I figured I would pick up some easy wins over the weekend. Nope. Instead, Vegas sucked me into a hilarious 3-15-1 record with my picks last Saturday, moving me back onto the crappy side of .500 with a 95-100-3 record on the season. Que sera sera. Let's get back on track with some intense conference rival action tonight!
As always, all times EST.
9:00pm ESPN/ESPN3: No. 9 Duke @ No. 5 North Carolina (-6)
This matchup is beaten to death every single year - Krzyzewski and Williams have praised each other this week to the point that they're sounding more like pre-emptive concession speeches than admiration - so let's get this one out of the way first. I really want to believe that we can just throw records and statistics out the window and plan for a game that will be decided by one, maybe two points, tops. But the fact is that Harrison Barnes and the Tar Heels are riding a five-game winning streak on hot shooting, and the Blue Devils have struggled on both sides of the ball through the entire ACC schedule. I expect a dogfight, but one that UNC wins in a decisive TKO.
Plenty more picks after the jump...
7:00pm ESPN/ESPN3: No. 11 Georgetown (+9) @ No. 2 Syracuse
All signs point to a close game here. The Hoyas are 4-1 against Top 25 teams but haven't played one in more than a month, while the Orange have won 18 straight at home but beat West Virginia by only two last week. Add that to the fact that this game could ultimately affect the Big East leaderboard and we're in for a physical game at every position. Ignore the offense of Jason Clack and Kris Joseph, and keep your eyes on top defenders Henry Sims and Fab Melo - that's where the outcome of this game lies. Personally, I like Syracuse, but definitely not by ten points against a Georgetown defense that is absolutely stomping out all opponent scoring attempts.
7:00pm ESPN2/ESPN3: No. 10 Kansas @ No. 6 Baylor (-1.5)
Kansas won the first meeting between these two, but since then I think that Baylor has figured out some lineup issues and Pierre Jackson has really blossomed starting at the point. Conversely, I've lost almost all confidence in Jayhawk "point guard" Tyshawn Taylor, so that's one mark for the Bears right off the bat. The other is that Baylor had been undefeated up until that first game at the Phog, but now with two losses, the Bears may have shaken off some of that crushing pressure. I know Kansas hasn't lost two straight games in more than six years, but Thomas Robinson can't do it all by himself, especially against the triple-headed post monster of Perry Jones III, Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller.
8:00pm FCS/ESPN3: Northern Iowa @ Wichita State (-10)
Two of the Shockers' losses have come to Top 25 teams, and the other two came in overtime (one of those in triple-OT). That's impressive, and Garrett Stutz and Wichita State are every bit as good as advertised. Northern Iowa has been hot and cold all year, and needed a perfect performance to beat Creighton at home last week. Tonight, I don't expect a repeat performance on the road.
9:00pm ESPNU: Notre Dame (+6) @ West Virginia
Has a conference MVP ever come from the 8th team in the standings? It could happen this year with Kevin Jones shouldering boulder after boulder for the Mountaineers. Still, in their last five games, West Virginia has lost three and won two in OT. That shouldn't make you too confident with a six-point spread, especially with Notre Dame on a four-game tear that includes three wins over Top 25 teams (all four held under 60 points). Team defense wins out over individual greatness in this one.