College Basketball Picks: Gavitt Games, Oregon-Memphis and More

Eight Big East and Big Ten teams square off this week, and that's far from the only intrigue in college basketball. Who will earn a win?
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College basketball's opening week has come and gone, but the fun is just beginning. After a week that saw both the Champions Classic and ACC conference games, the coming days bring the Gavitt Tipoff Games (between the Big Ten and Big East) and a top-15 showdown between Oregon and Memphis in Portland. In all, three different top-25 matchups will take place, including Seton Hall-Michigan State and Ohio State-Villanova. Who will take home a victory? Our writers and editors pick 13 key games between now and Sunday.

Season-Long Standings

Jeremy Woo: 10-6
Michael Shapiro: 9-7
Max Meyer: 8-8
Molly Geary: 7-9
Pat Forde: 6-10

All times are Eastern.

Creighton at Michigan (Tues., 6:30 p.m., FS1)

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Molly Geary picks Creighton: This is an intriguing matchup between two teams that could either comfortably sail into the tournament come March or find themselves on the bubble. Ultimately, I think the Bluejays' shooting and the play of junior Ty-Shon Alexander will push them ahead on the road against a Wolverines team that may not be able to match the offensive firepower. Michigan's best bet is to take away the perimeter and hope guard Eli Brooks's 24-point effort in the opener was a sign of things to come.

Missouri at No. 21 Xavier (Tues., 7 p.m., CBSSN)

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Michael Shapiro picks Xavier: The Tigers’ trip to Ohio could be an ugly one as Cuonzo Martin’s squad faces a Xavier team that could crack the tournament’s second weekend. The Musketeers return their top four scorers from last season, led by senior forward Tyrique Jones. Xavier’s imposing paint presence should be in contention for All-Big East honors in 2019-20, and Jones is off to a hot start this season with a 75% mark from the field. Xavier isn’t completely at full strength as four-star guard KyKy Tandy battles a foot injury, but the Musketeers still have enough talent to take down Missouri at home. 

No. 14 Oregon vs. No. 13 Memphis (Tues., 9 p.m., ESPN)

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Max Meyer picks Oregon: Memphis has grabbed the tiger’s share of the headlines in college basketball’s first week of the season with the James Wiseman saga. But for as talented as Memphis is, it’s always tough to play your first game away from home, as Oregon will have the crowd advantage at the Moda Center for the Phil Knight Invitational. The Ducks don’t really have anyone on their roster that can match up with Wiseman, however Dana Altman’s matchup zone could give the inexperienced Tigers fits. Where Oregon has improved, though, is its outside shooting, as Anthony Mathis (9 for 11 from three last game against Boise State) and Chris Duarte are both lethal from beyond the arc. In the end, I trust Altman with a huge coaching advantage over Penny Hardaway and floor general Payton Pritchard to lead Oregon to victory here.

Oklahoma vs. Oregon State (Tues., 11 p.m., ESPN2)

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Jeremy Woo picks Oregon State: The Beavers have the luxury of riding a red-hot Tres Tinkle, and Oklahoma may not have an obvious answer beyond trying to scheme the ball out of his hands. The advantage of playing in Portland gives a slight nod to Oregon State.

No. 23 LSU at VCU (Wed., 6 p.m., ESPN2)

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Pat Forde picks LSU: The Will Wade Invitational matches the coach's current team against his former team, both of which are undefeated at this early stage of the season. LSU returns a solid cadre of players from last season's SEC championship team, and got a splashy opening game from sophomore Emmitt Williams (21 points, seven rebounds), who had a quiet freshman season for a highly-touted recruit. VCU, the preseason pick to win the Atlantic-10, is off to a 2-0 start keyed by defense—Mike Rhoades's team is allowing just 57 points per game and forcing 18.5 turnovers (while also turning it over plenty themselves). VCU doesn't often get teams from power conferences to come to Richmond, so expect a frothy home crowd for this one.

No. 10 Villanova at No. 16 Ohio State (Wed., 7 p.m., FS1)

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Jeremy Woo picks Villanova: This is a huge litmus test for Villanova, which looked well-oiled in last week’s win over Army, but face a much different type of task in Columbus. A compelling matchup between Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Kaleb Wesson up front may decide this game. I expect this to be low-scoring, with Villanova hanging on late.

Purdue at Marquette (Wed., 9 p.m. FS1)

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Pat Forde picks Marquette: The Markus Howard Show is back for another season of long-ball thrills, with the Marquette guard starting the year off with a 38-point, seven-three-pointer night against Loyola Maryland. Open looks could be tougher to come by against the Boilermakers, although they stumbled at home against Texas over the weekend. Purdue is searching for a new leading offensive option after volume shooter Carsen Edwards went to the NBA, and thus far the leading scorer is High Point transfer Jahaad Proctor at 19 points per game. Matt Painter will probably be asking for more interior presence from 7-3 junior Matt Haarms (zero defensive rebounds against Texas) and more point production from junior Nojel Eastern (just six points per game thus far).

No. 3 Michigan State at No. 12 Seton Hall (Thurs., 8:30 p.m., FS1)

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Jeremy Woo picks Michigan State: With Myles Powell out, the Spartans’ path to a solid road win should be much less complicated. Michigan State isn’t firing on all cylinders yet (23.5% from three over two games). And in the long run, last week’s loss to Kentucky won’t mean much.

West Virginia at Pitt (Friday, 7 p.m., ESPNU)

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Michael Shapiro picks West Virginia: The Backyard Brawl will head to the hardwood on Friday, and we should see a competitive contest at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh. The Mountaineers should be able to impose their size advantage at Pitt, led by sophomore and potential All-Big 12 candidate Derek Culver. The forward is joined by 6’9” freshman Oscar Tshiebwe, forming a fearsome front line fitting for a Bob Huggins team. The Panthers are a scrappy crew with a talented backcourt. They could make a surprising run toward the top half of the ACC. But West Virginia’s size should prove overwhelming in Friday’s interstate battle.

No. 8 Gonzaga at Texas A&M (Friday, 9 p.m., SECN)

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Molly Geary picks Gonzaga: Admon Gilder takes on his former team in the familiar confines of Reed Arena in this one. Even with Killian Tillie out, Gonzaga has plenty of offensive weapons, and Filip Petrusev (25 points against Arkansas Pine-Bluff) is already showing signs that he'll have an anticipated breakout. The 6''10" Jonathan Aku is the Aggies only starter above 6'7", and dealing with the 6'11" Serbian and 6'10" freshman Drew Timme will be a handful. A&M will, however, be eager to put its best foot forward in its first real test under Buzz Williams.

No. 20 Washington vs. Tennessee (Sat., 5 p.m., ESPN+)

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Max Meyer picks Washington: Washington picked up a crucial non-conference win over Baylor in Anchorage, and Tennessee presents another résumé booster in a non-conference schedule that doesn’t have many of them. Isaiah Stewart looked as advertised, while Jaden McDaniels showed off his tantalizing upside. But guard Naz Carter may have been the biggest story from that game, as he scored 23 points, including drilling four of his six attempts from beyond the arc. If he and Quade Green can give the Huskies stable guard play, watch out. But I don’t think Tennessee has the frontcourt to be able to contain Stewart, so expect the five-star freshman big man to take over and lead Washington to another big win.

Marquette at Wisconsin (Sun., 1 p.m., FS1)

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Molly Geary picks Marquette: The Badgers definitely are capable of winning this one, but their paths are likely either 1) shutting down every Marquette player not named Markus Howard or 2) grinding the game down enough that Howard's touches are relatively limited. The Golden Eagles won't be upset if this turns into a three-point shooting contest, and Wisconsin struggled mightily from the arc in its first two games (21.6%). The Nate Reuvers vs. Theo John matchup could be key, especially if Reuvers can use his perimeter shooting ability to draw his fellow center out of the paint defensively.

No. 15 Florida at UConn (Sun., 3 p.m., ESPN)

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Michael Shapiro picks Florida: Last week’s loss to Florida State should be more of a bump in the road than a harbinger of things to come for a talented Gators squad, one with legitimate Final Four aspirations. Florida entered 2019-20 with the nation’s No. 8 recruiting class, and Virginia Tech grad transfer Kerry Blackshear is an All-American contender. Perhaps Florida has more growing pains in store than originally assumed, though UConn doesn’t have enough talent to dole out the Gators’ second loss of the season. Expect Mike White’s team to leave Hartford unscathed in the early-season matchup.