Basketball

Top 5 CBB Games This Weekend (Jan 15)

Kentucky big man Oscar Tshiebwe has been one of the most dominant players in College Basketball this season (Jordan Prather/USA Today Sports)

The College Basketball season is heating up, and with no unbeaten teams left it could be anyone’s season. Here is a look at the Top 5 CBB games this weekend:

5. OREGON DUCKS AT USC TROJANS

After starting the season undefeated, USC suffered their first loss of the season Tuesday night against Stanford. USC will look to bounce back from this defeat as they host the Oregon Ducks Saturday night. Following his brother’s decision to declare for the draft, forward Isaiah Mobley has stepped into the leadership role at USC. Mobley leads the Trojans with 15.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. On the other hand, the Oregon Ducks are a team that is just trying to find their stride. After getting blown out in several games early this season, the Ducks have won 4 of their last 5 games. The lone loss came against the top-ranked Baylor Bears.

GAME PREDICTION: USC struggled to shoot the 3 ball (28.6%) well when they were upset Tuesday against Stanford. Expect USC to play more consistently on Saturday against Oregon. My final score prediction is USC 73 Oregon 64.

4. NC STATE WOLFPACK AT DUKE BLUE DEVILS

Despite NC State’s sub-par record at 9-8, the Wolfpack always plays Duke close. The Wolfpack have split the last 6 games against Duke, even winning once at Cameron Indoor. The Wolfpack will rely heavily on their talented trio of Dereon Seaborn, Jericole Hellems, and Terquavion Smith in their upset-minded efforts. On the other hand, Duke has been one of the most consistent teams in college basketball this season. The Blue Devils were able to win their last outing against Wake Forest, even without the services of the legendary Coach K (non-Covid illness).

Wendell Moore Jr. continues to shine for the Blue Devils (Bella Bann/The Chronicle)

GAME PREDICTION: The post combination of Paolo Banchero and Wendell Moore Jr. has been fantastic for Duke all year long. While NC State will keep this game close, the Duke Blue Devils are just the better team. My final score prediction is Duke 85 NC State 70.

3. WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS AT KANSAS JAYHAWKS

After coming out on top in a wild game against Iowa State, Kansas welcomes West Virginia in as the next team to play them at Allen Fieldhouse. With their only loss in conference play coming against Texas, West Virginia will look to win their first signature Big 12 game. One key to victory for the Mountaineers will be improved three-point shooting. West Virginia struggles to shoot from range, shooting just 32 percent from the arc on the season. Guard tandem Taz Sherman (36.4%) and Sean McNeil (40.8%) shoot better than anyone else on the team and could give West Virginia the best shot at pulling the upset in Lawrence.

GAME PREDICTION: The magic of Allen Fieldhouse was alive and well again for Kansas on Tuesday night against Iowa State. In a game where West Virginia could test Kansas’ limits, expect head coach Bill Self to find a way to win once again at home. My final score prediction is Kansas 77 West Virginia 71.

2. TEXAS LONGHORNS AT IOWA STATE CYCLONES

Following a disappointing loss to Oklahoma State, Texas flexed its muscle against rival Oklahoma. The Longhorns dominated all game, winning 66-52. On the contrary, Iowa State has struggled lately. After a perfect non-conference start, Iowa State has lost 3 out of its first 4 conference games. In order to stay alive in the crowded race for Big 12 supremacy, Iowa State needs to break out of its slump. A win against ranked Texas would do the trick. Texas guard Andrew Jones has been playing great as of late, scoring 22 points earlier this week against the Sooners.

GAME PREDICTION: Iowa State was a great story at the beginning of the year. After being picked to finish near the bottom of the Big 12, the Cyclones showed their ability to play good basketball. However, the Longhorn’s blend of size, talent, speed, and leadership might prove to be too much for Iowa State. My final score prediction is Texas 69 Iowa State 56.

Andrew Jones has pushed through adversity to lead the Longhorns (Michael Thomas/Associated Press)

1. TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS AT KENTUCKY WILDCATS

The game of the week in college basketball this weekend is Tennessee and Kentucky. This battle of SEC contenders should be an exciting 40 minutes of basketball. The story of this season for Kentucky has been big man transfer Oscar Tshiebwe. Tshiebwe has been a double-double machine, for Coach Calipari this season averaging 17 points and 15.1 rebounds per game. Kentucky has also gotten a boost from the outside from guards TyTy Washington Jr. and Kellan Grady. Washington Jr. and Grady have both shot above 40 percent from three-point range, providing a good balance to the post play of Tshiebwe. The strength of Tennessee’s play has been their ball movement. Although not scoring a ton, the Volunteers rank 20th in assists per game at 17.4.

GAME PREDICTION: Saturday’s game between Tennessee and Kentucky could be a very interesting one. While Kentucky feels like the clear favorite, Tennessee has shown it has what it takes to play in the big game this season. My final score prediction for this game is Tennessee 72 Kentucky 68.

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