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College Basketball Weekly Watch List: January 8-January 14

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College Basketball Weekly Watch List: January 8-January 14

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What do Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky and Michigan State all have in common? Well, besides being some of the most storied programs in college basketball, they all lost last week. That is just the beginning of the craziness that took place in the first full week of the new year. Oh, and get this: This week has even more potential to produce upsets that will certainly shake up the top 25. Buckle up, college basketball fans. We are in for another exciting week.

Monday:

As most sports fans are aware of by now, Monday night is the College Football National Championship game. Therefore, there are very few college basketball games, all of which are mid-major matchups. Although most of these games won’t be televised or be worth skipping the title game for, there are some teams that could be high seeds in the NCAA tournament at the end of the year, and you know what that means: upsets.

Norfolk St. at N.C Central:

ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi currently predicts N.C Central to be one of the final teams to make the tournament. This year they have suffered some heart-wrenching losses to George Mason and Grand Canyon, but have put up a fight against teams like the Illinois. Monday night they welcome in Norfolk State who has had a very rough beginning to their season. N.C Central’s Raasean Davis, the 6’9’’ Junior from Chicago, is the Eagles leading scorer and will likely pave the way for his team to beat Norfolk State easily as long as he can score close to 20 points. I like him to be the difference maker Monday night as NC Central should have no problem handling the Spartans.

Games to Watch:

Norfolk State at N.C Central

N.C A&T at Delaware St.

Lehigh at Boston U.

Picks:

N.C Central beats Norfolk State

Boston U. beats Lehigh

N.C A&T beats Delaware St.

 

Tuesday:

Seton Hall at Marquette:

Do not sleep on the Marquette Golden Eagles. This team is legit, but do you know who else is legit? Angel Delgado and the Seton Hall Pirates. Seton Hall is coming off a huge win on the road at Butler, which happens to be the Bulldogs’ first home loss of the season. The Pirates showed Saturday that they are one of those teams that is solid all around. Delgado is an absolute monster on the glass and Khadeen Carrington is lethal from the perimeter. The one thing this team has to worry about is foul trouble, especially against a team like Marquette who shoots free throws really well. When Delgado gets in foul trouble and has to go to the bench, they lose their most productive big man which leads to very few offensive rebounds and also second chance opportunities for their opposition. As far as Marquette goes, they have two very underrated shooters, one of which is Marcus Howard who put up a Marquette record 52 points in his game against Providence. Andrew Rowsey, their other lethal shooter, is averaging 21 points a game and isn’t afraid to shoot threes from NBA range. Bottom line being it is tough for opposing defenses to figure out the Golden Eagles. With the Bradley Center rocking, if Rowsey and Howard can find a groove, I like them over ranked the now ranked Seton Hall Pirates.

Texas A&M at Kentucky:

This is an extremely important game for both of these SEC teams. Each of them are trying to avenge heartbreaking losses to programs they quite frankly should have beat. The Aggies are in the most danger. They have now dropped three straight games and have to play in the toughest environment in the SEC. Tyler Davis has not been performing at the level he is expected to, and the rest of the Aggies haven’t been there to support him. Meanwhile for Kentucky, inexperience may be one of their biggest issues. Just like Tyler Davis, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo haven’t done enough for Kentucky to keep them within the top 10. Don’t get me wrong, the SEC has improved significantly, but this is still the Wildcats conference to lose. I like Kentucky big in this one, handing Texas A&M their 4th straight loss.

Texas Tech at Oklahoma:

It takes a team to win basketball games, not just Trae Young, because when he gets shut down like he did against West Virginia over the weekend, then you can bet against the Sooners. Texas Tech, however, has nowhere near as good as a defense as the Mountaineers. They do have Keenan Evans who can score, but again OU has Trae Young. If anything, this will be a high scoring game. Defense will be limited, but in the end I like Oklahoma. Texas Tech really impressed me last week with a win at Allen Fieldhouse, but a win at Lloyd Noble Center would stun me.

Games To Watch:

Baylor at West Virginia

Texas Tech at Oklahoma

Texas A&M at Kentucky

Butler at Creighton

Purdue at Michigan

Seton Hall at Marquette

Picks:

Marquette beats Seton Hall

Michigan beats Purdue

Creighton beats Butler

Kentucky beats Texas A&M

Oklahoma beats Texas Tech

 

Wednesday:

Xavier at Villanova (Blockbuster of the Week):

At this point, Villanova could be undefeated, but their defense has not been swell, especially as of late. In their lone loss to the Butler Bulldogs, they allowed 101 points, which is extremely high for the college level, and couldn’t defend the perimeter. The same thing occurred in their most recent game against Marquette. They allowed 90 points and couldn’t find an answer to Marcus Howard. The reason for why they remain in the top three, however, is because they counter that with phenomenal offensive play of their own. Jalen Brunson, a local product from Lincolnshire, is only getting better, averaging 19.4 points per game. Mikal Bridges has been a monster in the paint. Meanwhile, Xavier’s defense isn’t much better and they are coming off a brutal loss to the Providence Friars. In order for the Musketeers to pull off the upset on the road they need to have both Trevon Bluiett and JP Macura to have a huge offensive night and either Sean O’Mara or Kerem Kanter to dominate in the paint. If you like fast-paced offense, then this is the game for you. Xavier has struggled as of late (disregarding their win over Butler) and going on the road to a packed Wells Fargo Center won’t be easy, so I am giving Nova a slight edge in this contest, but a Musketeer upset wouldn’t be entirely shocking.

Games To Watch:

Duke at Pittsburgh

Xavier at Villanova (Blockbuster of the Week)

TCU at Texas

Picks:

Duke beats Pittsburgh

Villanova beats Xavier

Texas beats TCU

 

Thursday:

Clemson at NC State

Clemson is no longer just a football school. The Tigers are red hot and are shooting up the rankings. After a huge OT victory over Louisville they are bound to shoot up in the rankings likely inside the top 15. Thursday night they travel to Raleigh to take on North Carolina State who has a ton of confidence after upsetting Duke. Clemson defeated the Wolfpack a little over a week ago at home by 16, but this time things are different. PNC Arena is very difficult to play in, as Marcquise Reed, Donte Grantham, and Shelton Mitchell all will need to have huge nights in order to avoid the upset, but I don’t see that happening. This will be closer than the Duke game, but the result will be the same. I’m taking the Wolfpack.

Games To Watch:

Maryland at Ohio State

Clemson at NC State

Oregon at Arizona State

Picks:

Ohio State beats Maryland

NC State beats Clemson

Friday:

Marquette at Butler

Believe it or not, there are actually a couple games worth watching Friday night. One of those is Marquette at Butler. Don’t downplay this one. It is a huge game. Both of these teams very well could find themselves on the bubble Selection Sunday. What makes picking the winner so tough is that Butler is a strong defensive team, but Marquette’s offense is insane. Therefore, you look towards their weaknesses to determine whose will be exploited more. Steve Wojciechowski’s Eagles have struggled on defense all year, while Butler has had some games like when they played Villanova and scored over 100 points. Kelan Martin and Paul Jorgensen are two names that come to mind with you think of the Butler offense, but look for Sean McDermott to be the X-factor. Therefore, I am giving the Bulldogs a very slight edge over Marquette. Hinkle Fieldhouse is very tough to play in, and although Marquette has played there plenty of times, the pressure may eventually get to them.

Games To Watch:

Marquette at Butler

VCU at Dayton

Providence at Depaul

Picks:

Butler beats Marquette

Dayton beats VCU

Depaul beats Providence

 

Saturday:

Michigan at Michigan State:

The Michigan Wolverines have set themselves up to make a big time statement to the NCAA tournament committee. They have completely flew under the radar in the Big Ten and are ready to claim a rank amongst the best teams in college basketball. Michigan, unlike most other teams, spreads the ball around the floor really well, because they don’t have that one dominant player. If anyone, it is Charles Matthews who is averaging 15.6 a game. You should expect the Spartans to go with a man defense against the Wolverines. Unlike Michigan, MSU does have that one stellar performer. Of course, that is Miles Bridges. Nick Ward has also played some big minutes for Michigan State and has performed fairly well. This game will likely be a lower scoring contest early, but I am expecting Bridges and the rest of the Spartans to pull away in the later stages of the contest. If one thing is for sure, this rivalry has been renewed.

West Virginia at Texas Tech (Blockbuster of the Week Pt. 2):

Texas Tech has emerged onto the college basketball stage, especially after picking up a signature victory over the Kansas Jayhawks last week.  The one-loss Red Raiders welcome West Virginia to the United Supermarkets Arena Saturday afternoon in search of another immense upset. Keenan Evans and Zhaire Smith have been the top contributors on offense for Texas Tech, but will need to post career high like numbers in order to get by West Virginia, who arguably has the best defense in the nation. Likewise, TTU’s defense is shockingly stout. In their most recent game against Kansas State, they only allowed 58 points, which is 1.2 below their average. Bottom line is that this team is here to stay and could make a huge statement with a win on Saturday night. West Virginia’s Jevon Carter has been the big story this year for the Mountaineers. His defense may just be the best in the NCAA and he leads his team in scoring. Although this is a very experienced team with a 14-game win streak, the Red Raiders will cool them off Saturday night. Another statement win is aligned perfectly for them.

North Carolina at Notre Dame:

Despite having anywhere near the amount of hype some of these other Saturday games are receiving, this is a huge game for both teams. After a win over Syracuse, Notre Dame seems to have proven to themselves that they are okay without their top scorer, Bonzie Colson, who is out with an injury. Matt Farrell and T.J Gibbs are attempting to fill his role and may bring the confidence back to the Irish if they can defeat the defending champions at home. North Carolina had a very tough past week with two losses on the road to ranked programs and needs to rebound this week with wins over Boston College and the Irish. Joel Berry II is still not playing at the level he should be and his teammates aren’t helping enough. Things have to turn around at some point for the Tar Heels… right? I think this week will go much better for North Carolina with two wins that will hopefully increase their chances of getting back into the top 25.

Games To Watch:

Michigan at Michigan State

Kansas State at Kansas

Purdue at Minnesota

TCU at Oklahoma

Creighton at Xavier

West Virginia at Texas Tech

Miami at Clemson

Texas A&M at Tennessee

North Carolina at Notre Dame

Picks:

Michigan State beats Michigan

Xavier beats Creighton

Texas Tech beats West Virginia

North Carolina beats Notre Dame

Miami beats Clemson

 

Sunday:

After beating Duke, NC State’s massive week ends in Charleston, Virginia where they will take on the Cavaliers. The Wolfpack have proven that they are good at home, but how about on the road? Well, to be honest, they have been horrible. They have not managed to win a single game away from home. Virginia, meanwhile, has not lost at home. What does this all mean? It means that Kyle Guy, Devon Hall and the rest of the Cavaliers are going to blow out NC State. This is one matchup that I’d truly be stunned if NC State won. This is going to be a beat down. I can feel it.

Games To Watch:

Indiana at Northwestern

NC State at Virginia

Utah at USC

Picks:

Indiana beats Northwestern

Virginia beats NC State

Utah beats USC

Take a look at the new rankings right now. Screenshot them, print them–whatever you need to do to remember them–because they are going to look nothing like they do now come next Monday. That was the case last week, and it will continue to be the case until the season ends in early April. There is no clear number one and there will likely never be a clear number one this season. There is alway plenty of suspense. That is why college basketball is a blast to follow.

Last Weeks Record:

(12-8)

Overall Record:

(50-27)

About the Writer
Joe Thomas, Author

Joe Thomas is a staff writer for The Forest Scout who has a burning passion for sports. He covers high school football, hockey and baseball along with...

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College Basketball Weekly Watch List: January 8-January 14