Observer Roundtable: Baylor going down?
Welcome back to the Observer Roundtable! We have some exciting new changes to announce in this week’s edition. First off, we welcome Inigo Yturralde Cadavid to the team, as he replaces David Kramer. Secondly, doing upset pick of the week was proving difficult with basketball, so we decided on something different. We hold a draft of the Top-25 basketball teams, with each writer selecting four teams for their squad that week. Points are earned based on how each of your team’s perform. The point system is described in that section.
Meanwhile, Aidan and Nate have jumped to an early lead based on nailing their upset picks last week, but we’re excited to try this new format, with lots of points to be had! We can say with confidence we are sure some of these picks are right so enjoy!
Aidan Thomas – 14 points
Nate Moller – 12 points
Liam Coolican – 6 points
Patrick Gallagher – 5 points
Dominic Gibson – 5 points
Inigo Yturralde – 0 points
No. 14 West Virginia @ No. 1 Baylor
No. 9 Maryland @ Michigan State
No. 20 Houston @ SMU
Oklahoma @ No. 3 Kansas
Aidan: I can’t justify picking against Baylor here. I’m not wholly convinced they’re the best team in the country, but they are 11-0 at home, and West Virginia is coming off a loss to unranked Oklahoma and is 3-5 on the road.
I probably should go with the Spartans at home, but I’ve been high on the Terrapins all year. They were my preseason Big 10 champion prediction, so I’ll stay with my gut and go with Maryland and their 6-game winning streak.
Houston leads the AAC, and SMU is nearly unbeatable at home, making this an enticing mid-major match-up. Kind of a toss-up call, but give me SMU at home.
In a year of turmoil, if I had to bet the house on one team making the Final Four, I’d take Kansas. I think they’re the most complete team, and despite Oklahoma playing very well recently, I’ll take the Jayhawks at home.
Nate: Baylor keeps on winning no matter who they are playing and I don’t anticipate that changing this weekend. Bob Huggins has done a great job turning West Virginia around this year, but I don’t think they will be able to get it done against Baylor.
Maryland has had some slip-ups on the road this year, and they will have to be on top of their game to beat a Michigan State team that still has a lot of talent despite losing some big games recently. I think Izzo gets his guys fired up and Spartans get the win.
I don’t know too much about the AAC, but Houston has been a force in recent years and has had success in the NCAA tournament. I think their experience will lead them to victory on the road against SMU.
In the Bill Self era, Kansas has rarely dropped a Big 12 game at home, and I expect them to dominate Oklahoma this weekend. I think Oklahoma is definitely going to have a chance to make a run in March, but they won’t be able to compete against the Jayhawks on their home court.
Baylor has looked dominant in conference play, and while they have shown flaws that prove they can be beaten, West Virginia is not the team to do it. While they have a better offense than usual, their typical suffocating defense is non-existent this year, so I like the Bear’s offense to put up a lot of points at home to stay undefeated in the Big 12.
Michigan State has fallen off a cliff since being number the number one overall team in the preseason, but they still are an experienced group with a lot of talent. Additionally, Maryland has looked very good at times, but owns just a 3-4 record on the road. I’ll take Michigan State to get a big bounce back win here.
Houston is 9-2 in conference play, with their only two losses coming by a combined 4 points on the road. SMU has played very well at home, but Houston’s superior speed and shooting should carry them to victory. The Cougars just blew out Wichita State, and I expect it to continue this weekend.
I have to go with Kansas, not only because I picked them in the first edition of our draft, but because I think they’re the best team in college basketball right now. They’ve been running through Big 12 play since their loss to Baylor, and an Oklahoma team that is abysmal on the road (2-6 road record) won’t pose much of a challenge. Kansas beat Oklahoma by 14 a month ago; this one won’t be that close.
Patrick: Baylor should have its way against West Virginia, who will struggle against the top scoring defense in the Big 12. The Bears have looked unbeatable in Waco, and I expect this trend will continue against the Mountaineers.
While I may be biased due to my DC area loyalties, I do not expect Michigan State to pull off the upset against Maryland. The Spartans have lost three of their last five games and need to get back on the right track. This will be very difficult because the Terrapin’s elite defense should keep Cassius Winston in check.
In the last meeting between these two teams, Houston won by nine points at home. SMU will be motivated for a bounce-back win; however, I believe that the Cougars, who are ranked 1st in the AAC in rebounds, will control the boards and earn victory.
Although they are being overshadowed by Baylor, Kansas’ eight-game win streak is nothing to scoff at. During this period, the Jayhawks handily beat Oklahoma in Norman, so I do not think that they will have trouble defeating the Sooners at home.
Dominic: Baylor has performed well playing solid basketball, especially at home. West Virginia has been a solid basketball team but I don’t think solid is enough to top the Bears on the road. And one more thing. Texas lives rent free in Mountaineer heads. Oklahoma is the only rival that matters. Hook’em.
This one may be bold but I’m taking Michigan State here. While they have taken a nose dive late in the season, I think that a home win is just the thing the Spartans need to get the train back on track. Winston should be able to spearhead the effort and pull out the dub at home.
This SMU and Houston matchup should be a tighter contest than the last one. However, I don’t think the Mustangs will have enough horse power to top the Cougars at home.
Kansas has been playing second fiddle to Baylor for most of this season but they are still an elite team. The Jayhawks have been on a tear and I don’t think it will stop here.
Inigo: West Virginia Basketball is back! After taking a break from the top tier of collegiate basketball, the Mountaineers are here to stay. Sure, Baylor is having a season for the record books, but who could vote against Huggins and all of Morgantown. This Mountaineer team has time and time again proved themselves. WVU all the way. Horns Down.
Don’t mess with Big Ten basketball. The matchup between Maryland and Michigan State is set to be an exciting one. With that, the Terps played great through the first half of the season and they are showing no sign of slowing down as the tournament approaches. An unranked Michigan State team reeks of a lack of momentum. I am going to have to take Maryland on the road.
The instate battle between Houston and SMU is sure to have fans on the edge of their seats. With similar records, many argue that SMU should be ranked. Bringing the fight to Dallas, the Mustangs will be playing with a chip on their shoulder. Never underestimate the power of the sixth man. SMU will win this contest against the Houston Cougars.
The No. 3 team in the nation requires no introduction. This weekend, Kansas is looking to defend the honor of their home court against an unranked Oklahoma team. The Sooners have been waiting for the next Trae Young or Blake Griffin to stumble into their program and he just hasn’t arrived yet. There is no doubt that Kansas will end this game with a victory.
Bonus Pick: Who’s winning the NBA All-Star Game and who’s taking home MVP?
Aidan: Team Giannis boasts a ton of defensive prowess, but the All-Star Game isn’t predicated on defense. Team Lebron’s offensive firepower will be enough to claim victory. It’s really hard to pick an MVP out of a star-studded cast, so I’ll go ahead and take James Harden, whose 3-point shooting ability is virtually unmatched and a perfect fit for the All-Star Game.
Nate: I think Lebron James will be the headline of this All-Star Game. He will be extra motivated to compete after Kobe Bryant’s death, and I anticipate his team to win and for Lebron to take home MVP.
Liam: The All-Star game usually devolves into a dunk-off, which in my opinion makes it nearly unwatchable. Alley-oops are the name of the game, and no one is better at finishing those than Anthony Davis. With teammate Lebron James tossing them up to him, he will put up gaudy numbers similar to the 52 points he scored when he earned MVP in the 2017 contest.
Patrick: Team LeBron is an offensive juggernaut that is built to succeed in the scoring focused All-Star Game, so I expect that LeBron’s leadership will guide his team to an easy victory. Damian Lillard has been on a tear recently and could certainly achieve MVP honors; however, I am going with Chicago’s own Anthony Davis for the award. Davis has the most chemistry with LeBron, and the hometown fans will certainly give his play a boost.
Dominic: Team LeBron is going to be able to score points. A lot of them. And that’s really the only thing that matters in these all-star games. I think they will handle things easily and LeBron will take the MVP.
Inigo: Luka Doncic was robbed of a spot in the All-Star Game last year. Luka Doncic is the best player in the NBA. He is the present. He is the future. He will win MVP.
Top 25 Draft
This is a new section for us. Each week, the writers hold a ‘draft’ of the AP Top 25 basketball teams, with each of our squads consisting of four teams. You are also allowed to pick the unranked team that each ranked team is playing, resulting in double points. The points are distributed as such:
Home win: +1, Road win: +2
Win by 10+: +1, Win by 20+: +2
A loss by one of your teams is -1 points and a loss by 15+ is -2
Five additional points are awarded for a 1st place finish, four points for 2nd, and so on.
Our squads for the week are as follows:
Inigo: Gonzaga (1st overall), Colorado (12th), Seton Hall (13th), Iowa (24th)
Dominic: Michigan State (unranked) (2nd), Florida State (11th), Texas Tech (14th), Butler (23rd)
Patrick: San Diego State (3rd), Louisville (10th), Maryland (15th), LSU (22nd)
Liam: Kentucky (4th), Kansas (9th), Houston (16th), Minnesota (unranked) (21st)
Nate: Dayton (5th), Auburn (8th), Duke (17th), Rutgers (unranked) (20th)
Aidan: Villanova (6th), Penn State (7th), Baylor (18th), Oregon (19th)
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.