By. Zachary Warren January 30, 2015. Louisville KY. (Analyzed Sports)
What a great week last week as the record, 16-4, would indicate. Hopefully you all enjoyed the new format of more games with less per game. Once again, check out kenpom.com and teamrankings.com to see some pretty interesting numbers to help you interpret basketball a bit better. Let’s ride this hot streak for as long as we can and get to some picks.
Warr Zone College Basketball Picks
Oregon St. @ Arizona; 10:00 on Pac 12 Network
The first ever Friday pick for the column should be a rather easy victory for the Wildcats. They have too much defense (6th) and offense (11th) for the Beavers. Arizona struggles at times to look good but they are one of the most athletic teams in the country. Imagine how good they could be if there was a little bit more freedom to their offense.
Arizona 66, Oregon St. 52
Notre Dame @ Pitt; 12:00 on ESPN3
Fresh off a home victory against Duke, Notre Dame gets to play one of the worst defensive teams in the ACC in Pitt. Pitt hung around last week against Louisville before they eventually let them shoot an absurd 65% from the field. Jerian Grant (17.4 PPG, 6.5 APG and 3.2 RPG) should be getting more talk for ACC and National Player of the Year but he will have to settle for being the best player on the court in this one.
Notre Dame 80, Pittsburgh 67
Providence @ St. John’s; 12:00 on Fox
Neither of these teams is particularly special when it comes to offense and defense but St. John’s offers a bit more when you combine the two. The Red Storm’s ability to create turnovers (13th in steals), block shots (5th) and limit turnovers (16th) gives them a slight advantage in this one. Look for a lot of rebounds in this one as well since both teams rank in the 100s for FG % and the 200s for three point FG%.
St. John’s 70, Providence 65
Xavier @ Seton Hall; 12:00 on Fox Sports 1
Xavier has struggled to win on the road all year long but they are the better team in this one. If they can overcome this trend and improve their 81st ranked defense then they should come away with a nice road win against a Seton Hall team that has lost 3 out of its last 4. Xavier’s ability to create easy shots and shoot well should be enough for them in this close game.
Xavier 71, Seton Hall 70
Wisconsin @ Iowa; 12:00 on ESPN
People will look at Wisconsin’s game against Michigan as a bad game but if you dig a bit deeper it was not as bad as it appeared. The Wolverines were playing for everything and had College Gameday (who picked that one?!) to help bring out a tough environment. The Badgers should not have the same troubles this weekend at Iowa against a very poor defensive team. Their number one ranked offense should be plenty to get them an easy Big Ten road victory.
Wisconsin 69, Iowa 62
Arkansas @ Florida; 1:00 on CBS
As hard as it has been for the Gators this year, the advanced numbers tell a different story. They rank a respectable 35th in KenPom which is boosted by their good defense. Very similar team to Billy Donovan’s mentor, Rick Pitino’s Louisville team in that they struggle to put the ball in the hoop but play good defense. Arkansas is the exact opposite. Good offensively but horrendous on the defensive end. Home court and a better combo of offense and defense is enough for the Gators in this one.
Florida 73, Arkansas 68
TCU @ Iowa St.; 2:00 on ESPNU
TCU almost pulled off one of the best upsets of the conference season so far until they came out on the wrong end of one of the craziest endings to a game I have ever seen. There were three scores in the final eight seconds (do yourself justice and watch the ending) with the final one coming on an iffy foul call. It does not get any easier for them this weekend as the Mayor welcomes them to town. Iowa St. is too good offensively for this one to be close in Ames.
Iowa St 74, TCU 68
Kansas St. @ Kansas; 2:00 on ESPN
Those of you that doubted Kansas can regain your seats on the Jayhawk bandwagon again. This was always going to be a work in progress with a young but talented team. Frank Mason, Kelly Oubre, Perry Ellis and Cliff Alexander form quite a quartet that few can match. Too much offense, defense and muscle for Kansas St. to be able to handle in this one.
Kansas 71, Kansas St. 60
Wichita St. @ Northern Iowa; 4:00 on ESPN2
This is the best mid-major game of the weekend. Both of these teams should not be considered mid-major though as both could hang with just about anyone in the country. Wichita St. gets all the headlines (deservedly so after their last few years) but UNI is right there with them this year. Points should be hard to come by as both rank inside the top 25 in defensive efficiency. With no clear advantage, I will take the home team in a close one.
Northern Iowa 56, Wichita St. 55
North Carolina @ Louisville; 4:00 on ESPN
Here’s to hoping this one is as good as the last game between these two teams three weeks ago. Louisville controlled most of the game but a late run and basket by do-everything PG Marcus Paige gave the Tar Heels a one point victory. Both teams have improved since that game with North Carolina improving a bit more. This one is at home for the Cardinals and they know they outplayed North Carolina the last time should give them just enough to pull out a close one at the Yum Center.
Louisville 74, North Carolina 71
Vanderbilt @ Texas A&M; 4:30 on SEC Network
The Aggies need this one badly to keep hope of an NCAA tournament berth alive. There won’t be many statement games in the dreadful SEC this year and that also means teams have to win almost all the games they should win to have a chance. Vanderbilt is the more efficient shooting team but they lack enough of a consistent defensive effort to pull this one out on the road.
Texas A&M 67, Vanderbilt 62
Texas @ Baylor; 6:00 on ESPN2
In another great game in the deep Big 12, both of these teams come into the game off tough losses. It does not get easier for either team in this one as they both play good offense and defense. Rebounds will be hard fought battles (Texas is ranked 3rd while Baylor is ranked 7th) and a plenty as neither team shoots it really well. I know this sounds simple but the team that exceeds (however low) their typical shooting will win this one. I trust Baylor a little bit more at home in this one.
Baylor 63, Texas 59
Nebraska @ Minnesota; 6:00 on ESPN
One thing stand out to me more than any of the other games I am talking about this week and that is the fact that Nebraska ranks 284th in offense. There is bad but this is even beyond that. Minnesota is not great defensively but their ability to turn teams over (2nd in steals) and hold onto the ball (8th in fewest turnovers) should make for an even worse night for the Huskers. No clear advantage for Nebraska and that is never good for a road game against a decent opponent.
Minnesota 66, Nebraska 60
Duke @ Virginia; 7:00 on ESPN (College Gameday)
On the surface this appears to be a fairly close game but if you dig into a little deeper it becomes decidedly more one-sided for Virginia. The Hoos are the only team in the country ranked in the top five in both offense (5th) and defense (2nd). Duke is great offensively (6th) but struggles mightily on the defensive end (49th). Do not let their game against Louisville fool you into thinking they are a good defensive team as Louisville has struggled to score all year. Better offense, better defense and home court looks pretty one-sided to me.
Virginia 68, Duke 57
Alabama @ Kentucky; 7:00 on SEC Network
Another lackluster opponent for the Wildcats in conference play. UK players probably get more out of practices than most of the conference games they have played and will play this year. Kentucky is great but their own conference has brought Virginia into the picture as the best team in the country (don’t laugh UK fans; on a neutral court UK would be favored by 1 point). But, their is nothing to sugar coat in this game…Kentucky is better in every meaningful category plus playing at home equals a big victory.
Kentucky 67, Alabama 50
Oklahoma @ Oklahoma St.; 8:00 on ESPN2
The last great game on the Big 12 slate this weekend brings out quite the rivalry game. While football takes most of the headlines for these two teams, this year’s basketball matchup is probably the better game. Oklahoma has an advantage on offense (53rd compared to 71st) and defense (4th compared to 15th) but the stats are so close that either team could win and it would not be that surprising. It is very tough to win on the road in conference but Oklahoma is playing so well on defense right now that I will take them in a slight upset in Stillwater.
Oklahoma 66, Oklahoma St. 65
Memphis @ Gonzaga; 10:00 on ESPN2
Better start watching now because Gonzaga has the best team Mark Few has ever had due to one of the top five offenses in the country and a good defense to compliment it. Memphis fans must be longing for the Calipari days now as they always have good players but never seem to put it together to become a great team. Too many good players for Gonzaga in this one for it to be all that close.
Gonzaga 77, Memphis 59
Miami (FL) @ Florida St.; 12:30 on ESPNU
I don’t see where this one will be as close as the numbers dictate because I don’t see an area where Florida St. has a distinct advantage that matters. Miami is better considerably better offensively and slightly better on defense. Shooting may be the only area that the Seminoles have a slight advantage but that is not enough to overcome an improving Miami team.
Miami 70, Florida St. 64
Michigan @ Michigan St.; 1:00 on CBS
Rivalry game with a lot at stake for both teams. Michigan needs to start piling up impressive wins to salvage their slim chances of making the tournament while Sparty needs to win the games it should to get as good a seed as possible. The Wolverines are playing better of late but still struggle a lot on offense (139th nationally). They don’t rebound well (good luck with that against the Spartans) considering their terrible efficiency from the field. Not enough to like for a road upset here.
Michigan St. 65, Michigan 57
California @ Washington; 3:00 on PAC 12 Network
Another glaring stat to me: Cal is ranked 285th in the country on offense. While not as surprising as Nebraska it still does not take away the stench from how bad they really are on offense. Would you take the over on 35 points against Virginia or UK because I wouldn’t? Washington is not great on offense but still good enough to provide the hometown crowd a nice tuneup for a game later in the day with another Seattle team you may have heard was being played?
Washington 68, California 59
Last Week: 16-4YTD: 29-11 Be Sociable, Share! Tweet