Observer Roundtable: A week of basketball
This week is more of an exhibition and trial week in the Observer Roundtable, as we experiment with a format for the basketball season. After Super Bowl week, we will reset the scoreboard, and also sadly remove one member from our ranks, as David Kramer has expressed his wishes to retire on top and return next football season. Barring the addition of another writer, it will be the five of us carrying on the tradition for the next few months. The standings heading into Super Bowl week are listed here, and here are some college picks to entertain you all while we wait for the big game next week. NBA picks along with some bold predictions for the week will come tomorrow.
David — 102 pts
Patrick — 91 pts
Liam — 90 pts
Dominic — 89 pts
Nate — 87 pts
Aidan — 82 pts
NCAA Basketball Games of the Week (1 point per pick)
No. 15 Kentucky (14-4) @ No. 18 Texas Tech (12-6)
No. 9 Villanova (15-3) @ Providence (11-8)
No. 1 Baylor (16-1) @ Florida (12-6)
Kentucky has failed to deliver on its extremely high preseason hype by losing to four unranked opponents at this point in the season. They share their most convincing win with Texas Tech as both teams defeated Louisville. The Red Raiders are 9-1 in Lubbock, and I think their home court advantage and Tech’s defense will be huge factors. Texas Tech wins.
Villanova is currently on a nice four-game winning streak and are developing solid chemistry as a team with about 15.4 assists per contest. Providence has not earned a ranked victory all season and will be coming off a tough game against Seton Hall. I foresee the Wildcats continuing their streak and earning a key conference victory away from The Pavilion.
Ever since their loss to Washington, Baylor has been the hottest team in basketball winning 15 straight and defeating five ranked teams. Jared Butler has begun to emerge as one of the best guards in the NCAA, averaging about 16 points per game, and their defense gives up just 58.5 points per game. Florida is 7-1 at home, but the Bears should cruise to another victory.
Kentucky hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations this year, but they have some big wins and some incredible talent. Coach John Calipari often seems to have young, experienced teams that struggle in December and early January and then turn it around heading into SEC play, and that’s what I think will happen. Kentucky turns it around and takes care of business on the road.
The Big East has been full of upsets, just like the rest of college basketball. However, I haven’t seen anything from Providence that indicates they can beat a team of Villanova’s caliber. The Wildcats have looked much better as of late, and I expect them to win another close game on the road.
Since a bad loss at Missouri, Florida has been dominant, dominating then-No. 4-ranked Auburn last week, while Baylor barely survived their first game being ranked No. 1. I’m tempted to pick the upset in Gainesville here, but I’ll go with the Bears because they have more talent than Florida and have proved adept at winning close games. Baylor gets another scare, but survives.
Kentucky has taken their share of bumps this season so far, taking several tough losses to start the campaign. While Texas Tech did not look their best against conference foe TCU, the Red Raiders will be looking to come out strong and shoot much better against the Wildcats. I think that Texas Tech takes this one in Lubbock.
Villanova has started to gain momentum as of late, and I don’t think Providence is the team to stop their roll. Villanova will take care of business this game.
Baylor will be entering into their matchup against Florida with a little bit of confidence after downing Oklahoma with stout defense and control of the glass. The Gators have not been as consistent and will need to outwork the Bears in this game. I think that Baylor takes this one.
Texas Tech had a slip up Tuesday night against TCU, and they will look to bounce back against a streaky Kentucky team. I think this game will be back and forth the whole game, but I like Calipari’s men to come up with the road victory. Texas Tech has to shoot better from behind the arc if they are going to win, and I don’t see them being able to do that. Kentucky gets a big win for the SEC.
Villanova has looked great in Big East play so far this season, with only one loss. Their 15-point win over Butler the other night proved to me that this team is for real, and could contend for a title again this season. Providence is sneakily 4-2 in the Big East themselves, and I expect them to give the Wildcats a good fight, but in the end, Nova takes the win by double digits.
Florida was riding a three-game winning streak that included a win over No. 16 Auburn before falling by two points to LSU in a thriller, so if there is anytime you want to play the No. 1 team in the nation, now is the time. Baylor is riding a 15-game winning streak of their own, however, so Florida better be on top of their game. Baylor’s streak will eventually end, but they will hold on to grab the win against Florida in the closing seconds.
Holding home-court advantage has seemed to be a big deal this year, and the Red Raiders have only lost once at home — a five-point loss to No. 1 Baylor. Kentucky has been mediocre on the road, and have needed comebacks to win twice against unranked opponents. Give me Texas Tech over Kentucky in this one.
Villanova is relatively untested in hostile environments, having played just four true road games, but they are really hot right now, having won 11 of 12. Providence is good at home, but sometimes, your gut just tells you to pick the better, more talented team, and that’s what I’ll be doing in this game — Wildcats win one on the road.
Baylor has looked a little shaky in their past two games, shooting poorly against Oklahoma State and then barely surviving Oklahoma at home. A loss seems to be coming for this team, and this road date against a strong and probably soon-to-be ranked Florida squad seems as likely a time as any. Give the Gators in the upset!
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.