Starting this very evening, I’ll be running a new feature where the KSR staff takes some of the weekend’s best games and makes their picks for the world to consume. The picks will serve as part preview of the weekend, part battle for supreme bragging rights and the right to use Will Lentz as a footstool at the KSR compound. I’ll give you my thoughts on the games and picks in this space, and we’ll track the crew’s success as Kate inevitably kicks all our asses. And, if I can think of a good way to involve our loyal readers without me having to read and track 35,000 picks in the comments or through email, we might put a KSR prize you’ll never receive on the line. We’ll see. For now, enjoy the product of literally minutes of frantic research on my part.
Texas A&M (12-4, 1-1) at #1 Texas (16-0, 2-0)
The top team in the nation meets one of its most bitter rivals in what I wish would be the first loss of the season for the Longhorns. A rivalry game against an A&M team that is decent could potentially spell trouble. What it will probably spell is a game that’s closer than it should be for a while before the talent up and down Texas’ roster proves too much for Billy Clyde’s former employer. The Horns are a unanimous choice from the writers, as well, and who am I to shirk convention?
#5 Syracuse (16-1, 3-1) at #9 West Virginia (13-2, 4-1)
By far the toughest game of the weekend to pick. One was a trendy Final Four pick in the early season, the other came by surprise to storm into the top five. Both teams are talented and the coaching matchup is a push, because how could I choose between Mr Whitefolks and Clark Griswold? Typically I like the home team in games like this, but the Syracuse zone is tough and will cause West Virginia problems, which is why I’m taking the Orange.
#23 Ole Miss (13-3, 1-1) at #10 Tennessee (13-2, 1-0)
There’s a cute little story brewing down in Knoxville, now isn’t there? The 78 basketball fans in Vol Nation are rocking, and the last time I saw this kind of rally around someone named Skyler, she was pulling dollar bills out of people’s mouths with her boobies. Yes, the fairytale is one that warms your heart and that the sentimentalist in you hopes can continue forever. And the truth is, it can go on forever. Or, at least, until Ole Miss and their stable of guards invade Thompson-Boling and remind the Vols that you can only last so long with six scholarship players. The fun’s over.
#18 Georgia Tech (12-4, 1-2) at #13 North Carolina (12-5, 1-1)
North Carolina came into the season as some people’s Final Four pick. Georgia Tech came into the season with major sleeper potential, as their roster is full of quality talent. Georgia Tech has been pretty much what people expected. Carolina has not. The Heels got spanked Wednesday night against Clemson, and have been terrible on the road this year. However, this game isn’t on the road, and I feel like Carolina will bounce back well in their own gym, even though I hate them. Heels take this one.
Louisville (12-5, 3-1) at #20 Pittsburgh (14-2, 4-0)
Another member of the ‘please beat someone to help Kentucky’s RPI’ club is evil Louisville. Of course, Kentucky’s RPI doesn’t have a hefty wager with a friend that the Cards won’t make the NCAA tournament. I do have one of those wagers and, luckily for me, I expect Rufio Siva and the gang to continue to prove me right in Pittsburgh tomorrow. The Cards have beaten no one of consequence and missed their best shot at it Monday against Villanova, instead looking destined for a .500 or below finish in the conference and the NIT. I’m gonna be rich.
Vanderbilt (13-3, 2-0) at South Carolina (11-5, 2-0)
Two of Kentucky’s SEC East brethren meet in Columbia and one side will suffer their first conference loss. If the game were in Vandy’s space station gym, I’d like their chances against a depleted South Carolina squad. However, with the game on planet Earth, I expect Devan Downey to have something like 115 and South Carolina to beat the giant Aussie and potentially make him one shade pastier, if that’s possible.
Notre Dame (14-3, 3-1) at Cincinnati (11-6, 2-3)
Cincy turned heads early in the year with their near triumph in Maui and a win over UConn. Now, that win over UConn doesn’t look quite as good and the Bearcats have lost three of four against the likes of St. Johns and Seton Hall. Cincy has Lance Stephenson, but Notre Dame still has Luke Harangody. Born Ready…meet created in a lab and hungry…for…your..brains. Irish win on the road.
#11 Georgetown (13-2, 4-1) at #4 Villanova (15-1, 4-0)
If I were to include a fourth team in the group with Texas, Kansas and Kentucky, it would be Villanova. They’re a flukie loss to Temple away from being undefeated, and Scottie Reynolds just got done putting 30 on the filthy Cards in the second half Monday night. Georgetown can be like watching paint dry, so I’m picking Villanova in the name of entertainment if nothing else. Another one the staff will unanimously have to eat it for if we’re wrong.
Minnesota (12-5, 3-2) at Indiana (7-9, 1-3)
Outside of a three-game losing streak early in the season, Tubby’s troops have been respectably solid this year. On the other side, Indiana is terrible. Not good. At all. Picking the Hoosiers in any game this year would fall under, “things that are a bad idea under any curcumstances,” along with assless chaps and clear liquor from plastic bottles. That said, I’m still taking them. What can I say? I shirk convention.
#15 UConn (11-5, 2-3) at Michigan (9-7, 3-2)
UConn looks less and less impressive the more I see of them, and they really haven’t registered a win over a good team all year. However, John Beilein’s brand of wacky-ball hasn’t taken hold up north, and he’s basically the other guy Michigan poached from West Virginia who hasn’t delivered, but lucky for him no one cares. I don’t think Michigan is good enough to beat UConn, even at home, but it’s awfully tempting to take them anyway because the Huskies have been so unimpressive. Still, I feel like I should take UConn, and since BTI is taking the Wolverines, I know I’m right.
See the writers’ picks below, and have a good time enjoying one of the best weekends of the NFL season. Or, if you’re a Bengals fan like me and can’t stomach thinking about NFL football, enjoy a weekend full of college basketball that didn’t matter before the writing of this post but now matters a great deal.