College Basketball Expert Picks: Duke-Louisville Leads Intriguing Weekend Slate

Our writers pick Duke-Louisville, Michigan State-Wisconsin, Auburn-Florida, Oregon-Washington and more.
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Another big weekend in college basketball is here, with a Saturday night ACC battle between Duke and Louisville at Cameron Indoor leading the action. But that's not the only game of note, with crucial Big Ten matchups and exciting clashes out west adding to an intriguing slate. Who will win 13 key games on Friday and Saturday? Our writers' picks are in.

MORE: Power Rankings: Baylor Surges to the Top

Season-Long Standings 

Pat Forde: 71-48
Max Meyer: 70-49
Molly Geary: 69-50
Michael Shapiro: 66-53
Jeremy Woo: 59-60

All times are Eastern.

Wisconsin at No. 15 Michigan State (Friday, 7 p.m., FS1)

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Molly Geary picks Michigan State: The Badgers have done it twice (at Ohio State and Penn State), but I'm still not about to pick against the Big Ten's home-arena juju. Big Ten teams are 36-6 against conference opponents at home, and half of those six losses were by bottom-dwellers Northwestern and Nebraska. The Spartans have had four days to stew over a blowout loss at Purdue last Sunday, while Wisconsin is coming off the emotional high of a last-second win over Maryland. This spot does not scream one of the elusive Big Ten road wins, even with the Badgers' better-than-average track record.

No. 19 Michigan at Iowa (Friday, 9 p.m., FS1)

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Jeremy Woo picks Iowa: The Wolverines may not have the firepower to keep up in this one, particularly in a tricky road environment. Even if Jon Teske plays Luka Garza to a drew, a good shooting day from the Hawkeyes should be the difference.

UConn at No. 14 Villanova (Sat., 12 p.m., FS1)

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Michael Shapiro picks Villanova: Jay Wright’s squad has stabilized after a sluggish start, winning nine of its last ten since Dec. 1. Expect the Wildcats to add another victory at home on Saturday. Villanova remains a dangerous attack from beyond the arc, and UConn may not have the firepower to keep up. Saturday is a bit of a trap game for Villanova before hosting No. 5 Butler, but the Wildcats should still take care of business at The Pavillion.

No. 21 Ohio State at Penn State (Sat., 12 p.m., ESPNU)

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Molly Geary picks Penn State: The first time these two met, Lamar Stevens fouled out with 13 minutes to go and Ohio State went bonkers from three, turning a double-digit win into a big-time blowout. I expect things to be much closer this time in State College. Penn State has lost three straight games after starting the season 12-2, but two of the losses in that span came on the road. Ohio State just snapped its own skid against lowly Nebraska, and while it sounds like there's a fair chance that suspended guards Duane Washington and Luther Muhammad could play against the Nittany Lions, there's too much uncertainty around the Buckeyes right now for me to feel good about them winning against a team desperate to get revenge and get back on track.

No. 4 Auburn at Florida (Sat., 1:30 p.m., CBS)

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Jeremy Woo picks Auburn: Auburn finally took its first loss this week, but facing an offensively-challenged Florida team is a good bounce-back opportunity for the Tigers. For what it’s worth, Isaac Okoro might be the best all-around player in the SEC.

Purdue at No. 12 Maryland (2 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

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Jeremy Woo picks Maryland: This is a good bounce-back opportunity for the Terps against a Purdue group that has struggled heavily away from home. Maryland’s schedule gets much more friendly over the next few weeks, and this is a big one.

No. 20 Colorado at Arizona (Sat., 2:30 p.m., FOX)

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Max Meyer picks Arizona: Ever since joining the Pac-12, Colorado has been a completely different team on the road compared to the cozy confines of Boulder. And the Arizona road trip has been the Buffaloes’ biggest obstacle. Colorado has won at Arizona State or Arizona just once out of 14 tries since switching conferences, and lost by a combined 30 points in Tempe and Tucson last season despite having a very similar roster. Colorado has a stingy defense, but I don’t think the Buffaloes have enough firepower on offense to hang with Arizona’s fantastic freshmen.

No. 8 Oregon at Washington (Sat., 3:45 p.m., CBS)

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Max Meyer picks Washington: After Quade Green was deemed ineligible, Washington has been a mess, as the Huskies had a second-half implosion against Stanford and fell to Cal (Cal!) in overtime for a brutal sweep on their Bay Area road trip. But if Washington wants any shot of an at-large NCAA tournament bid, this is a game the Huskies absolutely need. Oregon’s interior defense can easily be beat, and Isaiah Stewart is one of the toughest big men to stop in the country down low. Pac-12 is where you’re supposed to expect the unexpected, and I’d say this upset would qualify.

No. 10 Kentucky at Arkansas (Sat., 4 p.m., ESPN)

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Jeremy Woo picks Kentucky: Arkansas may have a tough time playing small ball against Kentucky, who can match its guards athletically and have the size and length to win the glass. Barring a hot shooting day, the Razorbacks have a big challenge ahead.

Houston at No. 16 Wichita State (Sat., 4 p.m., ESPN2)

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Michael Shapiro picks Wichita State: Is this Gregg Marshall’s best team since Wichita State’s 2015 Sweet 16 squad? The Shockers have sprinted out to a 15–2 start, led by a trio of dynamic scoring guards. Winning on the Kansas plains is never easy. Doing it against this specific Wichita State squad is increasingly difficult. Houston may struggle to keep this one in single digits. 

Providence at No. 25 Creighton (Sat., 4:30 p.m., FS1)

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Michael Shapiro picks Creighton: Creighton rolled into Xavier and snagged a win on Jan. 11, and the Blue Jays should defend home court against Providence on Saturday. The pair of sophomore Marcus Zegarowski and junior Ty-Shon Alexander is perhaps the best backcourt in the Big East. Creighton has just one home loss this season. Perhaps the Friars hang tough, but the Blue Jays should close the week with a home victory in Omaha.

No. 11 Louisville at No. 3 Duke (Sat., 6 p.m., ESPN)

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Molly Geary picks Duke: This is an interesting matchup. Louisville guards Darius Perry and Lamarr Kimble are both prone to turnovers, and that's a major concern being hounded by Duke's Tre Jones and Jordan Goldwire in a hostile Cameron Indoor. But the Blue Devils have struggled with defending athletic big men at time this season, and that could be a problem facing 6'7" star Jordan Nwora, who can stretch the floor out to the perimeter. There's a path to Louisville winning on the road here, especially with Wendell Moore and possibly Joey Baker out. Vernon Carey has to stay out of foul trouble going up against the Cardinals' collection of forwards, but ultimately, I think Duke's guard play makes the difference in a marquee battle in Durham.

BYU at No. 1 Gonzaga (Sat., 10 p.m., ESPN2)

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Max Meyer picks Gonzaga: It’s too bad Yoeli Childs is injured, or else I think BYU could’ve given the Zags a game. Alas, BYU doesn’t stand much of a chance down low against Gonzaga’s sterling rotation of bigs, headlined by Filip Petrusev, Killian Tillie and Drew Timme. As good of a job as first-year coach Mark Pope has done in Provo, Gonzaga should win this one pretty comfortably.