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IT'S A HUGE COLLEGE HOOPS MONDAY ON MLK DAY
January 17, 2011

SCS.comIt’s not just a big Monday. It’s a Huge Monday, a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King with four college basketball games on ESPN to kick off Big Monday. And that’s just the beginning of a wild week of hoops.

Syracuse at Pittsburgh
Monday 6:30 p.m.

In late December, Pittsburgh took care of Connecticut at the Pete to humble the undefeated Huskies. Three weeks later, the Panthers now have another Big East tilt—this time with undefeated Syracuse. The Orange don’t have much outside shooting, but they’ve got a point guard in Scoop Jardine that can create for others. Defensively, they’re as stout as usual under Jim Boeheim—but will they be tough enough for the big, bad Pitt Panthers, a program that prides itself on out-toughing opponents? On a neutral floor, I may like the ‘Cuse. But we’re playing at the Pete tonight, and there’s no way Pitt will lose a game of this magnitude there.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 67, Syracuse 62

GAMES OF INTEREST

Kansas State at Missouri
Monday 4:30 p.m.

Talk about a must-win basketball game for Kansas State. It’d be bad enough for a pre-season top-five squad to fall to 1-3 in the Big 12. It’s even worse when you consider the Wildcats’ next three games: at Texas A&M, vs. Baylor and at Kansas. The game in Columbia between these two squads was a rough, physical foul fest that MU won in the final minute. I expect about the same this afternoon in front of a national audience.

Prediction: Missouri 76, Kansas State 73

Michigan State at Illinois
Tuesday 6 p.m.

It took overtime both times, but Michigan State has a modest two-game win streak to help straighten out an early season slump. First, MSU nipped Wisconsin by three before clawing out a win against Northwestern. Tom Izzo’s squad won both of those games at home, so the road could be a different story.

Prediction: Illinois 62, Michigan State 60

Texas A&M at Texas
Wednesday 8 p.m.

The pundits were wrong again. After getting no national attention before the season, Texas A&M has lost just one game and now looks like a conference title contender after beating Missouri at home in overtime on Saturday. Texas is also in the race, thanks to a fresh crop of players helping to ease the pain of last year’s collapse.

Prediction: Texas A&M 57, Texas 55

Villanova at Syracuse
Saturday 11 a.m.

What’s Syracuse’s reward after leaving Pitt tonight? It’s got a date with Villanova, the nation’s seventh-ranked team. How’s that for a week?

Prediction: Syracuse 69, Villanova 62

Ohio State at Illinois
Saturday 11 a.m.

Remember when Ohio State ruined Illinois’ undefeated season in 2005? Same thing’s happening on Saturday—in reverse.

Prediction: Illinois 69, Ohio State 65

Texas at Kansas
Saturday 3 p.m.

And we thought Syracuse had a tough week. Texas will host A&M before traveling to Lawrence, where KU’s nation-leading home winning streak will be tested.

Prediction: Kansas 79, Texas 69

Last week’s prediction record: 5-1
Overall prediction record: 53-27

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