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Spencer Parlier | | December 13, 2020

Predictions for ACC/Big 10 challenge, West Virginia vs. Richmond and more this week in college basketball

North Carolina, Texas rise in Andy Katz's Power 36 rankings

This week was filled with high-profile college basketball games, including seven top-25 matchups, the ACC/Big 10 challenge and the start of conference play in the Big 12. 

Andy Katz predicted the best of those games on this week's episode of March Madness 365. He was joined by ESPN's LaPhonso Ellis, Texas Tech's Mac McClung and Texas head coach Shaka Smart. 

Katz was 6-1 with his predictions last week to improve his overall record to 11-3. Here were his predictions and final results for this week of the 2020-2021 college basketball season. 

No. 8 Creighton at No. 5 Kansas | 5 p.m. on Dec. 8 in Lawrence, Kansas | TV: ESPN

Katz comes right out of the gate with a minor upset. Although Kansas is the home team and typically has a huge home-court advantage in Allen Fieldhouse, Katz likes the Bluejays in part because of the lack of fans. Creighton is 3-0, with wins over Kennesaw State, Omaha and North Dakota State. Junior guard Marcus Zegarowski leads Creighton with 12.3 points and seven assists per game. Katz isn't too high on the Jayhawks this season though they are 4-1 with their only loss coming against No. 1 Gonzaga. KU has defeated North Dakota State, Kentucky, Washburn and Saint Joseph's. 

Katz's pick: Creighton

Result: Wrong. Kansas, 73-72.

No. 16 North Carolina at No. 3 Iowa | 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 8 in Iowa City, Iowa | TV: ESPN

No. 16 North Carolina faces No. 3 Iowa in one of the most anticipated matchups of the ACC/Big 10 challenge. The Hawkeyes have dominated their opponents, with their closest game a 103-76 handling of Southern. Yes, Iowa's opponents have been easier than UNC's, fresh off the Maui Invitational. Without the Tar Heels' star big man Garrison Brooks 100 percent healthy, Katz likes Player of the Year frontrunner Luka Garza to dominate inside and secure the win for the Hawkeyes. Garza averages 34 points and 9.7 boards per game this season. 

Katz's pick: Iowa 

Result: Correct! Iowa, 93-80.

College basketball rankings: North Carolina, Texas jump in Andy Katz's Power 36 for Dec. 7

No. 6 Illinois at No. 10 Duke | 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 8 in Durham, North Carolina | TV: ESPN

This is another highly-anticipated ACC/Big 10 challenge matchup. Both teams look to avenge a top-10 loss they had earlier in the season. No. 2 Baylor beat Illinois, 82-69, on Dec. 2 and Duke lost at home to No. 4 Michigan State 75-69 on Dec. 1. Could this be the second home non-conference loss for the Blue Devils this early in the season? This season's less-than-normal home-court advantage experiment will continue to be tested with no fans. Katz thinks the lack of Cameron Crazies will continue to make it harder for Duke to win at home.

Katz's pick: Illinois

Result: Correct! Illinois, 83-68.

No. 4 Michigan State at No. 18 Virginia — POSTPONED

This is the third ranked-versus-ranked game in the ACC/Big 10 challenge. Michigan State struts into Charlottesville after starting the season 4-0. Two of those four wins came against ACC teams. The Spartans beat Notre Dame, 80-70, to start the season and then followed with a 75-69 victory over No. 10 Duke. Katz likes the 'Hoos here though as Michigan State has to make its second road trip to an ACC school in two weeks. 

Katz's pick: Virginia


No. 24 San Diego State at No. 23 Arizona State | 10 p.m. on Dec. 10 in Tempe, Arizona | TV: FS1

It seems like San Diego State has picked up right where it left off last season when it was 30-2. The Aztecs are 4-0 and have just cracked the top 25, but Arizona State has Katz's nod here. Katz thinks ASU (if healthy) has the upper hand when it comes to offensive talent. Arizona State is 3-1 with its only loss coming to No. 9 Villanova. 

Katz's pick: Arizona State 

Result: Wrong. San Diego State, 80-68.

No. 6 Illinois at Missouri | 8 p.m. on Dec. 12 in Columbia, Missouri 

This will be the Illini's second road trip of the week. First, they play on the road at Duke, and then face a Missouri team in Columbia. Katz picked Illinois to win at Duke but thinks Missouri is playing some of the best basketball in the SEC. The Tigers are 3-0 after beating Wichita State, Oregon and Oral Roberts, and could be 4-0 heading into their matchup with Illinois if they beat Liberty on Dec. 9. Because of Mizzou's hot start and Illinois's potential road fatigue, Katz likes the upset here. 

Katz's pick: Missouri 

Result: Correct! Missouri, 81-78.

No. 19 Richmond at No. 11 West Virginia | 1 p.m. on Dec. 13 in Morgantown, West Virginia | TV: ESPN

Richmond is 3-0 and has already taken down Kentucky on the road this season. But West Virginia will be meeting the Spiders with one of the best frontcourts in the country with Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe. Although Richmond's all-senior starting five helped it dismantle a young Kentucky team, Katz thinks WVU's size inside is going to be too tough to handle for the Spiders. 

Katz's pick: West Virginia 

Result: Correct! West Virginia, 87-71

LATEST UPDATES: Schedule, latest COVID-19 news for the 2020-21 season

No. 13 Texas at No. 2 Baylor — POSTPONED

Texas is only 3-1 but has already put together the start of a strong tournament resume. The Longhorns knocked off Davidson, Indiana and No. 16 North Carolina but lost to No. 9 Villanova most recently. They look to bounce back against No. 2 Baylor, but Katz thinks the Bears will prevail at home. Katz expects the length and athleticism of both teams to be on display in an entertaining game, but thinks Baylor's experience is what puts it over the finish line. 

Katz's pick: Baylor 


UPSET: Watch: Marquette downs No. 4 Wisconsin on Lewis' tip-in buzzer beater

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