10 Weekend Games to Watch: Jan. 25-27

All times are listed in E.S.T.

1. No. 13 Michigan State at No. 7 Indiana, Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS

This is the only weekend game between two Top-25 teams, so it’s pretty easy to peg it as No. 1.

The Spartans hold the best record in the Big Ten at 6-1, including three road wins. Indiana’s Assembly Hall is known as one of the better home courts in college basketball, but considering Michigan State’s track record on the road and that the Hoosiers recently lost there to Wisconsin, this game is wide open.

The game could very well be decided on the offensive glass. Indiana (17-2, 5-1) is one of the top Big Ten teams in offensive rebounding, and Michigan State is near the top in defensive rebounding. And the Spartans have held opponents to an offensive rebounding percentage of 25 percent or worse in four out of their last five games.

My pick: Michigan State

2. North Dakota State at South Dakota State, Saturday at 3 p.m.

Nothing beats a high-quality, mid-major battle between two conference title contenders. North Dakota State (16-4, 7-1 Summit) is a half-game out of first place, and South Dakota State (15-6, 6-2) is one game behind the Bison. A few weeks ago, the Bison defeated the Jackrabbits in Fargo, 65-62.

Now, not only is the rematch at South Dakota State, but North Dakota State will also be without leading scorer Taylor Braun, who broke a bone in his foot against Oakland a few games ago. Braun scored 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting against the Jackrabbits in December.

With Braun and home-court advantage no longer on their side, it could be a rough day for the Bison.

South Dakota State comes in with wins in its last four games, and Nate Wolters is averaging 22.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 5.9 assists in his last eight games.

My pick: South Dakota State

3. No. 5 Louisville at Georgetown, Saturday at 12 p.m. on ESPN

Louisville (16-3, 4-2 Big East) has lost back-to-back games for the first time this season, but there is no reason for the Cardinals to panic with plenty of time to get their season back on the right track. On Saturday, they have a good test at Georgetown (13-4, 3-3), which is coming off a win over Notre Dame.

The Hoyas have tumbled from the top 15 to a bubble team after a mediocre start in the Big East, but a win over the No. 5 team would silence many doubters.

With Otto Porter Jr. and Co., Georgetown has the pieces to pull off the upset, but it is difficult to imagine Rick Pitino’s club losing three games in a row, something it hasn’t done since January 2010.

My pick: Louisville

4. No. 15 New Mexico at San Diego State, Saturday at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports

New Mexico (17-2, 4-0 MWC) is yet to lose in conference play, but life has not been easy for the Lobos. In their most recent game, they had to ward off a furious rally by Colorado State to win by five. Prior to that, they needed overtime to get past Boise State, 79-74. And in their opener, they defeated UNLV, also by five points. The only easy win came in a blowout over Fresno State.

Meanwhile, San Diego State (15-4, 3-2 MWC) has had a puzzling start to conference play. Two of the Aztecs’ three wins have come by seven points or fewer, and they were suffocated by Wyoming’s defense in a road loss. Still, Jamaal Franklin is a Conference POY contender, and Chase Tapley is also outstanding.

My pick: San Diego State

5. Oklahoma at No. 3 Kansas, Saturday at 4 p.m. on ESPN

Oklahoma (13-4, 4-1 Big 12) has a pretty record, but, in the end, what have they done? The Sooners did not pick up any high-quality non-conference wins, and the only good Big 12 team they beat is Oklahoma State, which is only 2-3 in league play.

This is a huge opportunity for Oklahoma to show its worth and prove that it belongs as a Big 12 title contender, but it could also result in an exposing loss.

Try not to get lost in The Phog, Sooners.

My pick: Kansas

6. La Salle at No. 19 VCU, Saturday at 8 p.m. on CBS College Sports

La Salle (13-5, 3-2 A10) shocked the nation with a 54-53 win over Butler during the week, and now the Explorers get another shot at a Top-25 team when they play at VCU on Saturday. They already proved themselves as a legitimate bubble team, and with another high-quality win they could probably rise to as high as a No. 9 or No. 10 seed in next week’s bracket projections.

VCU (16-4) is coming off its first Atlantic 10 loss to Richmond in overtime, but we have all seen how this squad can become a whole new animal at home. This La Salle team will not be overlooked after upsetting Butler.

My pick: VCU

7. North Carolina at No. 18 NC State, Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN

Not only is this a rivalry game, but it is regardlessly an important game for both of these teams.

UNC (13-5) is tied for third place in the conference, but it is still looking for a marquee road win. The Tar Heels only Top-25 win is over UNLV at home, and their only true road wins are over Long Beach State and Florida State.

NC State (15-4, 4-2 ACC) proved its worth with a win over No. 1 Duke two weeks ago, but since then the Wolfpack is only 1-2 with a very bad loss to Wake Forest. The Pack is already likely to drop out of the Top 25 rankings, but another loss to an unranked team would look terrible on their resume.

My pick: NC State

8. No. 12 Minnesota at Wisconsin, Saturday at 2 p.m. on Big Ten Network

Both of these teams have struggled since grabbing the nation’s attention with Top-25 wins in early/mid-January.

Minnesota (15-4, 3-3 Big Ten) defeated Michigan State and Illinois but has since lost three straight to Indiana, Michigan and Northwestern. Wisconsin (13-6, 4-2) upset Indiana at Assembly Hall but then lost close games to Iowa and Michigan State.

This game is more important for Wisconsin as the Badgers need to prove that the Indiana win was not a fluke, but a fourth consecutive loss for the Golden Gophers could drop them out of the Top 25.

My pick: Minnesota

9. No. 11 Kansas State at Iowa State, Saturday at 1:45 p.m. on ESPN3

Iowa State fell to the wrong side of the bubble after losing at Texas Tech during the week. The Cyclones are a banked-in three-pointer away from picking up a big-time win at Kansas, but alas Ben McLemore proved to be a hero, leaving the Cyclones with an unimpressive resume. (Their best win is BYU at home.)

Nothing at this point in the season is do or die, but an Iowa State loss would give Fred Hoiberg’s program very little breathing room over the final weeks of the season.

My pick: Iowa State

10. Belmont at Eastern Kentucky, Saturday at 7 p.m.

This will be a battle between the top two teams in the Ohio Valley. Belmont (16-4, 7-0 OVC) has had a few close calls recently, but it is still yet to lose in conference play. Eastern Kentucky (16-4, 6-1 OVC) has also been fantastic in league play, with its only loss coming at Belmont.

The Colonels will have revenge on their mind, so an upset would not be surprising at all.

Watch out for EKU’s Mike DiNunno, who scored 24 points and made four treys in the first meeting with the Bruins.

My pick: Eastern Kentucky

Author: Jesse Kramer

Jesse Kramer is the founder of The Catch and Shoot. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He has had work featured on SI.com, College Insider, The Comeback/Awful Announcing, and 247Sports.

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