We saw a big week for several teams with UConn and Iowa possibly standing out the brightest. This week the intensity only heightens as major developments will be made in the Big-12, SEC, and Big East. This preview and predictions article stretches all the way to Tuesday, the first day of March which can only mean one thing baby.
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#5 Kansas vs. #10 Baylor: The Jayhawks have lost just 2 games in the last 13 with one of their wins coming against Baylor in a sound beating at home. Losing twice to Texas Tech the Bears have just one victory over a ranked opponent since January 1st that coming against Texas. If Baylor has any hope of closing strong not just in the league standings but also building momentum into March Madness they need to win this game at home. In the absent of LJ Cryer, Baylor guard Adam Flagler has stepped up nicely especially his last outing scoring 29 points in a overtime win over OKST. The combination of Kansas due for a loss and Baylor due for a big-time victory brings me to a prediction.
The Pick: Baylor gets the job done in a tightly-contested game.
#6 Kentucky vs. #18 Arkansas: The top-4 teams in the SEC jockey for position and much of it will be settled by the end of this week. Since losing at Auburn, the Wildcats have won 8 out of their last 9 even with a key piece in Ty Ty Washington in an out of the lineup. With 12 wins in the last 13 games Arkansas enters this Marquee Matchup as one of the hottest squad in the land. Prior to defeating #1 at the time Auburn it could be argued that the Hogs were simply taking care of business versus so-so opponents. Sophomore forward Jaylin Williams will need to be a major contributor on both sides of the ball given the size and defense of Kentucky.
The Pick: Kentucky finds a way to pull this one off in overtime.
#8 Villanova vs. #11 Providence: This high-profile rematch is a perfect way to start the month of madness. Nova was able to defeat Providence on the road last week and need to win this game more than ever now that the Wildcats lost to UConn. Providence found a way not to lose back to back meaningful games on their home floor by beating back Xavier in a wild 3-OT game. The health of senior guard Al Durham will be one of the main deciding factors. Some time’s you have to go with your gut and this College Basketball fan is calling a victory for Providence.
The Pick: Providence guts this one out down the stretch.
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#3 Auburn vs. #17 Tennessee: Many experts thought highly of the Tigers not long ago but are now a bit uncertain after two recent losses. Tennessee at home can play with anyone so this should fit the bill of a hardcore barnburner.
#10 Baylor vs. #20 Texas: Baylor has a tough week facing Kansas as well and with Texas showing they can compete on a fairly high level this will be an entertaining game.
Quick Hits Recap
-Florida’s Tyree Appleby put up 20 of his 28 points in the 2nd half in a big win over Auburn last Saturday.
-Michigan State has now lost 5 of their last 6 games and the Spartans have #4 Purdue coming into town.
-The Spartans suffered their worst Big Ten loss of the year to Iowa 86-60. Keegan Murray scored 28 points for Iowa giving him 12, 25-point games this season.
-The UConn Huskies coming off a challenging part of their Big East schedule has strung together 5 victories in 6 games highlighted by wins over Villanova, Marquette, and Xavier.
-The #1 team in the land Gonzaga is traveling to #23 Saint Mary’s to close out the conference season. Could we finally get a team to even somewhat test the Zags before the Big Dance begins?
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*Note: The rankings used in this prediction article will not reflect the new Associated Press Top-25 rankings.
Written by Chris Carlson Host of The College Ball Show Podcast available at blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio or TheGruelingTruth.ComFollow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio