February 13, 2015 Louisville, KY. (Analyzed Sports) By: Zack Warren
A slow start to last week got the weekend off to a rocky start but a nice recovery through the middle brought last week’s record to 22-8. That brings the yearly record to 64-26 for a 71.1% success rate. Enough about the past and onto another exciting weekend of games. Once again, check out kenpom.com and teamrankings.com for some more in-depth stats. Also, for a nice analysis of top teams as the tournament approaches check out Mark Titus’ Power Rankings at grantland.com.
Arizona @ Washington; 9:00 on ESPN
The lone Friday game for us here shouldn’t be too much of a test for the visiting Wildcats but you never know with conference road games, especially with these “always-keep-it-close-no-matter-who-we-play” Wildcats. Too many athletes for Arizona and a suffocating defense will be the most important factors in this one.
Arizona 76, Washington 65
Ohio St. @ Michigan St.; 12:00 on ESPN
This one has me torn more than just about any game this weekend. I think Michigan St. is the better team but D’Angelo Russell has been too good to overlook their chances. I may have changed my mind again with this by the time you read it and then by the time the game starts. In fact, I changed the pick as I was writing this. Better offense and better defense is how I will support this decision. Don’t let me down D’Angelo!
Ohio St. 70, Michigan St. 69
North Carolina @ Pittsburgh; 12:00 on Full Court
The home sandwich game for Pittsburgh (just played at Louisville and travel to Virginia on Monday) is not exactly what you want between two of the toughest teams in the country in the aforementioned Cardinals and Cavaliers. UNC’s great offense (11th) against Pitt’s porous defense (200th) is not a good equation for trying to pull off an upset.
North Carolina 76, Pittsburgh 70
St. John’s @ Xavier; 12:30
The underrated Big East provides a nice early matchup of a St. John’s team looking to get a nice road victory to boost its tournament chances and a Xavier team looking to get another top 50 quality win to boost its resume. St. John’s isn’t great or bad on offense (51st) or defense (63rd) which is quite the opposite of Xavier, which is great on offense (18th) and so-so on defense (72nd). Slight better offense/defense combo and playing at home gives the edge to Xavier for me.
Xavier 75, St. John’s 68
St. Bonaventure @ Dayton; 12:30 on NBC Sports Network
Dayton is one of the more underrated teams in the country. If it wasn’t for their 95th ranked offense I might like them a bit more to make a deeper run in March although their 21st ranked defense certainly helps. St. Bonaventure was one of three games last week I lost on buzzer beaters. They did impress me with the way they handled the relentless pressure of VCU last week but I don’t like their chances against a more balanced attack.
Dayton 67, St. Bonaventure 58
Baylor @ Kansas; 1:00 on CBS
The first of many quality Big 12 games for the day brings together the enigmatic Baylor Bears and the roller coaster that is the Kansas Jayhawks. You all know how I was driving the Kansas championship bandwagon last week and I am still driving but I have moved over to the slow lane just in case I need to jump as well. Both of these are good offenses but what separates these two teams in this game are Kansas’ better defense and home court advantage.
Kansas 70, Baylor 65
South Carolina @ Kentucky; 2:00 on ESPN
Is there anything I can say that could convince you this will be somewhat of a game…didn’t think so. Too much talent, offense, defense and anything else that matters on a basketball court.
Kentucky 69, South Carolina 52
VCU @ George Washington; 2:00 on ESPN2
Both of these teams had great ending last weekend with VCU losing on a buzzer beater and George Washington winning on one. VCU’s defense gets a lot of attention but it’s not as tough as it might appear. They do create a lot of turnovers but if you can beat the pressure you can get easy scores (easier said than done). The defense won’t be the deciding point in this one though. GW’s offense is just bad enough (137th) to convince me to take the visiting Rams.
VCU 65, George Washington 64
Oregon @ UCLA; 3:00
UCLA has struggled this year against better competition but Oregon is not what I would consider better competition. Oregon has the slight advantage on offense but UCLA, though not great, has a huge advantage on defense as well as home court.
UCLA 77, Oregon 71
West Virginia @ Iowa St.; 4:00 on ESPN2
I don’t know what to think of the Big 12 anymore. Every time I am sure one team is going to challenge Kansas they start to fall all over themselves like Iowa St., Oklahoma, Baylor, West Virginia, Texas and Oklahoma St. have done this year. West Virginia laid an egg last weekend at home against Baylor and I’m not sure I trust them enough to go into Ames and beat a Hawkeye team that was embarrassed by Oklahoma on Monday. Iowa St. is just too good on offense so I’ll take the Cyclones.
Iowa St. 85, West Virginia 79
North Carolina St. @ Louisville; 4:00 on ESPN
As I mentioned in the intro, Mark Titus provides a great read of how he ranks the top teams in college basketball. One team he has been higher on than most is Louisville, which is probably why I like him so much. As a Louisville fan, you should probably take what I say with a grain of salt. They have looked better on offense of late but I’m not convinced it will come around enough to win a National Championship. They rely too much on Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell so if a team can take away one of them they have a better chance of winning. Oh yeah, the game this week…I like them to win because I love their defense and can tolerate their offense enough.
Louisville 73, North Carolina St. 62
Seton Hall @ Providence; 4:00
These two teams match up very well with the exception of one thing: defense. Providence is better on defense as well as being slightly better on offense. Neither team shoots it well so I’ll take the team with the better defense and home court advantage.
Providence 73, Seton Hall 67
LSU @ Tennessee; 4:00 on SEC Network
I ran the numbers for this one and cannot figure out why this one should be so close. LSU is slightly better on offense but way better on defense (40th compared to 118th). There isn’t any area where I can see the Volunteers having a significant advantage so I will go against the numbers and Vegas to take LSU outright rather comfortably.
LSU 75, Tennessee 67
Oklahoma St. @ TCU; 6:00 on ESPNU
This is another one I just don’t quite get either. I think the Pokes should win this one rather convincingly but, like I said earlier, you can never tell with the Big 12. Better offense by a wide margin and a better defense by a slight amount gives me confidence in taking the road team in this one.
Oklahoma St. 65, TCU 59
Wichita St. @ Illinois St.; 6:00 on ESPN2
While Illinois St. is not nearly as good as Wichita St., this is the type of games where you can see an upset. One team (Wichita St.) gets a lot of national attention while the other teams (in this case, Illinois St.) get very little even though they are a quality team. This will be one of the biggest games at home for ISU this year so expect a raucous crowd. With that being said, I still like the Shockers in a close one.
Wichita St. 64, Illinois St. 62
Villanova @ Butler; 6:00 on CBS Sports Network
I’m not sure whether I buy into Villanova just yet but one thing I will say is they have so much depth that it will really be hard for them to have a terrible night because two or three guys will always have good games. Hinkle Fieldhouse is no easy place to win a basketball game and Butler is no slouch either. While I like this one to be close, Villanova is just too good on offense.
Villanova 66, Butler 64
Duke @ Syracuse; 6:00 on ESPN
Please do’t believe all the hype being fed to you about how this game is going to live up to the lofty expectation set by the game in the Carrier Dome between these two teams last year. Neither of these teams is close to being the same team and Syracuse just isn’t that good this year. There is a reason they were so willing to take a postseason ban this year…they probably were not going to make it to the NCAA tournament anyway. Duke is just too good and talented on offense for Syracuse to overcome this one at home.
Duke 76, Syracuse 70
Florida @ Texas A&M; 6:30 on SEC Network
Both of these teams desperately need to keep winning games to try and get into the NCAA tournament. Florida gave a valiant effort last weekend against UK but they weren’t have that same adrenaline or environment this weekend. That leads me to believe this could be a let down game, especially after dropping one against Ole Miss this week as well.
Texas A&M 61, Florida 59
Texas Tech @ Texas; 8:00 on Longhorn Network
Not much for me to say with this one. Texas is way better on offense (44th compared to 268th) as well as on defense (22nd compared to 99th). Texas’ main concern should be how they get better to make a deep run into the tournament this year. I don’t understand how Rick Barnes has been able to stay off the hot seat for so long (maybe all they do care about is football) when he turns in the performances he does with that talent that comes through Austin. None of this matters in this one as the Longhorns roll.
Texas 67, Texas Tech 52
Oklahoma @ Kansas St.; 8:00 on ESPN2
Very much the same story with this one as the previous game. Too much of a discrepancy between offense and defense for these two teams. Oklahoma is very underrated on defense and in general this year.
Oklahoma 67, Kansas St. 60
Pepperdine @ Gonzaga; 8:00 on Full Court
I strictly put this game in the column this week so I could give my Gonzaga-isn’t-overrated rant. Hate on the Zags all you want but come tournament time you probably don’t want your team playing them. They are one of the best offensive teams (3rd) in the country and present a very underrated defense (24th) this year too. Many will ask how this team is any different than years past and the answer is the defense. Gonzaga could always put up points but their defense was never good enough to make a deeper run. I’m not telling you they will win it all, but I wouldn’t want to play them to have to find out.
Gonzaga 76, Pepperdine 57
Colorado St. @ San Diego St.; 8:00 on CBS Sports Network
If San Diego St. had a competent offense they would be one of the best teams in the country but instead they rank 178th nationally. It’s actually rather amazing they could be so bad on one side of the ball and still be one of the top 30 or so teams in the country. I don’t see that having a huge effect in this one as CSU struggle to stop people so maybe the Aztecs can put up some points in this one.
San Diego St. 66, Colorado St. 59
Maryland @ Penn St.; 8:30 on Big Ten Network
There is no way this game should be as close as the numbers dictate it will be but Maryland has laid some bad eggs recently that warrants some consideration (blowouts at Iowa and Ohio St.). I like Maryland to win this one due to their advantages on offense and defense but I just don’t trust them on the road even against inferior teams. This entire paragraph was a hedge just in case Maryland loses this game.
Maryland 64, Penn St. 63
UConn @ SMU; 9:00 on ESPN (College Gameday)
Before I get into the game I have two…Who selects where College Gameday is going every weekend? and How does that person still have a job after this selection? Pick any of the good Big 12 or ACC games and they would have been better selections than this one.
(Jumps off soapbox)
UConn has not been able to keep their momentum going after winning the national championship last year. The offense struggles mightily while the defense isn’t what it used to be either. SMU is the more consistent team and they are playing at home with the College Gameday (however bad the selection it is) atmosphere, which has to be worth a few points.
SMU 64, UConn 58
Arkansas @ Ole Miss; 9:00 on SEC Network
Two very evenly matched teams. Ole Miss has the advantage on offense but Arkansas has the advantage on defense. Not too many things to separate these two teams so I will take the better offense and home court to back the Rebels in this one.
Ole Miss 81, Arkansas 77
Illinois @Wisconsin; 1:00 on CBS
Illinois could use this victory badly in helping them get into the NCAA tournament. Wisconsin is not the type of team that usually allows this to happen. They won’t be themselves (fewest turnovers per game nationally) and they run a deliberate offense that won’t be taken off the tracks in a tough road environment. The only way this one is close is if Illinois is shooting a better percentage than they typically do.
Wisconsin 72, Illinois 59
Nebraska @ Purdue; 5:15 on Big Ten Network
Don’t look now but Purdue is playing better of late as they have won 8 of their last 10. The Big Ten will offer them plenty of opportunities to pick up some quality wins down the stretch as well. This game is not one of those…this is a must win to keep any hope of going to the tournament alive. Nebraska is dreadful on offense but tremendous on defense. Regardless of how good they are on defense I just cannot pick a team to win on the road that is ranked 296th in the country on offense. My alma mater will hate hearing this but Boiler Up in this one.
Purdue 62, Nebraska 55
Arizona St. @ Washington; 5:30 on PAC 12 Network
Washington is the first team to make a double appearance in the weekly column. Same opponent state but very different team they face in this one. This is another close call for me so I will take the Sun Devils in this one but no reasoning other than they are the better offensive and defensive team.
Arizona St 71, Washington 70
Minnesota @ Indiana; 7:30 on Big Ten Network
Of all the road underdogs this weekend, I like MInnesota’s chance the best to pull off the upset. IU is very good on offense but is terrible defensively. Minnesota is slightly above average on both offense and defense which bodes well for them to be able to keep pace and slow down the Hoosiers. One side note as well: Minnesota’s coach, Richard Pitino, is the son of Louisville coach coach Rick Pitino, whose team already beat the Hoosiers this year, so I can assure you there was plenty shared this week about how to attack IU. I will take the home team but if you gave me good enough odds I might swing towards taking Minnesota.
Indiana 80, Minnesota 77
California @ Utah; 8:30 on ESPNU
I wish I could say I saved the best for last but I don’t pick the game times and this game is not the best for the weekend. It shouldn’t be that close at all really. Utah is really good on offense and defense this year and is playing at home. I think you can guess where I am going on this one.
Utah 70, California 52
Thanks to all that read these. If you have any suggestions for improving the site please feel free to leave comments and I will see how I can address them in the future.
Last week: 22-8 (73.3%)Year-to-date: 64-26 (71.1%) Be Sociable, Share! Tweet