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  • College Basketball Picks Week 17 – The Home Stretch

College Basketball Picks Week 17 – The Home Stretch

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 25th

#25Kansas State (21-6, 11-3 Big 12) @ #18Kansas (20-7, 9-5 Big 12) – 9 PM ET, ESPN

Kansas’ Big 12 title streak is in serious jeopardy right now. The Jayhawks are two games back from first place Kansas State, and another loss here would essentially end their hopes of keeping the streak alive, as they’d need to win out and the Wildcats would need to lose out (along with other things) for the Jayhawks to just receive a share of the crown. In their first game earlier in February, Kansas dictated the tempo on the road but still fell to Bruce Weber’s Wildcats, 74-67 thanks to a combined 30 points, 13 rebounds, and ten assists from Barry Brown and Dean Wade. Kansas State has lost just one game this month, but this will undoubtedly be the toughest game they’ve faced so far, against a rival team, on the road, looking for revenge and a chance to keep their streak alive. Despite some significant absences, Kansas has still won three of their past four, and I’ll pick the Jayhawks to win here, although I wouldn’t on a neutral court.

Prediction: Kansas 66, Kansas State 64

Quick Hitters

#13 Iowa State 77, Oklahoma 68 (8 PM ET, ESPN2)
Montana 76, Northern Colorado 66 (9 PM ET, PlutoTV)

Tuesday, February 26th

#3Duke (24-3, 12-2 ACC) @ #11Virginia Tech (21-6, 10-5 ACC) – 7 PM ET, ESPN

This is a huge game for both teams. A loss for Duke would essentially hand the ACC crown to Virginia, while a Virginia Tech loss would put them a game back from Florida State in the hunt for the final of those four double-byes for the ACC Tournament in Charlotte. Both teams will be missing big pieces, although one absence is certainly bigger. Virginia Tech has gone just 3-3 since PG Justin Robinson went down with an injury, compared to being 18-3 with him. They get a chance for a season defining win against a Zion Williamson-less Duke team here at home. The Blue Devils responded poorly to the loss of their star player against North Carolina on Wednesday, but with some more time to prepare, they took care of business in the Carrier Dome on Saturday. Mike Krzyzewski still has two of the top three prospects of 2018 without Zion Williamson, and I see the Hokies struggling to but pressure on Tre Jones and RJ Barrett without Robinson. It’ll be close till the end, but I’ll take Duke to keep their ACC title hopes alive.

Prediction: Duke 77, Virginia Tech 72

Quick Hitters

Ohio State 73, Iowa 71 (7 PM ET, BTN)
#6 North Carolina 83, Syracuse 65 (9 PM ET, ESPN3)

Wednesday, February 27th

#9Tennessee (24-3, 12-2 SEC) @ Ole Miss (19-8, 9-5 SEC) – 7 PM ET, SEC Network

The SEC title hunt is heating up with Kentucky, LSU, and Tennessee all sitting with just two losses as we enter the final two weeks of the regular season. This game isn’t meaningless for Ole Miss though, as the Rebels are right in the mix with Mississippi State, South Carolina, Florida, Auburn, and Alabama who all sit within two games of the Rebels for the fourth spot in the conference, and the double bye in the SEC Tournament that comes with it. Ole Miss has been on a bit of roll as of late, winners of five of their past six (although five of their best six have been against sub-80th ranked teams in KenPom). Tennessee played their first two top 25 teams since December 9th over the past two weeks and promptly dropped both games. Tennessee was never the #1 team in the nation to anyone that actually watched college basketball, but let’s not overreact to this tough stretch for the Vols. Rick Barnes has taught this team how to win, and even on the road here I have confidence in Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield to turn the ship around and keep the Vols in that SEC title race.

Prediction: Tennessee 79, Ole Miss 74

#24Marquette (23-4, 12-2 Big East) @ Villanova (20-8, 11-4 Big East) – 9 PM ET, FS1

A win for Marquette here would essentially wrap up the Big East for Marquette. Villanova, after starting conference play 10-0, has dropped four of their past five, including a road game to this same Marquette team, 66-65. The problem with the Big East is that there are literally zero top 50 teams outside of these two, so its hard to get a read on how these two are trending right now, but I’ll take the team having lost one game since January 1st over a struggling Wildcats team that has dropped three straight games against sub-50 teams, including double-digit losses to #81 Georgetown and #83 Xavier last week. Give me the Golden Eagles to pick up a big road win and position themselves well for a potential #2 seed in the big dance.

Prediction: Marquette 72, Villanova 71

Quick Hitters

Northern Iowa 63, Loyola-Chicago 61 (8 PM ET, ESPN+)

Thursday, February 28th

Quick Hitters

#7 Michigan 71, Nebraska 58 (7 PM ET, ESPN)
UAB 70, Western Kentucky 66 (7:30 PM ET, beIN Sports)
Old Dominion 73, UTSA 69 (8 PM ET, CBSSN)

Saturday, March 1st

#21LSU (23-5, 13-2 SEC) @ Alabama (17-11, 8-7 SEC) – 12 PM ET, ESPN

One of college football’s greatest rivalries makes its way to the hardwood on Saturday as, dare I say, SEC favorite LSU travels to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama. LSU, Tennessee, and Kentucky are tied atop the conference with three games left, and LSU probably has the easiest remaining schedule of the three, making them the favorite to win the regular season conference title and secure the SEC Tournament one-seed that comes with it. The Tigers have won six of their past seven including games against the four highest ranked teams in the conference, two of which came on the road. Will Wade’s team has proved they can win on the road this year, and I think they continue that streak and pull off a huge win in the SEC race.

Prediction: LSU 76, Alabama 75

#6Kentucky (24-4, 13-2 SEC) @ #8Tennessee (25-3, 13-2 SEC) – 2 PM ET, CBS

Tennessee will be out looking for revenge after getting clobbered by the Wildcats in Lexington two weeks ago, 86-69. Kentucky hasn’t lost a road game since January 5th, and Tennessee has been struggling recently, also dropping a game to LSU last Saturday and needing a last minute stop to survive against Ole Miss on Wednesday. This Kentucky team is really good, probably the third best team in the country to me if Duke continues to have Zion Williamson absent, and I think they walk into Thompson Boling Arena and shock the Vols, securing the season sweep and keeping their SEC title hopes alive.

Prediction: Kentucky 73, Tennessee 72

#13Iowa State (20-8, 9-6 Big 12) @ Texas (15-13, 7-8 Big 12) – 2 PM ET, ESPN2

Iowa State still has a vauge, outside shot at making it into the Big 12 title game, but this game will likely have no impact on that race. What it should be is a tight game between two tournament teams battling for seeding. In Friday’s bracketology, Iowa State was a five, just on the edge of that top-four seed status, while Texas was a ten seed, and a 14th loss here could send them down to the bubble. When these two teams played earlier this year, Iowa State won 65-60, but as I’ve outlined in previous iterations of my weekly picks, the Cyclones have perhaps been the most inconsistent team in the country, you never know what you’re getting with them. However, at their peak, this is a final four sleeper, and with the end of the regular season in sight, I think ISU picks up a huge resume-booster on the road.

Prediction: Iowa State 71, Texas 70

#20Mississippi State (21-7, 9-6 SEC) @ #16Auburn (19-9, 8-7 SEC) – 4 PM ET, ESPNU

Auburn has been the team I’ve disagreed with KenPom on the most with this season, the Tigers are 0-5 against KenPom top 25 teams yet still somehow rank 16th. These two are both locked in the race for that fourth and final double-bye in the SEC Tournament, a race that also involves Florida, South Carolina, and Ole Miss. Auburn sits a game behind those teams, so they really need a win here to stay alive, and with the home court advantage here, I think I’ll finally take the Tigers to pull off their first top 25 win of the season against a Mississippi State team that hasn’t even beaten a top-40 team since January.

Prediction: Auburn 75, Mississippi State 73

Baylor (19-9, 10-5 Big 12) @ Kansas State (21-7, 11-4 Big 12) – 8 PM ET, ESPN2

Both of these teams are still in the Big 12 title race, and a Baylor win would throw the jockeying match that already is the weirdest in the country into even more chaos. I have Texas Tech and Kansas winning this weekend, so a K-State win would likely shrink the race to three teams with a week left, as Baylor would be a full two games back at that point. K-State beat Baylor 70-63 when these two teams played earlier this year in Waco, and after going an impressive 6-2 in February, I expect the Wildcats to keep their hot streak up and keep pace with Texas Tech in the title race. Bruce Weber’s team has the #6 defense in the country, and they will hold Baylor to under 60 points here en route to a win.

Prediction: Kansas State 64, Baylor 59

#22Nevada (26-2, 13-2 MW) @ Utah State (23-6, 13-3 MW) – 8:30 PM ET, CBSSN

In the most recent bracketology, Utah State made their way into the field. The Aggies don’t have a stunning resume, a neutral win over Saint Mary’s and road wins over UC Irvine and Fresno State highlight it right now, but adding a win over Nevada would certainly help their resume stand out in the dull profiles of 2019 bubble squads. Nevada beat USU 72-49 when these two teams played two full months ago, but Utah State has improved mightily since then, and have won 12 of their past 13. With the home crowd at their back in what will be the biggest game in Logan in years, I’ll take the well-rounded, fundamentally sound Utah State team to pull the upset on the backs of a great rebounding night.

Prediction: Utah State 73, Nevada 72

Quick Hitters

#4 Michigan State 73, Indiana 63 (12 PM ET, FOX)
#17 Florida State 80, NC State 72 (12 PM ET, ESPN2)
#10 Purdue 72, Ohio State 62 (2 PM ET, ESPN)
Villanova 73, Butler 64 (2 PM ET, FOX)
#14 Houston 71, UCF 61 (4 PM ET, ESPN)
#9 Texas Tech 71, TCU 63 (4 PM ET, ESPN2)
#5 North Carolina 69, Clemson 61 (6 PM ET, ESPN)
Georgetown 78, Seton Hall 77 (6:30 PM ET, CBSSN)
Vermont 75, Stony Brook 63 (7 PM ET, ESPN+)
Cincinnati 79, Memphis 67 (8 PM ET, ESPNU)
Murray State 83, Austin Peay 72 (8 PM ET, ESPN+)
#2 Gonzaga 81, Saint Mary’s 70 (10 PM ET, ESPN)

Sunday, March 3rd

#6Michigan (25-4, 14-4 Big Ten) @ #17Maryland (21-8, 12-6 Big Ten) – 3:45 PM ET, CBS

With just two games left to go in the Big Ten’s new 20-game schedule, Purdue currently sits a game up at 15-3, with Michigan and Michigan State right on their tail at 14-4. I’m still picking the Boilermakers to win the conference either way, but a Michigan loss here would certainly make the path a lot easier for Purdue. Maryland is locked in a tight race with Wisconsin currently for that #4 spot in the conference. The top four regular-season finishers receive a double-bye in the conference tournament, and with both the Badgers and the Terps at 12-6 right now, Maryland could really use this win to get a leg up in the standings. These two teams played just two weeks ago in Ann Arbobr, a 65-52 Michigan win, and while I really like this Maryland teamand consider them to be a sleeper to make a run in March, I don’t think the change in location will facillitate a 14 point swing. I’ll ride with John Belien and Michigan heading into their blockbuster rematch with Michigan State on Saturday.

Prediction: Michigan 65, Maryland 64

Quick Hitters

Marquette 81, Creighton 71 (3 PM ET, FS1)
Western Kentucky 69, Southern Miss 65 (3 PM ET, Facebook Live)
UAB 73, UTSA 72 (3 PM ET, CUSA.tv)

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