Iowa v Gonzaga
Due to the Baylor v Gonzaga being cancelled due to COVID-19, this has become the biggest College Basketball game to date, and potentially will be the best until March Madness. The #3 Iowa Hawkeyes take on the #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs on a neutral site at Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.
Due to COVID-19, the 3-0 Bulldogs haven’t played a game in two and a half weeks, when they beat the #8 West Virginia 87-82. Of the Zags’ three games, two have been against teams currently in the top 10, with their other being a 102-90 victory of Kansas.
The Bulldogs are led by senior forward Corey Kispert and sophomore forward Drew Timme. Kispert is averaging 22.3 points on 60.5% shooting, along with 5 rebounds and 3 threes per game, while Timme is manning the middle with averages of 23.3 points on 60.4% shooting and adding 6.3 boards.
At 6’10, Timme is the only main rotation player for the Zags over 6’8 and they now face the best player in the game right now, 6’11 senior Luka Garza.
Luka Garza is the 3rd major conference player over the last 25 seasons to score 30 points and shoot 90% from the field in multiple games in a season.
He joins J.J. Hickson and Carlos Boozer. pic.twitter.com/uAvK7FP8fV
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 12, 2020
The Hawkeyes are sitting at a very nice 6-0 on the season, however only one contest has come against a currently ranked opponent, #22 North Carolina, where they prevailed 93-80. Garza is leading the team with averages of 29.2 points on 69.1% shooting, along with 9.0 boards and 2.2 blocks, while shooting 68.4% from three on 3.2 attempts.
His lowest scoring output of the season was against North Carolina, where he still managed 16 points, but he contributed in other ways by pulling down 14 boards along with showing his presence on the defensive end with four blocks.
It is a tough game to pick, as Iowa hasn’t played an opponent anywhere near as good as both West Virginia and Kansas, who Gonzaga has played. However, while it is a small sample size, Iowa is shooting more threes and at a higher percentage, whilst also getting more boards and assists than the #1 ranked Bulldogs. The Hawkeyes are also averaging more points per game and allowing fewer points per game than the Zags.
While Gonzaga has the better resume in terms of ranked teams played and defeated, they will have had five cancelled games and 17 days since they last played. COVID-19 has proven to have lingering effects on athletes and the Hawkeyes have played and won four games since the Bulldogs last played.
Take Iowa to cause an upset in a nail bitter and shake up the College Basketball rankings.
College basketball pick – Iowa by 2.
Wisconsin v Louisville
The #12 Wisconsin Badgers host the #23 Louisville Cardinals in some Big Ten v ACC action on Saturday night.
The Badgers come into this one with a 5-1 record, with their only loss being to Marquette who has come out and beaten #9 Creighton. Wisconsin has a very level team, with eight players averaging at least 20 minutes per game and four of those averaging in double figures for points.
Micah Potter is leading the way with 12.8 points and 6.7 boards, while D’Mitrik Trice is adding 12 points, 3.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Wisconsin is doing it with their defense, keeping teams to an average of 59.8 points across their six games and are almost shooting 40% from three as a team.
Sharing is caring 💯
— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) December 16, 2020
They now come up against their first ranked opponent for the season in the Cards who are 4-0, but like the Badgers are yet to face a team from the top 25.
Carlik Jones has been the main man for Louisville through their first four games, leading the team in scoring in two games while averaging 17.2 points, 7 boards and 5.3 assists on the season.
The big factor in this one is that the Cardinals will have 18 days between games due to COVID-19 while the Badgers have had three games in that time. The big break between games and COVID-19 pausing basketball activities isn’t a positive for Louisville and we expect the higher ranked Wisconsin to show us why.
College basketball pick – Wisconsin by 7.
Kentucky v UNC
In what is normally considered a big rivalry, two underperforming sides in Kentucky and UNC go head to head in tonight’s CBS Sports Classics.
North Carolina have fallen to be ranked #22 in the nation, but are still 4-2 on the season. Their two losses have come to #11 Texas, 69-67, and #3 Iowa, 93-80. The Tar Heels have defeated the four unranked opponents they have faced so far, including a 73-67 victory over North Carolina Central last Saturday.
Armando Bascot had a breakout game against the Eagles with 19 points on 6-7 field goals, 11 boards and a block, while Garrison Brooks is leading the team with 11.8 points and 7.7 boards. Bascot and Brooks are two of four players in the evenly spread offense that average between 11 and 12 points per game.
Who’s up for another UK-UNC classic? https://t.co/UaFL6mcJco
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) December 17, 2020
Kentucky seems to play more top heavy with three players averaging above 12 points per game, with no others averaging over 7.5. Brandon Boston Jr is the top scorer for the team with averages of 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. Isaiah Jackson is controlling the paint for the team, averaging 6.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks.
While their record is just 1-4, Kentucky looked a lot better in their narrow one point loss to Notre Dame last Saturday. Olivier Sarr dominated the game with 22 points and 7 rebounds, and he will need to do more of the same if Kentucky is to snap their four game losing streak.
North Carolina holds the series between the two sides, 24-16, but Kentucky have won 5 of the last 7, including an upset in their last meeting two years ago. We don’t think they will be able to do that this time however, with UNC playing better basketball through the first month of action.
College basketball pick – North Carolina by 5.
Baylor v Kansas State
Off a 10-day break, the #2 ranked Baylor Bears travel to Kansas State to take on the Wildcats.
Due to COVID-19, Baylor has had to cancel or postpone multiple games and have had to pause basketball activities. They have managed to get four games in so far this season, to sit at 4-0 with just one game against a ranked opponent, #13 Illinois, where they won comfortably by 13 points.
In the Bears’ other three games, against unranked opponents, they have had victories by 30, 34 and 31 points. This doesn’t bode well for the Wildcats. Baylor uses an even approach to offense with all four games seeing at least four Bears’ players hit double figures and Adam Flagar coming off the bench to lead the team in scoring in their last two.
— Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) December 17, 2020
Kansas State, who sit at 3-4, are yet to face a ranked opponent but have won two on the trot and come in with some momentum. Over their two game streak, they have seen four players in their most recent game and five players in the game before score in double figures.
DaJuan Gordon was the led man for the Wildcats in their last win, finishing with 15 points and 11 boards.
This isn’t a question of who wins this contest, but more a question of how much does Baylor win it by?
College basketball pick – Baylor by 32.
Ohio State v UCLA
This game is all dependent on E.J. Liddell. The Sophomore forward has missed the last two games for the #22 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes and they just got over the line against Cleveland State before dropping their first game of the season to Purdue on Wednesday.
With averages of 15.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks, it is no shock that Ohio State’s performance has dipped with him out of the lineup. In the loss to Purdue, to drop them to 5-1 for the season, no one stood up and helped fill the void left by Liddell, with Justice Sueing and Duane Washington Jr, the team’s next two top scorers, just scoring around their season averages.
The Bruins (5-1) will be back in action against No. 20 Ohio State (5-1) this Saturday in Cleveland.
UCLA’s @CBSSports Classic game will begin at approximately 1:15 p.m., PT (4:15 p.m., ET).
— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) December 17, 2020
They now face a UCLA Bruins outfit who has won five in a row and is hungry for another. The Bruins dropped their first game of the season to #18 San Diego State, and have been on a tear ever since, including their most recent win over Marquette, who have beaten #12 Wisconsin and #9 Creighton.
UCLA uses a balanced approach with seven players averaging at least 8.8 points per game, with Jaime Jaquez Jr. leading the way with averages of 14.8 points and 6 boards. The Bruins have won their last four games comfortable and are keeping opponents to 40.3% from the field and 27.6% from three for the season.
If Liddell remains out, UCLA will be winning this one. However, if he returns, that is a whole different story.
College basketball pick – UCLA by 9.
Florida State v UCF
Florida State hosts UCF in a big Florida rivalry matchup. UCF goes into the game having played just twice, going 1-1, while the Seminoles are 4-0 so far this season.
UCF hasn’t played in 13 days and is coming off a 22 point loss to #25 Michigan. Brandon Mahan emerged as the leading scorer for the Knights after his 21 point performance in the loss.
⏪ GT Game pic.twitter.com/4Xf3HyJPvn
— Florida State Men’s Basketball (@FSUHoops) December 17, 2020
They know face another ranked team in the #15 Seminoles, who have claimed big wins over the likes of Florida and Indiana. While they haven’t faced a ranked opponent, Florida State has been impressive with an average margin of victory of 13.75 points.
M.J. Walker is leading the team in points with 16.8 per contest while shooting a scorching hot 47.1% from deep. Scottie Barnes does a bit of everything for the Seminoles, with averages of 12.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.8 steals.
UCF hasn’t played enough games, or looked good enough in the games they have played, to warrant picking them in this one. Back Florida State to move to 5-0 for the season.
College pasketball pick – Florida State by 19.
*Odds correct at time of writing.
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