So we come near the end of this torturous week with no games for the Cats. Alas, other teams will be in action this weekend as well, and we’re back with week two of the picks to get this party jumpin like the Vengaboys. Patrick Barker topped the staff last week, going 7-3 in a week that was fairly unsuccessful for most of the crew. Chris Johns was at the bottom, managing but a paltry 3-7. Considering how his other pick this week worked out, I guess we can’t be too terribly surprised. BTI was the only other person above .500, and knowing that he and Barker took top honors in the first week should, at the very least, prove that this isn’t rigged in any way. Yours truly was 5-5, and the pick I compared to wearing assless chaps was the one that saved me. That should prove, if nothing else, that I probably do not know what I’m doing.
Still, fully prepared by having increased my research time by literally minutes, I charge forth with redemption on my mind. And dinner. I’m also thinking about dinner. Onto the picks!
all times EST
#1Texas at UConn, CBS 4 p.m.
The soon-to-be-not-top-ranked Longhorns invade Storrs to face off against Jim Calhoun’s, um, buddy’s Huskies in what looked like a great matchup before teams started playing games. The lack of Calhoun will obviously need to be overcome, but it will not challenge the Huskies as much as the lack of more than six players who can dribble. UConn hasn’t beaten a good team this season and has yet to see the most daunting part of its Big East schedule, but a win over the Longhorns would give them instant credibility. That said, unless Ater Majok pulls some kind of Monstars-like attack on Dwight Howard, this should be Texas by more than a few.
#6 Michigan State at Minnesota, Noon
The Spartans are another group that hasn’t totally fulfilled its preseason billing, but did beat Tubby’s Gophers only ten days ago. I trust Tom Izzo to have his talented and versatile bunch ready to be a tough out in March, but Minnesota was looking destined for another tourney bid before a recent slide and could make major headway in the Big Ten with a win. Tubby’s squad is undefeated on their Vandy-riffic home floor this year, but I think the streak comes to an end tomorrow, and the crew agrees unanimously.
#21 Ohio State at #11 West Virginia, 2 p.m.
West Virginia is a tough team to figure, as they have fallen off a bit after a very hot start. Meanwhile, Ohio State looks like a totally different team since the return of Evan Turner from his broken back. It’s funny how a walking triple-double will do that to a team. Still, West Virginia has athletes at every position and they’ll all get their chance to stop the Buckeyes’ leader. Unfortunately for Huggy Bear, Turner looks closer to unstoppable with each game since his comeback and I see nothing to believe that trend will change. The Mountaineers are good, but Turner and co. take this one in a road upset.
Oklahoma State at #10 Kansas State, 4 p.m.
The other Wildcats occupy this space mostly in honor of putting the real Wildcats in position to ascend to number one with a win tomorrow. This is a game they definitely should win if we’re to believe they are a true top-10 team, and it’s likely they will. It will take nothing short of a beastly effort from Matt Pilgrim (6.6p, 6.1r) and Travis Ford’s boys to win on the same floor where Texas just lost. Unless the K-State crew finally succumbs to the pressure of dealing with a coach who looks ready to go “one hit bro” on them if they miss a blockout, I expect them to handle the situation and take care of a game they should win.
Michigan at #13 Purdue, 4 p.m.
Last week, I wrongly applied the “whatever BTI does, do the opposite” corollary to Michigan’s game as he successfully picked the Wolverines to land what might be a signature win against UConn and I failed miserably. This weekend, Michigan has an opportunity for another big win, and one that will even be as impressive a week from now, if they can knock off the sort-of-sliding Boilers. Purdue may not be Final Four-caliber, but I think they are better than Michigan and I expect a similar result as last season when the Wolverines visited West Lafayette and were blown out. And, this time around, BTI approves this message.
#8 Tennessee at Georgia, 5 p.m.
Another team that burned many of us around the KSR compund last week was Tennessee. Only Matt Jones, temporarily struck by Bruce Pearl’s sweat-dipped orange cupid arrow, picked the Vols to knock off Ole Miss, and they obliged our fearless leader with a slim win. Now they hit the road against an overachieving but underwinning Georgia team. The Dawgs seem due for a win, as they’ve played a ton of close games but have yet to beat anyone in conference. I can’t bring myself to pick the Vols, because losing Tyler Smith eventually has to catch up and I hate them, so that’s why I’m going with Georgia to pull the upset. Matt’s love affair continues, however.
South Carolina at Florida, 6 p.m.
A sign that things are not going well: You are worried about Chandler Parsons as a matchup problem for your big guys. Florida has still been unimpressive this season, save for a win over Michigan State, but seems to be beating the other garbage SEC teams with regularity. South Carolina still has Devan Downey but otherwise fits that mold, which is why the Gators win.
#7 Duke at #17 Clemson, 9 p.m., ESPN
Both teams come into this week’s ESPN gameday game off of a loss. It may be the biggest game to hit Clemson since my cousin Elden was leading the Tigers in the late 80s, and the national broadcast will give Bob Knight and the crew yet another opportunity to verbally hug Coach K, which is great fun for everyone. Trevor Booker has been a force for Clemson lately, and I can’t say I trust the platoon of ninnies that Duke will try and use to stop him. Duke was crushed 74-47 the last time they visited the Tigers and doesn’t have a true road win this season. I think Clemson keeps them from getting their first, and wouldn’t pick Duke even if I didn’t.
Cincinnati at Louisville, Noon (Sunday)
The Bearcats await the return of Lance Stephenson, while the Cards await the return of Earl Clark and Terrence Williams. Louisville is reeling after potentially getting screwed at Seton Hall and still have not beaten a good team all year. Cincinnati may not qualify as one of those, but they do qualify as good enough to beat the Cards. The limp toward the NIT continues.
#12 Georgetown at #5 Syracuse, 7 p.m., ESPN (Monday)
We extend the weekend picks all the way to big Monday for what could be a matchup of top-10 teams by the time it tips off. Georgetown appears to be for real, and Greg Monroe is finally playing as well as he was advertised to be two years ago. However, Wesley Johnson is having an All-American season and Syracuse is tough to beat at home. The Hoyas certainly have enough talent to win in the Carrier Dome if they can manage the Cuse zone, and Kate Martin has even picked them to do just that. Those of us with y-chromosomes are all taking the Orange and, similarly to last week when she took Georgia Tech and we all took Carolina, we’re probably horribly wrong. I’m regretting it already.
So there you have it. A full slate of games for your weekend enjoyment and to complement our impending rise to #1. Our long Commonwealth nightmare is almost over. See the writers picks and results from last week after the jump.
As a bonus pick, I’ll take Vikings-Colts in the Super Bowl. Brett Favre still won’t give me my ESPN back.