So we move forth with the fourth edition of the picks, and thereare plenty of good games this weekend to look forward to. First, we’ll look back, as BTI and Drew Franklin both went 8-2 last week, El Capitan Jones and Intern went 7-3 and I managed to get above .500 with a 6-4 mark in what was a pretty successful week all-around for the crew. That is, unless you’re Chris Johns, who managed but a 2-8 record and should potentially consider the George Costanza approach when picking games. Patrick Barker continues to pace the field, but his lead is shrinking and the race for absolutely nothing has gotten even closer. You can almost feel the pressure.
My weekly quest to not suck at this continues, with the picks for the week…
South Carolina at #14 Tennessee, Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN
The Devan Downey show rolls through Knoxville this weekend, and there’s little to say that Bobby Maze or any of Bruce Pearl’s sweaty army has the necessary chops to stop him. Tennessee has settled into a nice little groove of mediocrity but continues to win close games, most recently a five-point triumph at terrible LSU. Meanwhile, South Carolina has been substantially less impressive on the road than in their techno jungle, although Downey could legitimately beat the Vols by himself. This one should be close, but Tennessee takes it at home.
#20 Vanderbilt at Georgia, Saturday, 8 p.m.
The Dawgs got their win over a good team against Tennessee, but have managed three straight losses since and find one of the best teams in the SEC coming to town. Georgia is tough, particularly at home, but they’re ability to play above their perceived level of talent has really only earned them losses that were closer than they should have been. If Arkansas can go into Athens and get a win, I can’t help but think that Vanderbilt will do the same.
Mississippi State at Florida, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
A matchup of a couple of teams whose NCAA tournament credibility is questionable at best. Mississippi State still has a chance to win the SEC west, which will be nice to hang on the refrigerator but in reality counts for very little. What would count is beating a team that is also fighting for a tourney spot in their building. My gut says to take Florida at home, but then I envision the likes of Predator and Parsons trying to deal with Jarvis Varnado, and it makes me laugh. Mississippi State and Varnado haven’t quite lived up to Jerry Tipton’s lofty preseason predictions for them, but I think they get a big win in front of all 36 Gator basketball fans in Gainesville.
#5 Michigan State at Illinois, Saturday, 9 p.m., ESPN
This is one that would normally be a walk for Sparty, but with Kalin Lucas seemingly unlikely to play with a sprained ankle, it takes on some level on intrigue. State took the first meeting in East Lansing, but it was mainly through a second half run fueled by Lucas. He’s a dynamic player that has been almost singlehandedly carrying the Spartans through the last few weeks. On the road in the always hostile College Gameday environment, I think the absence of Lucas shows and the Fighting Illini win to keep pace with the rest of the top half of the Big Ten.
#13 Gonzaga at Memphis, Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN2
Memphis boasts one of the top inside out punches in the nation with freshmen John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, and with Xavier Henry also providing scoring on the wing, the Tigers are ready for this matchup of top-flight mid-majors. Gonzaga has neither the athleticism nor the coaching to keep up, and the Memphis freshmen will continue to roll.Um…yeah. Sorry about all that Memphis. Zags win.
#12 BYU at UNLV, Saturday, 4 p.m.
The fightin’ Derrick Jaspers host one of the best mid-majors in the country this weekend, as the Cougars of BYU visit Las Vegas. Jasper is still out with a knee, but the Rebels haven’t missed much of a beat without him and could jump into a first-place tie in the Mountain West with a win over the Cougs. The first meeting was close but BYU squeaked out a four-point win at home, and even though the BYU boys will all have to wash themselves with steel wool and turpentine to remove the stank of sin after a romp through Vegas, I think they finish the sweep of the Rebels.
North Carolina at Maryland, Sunday, 2 p.m.
After weeks of teetering on the edge, it’s official. North Carolina sucks. They have no guards, their coach looks legitimately sad after games, and their conference wins came against NC State (one of the two teams behind them in the standings) and Virginia Tech (who beat the Heels in the rematch Thursday night). Maryland, on the other hand, sits as a surprising second-place team in the ACC and continues to look solid as they push for a tourney bid. Ol’ Roy and his boys are in a tailspin and he wonders how it can get any worse. Maryland kicking the crap out of them should be a nice start.
#2 Villanova at #6 West Virginia, Monday, 7 p.m., ESPN
The picks this week stretch all the way to Big Monday, where Villanova will take one of the three best guards in the country, Scottie Reynolds, to Morgantown to battle Bob Huggins and West Virginia’s stupid fans. The diet Wildcats are driven by their guards, but West Virginia’s legion of long defenders could cause Nova problems. A capable inside game is something else that could trouble the Wildcats, and I think WVU’s combination of both is a formula for the first conference loss of the year for Jay Wright’s crew.
#1 Kansas at #10 Texas, Monday, 9 p.m., ESPN
Two of the country’s best meet for the only time this regular season and the stakes are high. If Texas wants any sniff of the Big 12 title they have to hold serve at home, but Kansas is deeper and more talented than the Longhorns. The battle between Dexter Pittman and Cole Aldrich will be epic, but the story will be the backcourts. Sherron Collins hasn’t played exceptionally well lately, and Avery Bradley isn’t the kind of defender you break out of a funk against. If Collins is kept in check, which I think he will be, then Texas takes this one and once again helps the Cats get to #1.
Super Bowl XLIV, Sunday, 6:25 p.m., CBS
We couldn’t let the biggest sports day of the year go by without KSR getting in on the prediction business. The Colts haven’t lost a game in which they actually tried all year, but the Saints are every bit as good offensively and may have an advantage on defense if Dwight Freeney sits. As with every game they play, the key will be whether the Colts allow Peyton Manning to get knocked around. New Orleans has that ability, seeing as they’ve destroyed the two quarterbacks they’ve faced in the playoffs, and I think they’ll get after Manning like he hasn’t seen this season. It should be an absolute classic, but I’m taking the underdog and going with the Saints.
Consider yourself prepped for a big weekend in college basketball and a bigger weekend in the NFL. You’re welcome.
Writer picks and results after the jump.
|USC/Tenn||Vandy/UGA||Miss St/Fla||Mich St/Ill||Gon/Mem||BYU/UNLV||UNC/MD||Kan/Tex||Nova/WVU||SB44|