Duke and Syracuse will take the ground on Saturday (6 p.m. ET, ESPN) after a really eventful week for each applications. Additionally, a complete mess of key males’s basketball video games dot the Huge Ten schedule, culminating in Sunday afternoon’s in-state battle between Michigan and Michigan State in Ann Arbor. Our specialists weighed in on these matchups and the shock groups (good surprises and in any other case) from the 2018-19 season in faculty basketball.
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Feelings are going to be excessive on either side of this week’s Duke/Syracuse matchup. How do you see it enjoying out on the ground?
Myron Medcalf, senior faculty basketball author: This can be a troublesome scenario for everybody concerned. I am unsure how gamers, coaches and others hooked up to this sport will course of every part that surrounds it. I would not be shocked by a Syracuse upset, though I believe Duke will win. Zion Williamson is the best participant Duke has to place in the midst of that zone, however he appears unlikely to play. And that would result in one other Three-point barrage for a Duke squad that is linked on 29.2 p.c of its Three-point makes an attempt in ACC play. Nonetheless, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish will trigger issues for Cuse.
Jeff Borzello, faculty basketball insider: This one is de facto powerful to learn as a result of feelings of this week. There are questions on Zion Williamson’s availability, and there are questions on whether or not Jim Boeheim will coach. On the ground, although, Syracuse goes for the sweep of the Blue Devils. Within the first assembly, it was kind of an ideal storm for Syracuse: Tre Jones injured after six minutes, Cam Reddish not enjoying, Duke going 9-for-43 from Three-point vary. This time round, Williamson probably might be very restricted even when he performs and the Blue Devils regarded awfully weak with out him in opposition to North Carolina on Wednesday — at each ends of the ground. That mentioned, I nonetheless do not see Duke dropping two in a row. There’s an excessive amount of expertise on that roster they usually’ve now had a couple of days to regulate to life with out Zion.
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Duke was pummeled with out Zion Williamson (knee sprain) for many of its sport in opposition to North Carolina.
John Gasaway, faculty basketball author: Might I repeat one factor Jeff mentioned concerning the first sport? Duke shot 43 instances from past the arc, and the Blue Devils missed 34 of these. Now, granted, the sport went to time beyond regulation, however that is nonetheless numerous perimeter capturing. The attention-grabbing factor is, even with out Jones within the lineup, Duke was in a position to get contained in the zone and make about 60 p.c of its 2s. Shot choice and success will even out this time and the Blue Devils will win.
Jordan Schultz, insider/analyst: Duke desires to actual a dose of revenge, and even with Zion’s well being in query, I do not love the Orange’s possibilities. Defensive maestro Jones and big-shot maker Reddish are each within the lineup. Extra importantly, we must always anticipate a monstrous exhibiting from Barrett, who went Eight-for-30 and a depressing Four-for-17 from Three within the first assembly. Give me the Blue Devils.
In the meantime, the Huge Ten has a complete bunch of significant video games this weekend, capped off by Michigan State at Michigan on Sunday. Who ya received in Ann Arbor?
Borzello: Give me Michigan. Had Nick Ward been wholesome, I believe it will have been a toss-up, however I simply do not see how Michigan State can persistently rating in opposition to the Wolverines’ protection with out Ward. There’s going to be so much on Cassius Winston’s plate, and Michigan has top-of-the-line defensive level guards within the nation in Zavier Simpson. I see a reasonably low-scoring house win for the Wolverines.
Medcalf: Winston is an All-American, however he is lacking Ward and that issues. What else issues? I am nonetheless unsure how good this Michigan State staff actually is, which is a good greater concern with the latest accidents. Its résumé is anchored by wins over Wisconsin, Texas, Iowa and Purdue, however I believe Michigan has the next ceiling than these squads and the Wolverines are enjoying top-three protection proper now, so I am choosing the Wolverines.
Gasaway: I just like the Spartans on this one. Tom Izzo’s guys received at Wisconsin with Ward having a really regular and unspectacular 24-minute cameo. MSU, as at all times, has choices at that spot (Xavier Tillman), and the Michigan offense hasn’t flashed the previous high-efficiency, 2013-vintage statistical look in opposition to an at-large-caliber opponent for the reason that Purdue sport on Dec. 1. Shorthanded MSU pulls the upset.
Schultz: Not solely is that this sport in Ann Arbor, however Michigan is the higher, more healthy staff. Ward is the kind of bodily paint presence that Tom Izzo’s greatest groups at all times appear to have. He’s not replaceable. Michigan, in the meantime, will lean on its main scorer in freshman ahead Ignas Brazdeikis, whose offensive versatility now turns into that rather more of a difficulty for Sparty with out Ward.
Fill in these blanks: Out of 353 Division I groups, I am most shocked that ______ is not higher, and that ______ is nearly as good as it’s.
Medcalf: Clemson and Purdue. Marcquise Reed, Shelton Mitchell and Elijah Thomas all returned this season with ACC competition aspirations after a Candy 16 run. However the Tigers have broken their postseason hopes with a 5-Eight begin in ACC play and dedicated turnovers on almost 26 p.c of their possessions within the ACC. And I nonetheless cannot perceive how Matt Painter is chasing a title in America’s deepest league after dropping one of many nation’s high senior lessons. Regardless of dropping each top-five scorer not named Carsen Edwards, Purdue’s offense continues to be top-five and its protection has maintained an analogous top-40 clip too.
Borzello: Oregon and VCU. I used to be outrageously excessive on Oregon coming into the season. I even had it in my preseason Ultimate 4 (although I’ve tried to get that doc redacted and scrubbed off the interwebs). However the Geese, like just about everybody else within the Pac-12, stink. A few of it’s Bol Bol’s harm, however look, they misplaced to Texas Southern at house with Bol scoring 32 factors. On the opposite facet, I believe a straightforward reply is Houston, however let’s present some like to Mike Rhoades and VCU. The Rams had been picked seventh within the preseason Atlantic 10 ballot, however they’re atop the league standings and still have a case for an at-large bid. The Rams have an elite protection they usually’ve received seven in a row.
Gasaway: Miami and Texas Tech. Possibly I did not choose the Hurricanes for the Ultimate 4, however there wasn’t a doubt in my thoughts they’d be a match staff. Mainly, I assumed we would get the model of the Canes we noticed within the time beyond regulation loss at North Carolina. As a substitute, opponents are discovering success scoring within the paint, and Jim Larranaga’s guys are nothing particular by way of capturing from both facet of the arc. On the flip facet, there isn’t any method I anticipated Texas Tech to be in competition for a top-four seed. Chris Beard is a wizard. I really feel like my preseason learn on the Purple Raider offense was about proper, and likewise that it hasn’t mattered one bit. Beard’s protection has rendered that entire query moot.
Schultz: Washington and Indiana. The Huskies’ 12-1 league file is its greatest since 1953, and coach Mike Hopkins is an absolute star. Senior wing Matisse Thybulle — who averages a doubtlessly record-breaking Three.Four steals and three.1 blocks per sport — is a defensive genius and the important thing to the Huskies’ 2-Three matchup zone. Moreover, senior huge man Noah Dickerson is a load beneath, whereas sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell (16.5 factors per sport on 51.5 p.c capturing) is a bona fide professional. In the meantime, whereas the Huge Ten has a bunch of match groups, a lot to my shock, Indiana isn’t considered one of them. The Hoosiers have been atrocious, dropping 11 of their previous 12 video games. Blue-chip freshman Romeo Langford has flashed, however Archie Miller’s staff has been far too undisciplined and lackluster offensively (104th in effectivity, per KenPom, 215th in possessions) to generate any kind of consistency
ESPN.com skilled picks for this weekend’s high video games
(Traces, printed as they change into accessible, from the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.)
2018-19 faculty basketball predictions leaderboard
ESPN.com expertsLast week SUSeason SULast week ATSSeason ATSJordan Schultz7-336-146-427-21-2Jeff Borzello8-235-155-527-21-2Myron Medcalf7-335-154-5-123-24-3John Gasaway6-435-153-722-23-5