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  • College Basketball Picks Week 16 – Rivalry Week 2019

College Basketball Picks Week 16 – Rivalry Week 2019

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, February 19th

#2Virginia (22-2, 10-2 ACC) @ #12Virginia Tech (20-5, 9-4 ACC) – 7 PM ET, ESPN

Both of these teams have not been on their best form as of late. In Virginia’s past five games they got taken to overtime by a very “meh” NC State team, struggled at home against middling Miami and Notre Dame and put in their worst performance of the season against Duke. The Cavaliers did also knock off North Carolina on the road in that stretch, but the Tar Heels were missing two key pieces for key stretches of that game. I should say, I still think Virginia is part of the “tier one” of college basketball with Duke and Gonzaga, but a loss here might force me to reevaluate. Virginia Tech has struggled even more mightily than the Cavs after losing PG Justin Robinson to an injury. Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a star and has tried to save this team, but they’ve really struggled over the past two weeks, going 2-2 and not looking like themselves in the two wins, both by single digits against the two of the three worst teams in the conference. Tech has the home court advantage here, but they were embarrassed by Virginia in Charlottesville and especially without Robinson, I don’t see the change in location being enough to swing that, give me Virginia.

Prediction: Virginia 63, Virginia Tech 58

Tuesday, February 19th

#19Maryland (19-7, 10-5 Big Ten) @ #25Iowa (20-5, 9-5 Big Ten) – 8 PM ET, BTN

Tuesday night features two games that are essentially coin flip affairs, and this is the first of those two. The Big Ten is the best conference in the country top to bottom, with all but one team in the KenPom top 70 and six in the top 25. With six top 25 teams, the race for a top-four finish in the conference, and the double bye in the tournament that comes with it, is really tight. Right now I’d say Michigan State, Michigan, and Purdue (all with three losses currently) are in a pretty solid position for the top three spots, but these two teams and Wisconsin all currently sit with five losses in conference, and 3/4ths of the way through conference play, its anyone’s guess as to which one of the three comes out with that 4th double bye, but this is a huge game in that race. Maryland has come back to Earth after winning seven games straight earlier this year, the Terps are just 3-4 since then, although three of those losses came @ Michigan, @ Wisconsin, and @ Michigan State, three very excusable losses. I’ll take them to win here on the road against an Iowa team coming in off of four straight wins, including a 15 points demolishment of Michigan. The Michigan win looks nice, but the three games after that haven’t been as nice, and the Hawkeyes needed last second threes at the buzzer to beat Northwestern and Rutgers last week. I like the rebounding of Maryland to travel, and I think they knock off Iowa in what will be a tight one.

Prediction: Maryland 76, Iowa 75

#20Florida State (20-5, 8-4 ACC) @ Clemson (15-10, 5-7 ACC) – 9 PM ET, ESPNU

The other big game on Tuesday comes from the ACC, as Florida State travels to Clemson to take on the Tigers. Clemson is right on the bubble right now, and after dropping back to back games @ Miami and @ Louisville by one point each, they really could use a win here. They, however, run into a Florida State team that beat them 77-68 the first time they played this season and come into this one as winners of seven straight. The ‘Noles have proven they can win on the road this year, with an 80-62 win @ Syracuse being one of their most impressive performances of the season to date. Clemson is playing for the bubble spot, but Florida State still has a lot to play for, locked in a tight race with Virginia Tech and Louisville for that fourth double-bye in the ACC Tournament, and I think they walk into the Littlejohn Coliseum and steal a win as Clemson takes their third straight one-point loss.

Prediction: Florida State 67, Clemson 66

Quick Hitters

#10 Purdue 75, Indiana 67 (7 PM ET, ESPN2)
#13 Iowa State 76, Baylor 66 (9 PM ET, ESPN2)

Wednesday, February 20th

#14Louisville (18-8, 9-4 ACC) @ Syracuse (17-8, 8-4 ACC) – 7 PM ET, ESPN

The ACC is really crowded at the top right now, and Syracuse is currently right in the mix for the final double-bye, tied with Louisville, Florida State, and Virginia Tech with four losses, but they’ve played the easiest in-conference schedule in the league so far and will finish out the season being underdogs in five of their final six games. They host a Louisville team still recovering from an embarrassing performance last Tuesday against Duke in what was the biggest comeback with nine minutes left in NCAA history. The Cards also struggled with Clemson at home on Saturday, but I’m hoping they got all of that out of their system then and will be good to go on Wednesday for this one. Chris Mack and company have a point to prove here, and after being the laughing stock of the college basketball world last week, how fitting would it be if the Cards end up in that fourth-seeded spot in the ACC tournament with a potential shot at Duke in the semifinals.

Prediction: Louisville 70, Syracuse 66

#8North Carolina (20-5, 10-2 ACC) @ #1Duke (23-2, 11-1 ACC) – 9 PM ET, ESPN

Speaking of Duke, the Blue Devils host North Carolina on Wednesday in what could be the most watched game of the year. The Blue Devils will likely be favorites in every single one of their remaining games and would have to drop at least two of those games to drop out of the one seed spot in the ACC Tournament. The Blue Devils are the best team in the country (although I think Gonzaga is really close) and North Carolina is looking for a big win after dropping their second home game of the year last Monday to Virginia. I just don’t see any real possibility that they get it. You could somewhat justify Duke looking as poor as they did against Louisville, they had just played their best game of the season against the #2 team in the conference on the road, but there is no way they sleep walk into this one, and Duke just matches up so well with Carolina this year. The Tar Heels are soft on the inside this year, and I would be shocked if Duke didn’t just drive right into Carolina the whole game, and even more shocked if it didn’t work. I’ll take Duke big.

Prediction: Duke 92, North Carolina 78

Quick Hitters

#22 Villanova 78, Georgetown 72 (6:30 PM ET, FS1)
#21 LSU 72, Florida 66 (7 PM ET, ESPN2)
#16 Auburn 82, Arkansas 69 (8:30 PM ET, SEC Network)
Marquette 75, Butler 70 (9 PM ET, CBSSN)

Thursday, February 21st

Quick Hitters

#6 Michigan 68, Minnesota 62 (7 PM ET, ESPN)
Cincinnati 68, UCF 61 (7 PM ET, ESPN2)
BYU 75, San Francisco 74 (9 PM ET, BYU.tv)

Friday, February 22nd

Quick Hitters

Iowa 79, Indiana 71 (9 PM ET, FS1)

Saturday, February 23rd

#1Virginia (23-2, 11-2 ACC) @ #19Louisville (18-9, 9-5 ACC) – 12 PM ET, ESPN3

Virginia, which had been dominating teams in the early stages of ACC play, has struggled a lot over the past few weeks. The Cavaliers haven’t won a game by more than ten points since January 26th, but despite that, there can be an argument to be made that they are the best team in the country now after Zion Williamson’s injury (KenPom has them #1), I’d personally still have UVA behind Gonzaga, but the margin is quite close between those two teams and a Zion Williamson-less Duke. While they have played down to their competition in the past few weeks, the Cavaliers also picked up road wins against the #3 and #4 teams in the conference: North Carolina and Virginia Tech-although it should be noted that Carolina had some injury concerns and Tech has their worst shooting performance of the year. Louisville has also had a weird last couple weeks. They are 2-4 in their past six, with a blowout loss to Syracuse on Wednesday and the famous blown lead against Duke. This Louisville team has not played with confidence since that embarrasing performance against Duke, and they probably should’ve lost to Clemson on Saturday at home as well. I’ll take Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers to pick up a win on the road and stay undefeated against teams not named “Duke.”

Prediction: Virginia 65, Louisville 58

#8Tennessee (21-5, 12-1 SEC) @ #22LSU (21-5, 11-2 SEC) – 12 PM ET, ESPN

Both of these teams are coming into this one off of tough losses within the past week, and the race for the SEC title will potentially be decided here, as this is the only time these two play, making this an all-important tiebreaker were the two to finish with the same record. Tennessee, the team that was AP #1 for like a month but was never even a top three team in most metrics, got clobbered by Kentucky on Saturday, proving why metrics are always right and the polls are always wrong. LSU, which was ranked like ten spots higher than the AP than they were in KenPom, dropped a home game to Florida on Wednesday, by no means a bad loss, but a loss none the less. The Tigers now find themselves in the same place they put Kentucky last week, fresh off a heartbreaking home loss decided in the final seconds with Tennessee coming to town next. A win for Tennessee would put them in great position for the SEC crown, while a loss would mean they no longer would control their own destiny to the conference crown. This is pretty much a coin flip for me, but I see Tennessee coming out and playing angry after the loss in the spotlight on Saturday, so I’ll take the Vols to squeak out a close on on the road.

Prediction: Tennessee 81, LSU 80

#14Auburn (18-8, 7-6 SEC) @ #6Kentucky (22-4, 11-2 SEC) – 1:30 PM ET, CBS

Kentucky is that third team in the three horse race for the SEC crown alongside LSU and Tennessee, and Auburn, despite just a 7-6 record in conference play, has been a metric darling all year. This is a rare case where my opinions don’t line up even a little with KenPom’s numbers. Auburn has zero wins vs top 25 teams all year, and their best road win this season came against KenPom #94 Texas A&M. There is no way this is a top 15 team in America. I’ll take Kentucky, fresh off of their best performance of the season against Tennessee, to dominate at Rupp yet again.

Prediction: Kentucky 76, Auburn 67

#13Iowa State (19-7, 8-5 Big 12) @ TCU (17-9, 5-8 Big 12) – 2 PM ET, ESPN2

These two teams played just two weeks ago, a 92-83 TCU win at Hilton in what was a pretty shocking upset to me at the time, but I’ve now realized I should’ve seen coming. Iowa State has been one of the most perplexing teams in college basketball this year, they are so incredibly inconsistent. I would not be shocked if they made it to the final four, but I also think they have a pretty solid shot of losing to Belmont or somebody in round one.  In their past three games, they dropped home games to two teams outside of the KenPom top 30 (TCU, Baylor) and then also went on the road and blew out the conference leader, Kansas State, by 14 points. This team has wins vs Kansas (by 17!), @ Texas Tech and @ Kansas State, and they go on the road Saturday against a team they already lost to at home, a similar situation to the Kansas State game. I think they show up and we get the better version of Iowa State, and the ‘Clones earn their way back in the Big 12 title race, but at this point, who’s to say?

Prediction: Iowa State 75, TCU 73

#17Florida State (21-5, 9-4 ACC) @ #5North Carolina (21-5, 11-2 ACC)

North Carolina comes into this one fresh off of their most impressive performance of the season to date: a 14 point win in Durham as double-digit underdogs against the #1 team in the country. Granted, Duke was missing Zion, but that is an impressive performance nonetheless. They host Florida State here and hope to avoid any semblance of a hangover effect after the Duke win. Florida State is probably the favorite right now to earn that fourth and final double-bye in the ACC Tournament, and picking off a road win against Carolina would give them some cushioning to that end. The ‘Noles have proven they can win on the road, with double-digit victories against Syracuse and Clemson away from home in the past month, but this North Carolina team is just firing on all cylinders right now, and I don’t think it would be crazy to call them the favorite to win the ACC at this point. Were UNC, Duke, and Virginia to all lose one more game with Duke’s loss coming @ Carolina, the Tar Heels would snag the one seed in that scenario, and if the Tar Heels were to win out, they’d just need UVA to drop one game to clinch the crown.

Prediction: North Carolina 85, Florida State 76

Wofford (23-4, 15-0 Southern) @ Furman (22-5, 11-4 Southern) – 4 PM ET, ESPN3

Wofford is a borderline top 25 team right now that would safely be in the field were they not to receive the SoCon’s autobid. Furman has a much better resume than you may expect. In Tuesday’s Bracketology, the Purple Paladins were one of my first teams out of the field. You’d think a five-loss SoCon team would have no shot, but four of Furman’s five losses are in Q1 games (Samford is the only bad loss), they are 3-0 vs Q2 and hold a Q1 win @ Villanova. Another Q1 win here against Wofford might, believe it or not, be just enough for them to squeak into the field for now. I really like this Furman team, and they’ve got one of the top home-court advantages in the SoCon according to KenPom, but Wofford is just too good. The Terriers are the fourth-best shooting team in the nation overall, #2 from three-point range, they rebound well, they don’t turn the ball over, and they cause some chaos on the defensive end despite their slow style. I’ll take Wofford, but in a really close one.

Prediction: Wofford 69, Furman 68

#15Kansas (20-6, 9-4 Big 12) @ #9Texas Tech (21-5, 9-4 Big 12) – 8 PM ET, ESPN

While Kansas State is probably still the Big 12 favorite, Texas Tech is the best team in the conference. The Red Raiders, who have the most effective per possession defense in the country, are 6-1 in their past seven, the only loss coming at the hand of this Kansas team three weeks ago. TTU gets a chance to avenge that loss from earlier this year here, but Kansas won’t have Lagerald Vick in this one. Vick had 13 points and six boards in the previous matchup. With the change in location and Vick’s absence, I’m expecting Texas Tech to continue their hot streak thanks to some stout defensive play from Chris Beard’s boys.

Prediction: Texas Tech 71, Kansas 62

Quick Hitters

Texas 69, Oklahoma 68 (12 PM ET, ESPNU)
#18 Maryland 69, Ohio State 59 (2 PM ET, ESPN)
Creighton 83, Georgetown 81 (2:30 PM ET, FOX)
#10 Purdue 74, Nebraska 68 (4 PM ET, BTN)
#3 Duke 76, Syracuse 70 (6 PM ET, ESPN)
Yale 77, Harvard 67 (7 PM ET, ESPN+)
#20 Nevada 77, Fresno State 65 (8 PM ET, CBSSN)
St. John’s 77, Seton Hall 74 (8 PM ET, FS1)
#2 Gonzaga 96, BYU 68 (10 PM ET, ESPN)

Sunday, February 24th

#4Michigan State (22-5, 13-3 Big Ten) @ #7Michigan (24-3, 13-3 Big Ten) – 3:45 PM ET, CBS

Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue currently sit tied atop the Big Ten standings, all at 13-3 with four games to go, so this one will be huge in deciding the eventual Big Ten Champion. Michigan State has rebounded after a tough stretch a few weeks ago when they lost three in a row, the Spartans are winners of four straight, including a 67-59 win @ Wisconsin. Michigan comes in having won seven of their past nine, including wins vs Wisconsin and Maryland over that span. The two losses came on the road against Iowa and Penn State, and the Wolverines haven’t lost a game at home all year. I don’t think they lose this one either, although I obviously wouldn’t be shocked if they did  Ignas Brazdeikis has settled into an efficient player on the offensive end of the floor, avoiding turnovers and getting to the line whenever possible, along with being a great shooter from deep. I’m not sure I have confidence in Kenny Goins or whoever Tom Izzo puts on Brazdeikis to stop the Lithuanian, especially with the home crowd at his back.

Prediction: Michigan 66, Michigan State 65

Quick Hitters

East Tennessee State 70, UNC-Greensboro 69 (3 PM ET, ESPN+)

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