THE BRACKET
Bracket 021116
PROJECTED SEEDING

The 1 Seeds

Villanova, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa

The 2 Seeds

Virginia, North Carolina, Oregon, Maryland

The 3 Seeds

Xavier, Miami (FL), Michigan State, West Virginia

The 4 Seeds

Dayton, Purdue, USC, Kentucky

The 5 Seeds

Duke, Arizona, Baylor, Iowa State

The 6 Seeds

Texas A&M, Texas, Utah, Notre Dame

The 7 Seeds

South Carolina, Providence, Indiana, Florida

The 8 Seeds

Pittsburgh, Wichita State, Colorado, St. Mary’s (CA)

The 9 Seeds

VCU, St. Joseph’s, Syracuse, California

The 10 Seeds

Connecticut, Michigan, Florida State, Seton Hall

The 11 Seeds

Gonzaga, Monmouth, Valparaiso, Butler

The 12 Seeds

Cincinnati, Oregon State, Wisconsin, Washington, Chattanooga, San Diego State

The 13 Seeds

Arkansas-Little Rock, Akron, South Dakota State, Stony Brook

The 14 Seeds

UC Irvine, Yale, NC-Wilmington, UAB

The 15 Seeds

Belmont, Stephen F. Austin, New Mexico State, North Florida

The 16 Seeds

NC-Asheville, Montana, Bucknell, Hampton, Wagner, Texas Southern

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BUBBLE ACTION

Last Four In

Cincinnati, Oregon State, Wisconsin, Washington

First Four Out

George Washington, Texas Tech, St. Bonaventure, LSU

Next Four Out

Vanderbilt, Creighton, Alabama, Kansas State

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CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN

ACC (8), Pac-12 (8), Big Ten (7), Big 12 (6), Big East (5), SEC (4), Atlantic 10 (3), American (2), West Coast (2)

ACC – Virginia, North Carolina, Miami (FL), Duke, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Florida State

America East – Stony Brook

American – Connecticut, Cincinnati

Atlantic 10 – Dayton, VCU, St. Joseph’s

Atlantic Sun – North Florida

Big 12 – Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia, Baylor, Iowa State, Texas

Big East – Villanova, Xavier, Providence, Seton Hall, Butler

Big Sky – Montana

Big South – NC-Asheville

Big Ten – Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin

Big West – UC Irvine

Colonial – NC-Wilmington

Conference USA – UAB

Horizon – Valparaiso

Ivy – Yale

MAAC – Monmouth

MAC – Akron

MEAC – Hampton

Missouri Valley – Wichita State

Mountain West – San Diego State

Northeast – Wagner

Ohio Valley – Belmont

Pac-12 – Oregon, USC, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, California, Oregon State, Washington

Patriot – Bucknell

SEC – Kentucky, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Florida

Southern – Chattanooga

Southland – Stephen F. Austin

Summit – South Dakota State

Sun Belt – Arkansas-Little Rock

SWAC – Texas Southern

WAC – New Mexico State

WCC – St. Mary’s (CA), Gonzaga

THE BRACKET
Bracket 020816
PROJECTED SEEDING

The 1 Seeds

Villanova, Oklahoma, Xavier, Kansas

The 2 Seeds

Iowa, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia

The 3 Seeds

Maryland, Michigan State, West Virginia, Miami (FL)

The 4 Seeds

Dayton, Iowa State, Texas A&M, Purdue

The 5 Seeds

USC, Arizona, Kentucky, Baylor

The 6 Seeds

Texas, Providence, Pittsburgh, Duke

The 7 Seeds

Indiana, Utah, Notre Dame, South Carolina

The 8 Seeds

Florida, Wichita State, Colorado, St. Mary’s (CA)

The 9 Seeds

VCU, Syracuse, California, Connecticut

The 10 Seeds

St. Joseph’s, Seton Hall, Florida State, Michigan

The 11 Seeds

George Washington, Gonzaga, Valparaiso, Monmouth

The 12 Seeds

Butler, Cincinnati, Washington, Oregon State, San Diego State, Chattanooga

The 13 Seeds

Arkansas-Little Rock, South Dakota State, Akron, Stony Brook

The 14 Seeds

UC Irvine, Yale, NC-Wilmington, UAB

The 15 Seeds

Belmont, Stephen F. Austin, New Mexico State, North Florida

The 16 Seeds

NC-Asheville, Montana, Bucknell, Hampton, Wagner, Texas Southern

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BUBBLE ACTION

Last Four In

Butler, Cincinnati, Washington, Oregon State

First Four Out

Wisconsin, Clemson, LSU, Vanderbilt

Next Four Out

Texas Tech, St. Bonaventure, Georgia, Kansas State

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—————————————————————

CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN

ACC (8), Pac-12 (8), Big 12 (6), Big Ten (6), Big East (5), SEC (4), Atlantic 10 (4), American (2), West Coast (2)

ACC – North Carolina, Virginia, Miami (FL), Pittsburgh, Duke, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Florida State

America East – Stony Brook

American – Connecticut, Cincinnati

Atlantic 10 – Dayton, VCU, St. Joseph’s, George Washington

Atlantic Sun – North Florida

Big 12 – Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas

Big East – Villanova, Xavier, Providence, Seton Hall, Butler

Big Sky – Montana

Big South – NC-Asheville

Big Ten – Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan

Big West – UC Irvine

Colonial – NC-Wilmington

Conference USA – UAB

Horizon – Valparaiso

Ivy – Yale

MAAC – Monmouth

MAC – Akron

MEAC – Hampton

Missouri Valley – Wichita State

Mountain West – San Diego State

Northeast – Wagner

Ohio Valley – Belmont

Pac-12 – Oregon, USC, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon State

Patriot – Bucknell

SEC – Texas A&M, Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida

Southern – Chattanooga

Southland – Stephen F. Austin

Summit – South Dakota State

Sun Belt – Arkansas-Little Rock

SWAC – Texas Southern

WAC – New Mexico State

WCC – St. Mary’s (CA), Gonzaga

THE 1-3-1 MIDWEEK REVIEW

1 Thought From the Games Earlier this Week

Texas A&M looks like the only SEC team capable of advancing past the first weekend. The Aggies currently sit alone atop of the SEC, though LSU, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Florida are all within two games. Having seen the majority of SEC teams play this season, (thanks a lot for the SUPER HIGH-QUALITY basketball, ESPN!), I can safely rule out all other teams in the conference from receiving an at-large tournament birth. Now that we’ve narrowed the field down to five eligible bachelors for that pretty lady in March, we can talk about who’s likely to advance the furthest. The answer: Texas A&M, but only by default. LSU will be lucky to make the tournament with their abysmal Non-Con SOS, and if they do so, it’ll most likely be on the Ben Simmons hype train – hello TV ratings! South Carolina appears to be quite the fraud, having gone 4-3 after starting 15-0 with their Charmin soft early season slate. Who saw that coming!? (Spoiler Alert: 1-3-1 Sports Midweek Review on January 14th, 2016) Kentucky has lost three of six, including games against SEC bottom-feeders Auburn and Tennessee, and they no longer have talent quite like the Harrison twins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Finally, there is Florida, who may be the best bet to prove me wrong; their distinct flaw is an offense that becomes very complacent and stagnant too frequently.

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3 Games to Watch this Week

i. Columbia @ Yale (Friday @ 5 pm EST, TV – FS1)
I have to admit, I’m a real sucker for watching quality mid-major and low-major college basketball. A televised game between the two leaders of the Ivy League, both of whom are undefeated in conference… count me in! The highlight of this game for me will be the opportunity to finally see German guard sensation Maodo Lo. Though he is a senior, I have yet to see him play; he may be the key to leading the Lions to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1968. I feel like the blurb highlighting this game would be incomplete without a reference to these two teams also featuring some of the smartest basketball players in the NCAA. For some, it even runs in the family. The younger sister of Columbia’s senior leader Grant Mullins, Missy, plays basketball at fellow Ivy league school and academic juggernaut Harvard. The cousin of Yale’s Brandon Sherrod, Derek, is an offensive tackle in the NFL who graduated from Mississippi State with a degree in financial risk management, and a 3.54 GPA to boot.

ii. Michigan State @ Michigan (Saturday @ 2 pm EST, TV – CBS)
This is one of the most heated rivalries in not only the Big 10, but in all of college basketball. The recent resurgence of the bad blood has been facilitated by the Wolverines experiencing great success under John Beilein. This year is no different, as the two teams have a combined 36-10 record and both sit in the upper half of the Big 10 standings. The Wolverines will look to avoid back-to-back home losses after the debacle against Indiana earlier in the week. A loss in this one could cause a bit of panic in Ann Arbor in regards to making the tournament, and rightfully so – the Wolverines have struggled mightily against quality competition (2-5 against the RPI top-50). On top of that, there has been nothing definitive that could generate realistic optimism regarding the return of team captain and leading scorer Caris Levert. The Spartans are dealing with a significant injury of their own, as point guard Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn is likely to miss his sixth straight game due to a painful case of plantar fasciitis.

iii. Baylor @ West Virginia (Saturday @ 8 pm EST, TV – ESPN2)
These two top-15 teams need a victory in this game to keep pace with top-ranked Oklahoma in the Big 12 conference race. This match-up offers quite the contrast, as Baylor’s potent inside-out, slow tempo offense will be matched up with West Virginia’s fast-paced, press-oriented defense. West Virginia leads the country in steals per game, averaging over 10 – the ability to turn teams over at high rates is a demonstrated staple of Bob Huggins’ teams in recent years. Baylor ranks 141st in the nation in turnovers per game, so they’ll have to be smart with the ball if they want to go into Morgantown and steal a victory. The counter to the turnover issue could end up being the rebounding advantage Baylor should have inside. Baylor is 4th in the country in offensive rebound percentage, pulling down 41% of offensive rebounds that are available to the team; the Mountaineers will need to find bodies and block out to prevent second-chance opportunities.

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1 Bold Prediction for the Week

Diamond Stone continues his coming out party and meteoric rise up NBA draft boards with a great performance in a Maryland victory over Purdue. Freshmen phenom Diamond Stone has slowly been getting more playing time from Mark Turgeon, and the increase of his contributions to the success of the Terps has coincided with the bump in minutes. He will have an opportunity to prove his worth when the Boilermakers roll into town on Saturday. Purdue’s strength is definitely inside, led by senior big man A.J. Hammons, who is coming off of a 32 point, 11 rebound, 4 block game in a lopsided victory over Nebraska. Though he may not lead the team in any one category, I think that Diamond Stone will use his skill set to be a key contributor. This can be achieved by limiting Hammons and making key plays down the stretch, both of which may not show up in the box score, on the way to a Maryland victory.

Prediction:

Maryland – 73
Purdue – 67

THE BRACKET
Bracket 020116
PROJECTED SEEDING

The 1 Seeds

Oklahoma, North Carolina, Villanova, Xavier

The 2 Seeds

Kansas, Iowa, Texas A&M, Virginia

The 3 Seeds

Maryland, Michigan State, Oregon, Iowa State

The 4 Seeds

West Virginia, Miami (FL), Providence, Purdue

The 5 Seeds

Dayton, Kentucky, Louisville, Baylor

The 6 Seeds

USC, Arizona, Indiana, Utah

The 7 Seeds

Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Michigan, Duke

The 8 Seeds

Texas, Florida, Colorado, Wichita State

The 9 Seeds

St. Mary’s (CA), Notre Dame, St. Joseph’s, VCU

The 10 Seeds

California, George Washington, Connecticut, Gonzaga

The 11 Seeds

Butler, Valparaiso, Cincinnati, Seton Hall, Florida State

The 12 Seeds

Syracuse, Washington, Monmouth, Arkansas-Little Rock, San Diego State

The 13 Seeds

Chattanooga, South Dakota State, Stony Brook, UC Irvine

The 14 Seeds

Akron, Hofstra, UAB, Yale

The 15 Seeds

Belmont, North Florida, Stephen F. Austin, NC-Asheville

The 16 Seeds

New Mexico State, Montana, Bucknell, Hampton, Wagner, Texas Southern

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BUBBLE ACTION

Last Four In

Seton Hall, Florida State, Syracuse, Washington

First Four Out

Texas Tech, UCLA, Clemson, LSU

Next Four Out

Ohio State, Georgetown, Oregon State, Boise State

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CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN

ACC (9), Pac-12 (7), Big 12 (6), Big Ten (6), Big East (5), SEC (4), Atlantic 10 (4), American (2), West Coast (2)

ACC – North Carolina, Virginia, Miami (FL), Louisville, Pittsburgh, Duke, Notre Dame, Florida State, Syracuse

America East – Stony Brook

American – Connecticut, Cincinnati

Atlantic 10 – Dayton, St. Joseph’s, George Washington, VCU

Atlantic Sun – North Florida

Big 12 – Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas

Big East – Villanova, Xavier, Providence, Butler, Seton Hall

Big Sky – Montana

Big South – NC-Asheville

Big Ten – Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan

Big West – UC Irvine

Colonial – Hofstra

Conference USA – UAB

Horizon – Valparaiso

Ivy – Yale

MAAC – Monmouth

MAC – Akron

MEAC – Hampton

Missouri Valley – Wichita State

Mountain West – San Diego State

Northeast – Wagner

Ohio Valley – Belmont

Pac-12 – Oregon, Arizona, USC, Utah, Colorado, California, Washington

Patriot – Bucknell

SEC – Texas A&M, Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida

Southern – Chattanooga

Southland – Stephen F. Austin

Summit – South Dakota State

Sun Belt – Arkansas-Little Rock

SWAC – Texas Southern

WAC – New Mexico State

WCC – St. Mary’s (CA), Gonzaga

THE 1-3-1 MIDWEEK REVIEW

1 Thought From the Games Earlier this Week

The Big 12 conference race is the epitome of wide open. As of the writing of this article, six of the ten teams in the Big 12 are within one game of first place. Often times an occurrence like this can be misleading, as some teams have particularly soft schedules to start their conference slate (Ahem, Indiana). However, in this instance, having seen all six teams play, I would not be surprised to see any of them ending up on top of the Big 12 standings at season’s end. Sure, Texas is probably a long-shot and Oklahoma might be the distinct favorite, but the gap between these two teams and the others is not as large as some college basketball pundits might have you believe.

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3 Games to Watch this Week

i. Iowa @ Maryland (Thursday @ 7 pm EST, TV – ESPN)
After Indiana’s overtime loss to Wisconsin on Tuesday night, Iowa remains the lone team without a blemish in conference in the Big 10. That could change tonight, as the Hawkeyes have to make the 900 mile trip to College Park to take on fellow AP top-10 member Maryland. I believe experience is one definitive reason for Iowa’s success, as their best five players are all upperclassmen. Jarrod Uthoff is one of these upperclassmen, and his innate ability to stretch defenses with his shooting on the offensive end, while also protecting the rim at the defensive end, is something that is very rare at any level of basketball.

ii. Iowa State @ Texas A&M (Saturday @ 2 pm EST, TV – ESPN)
While the final game listed in my three to watch is considered the marquee matchup in the Big 12/SEC challenge in terms of pedigree, this game is likely to be just as entertaining. Iowa State has one of the quickest, most efficient offenses in the country; their offensive efficiency (7th) and adjusted tempo (29th) both rank in KenPom’s top 30. This is a stark contrast to the Aggies, as they rely on their stingy defense to win games. Another fun and interesting thing about this game is it pits two former Murray State head coaches against each other. Billy Kennedy of Texas A&M was the head coach for the Racers from 2006 through 2011, at which point Steve Prohm, his primary assistant, took over the program for four seasons before leaving for Ames.

iii. Kentucky @ Kansas (Saturday @ 7 pm EST, TV – ESPN)
These two basketball blue bloods face off for the second time in as many seasons. Last year, the Wildcats completely embarrassed Kansas in the Champions Classic, coasting to a 72-40 victory, while holding every Jayhawk to single digits in scoring. Bill Self’s squad should be primed for revenge and hungry for victory, as they need one to right the ship, having gone 2-3 in their last five games. Even with ESPN shoving it down my throat, I actually have not had the opportunity to watch Kentucky yet this season; not a better time to start than a marquee game against another perennial powerhouse.

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1 Bold Prediction for the Week

The Big 12 will win the Big 12/SEC challenge by a score of 7 to 3. Writing a blurb about each individual team for this topic would require another entire article on its own. Instead, I’ll take a crack at picking all 10 games (Wouldn’t that be a hell of a parlay?) that will be taking place throughout the day on Saturday:

Game 1: West Virginia – 72, Florida – 68
Game 2: Texas – 78, Vanderbilt – 72
Game 3: Iowa State – 77, Texas A&M – 72
Game 4: Tennessee – 81, TCU – 74
Game 5: Kansas State – 76, Ole Miss – 67
Game 6: Arkansas – 75, Texas Tech – 69
Game 7: Oklahoma – 82, LSU – 71
Game 8: Baylor – 85, Georgia – 73
Game 9: Kansas – 83, Kentucky – 75
Game 10: Auburn – 80, Oklahoma State – 77

THE BRACKET
Bracket 012516
PROJECTED SEEDING

The 1 Seeds

Oklahoma, North Carolina, Villanova, Kansas

The 2 Seeds

Iowa, Xavier, Texas A&M, West Virginia

The 3 Seeds

Virginia, Maryland, Michigan State, Iowa State

The 4 Seeds

Miami (FL), Oregon, Providence, Arizona

The 5 Seeds

Purdue, Louisville, Kentucky, Dayton

The 6 Seeds

Duke, USC, Pittsburgh, Baylor

The 7 Seeds

South Carolina, Indiana, Utah, Michigan

The 8 Seeds

Florida, Texas, Notre Dame, Colorado

The 9 Seeds

California, Wichita State, St. Mary’s (CA), Texas Tech

The 10 Seeds

St. Joseph’s, George Washington, Connecticut, Butler

The 11 Seeds

Valparaiso, Gonzaga, UCLA, VCU, Cincinnati

The 12 Seeds

Seton Hall, Washington, Monmouth, Arkansas-Little Rock, San Diego State

The 13 Seeds

Chattanooga, Hawaii, South Dakota State, Stony Brook

The 14 Seeds

UAB, Northern Illinois, James Madison, Belmont

The 15 Seeds

Princeton, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, North Florida, NC-Asheville

The 16 Seeds

New Mexico State, Weber State, Navy, Hampton, Wagner, Texas Southern

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BUBBLE ACTION

Last Four In

VCU, Cincinnati, Seton Hall, Washington

First Four Out

Boise State, Oregon State, Florida State, Syracuse

Next Four Out

Stanford, LSU, Clemson, Creighton

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CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN

Pac-12 (8), ACC (7), Big 12 (7),  Big Ten (6), Big East (5), SEC (4), Atlantic 10 (4), American (2), West Coast (2)

ACC – North Carolina, Virginia, Miami (FL), Louisville, Duke, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame

America East – Stony Brook

American – Connecticut, Cincinnati

Atlantic 10 – Dayton, St. Joseph’s, George Washington, VCU

Atlantic Sun – North Florida

Big 12 – Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas, Texas Tech

Big East – Villanova, Xavier, Providence, Butler, Seton Hall

Big Sky – Weber State

Big South – NC-Asheville

Big Ten – Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan

Big West – Hawaii

Colonial – James Madison

Conference USA – UAB

Horizon – Valparaiso

Ivy – Princeton

MAAC – Monmouth

MAC – Northern Illinois

MEAC – Hampton

Missouri Valley – Wichita State

Mountain West – San Diego State

Northeast – Wagner

Ohio Valley – Belmont

Pac-12 – Oregon, Arizona, USC, Utah, Colorado, California, UCLA, Washington

Patriot – Navy

SEC – Texas A&M, Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida

Southern – Chattanooga

Southland – Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Summit – South Dakota State

Sun Belt – Arkansas-Little Rock

SWAC – Texas Southern

WAC – New Mexico State

WCC – St. Mary’s (CA), Gonzaga

THE 1-3-1 MIDWEEK REVIEW

 

1 Thought From the Games Earlier this Week

Chaos is king in college basketball this season. Filling out your bracket in any given season is a crapshoot, and in that sense, this season will be no different. However, with the two big changes to the game this season, (the 30-second shot clock [LOVE] and the freedom of movement rules [MEH]), we’re seeing significantly more mayhem than in past years. As with any major change, it takes time to iron out the kinks and stabilize what we expect as the norm. Thus, I anticipate that this pandemonium will continue through tournament time. Last night alone provides an example of some of the shocking upsets we’ve seen so far this season. A hot and cold Texas team won on the road against a West Virginia team who handily took care of Kansas one week prior, while the Spartans of Michigan State suffered their second straight one-point defeat, this one coming at home at the hands of a borderline-NIT Nebraska team.

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3 Games to Watch this Week

i. Gonzaga @ St. Mary’s (Thursday @ 11 pm EST, TV – ESPNU)
I know, I know, this game doesn’t start until 11 PM EST and you have to work tomorrow… cry me a river; it really should be of the utmost quality. This game between the Zags and the Gaels is for the outright lead in the West Coast Conference. Here is my pretend shocked face:

taylor-swift-1432413

These two teams are always the class of this conference, and this year is no different. Gonzaga isn’t quite the same team without Przemek Karnowski to come off the bench and be extra, super tall and do extra, super tall guy things. That being said, they still have a POY candidate in Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer, and Lithuanian sensation and double-double machine Domantas Sabonis. The Gaels counter with Emmett Naar, another Australian pipeliner that has what the analysts love to call “in-the-gym” type shooting range.

ii. Oklahoma @ Baylor (Saturday @ 12:00 pm EST, TV – ESPN2)
Based on a relatively favorable start to their conference schedule, the Baylor Bears sit alone atop the Big 12 conference. If they wish to remain there, they’ll have to protect their home court and knock off the temporarily top-ranked Sooners. I anticipate Oklahoma will come out pretty fired up for this game, coming off an embarrassing defensive effort in their loss to Iowa State on Monday night. Scott Drew’s Baylor squad is very well-rounded, with four players averaging double-figure scoring per game. Of these four, I look for the Bears to channel their success through Rico Gathers, who will easily be the most physically-imposing player on the court.

iii. Maryland @ Michigan State (Saturday @ 6:30 pm EST, TV – ESPN)
After starting the season 16-0, the Spartans have stumbled their way to a 3-4 start in conference play. Of the four losses, none was more frustrating for Spartan fans than the home loss to Nebraska last night. This loss marks the second time in three years Tim Miles has led the Cornhuskers to victory over Tom Izzo and his squad in East Lansing. Michigan State will have the perfect opportunity to gain a rebound victory, as College Gameday joins Maryland in coming to town for this heavyweight match-up. Maryland, led by the underachieving Melo Trimble and the constantly improving Diamond Stone, will look for a victory to keep pace with Indiana and Iowa in the Big 10 race.

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1 Bold Prediction for the Week

Ben Bentil will put up 20+ points and 8+ boards, but all will be for naught in the face of a Villanova victory. The Wildcats of Villanova play host to the Friars of Providence at the Wells Fargo Center at 1 PM on Sunday. Providence has had an intriguing last four games, going 2-2 in a stretch where every game has been decided by single digits. While Kris Dunn’s name is the one that grabs headlines because of his NBA potential, Ben Bentil has quietly developed into a Robin role on the team. With Jay Wright sure to key in on stopping Dunn, it seems that Bentil will have a ripe opportunity to put up some double-double type numbers against Nova. In the end, however, I do believe the Wildcats will add another solid victory to their resume and maintain a zero in the loss column in Big East conference play.

Final Score:
Villanova – 76
Providence – 70