It’s a good weekend of college basketball coming up, and you better enjoy it. Schools hit their exams in the next week or so with the holidays shortly thereafter, so the schedule is about to slow wayyyyy down. But, for now, here are the games to keep an eye on this weekend:
Arkansas -1.5 vs. Western Kentucky
The Eric Musselman-led Arkansas Razorbacks have gotten off to a great start, though it hasn’t been against the toughest schedule. In fact, outside of playing at Georgia Tech, this might be one of the toughest games on its non-conference slate. Despite this being a home game for Western Kentucky, the Hilltoppers haven’t shown a lot to get excited about. They’ve lost three of their past five, including losses to Wright State and Bowling Green. Charles Bassey for WKU and Isaiah Joe for Arkansas will be the guys to watch in this matchup. This should be a fun one, but I think Arkansas wins pretty easily.
The Pick: Arkansas -1.5
Maine -5 at Central Connecticut
This has been a season to forget for Donyell Marshall and the Central Connecticut Blue Devils. To this point, CCSU is winless with 30-plus-point losses to St. John’s, Arizona State, UMass, Vermont, and Columbia. Yikes. But today they get a home tilt against a Maine team that really tries to slow the game. Maine comes into this game in a similar spot to CCSU, having only defeated one D-I team (Merrimack). This is the game when a young Central team finally breaks through.
The pick: CCSU +5 (really tempted for ML pick as well)
UMass +9 at Harvard
Harvard is finally getting healthy and we’re seeing what the Crimson can do at full strength. Last week, they beat Texas A&M, played Maryland to a single-digit loss, and lost to a decent USC team. UMass had impressed me up until about a week ago by beating a good Northeastern team and hanging with Virginia in its tournament game at Mohegan Sun. Despite a 15-point loss to Rutgers last week, I’m still hanging with the Minutemen. I’m a big fan of freshman Tre Mitchell, who can do a bit of everything for UMass. Harvard and Bryce Aiken will be tough to slow down, but I think UMass can keep this to a single-digit loss.
The pick: UMass +9
Villanova -16 at Saint Joseph’s
Just after everyone got the bad taste of Saint Joe’s firing Phil Martelli out of their mouths, the Hawks looked like they might surprise. The Hawks won two of their first three games, including the opener against a good Bradley team and then an impressive road win at UConn. Since that UConn win, the Hawks have not won a game. In fact, they’ve gotten blown out in most of its recent games, including 16-point loss to St. Francis (PA) and a 23-point drubbing to Lafayette. Villanova hasn’t looked as dominant as in years’ past and since this is a Big 5 game, I do hesitate a bit to take Nova as such a big favorite. The Hawk will never die, but it certainly seems like it’s hanging on by a limb here.
The pick: Villanova -16