I went 4-4-1 in my last picks, moving me to 76-71-2 on the season. It's like there's a magical force that's always pulling me toward a .500 record. Well, let's get right into it with tonight's slate of games, featuring a battle of Big XII heavyweights and three Big East matchups that could help paint a clearer picture of how the conference is shaping up.
All times EST.
9:30pm ESPN: No. 4 Baylor (+6) @ No. 10 Kansas
I'm loving this game. To me, it's a college basketball fan's dream. These are two very complete, deep teams with size and talent at every position. In the marquee matchup of the night, I think that right now Thomas Robinson is clearly a better player than Perry Jones III, but that Baylor will be able to negate the advantage because Quincy Miller and Quincy Acy join Jones III to form an overall better team frontcourt. Likewise, I think Baylor is more balanced in the backcourt. I'm a big fan of Tyshawn Taylor as a player but not as a point guard, and the Jayhawks don't go quite deep enough to hang with the Bears' starters and then Pierre Jackson off the bench. Tough for me, as a Jayhawk fan, to go against KU but Baylor is too much to handle.
Plenty more picks after the jump...
3:30pm ESPN: No. 15 Louisville @ No. 24 Marquette (-4.5)
I'm still flummoxed over the Cardinals' blowout loss to Providence last week, and combined with their general inexperience with playing on the road this season, I'm not very confident in their chances tonight. Marquette has had their slip-ups, too, but they take care of business when they're supposed to and are much more consistent with their effort. Pittsburgh was right there with the Golden Eagles at halftime, but committed ten turnovers in the second half and Marquette took advantage, putting the game away with a 13-0 run. That's the kind of squad I want my money on.
7:30pm ESPN: Pittsburgh @ No. 1 Syracuse (-15)
With a fifteen point spread, I want to take the Panthers here. I really do. I want to believe that they're still a good team that's just hit a snide, and that Ashton Gibbs will snap them out of it any day now. But they've shown absolutely no fight in five Big East losses, and that's not enough to even stay close with a Syracuse team that is incredibly efficient, rolling through every opponent with little or no mercy, and can tie Jim Boeheim with Adolph Rupp for the fourth most victories in NCAA history with a win.
9:00pm ESPNU: Notre Dame @ Rutgers (-3)
Notre Dame had UCONN on the ropes at the half on Saturday, but wilted under intense pressure defense. Rutgers, however, found a way to beat UCONN a week earlier, and that was with freshman point guard Ryan Boatright playing for the Huskies (he was suspended before the Notre Dame game). Statistically, Rutgers and Notre Dame are mostly neck-and-neck in conference play, somewhere in the mid to bottom range. All things equal, I think Rutgers has shown they can buckle down and finish a game.