On this week’s episode of the March Madness 365 podcast, Andy Katz and Chad “March Chadness” Aycock broke down and predicted the winner for some of the top college basketball games on the schedule.
Katz was also joined on the podcast by advanced stats guru Ken Pomeroy, KPI creator and scheduling wizard Kevin Pauga, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and West Virginia’s Miles McBride.
Katz was 4-4 with his predictions last week, so his overall record is now 19-9. So, let’s get to it. Here are Katz’s predictions and final results for his games to watch this week in college basketball:
No. 7 West Virginia at No. 3 Kansas | 9 p.m. ET on Dec. 22 in Lawrence, Kansas | ESPN
Kansas and West Virginia are top-10 teams and two of the four best teams in the Big 12, according to both the AP Top 25 and advanced stats site kenpom.com, and now they’ll meet for the first time this season. Both teams have only lost once this season and the same team is responsible for both losses: No. 1 Gonzaga. These are two of the top 10 defenses nationally, so get ready for a game that’s potentially low-scoring, relatively speaking, while still played at a very high level.
Katz’s pick: Kansas
No. 22 Xavier at No. 13 Creighton | 3 p.m. ET on Dec. 23 | FS1
As a preseason top-10 team, Creighton was expected to be one of the best teams in the Big East. However, Xavier, which is 8-0 through Dec. 21 (one of only three 8-0 teams in the country, by the way), is one of the early surprises this season. The Musketeers boast the No. 13 offense in the country, in terms of efficiency, and they’ll need to be firing on all cylinders in order to match the play of Creighton’s No. 5 offense.
Katz’s pick: Creighton
No. 11 Rutgers at No. 23 Ohio State | 4:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 23 | BTN
Rutgers is coming off of a three-point win over Illinois, which was one of the strongest contenders to win the Big Ten entering the season. The win gave the Scarlet Knights their second conference win, which no other Big Ten team can say so far, so they’re currently alone in first place. Next comes a road test against an Ohio State squad that’s 6-1 on the season, ranked in the AP Top 25 and owners of the No. 8 offense in the country.
Katz’s pick: Rutgers
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No. 9 Wisconsin at No. 12 Michigan State |12:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 25
College basketball schedule-makers gave fans of the sport a gift for Christmas day as two top-15 teams in the Big Ten will meet in Madison, Wisconsin, where the Spartans’ No. 14 offense will clash with the Badgers’s No. 4 defense. Michigan State has already won at Duke in the Champions Classic, so the Spartans are road-tested.
Katz’s pick: Michigan State
Kentucky at Louisville | 1 p.m. ET on Dec. 26 | ESPN
This season marks the first time in more than a decade that neither of these in-state rivals are ranked for their annual clash. Kentucky is 1-5, which is the program’s worst start in nearly a century, while Louisville (4-1) is licking its wounds after an 85-48 loss at Wisconsin in which star guard Carlik Jones didn’t play.
Katz’s pick: Kentucky
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No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Virginia | 4 p.m. ET on Dec. 26 | CBS
This game was scheduled recently, and boy, it should be a good one. It’s the No. 1 team versus the (technically) reigning national champion. Gonzaga has the No. 2 offense in the country, while Virginia has the No. 5 defense. They say styles make fights and the contrast in tempo should make for a thrilling matchup.
Katz’s pick: Gonzaga