The long wait for the 2020-2021 basketball season is over. After the 2019-2020 season got cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, college basketball fans can now scratch their itch as teams get back on the court this week.
On this week's episode of March Madness 365, Andy Katz and Chad "March Chadness" Aycock previewed some of the best games as Katz made his predictions for the first week of college basketball. This week's episode also featured interviews with Kentucky's Olivier Sarr and Kansas' Bill Self and Marcus Garrett. Katz also ranked his top All-American candidates for this season.
Here are Katz's first weekly predictions of the 2020-2021 college basketball season (all times Eastern)
What's better than high-profile college hoops on Thanksgiving? This match-up between No. 1 and No. 6 is probably the most anticipated of the week. Katz thinks Gonzaga has the upper hand because of Corey Kispert and Drew Timme coming back. Kansas' key to pulling the upset will be to control the Zags' big men and have their star and Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Garrett shine on Thursday afternoon.
Katz's pick: Gonzaga
After Gonzaga is done playing the Jayhawks, the Bulldogs will have a quick turnaround when they play Auburn the next morning at 11. Katz is watching to see how the Zags respond whether they won or lost vs. Kansas the day before, calling it a "gut check" game for the Bulldogs that they have to win.
Katz's pick: Gonzaga
Boise State penciled in Houston to give them a key ranked non-conference match-up at the beginning of the season. Katz sees this as a key game for the Broncos because they don't have many other opportunities outside of the Mountain West to get a win against ranked teams. Katz predicts Houston's experience will be too much to handle for the Broncos.
Katz's pick: Houston
Typically when you see a powerhouse like UCLA playing a smaller school like Pepperdine, you might think blowout, but one man has the offensive ability to change that — Pepperdine guard Colbey Ross. Ross averaged 20.5 points and 7.2 assists per game last season, and if the Waves want to pull off the upset it will have to be on the back of their star point guard. Katz said Pepperdine might have a chance to upset the Bruins, but UCLA's experience and defense will put them ahead at the end of the game.
Katz's pick: UCLA
Third game in five days — that's what each of these teams will be experiencing come Sunday, Nov. 29. Similar to the UCLA-Pepperdine matchup, this game may look like an easy win for the Wildcats on paper, but Richmond boasts an all-senior starting lineup. This will be a golden opportunity for the Spiders but Katz gives the slight edge to Kentucky because of their talent in freshmen wings B.J. Boston and Terrence Clarke, as well as Wake Forest-transfer Olivier Sarr.
Katz's pick: Kentucky
Texas Tech shows off their new guard in Georgetown-transfer Matt McClung against the the Cougars in a game that will be Houston's second in two days. Although Katz predicts that the Cougars will beat Boise State earlier in the week, he sees the Red Raiders having the upper hand in this match-up because of their stout roster.
Katz's pick: Texas Tech
The Hoosiers vs. the Friars will be the top-tier first-round match-up in this year's Maui Invitational, according to Katz. Both teams can make a deep run in this tournament if they can escape the first round, but Katz is high on Indiana. The Hoosiers will be led by potential All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis who Katz sees having a big sophomore season.
Katz's pick: Indiana
In fact, Katz is so high on Indiana at this tournament that he sees the Hoosiers emerging from Asheville as the champions of the Maui Invitational. Katz likes the Hoosiers to make their mark early and claim the Maui crown — a tourney that consists of Alabama, Texas, North Carolina, Stanford and Davidson.
Bonus pick: Indiana beats North Carolina in the Maui Invitational championship game