College basketball picks: Big 12 and other top 25 game predictions for January 18


Clones Confidential staff writer Brian Voss and Hilton Magic Community Call host Brad LaFratte pick this weekend’s Big 12 college basketball games and other top 25 action across the country.

February 02, 2013; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks forward Kevin Young (40) and Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Marcus Smart (33) battle for position in the first half at Allen Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Big 12 games

West Virginia (10-7) at Kansas State (13-4) – 12:45 PM, Big 12 Network/ESPN3

Brad: Nobody in the country has done a better coaching job than Bruce Weber. Kansas State kicked their season off with a home loss to Northern Colorado, but after some early season struggles have found themselves. Defense has been the Wildcats’ calling card, making life difficult for opponents. Especially those that are ranked (sixth-ranked Oklahoma State, 21st-ranked Gonzaga and 25th-ranked Oklahoma). Marcus Foster is an emerging offensive presence and will be the difference in this game. Everyone seems to forget that the Wildcats shared the regular season Big 12 title with their rivals from Lawrence, “quietly” just going about their business again.  West Virginia is much improved (I know, I’m a broken record).  It’s early in the conference season, but it looks like the Mountaineers are an NIT team. Kansas State

(25)Oklahoma (13-4) at (12)Baylor (13-3) – 1:00 PM, ESPN

Brad: Two very athletic teams will square off in Waco.  Baylor is…better on Saturday.  After being upset by Texas Tech their last time out, I fully expect an inspired effort out of the Bears. A key player to watch is Isaiah Austin. With Oklahoma’s lack of depth inside, Austin should be presented the opportunity to work from the inside out. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing if the seven-footer takes a couple of three pointers. Baylor

(8)Iowa State (14-2) at Texas (13-4) – 3:00 PM, Big 12 Network/ESPN3

Brian: Iowa State has struggled rebounding the ball the past two contests, and the game against Texas may be no different as the Longhorns rank eighth in the country in rebounding at just over 42 rebounds per game. The Longhorns are a balanced team with no one averaging over 13 points per game. Texas is coming off of wins against Big 12 bottom dwellers Texas Tech and West Virginia while the Cyclones are coming off tough losses against a good Oklahoma team and a very talented Kansas team. Iowa State will win this one in a close contest. Iowa State

Brad: Texas is coming off an impressive 80-69 road victory on Monday night over West Virginia.  On the other hand, after Iowa State started 14-0, they have dropped the last two games to Oklahoma and Kansas.  Besides some shooting woes for the Cyclones they’ve been overmatched on the boards as of late, a strength for much of the season.  If the Cyclones are to have a chance to steal one on the road, Melvin Ejim and Dustin Hogue are going to have out-work a Longhorn team averaging more than 42 rebounds a game.  The young upstart Longhorns already have a signature win over 14th-ranked North Carolina on the Road, but a victory over eighth-ranked Cyclones would go a long way to solidifying a NCAA Tournament berth.  Some key notes: Iowa State has only won once in the Frank Erwin Special Events Center.  That win came on February 5, 2005 (92-80 overtime). Also, Hoiberg’s program hasn’t lost 3 in a row since his first season at the helm 2010-11.  Give Hoiberg time to prepare usually equates to positive results.  I give a slight edge to the Cyclones.  You won’t want to miss the last five minutes of this Big 12 showdown. Iowa State

(9)Oklahoma State (15-2) at (15)Kansas (12-4) – 3:00 PM, CBS

Brian: Kansas is a ridiculously talented basketball team. Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid are both potential top five NBA draft picks and it doesn’t stop there. Oklahoma State is 3-1 in conference play, but two of those wins are over TCU and West Virginia. Kansas frankly won’t lose very often the rest of this season, and it’s very unlikely they’ll lose at home. Kansas wins this one. Kansas

Texas Tech (9-8) at TCU (9-7) – 5:00 PM, FOX Sports Networks

Brian: I was unable to watch Texas Tech defeat Baylor Wednesday night, but I wonder what the heck happened. Neither the Red Raiders or the Horned Frogs are stellar, and TCU has lost all of their last three by double digits, including a 32-point loss to Oklahoma State. Texas Tech has played close games in all of their conference losses. The Red Raiders will get their second conference win. Texas Tech

Women: (13)Iowa State (14-2) at Kansas State (7-9) – 7:00 PM

Brad: Is winning contagious? The Wildcats have struggled but are coming off their first Big 12 win over Texas Tech, 72-65, this past Tuesday night.  The lady Cyclones, like the men, have had their struggles as of late.  I would expect it will take a half for the Cyclones to shake the two-game losing streak hangover, but with an aggressive approach they will eventually wear down the Wildcats.  So to answer my question, no not this time. Iowa State

Brian: Bill Fennelly’s squad has lost two straight at Hilton, which is a lot worse then losing two straight away from Hilton. Luckily for the Cyclones, Kansas State is 7-9 and 1-4 in the Big 12. The Cyclones get back on the winning track in this game. Iowa State

Other top 25 games

(22)Pittsburgh (16-1) at (2)Syracuse (17-0) – 3:00 PM, ESPN

Brad: My main focus throughout the calendar year is the Big 12.  Although, I have to admit, I enjoy a good old classic Big East clash!  Pittsburgh and Syracuse are no longer part of the Big East, but they haven’t missed a beat in the ACC. Both sit atop of the ACC at 4-0 coming into this critical matchup. The Orange will compete for some hardware not only in the ACC, but on much larger stage come March, but even great teams have a bump or two along the way.  It’s almost impossible to end a season undefeated.  Last team to do so, Bob Knight’s 1976 Indiana team (32-0). Pittsburgh (in double overtime!)

(4)Michigan State (16-1) at Illinois (13-5) – 7:00 PM, BTN

Brian: Michigan State has been impressive ever since their lone loss to North Carolina. Illinois is coming off three straight losses including a loss traditional Big 10 bottom dweller Northwestern in Evanston. If Ravonte Rice can take off, this may be a trap game for Michigan State, but that’s somewhat unlikely. Spartans win this one. Michigan State