College basketball picks: Big 12 and other top 25 predictions for March 1st

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Other top 25 games

Missouri State (19-10) at (2)Wichita State (30-0) – 1:00 PM, ESPN

Spaen: I said after the road victory over Evansville a few weeks ago that the Shockers couldn’t potentially be stopped until the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. That feeling stands. Yes, the Bears forced the Shockers into overtime at their place. Yes, MSU’s overall record may look good, but eight of those 10 losses have come in the mediocre-at-best MVC. Five of those losses came on the road, and one of those losses came at the hands of 9-20 Loyola (IL). Missouri State already had their chance to beat WSU. Saturday’s game is not that.

Prediction: Wichita State

(4)Syracuse (26-2) at (12)Virginia (24-5) – 3:00 PM, ESPN

Spaen: If you watch Big 12 action more than anything else like I do, sometimes you’ll turn on a Syracuse game and wonder how this team is undefeated with a bad offense. It’s all about Jim Boeheim’s zone defense and there’s a reason why it’s talked about so much. While they have recently won games ugly (except an even uglier game against Boston College at home), they’re ranked seventh nationally holding teams to just 58.5 points per game. Don’t write off Syracuse at all; there’s a reason why they made the Final Four last year and could easily do so again — this kind of a team is built for tournament play.

What’s made Virginia just as successful this season. They hold teams to just 54.7 points per game, dominating the game defensively while doing just enough on offense to carry themselves to a victory. It’s incredibly ugly basketball for the offense, but sometimes it’s fun to watch a grind-it-out frenzy on the court where points are a premium. That should be the case between these two, and I’ll take Virginia just because it’s at their place.

Prediction: Virginia

Feb 27, 2014; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals guard/forward Wayne Blackshear (20) shoots the ball over Temple Owls forward Jimmy McDonnell (15) during the second half at KFC Yum! Center. The Cardinals won 88-66. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

(7)Louisville (24-4) at (21)Memphis (21-7) – 1:00 PM, CBS

Voss: Louisville has not lost since a game against Cincinnati on January 30th. The Cardinals are 12th nationally in points per game (82.3) and 20th in points allowed (61.6). Memphis has not lost at home since a match-up with UConn on January 16th. Louisville was unable to beat the Tigers in their first meeting, despite 19 points from Russ Smith and 20 from Luke Hancock. Home court advantage will prevail and Memphis will win at home.

Prediction: Memphis

(9)Creighton (23-4) at Xavier (19-9) – 4:00 PM, FOX Sports 1

Voss: On paper, Creighton wins this game. Greg McDermott’s squad scores more points per game than Xavier, allows fewer points per game than Xavier, and has one of the best players in college basketball in Doug McDermott. Xavier has only lost one game at home. That was a February 1st match-up with Seton Hall. For Xavier to win, they’ll more than likely either need to keep Doug McDermott contained, or prevent Creighton from hitting threes. I don’t think they’ll be able to do that. Creighton wins behind a big game from Doug McDermott.

Prediction: Creighton