It has been a long time since we made college basketball predictions and we here at Over The Grill would like to apologize for that. We are coming back with a vengeance today, making a few predictions, looking to build on our impressive 21 and 8 record. Remember that we use our own College Basketball Rankings for these posts. Before the jump we will give you the National Game of the Day followed by the second and third best games after the jump.
National Game of the Day: #17 North Carolina (18-7, 8-4 ACC) @ #4 Duke (22-3, 9-3 ACC)
This is one of the most anticipated games of the year in college basketball, every single year. This year’s matchup is no different as it pits two top twenty teams both starting to hit their strides. The two teams are markedly different this year, with UNC led by dominant guard play while Duke thrives due to an elite big man. Both teams are in the top 20 in the country in points per game while UNC leads the country in assists per game at 17.6 and are 2nd in the country in rebounds per game at 42.6 per game. Duke shoots the ball much better at 49.7% compared to UNCs 47% and they have much better three point shooters. Ultimately, while I do not think the experienced Tar Heel squad will be intimidated by the Duke environment, I just don’t think they have the horses to stop Jahlil Okafor, who will put up 28 and 15 on route to a huge Duke win, 86 to 77.
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#2 Game of the Day: #16 Iowa State (18-6, 8-4 Big 12) @ #19 Oklahoma State (17-8, 7-6 Big 12)
After a slow start to the season for Oklahoma State, they are really beginning to hit their stride, winning 3 out of their last 4 games. They are a team that is led by two studs, LeBryan Nash and Phil Forte and have almost no bench, do not rebound the ball or shoot the ball particularly well. However, they defend with a ferocious tenacity and rarely allow teams to break 70 points. In fact, they have only allowed five opponents to get to 70 points this year, in which they have one just one of those contests. On the contrast, they are 16 and 4 when they allow under 70 points, although one of those losses came to Iowa State earlier in the year, when they lost 63-61. For Iowa State, they play a starkly different style of basketball. They run after every miss or made shot and look to score as fast as they can. They are incredibly balanced and are top ten in the nation in scoring, assists, and field goal percentage. However, Oklahoma State already showed they have the ability to slow down the Cyclones and with the home crowd behind them, I say Oklahoma State wins, 67 to 62.
#3 Game of the Day: Davidson (17-6, 8-4 Atlantic 10) @ George Washington (17-8, 7-5 Atlantic 10)
This is a highly intriguing matchup to me because it pits two NCAA bubble teams that play basketball totally different. Davidson plays arguably the fastest paced basketball of any team in the country, is fourth in the nation in points per game at 81.5, and has a remarkable five players averaging double figures in points per game yet have zero averaging over six rebounds per game. On the other hand, George Washington is a team that plays one of the slowest tempos in the country, ranks near the bottom in the nation in points per game, and has no elite scorers at all. Both teams have put together solid resumes thus far, with Davidson earning wins over UMass and Dayton while George Washington has beaten DePaul, Wichita State, Colorado, and Dayton. However, both teams could desperately use this win and it will be a battle of which team can control the tempo. Also, while Davidson is a winner of three straight, George Washington is going to be desperate in this game, as they have lost four of their last five games. In this five game snide, George Washington has not eclipsed 66 points and they were held below 60 twice. If they are going to win, they need to get to 70 points (they are 12 and 0 in games where they score 70 and just 5 and 8 when they don’t) and I think they can do that. George Washington wins a huge home game, 74 to 68, holding Davidson to one of their worst scoring games of the year.