As we approach a weekend where the college basketball spotlight will again be on Lexington, it’s important to remember that there will be plenty of other action going on leading up to and after our inevitable steamrolling of the Vols. Okay, okay. It’s not that important. But you’ve already made it this far, so why not keep reading?
Last week was a little humbling around the KSR compound, as only Beisner and Intern could manage to crack .500, going 7-3 and 6-4, respectively. Yours truly, along with BTI, returned to the purgatory that is a 5-5 week, while the rest of the crew slinked back to the drawing board. With a big week and 3-7 showing from Patrick Barker, Intern has vaulted into the lead and allowed me to meet my daily quota for literary devices, as he leads by one game over the alliterative trio of Beisner, BTI and Barker in the quest for eternal supremacy and a 15% pay raise.
The time for the picks is upon us and the tension couldn’t be more palpable. The excitement is below so, please, venture yourself downward. That’s what she said.
Maryland at #7 Duke, 1 p.m., CBS
Upstart Maryland visits Cameron Indoor in what is either an illustration of the depth or the general mediocrity of the ACC this year, depending on which blog you write for. The Terps come in on a week’s rest after weather moved their game against Virginia from Wednesday to Monday. Meanwhile, Duke comes in off an emotional game against North Carolina which was pretty much void of anything resembling entertainment and was borderline painful to watch. Still, like the only ‘6’ in the ugly girl sorority, Duke is the class of a sub-par ACC and should take care of business at home.
#20 Georgia Tech at Wake Forest, 8 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets laid waste to Wake in their first go-round, shooting 60% from outside and 53% overall en route to a 21-point win. Since then, Wake has won three straight and Tech has fallen off a bit, as evidenced by their loss to hapless Miami this past Wednesday. Every game in the ACC is basically a toss-up since most of the teams are decidedly average, but I think Wake bounces back from the beatdown in the first game to even the season series at home.
#22 Cornell at Princeton, 6 p.m.
When not staring at the posters of high-level calculus equations taped to their ceilings, the Cornell basketball team is pretty formidable, thanks in part to the presence of the Coury Flurry. Princeton is really the only team that can catch Cornell in the Ivy League and stands a good chance of beating out the Big Red if they can pull off a win here, as they’re nearly shoo-ins to win the essay-question tiebreaker should things end up level at the end of the season. Christopher Johns might not fear the Flurry, but I do. Princeton feels the wrath this weekend.
Cincinnati at UConn, 12 p.m.
Jim Calhoun makes his triumphant return from an unidentified -itis and it couldn’t come at a better time for the now desperate Huskies. They have no margin for error in their last seven games, two of which are against West Virginia and Villanova, if they want any shot at making the tournament. While the looming question of Calhoun’s long-term future at UConn still remains, what lies in the short term future for the Huskies is a win against crumbling Cincinnati.
South Carolina at Georgia, 4 p.m.
The Cocks knocked off Georgia two weeks ago by a point, but that game was in Columbia where Darrin Horn’s boys are 11-2 this year. The rematch is in Athens, where Georgia is 10-3 and where Vanderbilt and Tennessee both suffered double-digit losses in recent weeks. South Carolina is horrible on the road and unless Devan Downey goes all, you know, Devan Downey, the Dawgs should get this one.
Rhode Island at #21 Temple, 4 p.m.
Yep. Rhode Island at Temple. Not exactly a lot of powerhouse matchups this weekend. I know very little about either of these teams, except Temple beat Villanova and Lamar Kardashian goes to Rhode Island. Or went to Rhode Island. Whatever. Everybody else picked Temple, and I can’t help but agree.
Virginia at Virginia Tech, 8 p.m.
The Hokies have won three straight and already beat their less technical intrastate rivals on the road this season. Virginia started the conference slate out hot but have faltered lately and what appeared to be a surprising run to the NCAAs for the Cavs has turned into a bubblicious struggle to stay above water. Tech is trending up, Virginia is trending down, and the difference will be evident when the Hokies roll.
Xavier at Florida, 6 p.m., ESPN
Florida takes a chance with the rare out of conference game during the conference season, and will face Jordan Crawford and Co. with a chance to improve a flimsy NCAA rÃ©sumÃ©. Florida’s win over Michigan State seems like ages ago and they’ll have to close extremely well to stave off a third straight NIT trip. Xavier is at the top of a talented Atlantic 10, which could send up to six teams to the dance. In this blogger’s humble opinion, Florida is flat-out not good, and despite being on the wrong end of a 25-point margin on the road against Dayton in their last game, Xavier will bounce back and beat the Gators to deepen their NIT grave.
Louisville at #3 Syracuse, 1 p.m., ESPN
Really, there’s not much to discuss here. St. John’s just took Louisville out behind the woodshed, Slick Rick is trying to take the Nets out to Porcini and their fans are melting down. There is absolutely no chance they come within 10 of Syracuse. There is absolutely no chance they’re going to the NCAA tournament. There is, however, a chance that the last Louisville game in Freedom Hall will be an NIT game. And chances are I would find that hilarious.
#16 Ohio State at Illinois, 1 p.m., CBS
Illinois has quietly worked themselves into a tie for first in the Big 10 and Ohio State is one of the teams they’re battling for the top spot. Evan Turner is spectacular but the Illini have won five straight, including a win over Michigan State and a rare road win at Wisconsin. This has the makings of a close one, and if Illinois can keep Turner from going nuts and control the pace of the game they can get a huge win at home, which I think they will.
As always, writer picks, results and standings after the jump.
|Matt||Duke||Wake||Cornell||UConn||Georgia||Temple||Va. Tech||Florida||Cuse||Ohio St.|
|Beisner||Duke||GT||Cornell||UConn||Georgia||Temple||Va. Tech||Florida||Cuse||Ohio St.|
|BTI||Duke||Wake||Cornell||UConn||Georgia||Temple||Va. Tech||Florida||Cuse||Ohio St.|
|Lentz||Duke||Wake||Cornell||UConn||USC||Temple||Va. Tech||Florida||Cuse||Ohio St.|