College Basketball Weekend Primer – Best Games, Best Bets For Jan. 27-29

    Following a crazy week across the country, Kentucky at Kansas and Virginia at Villanova highlight a weekend slate featuring plenty of teams needing to right the ship after losses.

    January 27, 2017

    Following a crazy week across the country, Kentucky at Kansas and Virginia at Villanova highlight a weekend slate featuring plenty of teams needing to right the ship after losses.


    Any week featuring a night when the Nos. 1, 2 and 4 teams lose, it can be considered crazy. It’s the first time that’s happened since 2012. Add in the fact that No. 6 Florida State went down Wednesday, the week gets even more wacky.

    Villanova fell at Marquette, Kansas was blown out at West Virginia and Kentucky lost at Tennessee on Tuesday in a wild evening of upsets. That puts Gonzaga in position to move into Villanova’s No. 1 spot, but we’ll get to that later.

    Either Kansas or Kentucky will lose two games in a row after they meet Saturday in Lexington in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. It’s rare for either of those basketball blue bloods to suffer back-to-back defeats, but their stumbles on the road have put them in this position. Watching Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson go up against Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox is must-see TV.

    And don’t sleep on Sunday’s non-conference showdown between Villanova and Virginia in Philadelphia. Josh Hart, Jalen Brunson and the Wildcats look to bounce back from their defeat by shutting down London Parrantes and snapping Virginia’s five-game winning streak.

    But those aren’t the only storylines of the weekend.

    What’s Up With Duke?

    The preseason No. 1 team in the nation has dealt with injuries to Harry Giles, Marques Bolden, Jayson Tatum and Amile Jefferson, while also facing scrutiny over Grayson Allen’s indefinite suspension (that last only one game) for tripping a player for the third time. Then came news of Mike Krzyzewski’s back surgery and a 2-3 record in his absence.

    Coach K finally has seen enough, and he’s decided to ban the players from the locker room and wearing team gear following a meeting at his home Tuesday night. This all stems from Duke’s home loss to N.C. State on Monday night.

    The Blue Devils will try to bounce back at upset-minded Wake Forest on Saturday.

    Undefeated Zags

    It seems logical that Gonzaga, the only remaining undefeated team in the country, will be the new No. 1 when the AP Top 25 is released Monday. The Bulldogs improved to 21-0 with Thursday’s 36-point drubbing of San Diego and have won their last 13 games by double digits.

    Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Nigel Williams-Goss. Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

    Of course, the Zags are going to get dinged by some voters because they play in the West Coast Conference, but it would only take a few minutes of actually watching their games to realize they’re legit. Washington transfer Nigel Williams-Goss is averaging 15.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists, and 7-foot-1 Przemek Karnowski is a beast down low.

    Gonzaga continues its quest for an undefeated season when it visits Pepperdine on Saturday night.

    B1G Sunday

    The Big Ten is a bit of a mess. An exciting mess, though. Northwestern is heading directly for its first-ever NCAA Tournament berth with a 6-2 mark in conference play for the first time since 1943-44. It has won five consecutive conference games for the first time since 1965-66, but the Wildcats should get a tough test Sunday when they host Indiana.

    Speaking of the Hoosiers, they’ve beaten Kansas and North Carolina and have lost to Fort Wayne, Nebraska and, most recently, Michigan (by 30 points on Thursday). Frankly, they’re the most Jekyll and Hyde team in the entire country, and it’s part of the reason why they still have work to do in order to reach the Tournament despite having some of the most talent in the Big Ten.

    Michigan State also is squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble, as it sits at 12-9 following Tuesday’s home loss to Purdue. Coach Tom Izzo hasn’t found himself in this position very often given his seven Final Four appearances, but it’s clear that frustration is settling in and that Spartans can’t rely solely on talented freshman Miles Bridges.

    The Spartans host rival Michigan on Sunday with some very important guests in the house.

    Best Bets

    In this section each week I pick five games against the spread that I’d put smart money on. I then keep a running record throughout the season. These picks will consist of games taking place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

    Here’s a look at what I have this week:

    Season record: 18-19-3
    Last week: 2-2-1

    • Florida State (-1) over Louisville (W)
    • UCLA (-4) over Arizona (L)
    • Wisconsin (-2) over Minnesota (PUSH)
    • Michigan State (+7) over Indiana (L)
    • Duke (-9) over Miami (W)

    This week:

    • Florida State (-2) over Syracuse
    • Duke (-1) over Wake Forest
    • Tennessee (PK) over Kansas State
    • Maryland (+5) over Minnesota
    • Ohio State (PK) over Iowa

    MORE: Adversity Getting The Better Of Creighton – For Now

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