College Basketball Expert Picks: Who's Got the Edge as Conference Races Heat Up?

Who will win Baylor-WVU, Michigan State-Maryland, Stanford-Arizona and more key college hoops clashes?
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We're back with another edition of SI's college basketball weekend picks, with 15 new games between Saturday and Sunday. Joining us starting this week is SI's Jason Jordan. This weekend's top games include West Virginia traveling to No. 1 Baylor, Michigan State hosting No. 9 Maryland and undefeated San Diego State looking to win one of its two remaining road tests. Who will take home a critical February victory? Our picks are below.

Season-Long Standings:

Molly Geary: 106-69 (60.6%)
Pat Forde: 103-72 (58.9%)
Michael Shapiro: 102-73 (58.3%)
Jeremy Woo: 96-79 (54.9%)

All times are Eastern.

Oklahoma at No. 3 Kansas (Sat., 12 p.m., ESPN)

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Molly Geary picks Kansas: Oklahoma comes into this one having won three of its last four, but going to Allen Fieldhouse is a different challenge. The Sooners don't force many turnovers or crash the offensive boards—two things quite helpful when you're trying to pull a road upset—and Kansas' defense lives off grinding out possessions and forcing the opposition into tough threes. It could be a long night if those threes don't fall.

Purdue at Ohio State (Sat., 12 p.m., FOX)

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Jason Jordan picks Ohio State: Lost in the Boilermakers’ embarrassing home thumping by No. 13 Penn State was Purdue’s own spirited run preceding the loss. The Boilermakers were surging as winners of four of their last five games. It didn’t help that they gave up 14 3-pointers to the Nittany Lions in the loss. It won’t get any easier facing the top three-point shooting team (37.9%) in the Big Ten at home where they’ve only lost two games all season. The Buckeyes have won four of their last five.

No. 14 West Virginia at No. 1 Baylor (Sat., 4 p.m., ESPN+)

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Pat Forde picks Baylor: This game does not set up well at all for the Mountaineers. They're coming off consecutive losses and major offensive struggles against Oklahoma and Kansas, and now travel to Waco to face an outstanding defensive team that has two more days or rest and preparation for this game. WVU has made just 33 of 104 two-point shots in its last two games, which seems almost impossible. Take that up against a physical Baylor team that makes everything difficult in the paint, and it's difficult to envision Bob Huggins' team scoring enough to win.

Notre Dame at No. 7 Duke (Sat., 4 p.m., ESPN)

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Jason Jordan picks Duke: The No. 7 Blue Devils had an impressive win at home over No. 8 Florida State after an emotional come-from-behind win over archrival North Carolina two days prior. Notre Dame is playing for its NCAA tournament life, but Duke has its own motivation, trailing Louisville by a half-game for top spot in the ACC. The Blue Devils are also hunting a No. 1 seed and can’t afford any more slip-ups.

No. 25 LSU at Alabama (Sat., 4 p.m., ESPN2)

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Michael Shapiro picks LSU: Beating LSU would be a significant addition to Alabama’s tournament résumé, though the Crimson Tide may have trouble slowing down the Tigers’ high-octane attack in Tuscaloosa. Will Wade’s crew has five double-digit scorers, led by likely All-SEC guard Skylar Mays. Expect LSU to follow up its gridiron success in 2019 with a win on the hardwood on Saturday.

No. 22 Illinois at Rutgers (Sat., 4:30 p.m., BTN)

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Molly Geary picks Rutgers: Illinois got good news on Ayo Dosunmu after Tuesday's scary slip, but it's unclear if he'll suit up for this one. Even if he does, this is a rock fight-type game on paper between two teams that struggle to shoot the ball but play tough defense. I'll give the edge to the home team, as Rutgers has yet to lose at the RAC all season.

No. 9 Maryland at Michigan State (Sat., 6 p.m., ESPN)

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Jeremy Woo picks Michigan State: Hi, it‘s me, still dragging from the back of the Michigan State 2020 champs bandwagon by a thread.

No. 20 Houston at SMU (Sat., 6 p.m., ESPNU)

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Jeremy Woo picks Houston: This is a consequential win that SMU badly needs, but I’m not entirely sure it's for real. Houston always seems to get it done.

No. 10 Seton Hall at Providence (Sat., 8 p.m., CBSSN)

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Pat Forde picks Seton Hall: The Pirates are the rare team that is performing better on the road than at home in conference play—they're 6-0 on the road, and this will make it 7-0. The Friars might have seen their fading at-large hopes disappear Wednesday with a loss at St. John's that drops them to 13-12 overall, with a slew of bad early losses. Providence is a brutal shooting team that doesn't figure to fare well against the excellent defense of the Pirates.

Virginia at North Carolina (Sat., 8 p.m., ESPN)

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Jason Jordan picks Virginia: North Carolina seemed to be suffering from the proverbial emotional loss hangover after falling to No. 7 Duke last weekend and got rolled at Wake Forest as a result. Virginia wasn’t much better, barely escaping against Notre Dame. Still, the Cavs are the top defensive team in the ACC and the Tar Heels are coming off of a game where they shot 33% from the field and managed just 57 points. Virginia only allows 51 points a game, don’t expect the Tar Heels to be too far north of that.

No. 16 Colorado at Oregon State (Sat., 10 p.m., FS1)

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Pat Forde picks Colorado: If Colorado is going to win the Pac-12, it cannot afford to lose twice to the Beavers. The Buffaloes already were upset by a late Oregon State surge in Boulder, and now comes the rematch. Forward D'Shawn Schwartz is the bellwether for Colorado: he's averaging just 6.4 points in losses (including four against Oregon State) and 12.4 points in wins.

Arizona at Stanford (Sat., 10:30 p.m., Pac-12)

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Jeremy Woo picks Stanford: I honestly have no idea what constitutes an upset in the Pac-12 anymore. I like Stanford at home, and I like Tyrell Terry (a lot).

No. 15 Villanova at Temple (Sun., 1 p.m., ESPN)

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Michael Shapiro picks Villanova: Villanova appeared to be surging at the right time at the end of January, but a trio of losses to ranked teams has sent its Final Four chances into a relative tailspin. Still, Temple is short on talent to defeat Jay Wright and Co. The Owls rank No. 241 in scoring offense. They’re abysmal beyond the arc. Don’t expect an upset in the battle of Big 5 programs.

No. 21 Iowa at Minnesota (Sun., 1 p.m., FS1)

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Molly Geary picks Iowa: This goes against my instincts, which is to normally side with a Big Ten home team in a game that feels like it could go either way. The Hawkeyes, though, can win this if they hit their threes, as Minnesota is shooting just 28.6% from the outside in conference play. Daniel Oturu will put up numbers in the paint, but Luka Garza has the offensive firepower necessary to match his scoring output.

No. 4 San Diego State at Boise State (Sun., 4 p.m., CBSSN)

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Michael Shapiro picks San Diego State: Can the Aztecs keep their undefeated season alive in Boise? Their recent results suggest nothing otherwise. San Diego State has been quite sturdy on the road this season, including a 22-point thrashing at Colorado State in December. Its stifling defense should be able to slow junior Derrick Alston as Boise State eyes a major addition to its tournament résumé.