basketball-men-d1 flag

Spencer Parlier | NCAA.com | December 20, 2020

Predictions for Illinois vs. Rutgers and 5 more top college basketball games this week

College basketball rankings: Creighton, West Virginia climb in latest Power 36

On this week's episode of March Madness 365, 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 by CBS Sports' Seth Davis, San Diego State head coach Brian Dutcher, and Notre Dame's Mike Brey on this podcast. 

Katz was 4-2 with his predictions last week to improve his overall record to 15-5. So, let's get to it. Here were Andy Katz's predictions and final results for his games to watch this week in college basketball: 

Minnesota at No. 13 Illinois | 7 p.m. on Dec. 15 in Champaign, Illinois | TV: ESPN2

The Golden Gophers enter this matchup undefeated at 6-0. Illinois is 4-2 after a three-game stretch where they faced three tough teams. The Illini emerged 1-2 as they took down No. 21 Duke but fell to both No. 2 Baylor and No. 16 Missouri. Katz thinks Illinois will bounce back and get its first conference win of the year at home. 

Katz's pick: Illinois

Result: Correct! Illinois, 92-65.

No. 21 Duke at Notre Dame | 9 p.m. on Dec. 16 in South Bend, Indiana | TV: ESPN

Both teams come into this matchup 2-2. The Blue Devils have beaten Coppin State and Bellarmine but have fallen to high-quality foes like No. 4 Michigan State and No. 13 Illinois. The Irish have knocked off Kentucky on the road and Detroit, but like Duke, have lost to two Big Ten teams — the Spartans and No. 20 Ohio State. Katz likes the Irish in this matchup though, citing their win over Kentucky in Rupp Arena as a major confidence booster. 

Katz's pick: Notre Dame 

Result: Wrong. Duke, 75-65

BREAKOUTS: 10 rising stars in college basketball you should keep an eye on, ranked

No. 5 Kansas at No. 12 Texas Tech | 7 p.m. on Dec. 17 in Lubbock, Texas | TV: ESPN

Both the Red Raiders and the Jayhawks are on a roll. Kansas has won six straight games since falling to No. 1 Gonzaga in their first game of the season and Texas Tech has carved out a four-game win streak of their own after falling to No. 6 Houston. Katz likes the Red Raiders to make an early statement in the Big 12. 

Katz's pick: Wrong. Kansas, 58-57

BYU at No. 18 San Diego State | 5 p.m. on Dec. 18 in San Diego, California | TV: CBS Sports Network 

The West Coast is the best coast, at least that's what UCLA legend Bill Walton will tell you. This particular West Coast matchup does offer something exciting though because the Aztecs have emerged as one of the best teams (almost) no one expected this season. San Diego State (5-0) is No. 15 in Andy Katz's latest Power 36 rankings. Wins over UCLA and Arizona State have impressed Katz and he doesn't see the Aztecs slowing down anytime soon. 

Katz's pick: Wrong. BYU, 72-62

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 3 Iowa | 12 p.m. on Dec. 19 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota | TV: CBS

There are a lot of variables at play in this top-5 matchup. The Zags haven't played a game since Dec. 2 but the Hawkeyes haven't played a game outside of Iowa City all season. Both teams are undefeated in this potential Final Four preview, but Katz likes Gonzaga to pull off a close win. 

Katz's pick: Correct! Gonzaga, 99-88. 

Freshman Jalen Suggs breaks down No. 1 Gonzaga's win over No. 3 Iowa

UCLA vs. Kentucky | 2 p.m. on Dec. 19 in Cleveland, Ohio | TV: CBS 

Both UCLA and Kentucky enter this matchup unranked — uncommon when these two powerhouse programs typically get together. This game is in Cleveland, Ohio, as part of the CBS Sports Classic and will be tests for both teams to get a much-needed win. UK has lost four straight, starting the season 1-4. With that skid, Katz likes the Bruins. He doesn't see Calipari and company getting it together in time for this game.

Katz's pick: UCLA

No. 20 Ohio State vs. No. 22 North Carolina | 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 19 in Cleveland, Ohio | TV: CBS

The Buckeyes and Tar Heels face off in Cleveland this Saturday in the other game of the CBS Sports Classic. Katz likes Carolina to get the win here although UNC has lost both of its ranked games this season. He sees UNC's depth and size as too much to handle for the Buckeyes, especially with OSU's Seth Towns and EJ Lidell still potentially out with injuries.  

Katz's pick: North Carolina 

Editor's note: Matchups for Saturday's CBS Sports Classic have been flipped. Here's the new schedule. Both games will be on CBS:

  • No. 22 North Carolina vs. Kentucky at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19
  • No. 20 Ohio State vs. UCLA at 4:15 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19

COLLEGE BASKETBALL RANKINGS: Creighton, West Virginia, Tennessee climb in Power 36 for Dec. 14

No. 23 Louisville at No. 12 Wisconsin | 12 p.m. on Dec. 19 in Madison, Wisconsin | TV: ESPN2 

The Cardinals and Badgers will make-up their ACC/Big Ten challenge game on Saturday. This will be Louisville's first game since Dec. 1. The Cards look to come back with a top-tier win over one of the best teams in the Big Ten. But, because of that downtime, Katz likes the Badgers' experience to get the win over Louisville at home. 

Katz's pick: Correct! Wisconsin, 85-48.

No. 13 Illinois at No. 19 Rutgers | 1 p.m. on Dec. 20 in Piscataway, New Jersey | TV: ESPN2 

It'll be another tough week for the Illini this week. Last week Illinois went 1-1 beating Duke but falling to Missouri on the road. This week, they'll face Minnesota and then travel to New Jersey to face the Scarlet Knights. Two Big Ten matchups equal two big-time victories, Katz thinks. He sees Illinois as the better team in this game, even on the road. 

Katz's pick: Wrong. Rutgers, 91-88.

SURGING SOPHOMORES: The numbers show these sophomores have made a leap in 2020-21

Oklahoma State at No. 11 Texas | 2 p.m. on Dec. 20 in Austin, Texas | TV: Longhorn Network 

Oklahoma State and freshman phenom Cad Cunningham will travel to Austin to take on the Longhorns on Sunday. The Cowboys will be looking to improve on their potentially undefeated record — they'll face TCU the Tuesday before this game. Katz sees Texas as the overall better team in this matchup though. They have more experience against better teams this season and have more experience on the floor with their veteran team. 

Katz's pick: Correct! Texas, 77-74. 

No. 7 Villanova vs. No. 17 Virginia — CANCELED 

Speaking of pauses, No. 17 Virginia will be coming off about two weeks rest when the Cavs play Villanova in Madison Square Garden this weekend. Virginia's last game was against Kent State on Dec. 4. 'Nova, on the other hand, could be 6-1 coming into this game with a win over Big East foe Butler earlier in the week. Katz likes the 'Hoos here. He thinks they need a big win, and with no fans in Madison Square Garden, he thinks UVA can pull off the upset on a true neutral court. 

Katz's pick: Virginia 

Result: CANCELED

The past 10 Naismith National Players of the Year, ranked

These are the past 10 Naismith National Players of the Year, ranked by NCAA.com's Andy Katz.
READ MORE

BYU named NCAA.com Women's Basketball Team of the Week

BYU was named NCAA.com Women's Basketball Team of the Week on Feb. 16, 2021.
READ MORE

Men's college volleyball: No. 8 UCLA takes down No. 1 BYU in upset

No. 8 UCLA traveled to Provo and knocked off top-ranked BYU in four sets on Thursday night.
READ MORE
Presented by
Presented by
Presented by

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from NCAA.com and our partners