#9-kansas-logo#9 Kansas
12:00 pm, January 23
#23-uconn-logo#23 UConn
#11-creighton-logo#11 Creighton
12:00 pm, January 23
#2-baylor-logo#2 Baylor
oklahoma-state-logoOklahoma State
2:00 pm, January 23
#20-clemson-logo#20 Clemson
florida-state-logoFlorida State
3:00 pm, January 23
#15-ohio-state-logo#15 Ohio State
#10-wisconsin-logo#10 Wisconsin
4:00 pm, January 23
#19-missouri-logo#19 Missouri
#6-tennessee-logo#6 Tennessee
8:30 pm, January 23
#9-kansas-logo#9 Kansas69
#2-baylor-logo#2 Baylor77
#15-ohio-state-logo#15 Ohio State65
#18-alabama-logo#18 Alabama105
#4-iowa-logo#4 Iowa69
#7-michigan-logo#7 Michigan70
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  • College Basketball Picks Week 18 – The Final Week of the Regular Season (Plus Some Conference Tourneys!)

College Basketball Picks Week 18 – The Final Week of the Regular Season (Plus Some Conference Tourneys!)

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, March 4th

#25Texas (16-13, 8-8 Big 12) @ #10Texas Tech (24-5, 12-4 Big 12) – 9 PM ET, ESPN

The most interesting conference title race of the 2019 season is finally in the home stretch, and with two games to go for every team, three of the Big 12’s ten teams are still in the hunt, with Texas Tech and Kansas State sitting at 12-4, and the Kansas Jayhawks, who have won at least a share of the conference title for 843 years straight, a game back at 11-5. With a game @ an inconsistent but very talented Iowa State team on Saturday, Texas Tech really needs this win to stay in the hunt, but they’ll face a Texas team desperate to stay off of the bubble. With the home court advantage and all the stakes of finally ending Kansas’ streak, I think Texas Tech, which already beat Texas on the road earlier this year, completes the season sweep of the Longhorns on the back of a great game from All-American candidate Jarrett Culver.

Prediction: Texas Tech 69, Texas 60

Kansas State (22-7, 12-4 Big 12) @ TCU (18-11, 6-10 Big 12) – 9 PM ET, ESPN2

Kansas State is in a similar situation to the team they are currently tied with atop the Big 12, Texas Tech. Both teams are riding high, looking to end Kansas’ streak, and facing a bubble team on Monday night at nine o’clock, Kansas State just has to go on the road to do it. The Wildcats beat TCU 65-55 when the two teams played earlier this year in the Little Apple, but TCU, which was already just a ten seed before dropping a home game to Texas Tech on Saturday, needs this win to stay away from Dayton territory, I just don’t think I can trust them. Jamie Dixon’s team is 1-5 in their last six, including losses to the two worst teams in the conference, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. I see Dean Wade and Barry Brown leading the Wildcats into Fort Worth, and keeping pace with Texas Tech in the Big 12 race thanks to a victory, although this should be a close one.

Prediction: Kansas State 65, TCU 64

Quick Hitters

#1 Virginia 64, Syracuse 56 (7 PM ET, ESPN)

Tuesday, March 5th

#11Virginia Tech (22-6, 11-5 ACC) @ #17Florida State (23-6, 11-5 ACC) – 7 PM ET, ESPNU

With the trio of Virginia/North Carolina/Duke locked into the 1-3 seeds in the ACC Tournament, this game is for the four seed, and the double bye that comes with it. It’s hard to stress how hard it is to win four games in four days in a conference as tough as the ACC (I believe it has only been done once in the history of the conference, Duke in 2017). This is the only meeting between these two this year, and since the two teams both face pretty easy games to end the year, the winner is essentially guaranteed to hold down that four spot.  Florida State has been on fire recently, and after starting conference play 1-4, the ‘Noles are 10-1 in their last 11, the only loss coming @ North Carolina. To be fair, the Noles beat zero KenPom top 20 teams in that time span, but in a conference with as strong a middle as the ACC, its quite impressive. FSU holds wins over Clemson, Syracuse, Louisville, and NC State in that streak, but this would be their best win in that span. Tech has largely adjusted to playing without star PG Justin Robinson, the Hokies are 4-1 in their last five, with a win over #3 Duke, and *almost* another over #1 Virginia in that span. VT has proved they can win away from home, winning the Charleston Classic back in November with a win over #10 Purdue. Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kerry Blackshear have turned into an awesome offensive duo, and I think Virginia Tech pulls the upset here on the road.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 68, Florida State 67

#21Mississippi State (21-8, 9-7 SEC) @ #7Tennessee (26-3, 14-2 SEC) – 9 PM ET, SEC Network

LSU holds the tiebreaker over Tennessee right now with two games left to play in SEC play as both teams sit at 14-2. LSU plays @ Florida on Wednesday though, so if Tennessee wins out and the Tigers take a loss to UF, the Vols can still grab the #1 seed in the SEC Tournament. Mississippi State has largely flown under the radar this year, but the Bulldogs have quietly snuck up to a five seed in my most recent bracketology. I don’t think they’ll go on the road to beat a Vols team that just murdered Kentucky in Knoxville, but keep an eye on MSU in March.

Prediction: Tennessee 80, Mississippi State 72

#14Kansas (22-7, 11-5 Big 12) @ Oklahoma (18-11, 6-10 Big 12) – 9 PM ET, ESPN2

Kansas’ chances of winning the Big 12 title are essentially zero at this point, but the Jayhawks could still earn a share of the title, although not actually finishing first, which would continue their streak, but even that seems quite unlikely. Now, you have a dejected Jayhawks team, the first in about 4.2 billion years not to win the Big 12, needing to travel on the road to Norman to take on a fiesty Oklahoma team trying to stay off the bubble. The Sooners are a nine seed right now, so they are pretty safe, but a win here would certainly move them into lock status, and I like that desperate team at home playing against a bummed out KU team.

Prediction: Oklahoma 72, Kansas 71

#16Auburn (10-9, 9-7 SEC) @ Alabama (17-12, 8-8 SEC) – 9 PM ET, ESPNU – 9 PM ET, ESPNU

Auburn finally picked up their first win over a KenPom top 25 team of the season on Saturday, edging out Mississippi State at home, 80-75. The Tigers moved up to a seven seed in my bracketology after the win, but they can continue to climb with a win here on the road against their rivals. AU beat Alabama 84-63 when these two teams played earlier in February, but they now go on the road to face a ‘Bama team desperate for a win to improve their bubble resume. I wouldn’t count out a Tide victory, but this Auburn team is just far superior talent wise, and at the end of the day, talent wins out. Give me War Eagle.

Prediction: Auburn 75, Alabama 71

Quick Hitters

#4 Michigan State 77, Nebraska 62 (7 PM ET, ESPN2)
#10 Purdue 75, Minnesota 67 (8 PM ET, BTN)
#9 Kentucky 72, Ole Miss 66 (9 PM ET, ESPN)

Wednesday, March 6th

Marquette (23-6, 12-4 Big East) @ Seton Hall (16-12, 7-9 Big East) – 6:30 PM ET, FS1

Marquette needs a win here to keep pace with Villanova in the Big East race. I’ve been lower than average on Marquette for a while now, and I’m finally getting validated now as the Golden Eagles have lost two straight, most recently a home game to Creighton. It isn’t Marquette’s fault, but they’ve played just two games against KenPom top 45 teams this calendar year, the season series that they split with Villanova, with the win coming by just one point at home. They travel to face a desperate Seton Hall team already right on the bubble, before any bid stealers come in to play, so they could really use a resume boost at the end of the year. I like the matchup of the desperate team against the reeling team, but I always say, at the end of the day, talent wins out, and this Marquette team, led by Markus Howard, is just too talented. Marquette is one of the best shooting teams in the nation from deep, and I’ll take Steve Wojciechowski’s squad to escape with a win on the road.

Prediction: Marquette 73, Seton Hall 71

#19LSU (24-5, 14-2 SEC) @ Florida (17-12, 9-7 SEC) – 7 PM ET, ESPN2

Tennessee picked up a big win over Mississippi State yesterday, and LSU needs a win to keep pace in the SEC race. The Tigers get the one seed in the SEC Tournament if they win out, but a loss here would mean that Will Wade’s team would no longer control their own destiny, and would need Auburn to knock off the Vols on Saturday. Tennessee and Kentucky have gotten most of the national coverage, but LSU has lost two games in about two and a half months, and the Tigers are 4-0 vs KenPom top 25 teams in that stretch. Florida is my sixth-to-last team in the field right now in my most recent bracketology, so factor in some potential bid stealers, and the Gators are no where near safe. Needless to say, this is a huge game for both teams. In their first matchup two weeks ago, the two teams played an awesome back and forth game that ended up going to overtime, where Florida picked up the road win, but today, I’ve got LSU going on the road to Gainesville and getting their revenge. LSU is great at crashing the boards and getting to the line, and they force an incredible amount of pressure on the defensive end. This is a really good team that more people need to pay attention to, and I think they get the win here and seal the SEC regular season title on Saturday.

Prediction: LSU 68, Florida 67

Quick Hitters

Old Dominion 66, Southern Miss 60 (7 PM ET, Facebook Watch)
Western Kentucky 78, UTSA 72 (7:30 PM ET, beIN Sports)
Creighton 76, Providence 67 (8 PM ET, CBSSN)

Thursday, March 7th

Cincinnati (25-4, 14-2 American) @ UCF (22-6, 12-4 American) – 7 PM ET, ESPN2

UCF picked up a bid securing win @ Houston on Saturday, bumping them up to a nine seed in Monday’s bracketology update. They get a chance to improve on that tonight when they face a Cincinnati team still fighting for an outside shot at the AAC Championship. The Bearcats were a six seed in the most recent bracketology, but if they were to win out they could climb into that coveted top four seed range. UC picked up a 60-55 win in the first meeting between these two teams, two weeks ago. Now, they must travel to Orlando to face a surging UCF team that has won six straight outside of that game. With the home crowd at their back, I like UCF’s ability to get to the line and defend the perimeter, and I see them picking up a win and locking up the three seed in the American tournament.

Prediction: UCF 65, Cincinnati 60

Quick Hitters

#12 Wisconsin 75, Iowa 65 (7 PM ET, ESPN)

Friday, March 8th

Quick Hitters

#19 Maryland 72, Minnesota 65 (7 PM ET, FS1)
Belmont 88, Austin Peay 79 (8 PM ET, ESPNU) – OVC Tournament Semifinal
Murray State 76, Jacksonville State 67 (10:30 PM ET, ESPNU) – OVC Tournament Semifinal

Saturday, March 9th

#7Tennessee (27-3, 15-2 SEC) @ #14Auburn (21-9, 10-7 SEC) – 12 PM ET, ESPN

Tennessee would need LSU to lose to Vanderbilt, which isn’t happening, to get the one seed in the SEC Tournament, but the Vols can still grab a share of the conference title, even if they would lose on the head to head tiebreaker. They travel to face an Auburn team locked in a tight race with South Carolina for the four seed in the SEC Tourney and the double-bye that comes with it. Auburn has lost just twice at home this season (Kentucky, Ole Miss) and by a combined seven points, but Tennessee is firing on all cylinders, winning their last two games by a combined 36 points, both against KenPom top 25 teams (Kentucky, Mississippi State). I’m not picking against the hot hand here, give me the Vols.

Prediction: Tennessee 78, Auburn 75

#8Texas Tech (25-5, 13-4 Big 12) @ #18Iowa State (20-10, 9-8 Big 12) – 2 PM ET, ESPNews

I’ve got Kansas State winning later in the day, giving the Wildcats the Big 12 title, but Texas Tech can still technically win a share of it with a win here, and they won’t know the result of the KSU-Oklahoma game, which will take place at six. I really liked this Iowa State team, note the past tense. Early on in conference play, I made note of Steve Prohm’s team as a potential final four sleeper, but they’ve proven to be much too inconsistent, and have lost five of their past seven. Iowa State picked up a five-point win in Lubbock the first time these to played, and I think Texas Tech returns the favor and gets their revenge on the road thanks to their defense and a good game from Big 12 POY favorite Keenan Evans.

Prediction: Texas Tech 72, Iowa State 67

#21Louisville (19-11, 10-7 ACC) @ #1Virginia (27-2, 15-2 ACC) – 4 PM ET, ESPN

After struggling for much of the first half, Virginia turned on the jets late @ Syracuse on Monday, putting on one of the best shooting performances I’ve ever seen. The Cavs were 72% from three on 25 attempts and ended up winning more than comfortably, 79-53. They now host a Louisville team that they just beat on the road by double digits two weeks ago, and with the home crowd and their hot streak, I’ve got Virginia picking up a big win and taking home the ACC regular season title for the fourth time in the past six years.

Prediction: Virginia 71, Louisville 53

#3Duke (26-4, 14-3 ACC) @ #6North Carolina (25-5, 15-2 ACC) – 6 PM ET, ESPN

Should Virginia be upset earlier in the day by Louisville, this will be for the ACC regular season championship, but even if the ‘Hoos lock up the crown at 4, all eyes will be on this one. As of time of writing, Zion Williamson is doubtful after being injured in the first minute of the first meeting. It would be a real shame if Zion never got to really play UNC during his college career. UNC dominated that first meeting, and even though Duke has had time to cope with the loss of Zion, they haven’t, almost losing at home to the worst team in the ACC earlier this week, #169 Wake Forest. The Demon Deacs had a shot at the buzzer to win in Cameron, that just shouldn’t happen. Now Duke has to go on the road to face a fired up North Carolina that is 14-2 at home this season and has won six straight. I love the way that this UNC team passes the ball and crashes the board, and I think they pick up a huge win in their quest for a one seed and sweep the season series with Duke

Prediction: North Carolina 86, Duke 84

#5Michigan (26-4, 15-4 Big Ten) @ #4Michigan State (24-6, 15-4 Big Ten) – 8 PM ET, ESPN

The winner of this game will also win the Big Ten regular-season title and keep their chances at a one seed in the NCAAs alive. MSU picked up a huge win @ Michigan a little under two weeks ago. The Spartans won that game 77-70, and Michigan will look for some revenge in the Breslin Center here, I just don’t think they’ll get it. Michigan State hasn’t lost a home game all year in regulation, their only loss was in OT to Indiana just over a month ago. I like the way this Spartan team distributes the ball and spreads the wealth, and they are one of the best shooting teams in the country. Cassius Winston is a legit All-American level player, and somehow, someway, Tom Izzo leads Michigan State to another Big Ten title.

Prediction: Michigan State 70, Michigan 64

Murray State (26-4, 16-2 OVC) vs Belmont (26-4, 16-2 OVC) – 8 PM ET, ESPN2 – OVC Tournament Championship in Evansville, IN

The first bid to the NCAA Tournament will be given out on Saturday night in Evansville in the Ohio Valley Conference as the OVC’s top two teams duke it out for the conference’s auto bid. Murray State will need a win here to get into the big dance, while Belmont still has an outside shot at pulling an at-large bid. Murray State has won ten straight, Belmont 14. In their first meeting this year, the Bruins pulled off a 79-66 win on the road against Ja Morant and the Racers. Rick Byrd is the most underrated coach in the country, and his Belmont team is the #3 shooting team in the country (58.3 eFG%) and this team doesn’t turn the ball over and doesn’t give up offensive boards. This will be a high scoring, fun game that you should definitely keep an eye on, but I’ve got Belmont completing the season sweep.

Prediction: Belmont 82, Murray State 79

Quick Hitters

Clemson 66, Syracuse 61 (12 PM ET, CBS)
Villanova 71, Seton Hall 67 (12 PM ET, FOX)
Texas 74, TCU 64 (12 PM ET, ESPN2)
#6 Kentucky 68, Florida 56 (2 PM ET, CBS)
#16 Kansas 75, Baylor 65 (2 PM ET, ESPN)
Marquette 83, Georgetown 71 (2:30 PM ET, FOX)
UTSA 74, Southern Miss 71 (3 PM ET, CUSA.tv)
UCF 71, Temple 67 (4 PM ET, ESPN2)
Xavier 77, St. John’s 71 (5 PM ET, FOX)
#25 Kansas State 66, Oklahoma 60 (6 PM ET, ESPN2)
Washington 65, Oregon 59 (10 PM ET, ESPN)
San Francisco 78, Pepperdine 70 (10 PM ET, ESPN2) – WCC Tournament Quarterfinal
BYU 75, San Diego 73 (12:30 AM ET, ESPN2) – WCC Tournament Quarterfinal

Sunday, March 10th

#14Houston (28-2, 15-2 American) @ Cincinnati (25-5, 14-3 American) – 12 PM ET, CBS

The American Athletic Conference’s regular season champion will be decided on Sunday as Houston travels up North to take on Cincinnati in a winner take all game that will also decide who receives the one seed in next week’s AAC Tournament. Houston has the gaudy 28-2 record, but in the Houston matchup earlier this year the Cougars only won by seven, 65-58, and Cincinnati made UH play at the Bearcats’ tempo, one of the slowest in the country, Both of these teams have just one loss since their last meeting, both coming against UCF, who will be the three seed. With the home crowd in a big spot, I like Cincy to slow down the tempo and just do enough to escape with a win in a low scoring affair.

Prediction: Cincinnati 64, Houston 63

Quick Hitters

Radford 75, Gardner-Webb 67 (1 PM ET, ESPN) – Big South Tournament Championship
Iowa 76, Nebraska 75 (2 PM ET, BTN)
Bradley 64, Northern Iowa 61 (2:05 PM ET, CBS) – MVC Tournament Championship
Lipscomb 75, Liberty 65 (3 PM ET, ESPN) – ASUN Tournament Championship
#20 Wofford 76, East Tennessee State 66 (4 PM ET, ESPN+) – SoCon Tournament Semifinal
#12 Wisconsin 62, Ohio State 57 (4:30 PM ET, CBS)
Furman 69, UNC Greensboro 65 (6:30 PM ET, ESPN+) – SoCon Tournament Semifinal

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