Another week of exciting college basketball matchups is here, including Big Ten conference games, the annual Iowa-Iowa State rivalry and the Jimmy V Classic in New York City. Our writers make their picks for 13 key clashes through Sunday.
Pat Forde: 38-24
Michael Shapiro: 37-25
Molly Geary: 36-26
Max Meyer: 35-27
Jeremy Woo: 34-28
All times are Eastern.
Texas Tech vs. No. 1 Louisville (Tues., 7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Pat Forde picks Louisville: These are not last year’s Red Raiders, as the results of the last two weeks have shown. Tech has lost three straight away from home against Iowa, Creighton and DePaul—the latter two in overtime. Now, taking on the nation’s No. 1 team on a neutral court, the difficulty escalates. Don’t go into this game looking for offensive aesthetics; Louisville is third nationally in defensive efficiency according to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, and everyone knows that defense is the primary focus for Chris Beard. Look for the Cardinals’ streak of holding opponents to fewer than 55 points to reach four straight games.
No. 4 Maryland at Penn State (Tues., 7 p.m., ESPN2)
Molly Geary picks Penn State: Penn State is coming off a 32-point road loss to Ohio State, but the Nittany Lions are better than that (for one thing, they’re No. 24 on KenPom). Their star, Lamar Stevens, played just 17 minutes on Saturday, fouling out on a technical with 13 minutes left. At the time, the Buckeyes were up 10. They closed the game on a 46-24 run, going an unsustainable 9 for 14 from three in that span. In short, this wasn’t a run-of-the-mill blowout. Additionally, the Bryce Jordan Center hasn’t been kind to Maryland since joining the Big Ten. The Terps have lost in each of their last three trips there, including by 17 last February. This is a tough game for undefeated Maryland (reflected in a -1 Vegas line), which will be playing its sixth game in 13 days and is fresh off an emotional home comeback over Illinois.
No. 18 Butler at No. 11 Baylor (Tues., 9 p.m., ESPN2)
Molly Geary picks Butler: Both of these teams are off to strong starts to 2019-20, with a combined one loss (Baylor, to Washington). There’s a lot of strength vs. strength going on here when it comes to how these teams match up, but I like Butler to neutralize some of the Bears’ advantages in a way Arizona couldn’t last weekend. The Wildcats turned it over 16 times and gave up 13 offensive rebounds, two areas that the Bulldogs have excelled in limiting—though they’ve admittedly yet to face a team as good on the boards as Baylor.
Indiana vs. UConn (Tues., 9 p.m., ESPN)
Pat Forde picks UConn: The Hoosiers’ 8-0 start was built on eight home games, and their first road trip was a predictable pratfall, losing by 20 at Wisconsin. Now they take on the Huskies in New York, another test of toughness outside of Assembly Hall. UConn, which has a nice home win over Florida and a double OT loss to Xavier, will be tasked with defending Indiana without sending them to the line all game—the Hoosiers lead the nation in a free throw rate, with 267 foul shots and 500 field goal attempts. Archie Miller’s team is bringing back an old Bob Knight staple: more free throws made (186) than its opponents have attempted (177).
No. 5 Michigan at Illinois (Wed., 9 p.m., BTN)
Jeremy Woo picks Michigan: The Illini have yet to knock off a good team. Michigan is trending up. This doesn’t scream upset, even in Champaign.
Iowa at Iowa State (Thurs., 8 p.m., ESPN2)
Michael Shapiro picks Iowa State: The Cyclones took care of business at home against Seton Hall on Sunday, and expect Iowa State to add another quality non-conference win against its in-state rival on Thursday. Steve Prohm’s squad is one of the Big 12’s best offenses, led by sophomore guard Tyrese Haliburton. The potential 2020 lottery pick continues to make a major leap as a playmaker in 2019-20, and his three-point percentage remains over 40% despite an increase in volume. Haliburton is a likely All-Big 12 selection. The Hawkeyes will struggle to contain him in Ames.
No. 10 Oregon at No. 5 Michigan (Sat., 12 p.m., CBS)
Max Meyer picks Michigan: If Oregon would’ve had N’Faly Dante for this game, it’d be a different story. Without him, though, Jon Teske should take advantage down low. Teske has been really solid throughout the season, and Oregon gave up monster games to Gonzaga’s Filip Petrusev and North Carolina’s Armando Bacot in the Ducks’ two losses. Oregon has been lethal from beyond the arc, ranking 17th (40.4%) in three-point percentage this season. But the Wolverines have one of the best perimeter defenses in the country, only allowing a 25.3% three-point attempt rate (third in CBB). As good as Oregon is, this is just a bad matchup right now for the Ducks.
Syracuse at Georgetown (Sat., 1 p.m., FOX)
Molly Geary picks Georgetown: This matchup feels like a toss-up, depending on which version of each team shows up. After losing three straight, Syracuse beat up on Georgia Tech over the weekend while putting up 97 points. Georgetown, meanwhile, saw point guard James Akinjo and Josh LeBlanc recently abruptly leave the program, but responded by beating Oklahoma State and SMU on the road. Sophomore guard Mac McClung exploded for 33 and 19 points in those games, respectively. We’ll give the edge to the home team here.
No. 13 Memphis at No. 19 Tennessee (Sat., 3 p.m., ESPN)
Jeremy Woo picks Tennessee: This will be Memphis’s first trip to a truly hostile road environment, and a well-drilled Vols team won’t be an easy out.
Georgia at Arizona State (Sat., 8 p.m., Pac-12)
Max Meyer picks Arizona State: Anthony Edwards vs. Remy Martin showdown! Both teams play fast, and will frustrate you with their shot selection, so don’t be surprised if there are multiple big runs in this game. I think Arizona State has the more complete team, however, and the Sun Devils have a big edge in turnovers—whether it’s limiting them on the offensive end (15.9% TO rate, 21st in CBB) or forcing them on defense (23.8%, 28th in CBB).
Utah State at BYU (Sat., 8 p.m., BYU TV)
Jeremy Woo picks Utah State: With Neemias Queta back on the floor to make life tough for Yoeli Childs, the Aggies should pull this out on the road.
No. 6 Gonzaga at No. 15 Arizona (Sat., 10 p.m., ESPN2)
Max Meyer picks Gonzaga: Gonzaga is in the midst of a brutal three-game stretch, as the Bulldogs beat Washington in Seattle on Sunday and host North Carolina next Wednesday. This weekend, though, they square off in a clash of the West Coast’s two premiere programs this decade. Arizona has an exciting freshmen triumvirate of Nico Mannion, Josh Green and Zeke Nnaji, but the young Wildcats have played in some close games of late, most recently a five-point loss to Baylor in which they trailed by 11 at the half. Gonzaga’s only loss this season came in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship, when it looked drained against Michigan following an overtime war vs. Oregon. Sophomore guard Joel Ayayi’s emergence has made the Zags even more dangerous, and I think this group can pick up another big road win.
Oklahoma State at Houston (Sun., 3 p.m., ESPN2)
Michael Shapiro picks Houston: Which Oklahoma State team will we see in Houston? Will the Cowboys return to their NIT Tip-Off form (where they cruised past Syracuse and Ole Miss), or will they continue their recent slide after losses to Georgetown and Wichita State. I’m inclined to think we’ll see the latter once again at the Fertitta Center. Point guard Isaac Likekele may miss the matchup with an illness, and sophomore center Yor Anei has a propensity for getting into foul trouble. Let’s ride with Kelvin Sampson’s squad at home on Sunday.