22 Houston over Tulsa (2 PM ET, ESPNews)
Memphis over UCF (4 PM ET, CBSSN)
Florida State over Miami (6 PM ET, ESPNU)
Oregon over Washington State (8 PM ET, ESPNU)

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