Battle of Blue Bloods Headlines Weekend College Basketball Slate.
9 Kansas (16-3, 1-3 road) vs. 8 Kentucky (15-3, 11-0 home)
Two of the sport’s most iconic programs meet at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, Saturday.
I wrote in last weekend’s preview that Kentucky was hitting its stride at the right time of the year. They’ve gotten past the thumping at the hands of Duke to start the season.
John Calipari’s team has won five straight games, including two quality wins over ranked opponents, Auburn and Mississippi State, last week.
Kansas and Kentucky mirror each other statistically in a lot of ways. The Jayhawks and Wildcats field goal percentages are within 0.5 of each other, their rebounds per game are within 0.2, and their assists average is within 0.4.
Kansas star forward Dedric Lawson is having a monster year, averaging a double double and shooting the ball at close to 53% from the floor. Lawson will be a tough cover for Kentucky’s defense and he’ll keep the Wildcats in the game down the stretch.
Prediction: Kansas has struggled on the road this season and Kentucky is unbeaten at home. Look for the Wildcats to win this game and remain perfect. The combination of size inside for Kentucky, with PJ Williams and Reed Travis, will be too much for Kansas to handle.
24 Iowa State (14-5, 2-3 away) vs. 20 Ole Miss (14-4, 8-1 home)
In another matchup featuring two ranked teams, Iowa State visits Ole Miss.
Kermit Davis, you may remember him as the Middle Tennessee coach who beat Michigan State as a 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament, has done a remarkable job turning the Rebels around.
Ole Miss won just 12 games a season ago and finished dead last in the SEC. They’ve got fourteen wins already this year.
The matchup with Iowa State this weekend will help show how far they’ve come.
Virginia transfer Marial Shayok is averaging close to 20 points per game for the Cyclones. Freshman point guard Tyrese Haliburton is averaging less than a turnover per game in 34 minutes played per contest.
Prediction: I expect Iowa State to take care of the ball on the road and look to get to the basket against an Ole Miss team without much size inside. Iowa State also has more experience and should pull off the upset.
16 Auburn (13-5, 2-3 SEC) vs. 22 Mississippi State (14-4, 2-3 SEC)
Both teams are looking to find their footing in SEC play after starting the conference schedule under .500. The Tigers and Bulldogs will likely finish the season with similar records and this game should go a long way toward deciding seeding in the SEC Tournament in March.
Auburn and Mississippi State have similar numbers in terms of points allowed, field goal percentage, assists, and rebounds per game.
Each side also has a veteran point guard averaging close to 17 points per game. This is as close to a pick ‘em game as you’ll find in college basketball.
Prediction: Should be a high scoring affair, both teams like to push the pace and get out and run in transition. I gave Mississippi State a slight edge as the home team.
Graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism. Fan of all sports and a long-suffering Jets fan who will defend Sam Darnold at all times. Also, an above average golfer.