Northwestern vs Ohio State
The Northwestern Wildcats will host the No. 23 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday for a Big Ten conference matchup.
After starting the season 5-0, Ohio State suffered their first loss of the season in their conference opener against Purdue in mid December.
The Buckeyes bounced back against the UCLA Bruins with a 77-70 victory last Saturday, improving to 6-1.
Ohio State will head into this week of college basketball ready to take on No. 11 Rutgers and Northwestern, with the hope of improving on their No. 23 ranking.
Duane Washington Jr. led the way in Ohio State’s seven point win scoring a team high 14 points to go along with five rebounds and three assists. Washington Jnr. leads the Buckeyes in scoring with 14.4 points per game.
Despite not having a ranking, it is clear that Northwestern are far from a push over victory in 2020, having recently upset the then No. 4 ranked Michigan State Spartans in their last outing.
Boo Buie scored a career-high 30 points in the Wildcats 76-65 win over the Spartans, in what was Northwestern’s first win over Michigan State in almost a decade.
With a 4-1 record heading into this week, the Wildcats will be looking to capture wins over Indiana and Ohio State this week to press their case as one of the best teams in the Big Ten.
Northwestern are scoring an average of 90.4 points per game this season, and restricting their opponents to just 59.8.
Boo Buie scored a career-high 30 points and Northwestern beat Michigan State for the first time in almost a decade, holding off the No. 4 Spartans for a 79-65 victory.
— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) December 21, 2020
With the game to be played in Wildcats territory, Northwestern are a big chance of recording another upset victory over a ranked opponent on Saturday putting the whole conference on notice.
College basketball pick – Northwestern Tech by 5.
UCF vs Houston
The No. 6 Houston Cougars will travel to Florida on Saturday to face the UCF Knights in an AAC matchup.
Coming into this week of college hoops, Houston maintained their No. 6 AP top 25 ranking with a 33 point win over Alcorn State on Sunday.
In their most recent outing Houston advanced their record to 6-0 following a 76-50 win over the Temple Owls on Tuesday.
Offensively, Quentin Grimes led the way for the Cougars with 22 points and seven rebounds while Justin Gorham contributed a double double with 12 points and 14 rebounds.
However it is Houston’s defense that has led them to their undefeated record. Prior to Tuesday’s game against the Owls, Houston allowed only 55.6 opposition points per game while also averaging 9.6 steals and 5.0 blocks as a team.
In their most recent victory, the Cougars held Temple to a measly 50 points on 28.9% shooting while also forcing 19 turnovers with nine steals and eight blocks.
UCF improved to 3-1 this week following a 75-70 win over Cincinnati.
Saturday’s matchup will be the Knights third game against a ranked team this season, having already gone down 80-58 against No. 19 Michigan and upsetting No. 21 Florida State 86-74 last week.
presented by @thejointchiro
— Houston Men’s Hoops 🏀 🐾 (@UHCougarMBK) December 23, 2020
Having already knocked off a ranked opponent in Florida State earlier this season, it is clear that UCF will not go down without a fight against the Cougars on Saturday. However, Houston’s ferocious defense should easily restrict the Knights to an uncompetitive total.
College basketball pick – Houston by 18.
Virginia vs Gonzaga
In the only matchup of the day between two AP ranked opponents, the No.1 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs will face off against the No. 16 Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday night.
After a two week hiatus, the Cavaliers returned to play on Tuesday night when they defeated W&M 76-40 to improve to 4-1.
In their 36 point victory Trey Murphy III was one of only two Cavalier players with double digit points, leading the way with 15.
However, Virginia’s defense held W&M to just 40 points on 28% field goal shooting and 17.6% from the three point line. The Cavaliers also boasted a turnover differential of -10 in a dominant defensive performance.
Virginia will face the country’s number one ranked team when they play the Gonzaga Bulldogs on Saturday.
Following their victory over the then No. 3 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes last week, Gonzaga have advanced to 6-0 following back to back wins over Northwestern State on Monday (95-57) and Tuesday (95-78).
Senior forward Corey Kispert added 45 points to his season tally in their two games against Northwestern State this week, adding a game high 27 points on Monday as well as 18 points on Tuesday.
Kispert leads the team in scoring with 21.4 points per game, shooting at 62.3% from the field.
Corey Kispert recorded 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting and collected seven rebounds to lead top-ranked Gonzaga to a 95-57 victory over Northwestern State on Monday night in Spokane, Wash. https://t.co/D2gQXNy725
— Reuters Sports (@ReutersSports) December 22, 2020
Having already defeated three top 10 ranked teams in their six games this season, the Bulldogs will validate their ranking as the country’s best team recording their seventh win of the season.
College basketball pick – Gonzaga by 12.
Illinois vs Indiana
The No. 18 Illinois Fighting Illini will host the Indiana Hoosiers on Sunday Night in an early season Big Ten matchup.
Coming into this week of college basketball, the Hoosiers are 5-2 with matches against Northwestern on Wednesday before taking on Illinois on Saturday.
Indiana’s two losses this season came in their two games against ranked opponents, going down 66-44 against No. 10 Texas and 69-67 against Florida State.
Sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis is leading the way for the Hoosiers in 2020 scoring a team high 21.0 points per game as well as bringing in a team high 8.6 rebounds.
After starting the season 4-1, Illinois has taken a turn for the worse, slipping to 5-3 with losses against the now No. 14 Missouri and now No. 11 Rutgers.
Due to their recent losses, Illinois dropped five places in the AP rankings as they head into this week of college hoops with matches against Penn State and Indiana, looking to climb back up the top 25 rankings.
— Illinois Basketball (@IlliniMBB) December 21, 2020
Currently with a 1-1 record against Big Ten opponents, Illinois should move above .500 in their conference and record a confident home win against the unranked Hoosiers.
College basketball pick – Illinois by 14.
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