BY: Zachary Warren February 6, 2015 Louisville, Ky.
Warr Zone College Basketball Picks
We are back at it again this week after another good, but not great, showing. 13-4 last week brought us to 42-18 on the year for a 70% success rate. Since I had so much fun picking games last week I have stepped it up to 30 this week (and because there are a lot of good games). You all know the game by this point so let’s get to the picks.
Dayton @ George Washington; 7:00 on ESPN2
I would like to pick GW at home here but there is just too much for me to lean that way. Dayton is the better offensive (36th compared to 45th) and defensive (76th to 132nd) team. The only statistical advantage GW has is rebounding but that’s not enough to win in this close game.
Dayton 62, George Washington 61
Baylor @ West Virginia; 12:00 on ESPNU
We start off Saturday’s games with a great Big 12 matchup (no surprise). The teams are fairly close in a lot of aspects but West Virginia’s edge on defense (especially at home) is a big advantage for me. West Virginia doesn’t shoot it well but they generate enough opportunities on defense (1st nationally in steals) to make up for it.
West Virginia 69, Baylor 67
Illinois @ Michigan St.; 12:00 on ESPN
I don’t envision this one being particularly close at all as Illinois has no advantage outside of home court. Sparty is the better offensive, defensive, rebounding, passing and shooting team. To me, that is an equation for a road “blowout” in this Big 10 matchup.
Michigan St. 72, Illinois 63
Tennessee @ Georgia; 12:00 on ESPN2
Another matchup where one team is better almost across the board. Georgia is way better defensively (34th to 132nd) and rebounding (41st to 248th). Neither team shoots it really well but Georgia, on average, shoots the ball slightly better. With all those advantages and the a home game is an easy victory for UGa.
Georgia 68,Tennessee 59
Temple @ Memphis; 1:00 on ESPNN
Temple is one of the most extreme teams in the country: terrible on offense (233rd) and great on defense (8th). Memphis isn’t great on offense either (164th) but is respectable on defense (44th). Neither team should shoot the lights out and that plays a little bit better for Memphis at home.
Memphis 63, Temple 61
Notre Dame @ Duke; 1:00 on CBS
What an incredible matchup this one is on paper. Two name brand schools on CBS on a Saturday afternoon is all a college basketball fan can ask for this time of year. While these teams appear to be close there is one thing that separates them: defense. Duke is OK at 53rd in the country but Notre Dame is terrible, ranking 146th. Both teams shoot it well but Duke’s ability to get slightly more stops pulls this one out for them. Also, this game could go a long way in determining the ACC and National Player of the Year race for Jahlil Okafor and Jerian Grant.
Duke 81, Notre Dame 74
Providence @ Xavier; 1:00 on Fox Sports 1
Xavier owns the biggest advantage in this game with an offense that is ranked 17th nationally compared to 41st for Providence. This is due to their great passing (11th in assists) and shooting (18th in FG %). Xavier has been a different team at home this year and I expect that good trend to continue for them this weekend.
Xavier 76, Providence 69
Texas Tech @ Iowa St.; 2:00 on ESPNU
I was a bit surprised at how large the victory for this one would be after I ran some numbers. Both struggle defensively but the large gap in offense (8th for ISU and 249th for TT) is too much to overcome for the Red Raiders against the best passing team in the country (1st in assists).
Iowa St. 79, Texas Tech 64
Kansas @ Oklahoma St.; 2:00 on ESPN
This one surprised me for different reasons as I expected the Jayhawks to be more considerable favorites. Way better offense (15th to 75th) and a slightly worse, but still great, defense (27th compared to 20th) tilts it more towards Kansas for me. Maybe I expected differently because I think I am the “unofficial” driver of the Jayhawk National Championship bandwagon (great value right now for them to win it all in Vegas).
Kansas 69, Oklahoma St. 63
Western Michigan @ Central Michigan; 2:00 on ESPN3
This game is a good matchup but, more importantly, a shout out to some friends from Michigan who would be disappointed if I didn’t pick this one as well as a CMU victory. Home team with the better offense and defense seems like a pretty easy pick for me. Go Chippewas!!
Central Michigan 78, Western Michigan 71
Georgetown @ Villanova; 2:00 on Fox
This rivalry has lost some luster without the old Big East attachment anymore. This was must-watch TV up until a few years ago but Villanova has helped up their end of the bargain. The Wildcats rank top 15 in both offense and defense, and they also limit turnovers (29th) and create opportunities (23rd) better than just about anyone in the country. No faith in the Hoyas to hold onto the ball enough to win this one on the road.
Villanova 70, Georgetown 61
VCU @ St. Bonaventure; 2:00 on NBCSN
VCU’s hectic style of ball can be troubling for teams as they turn teams over at the 17th best rate in the country while St. Bon is avergae (62nd) at holding onto the ball. Way better offense and defense, while on the road, is enough for the Rams to take this one in a closer that it might seem game.
VCU 71, St. Bonaventure 66
Oklahoma @ TCU; 3:00 on ESPNN
I see no way this one is reasonably close for a road, conference game for the Sooners. The numbers may say otherwise but the huge disparity on offense (43rd to 135th) and defense (4th to 28th) is a lot for TCU to overcome. Neither team shoots the ball well but I trust Oklahoma’s ability to get the ball in the hoop a lot better than TCU.
Oklahoma 70, TCU 61
Purdue @ Minnesota; 3:00 on BTN
The Boilermakers, fresh off their upset of Ohio State, provide an intriguing game here. I almost went with them in this one but Minnesota needs this one to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive and losing at home would be detrimental for those dreams. The biggest factor for me was how well Minnesota shoots it, particularly the three (34th nationally), and how poorly Purdue shoots it (252nd).
Minnesota 73, Purdue 68
Texas @ Kansas St.; 4:00 on ESPN
Just a few weeks ago Texas was in the top 10 and sleeper pick for the Final Four. Four straight losses (three against ranked opponents) has dampened those expectation drastically. In saying that though, they should play better in this one as they are, clearly, the better team on offense and defense. Longhorns gets off the snide with a hard fought victory on the road.
Texas 65, Kansas St. 61
Syracuse @ Pitt; 4:00 on ESPN2
Who knows how Syracuse players will come out after the school placed a postseason ban on themselves this year in hopes that the NCAA graces them with a lesser ban later. That uncertainty and Pitt playing at home will be tough to overcome for the Orange. While neither shoots it well, the Panthers are slight better from the floor and three so that’s enough for them to pull out a close one.
Pitt 66, Syracuse 64
UNLV @ Colorado St.; 4:00 on CBSSN
Shooting has become so awful the last few years and has really made college basketball tough to watch for the average fan. Not to pick on these two teams but I feel like I am repeating myself a lot with bad shooting teams and this matchup certainly lives up to that as UNLV ranks 131st while CSU ranks 89th which should be celebrated I guess. CSU’s ability to pass and control turnovers should be enough for them to pull this one out at home.
Colorado St. 74, UNLV 67
Nebraska @ Penn St.; 4:00 on ESPNU
Maybe I was one game too early with my shooting rant. Expanding the rim size might be the best option for this game as both teams rank well into the 100s and 200s for shooting from the field and three, respectively. First team to 60 wins (if either gets there) and I trust Penn St. a bit more at home.
Penn St. 61, Nebraska 57
Alabama @ LSU; 6:00 on ESPN2
What a matchup this would be for football but I’m not sure many fans of either team know they play basketball. LSU rebounds (8th ), passes (21st) and defends (26th) considerably better than the Tide so I see this one going the Tigers way. LSU might have the best chance to upset UK for their remaining schedule so I say they should gear up for that game with a good showing here.
LSU 69, Alabama 65
Harvard @ Yale; 7:00
We love the smart kids too here in the Warr Zone. Harvard has built quite the program under Tommy Amaker. Defense is too good here as neither team will shoot it well. Harvard has the better talent and should be able to overcome this road game.
Harvard 59, Yale 57
Louisville @ Virginia; 7:00 on ESPN
The best game of the weekend for me. Louisville is playing better of late on offense and still great defensively. Virginia remains great on offense and defense as they are the only team to rank top five both offense and defense. Louisville’s up-tempo defensive attack shouldn’t rattle the Cavs as they play fundamental basketball. The shooting gap is too large for me to pick my beloved Cardinals in this one.
Virginia 62, Louisville 55
SMU @ Tulsa; 8:00 on ESPNU
SMU could use a bounce back game after losing to Cincinnati earlier this week. SMU passes the ball well (15th in assists) but is terrible controlling turnovers (266th), whereas Tulsa struggle to generate offense (302nd in assists) but turns teams over reasonably well (49th). Too good of offense and defense for me though as SMU pulls out a close one to get back on track.
SMU 65, Tulsa 61
UCLA @ Cal; 8:00 on PAC12
Offense and rebounding are the difference makers in this one as UCLA ranks 60th compared to Cal at 248th in offense, and UCLA is 14th in rebounding to Cal’s 94th ranking. Once again, neither team shoots well but UCLA has too much talent to not win this game.
UCLA 70, Cal 66
Kentucky @ Florida; 9:00 on ESPN
How is this the College Gameday game? I know this is an intense rivalry but this isn’t even the fourth or fifth best game of the day. I think you can tell where I am going with this. UK is top ten on offense and defense, whereas Florida is dreadful offensively (98th). Too much depth and talent for Florida to pull out the victory, even with Gameday there.
Kentucky 62, Florida 53
Utah @ Colorado; 10:00 on PAC12
Colorado has been one of the most disappointing teams in the country this year as many expected them to have a decent chance to make it to the second weekend of the tournament. On the other hand, Utah has been one of the most surprising teams this year. I see this continuing as Utah just offers to much behind National POY candidate in Delon Wright.
Utah 62, Colorado 56
Michigan @ Indiana; 1:00 on CBS
If Indiana could stop anyone I could see them being a dark horse candidate for the Final Four but ranking 248th on defense is not a recipe for success in March. Part of that is due to lack of size but the pace at which they play contributes as well. That shouldn’t matter too much in this one as they always play better at home and can shoot the lights out.
Indiana 72, Michigan 66
Maryland @ Iowa; 3:15 on BTN
Maryland hasn’t played well of late but I think there is too much talent for this team to not play better. Offense is suspect for them (66th) but their ability to lock down teams (35th) should be huge in this one. I like Maryland’s ability to shoot better than Iowa even on the road in this one.
Maryland 67, Iowa 65
Washington @ Oregon St.; 4:30 on Fox Sports 1
Oregon St. has the best weapon in its 18th ranked defense, but points should be a struggle to come by as their offense ranks 225th. Washington can shoot it better from the floor but being at home and that stout defense should allow the Beaver a victory here against their conference rival.
Oregon St. 61, Washington 57
San Diego St. @ Boise St.; 6:00 on CBSSN
Steve Fisher always has his teams playing great defense and this year is no exception as they rank 5th nationally. Boise is the better shooting team and I am hesitant on who should win this game for that reason. The Aztecs could play defense well but if Boise St. is making shots then it might not matter. I have very little confidence in this pick but I will go with the team that has the best attribute that travels: defense.
San Diego St. 60, Boise St. 59
Clemson @ Miami; 6:30 on ESPNU
The last game for me this week should be a good game in that it matches up a good offensive team (Miami) against a good defensive team (Clemson). Clesmon will try to slow the pace down to keep the game close though. I don’t feel it would be appropriate to pick that last game without deciding it on shooting. Miami is far superior t shooting the ball which should be enough in this one.
Miami 61, Clemson 57
Last week: 13-7YTD: 42-14 Be Sociable, Share! Tweet