Now that the NFL Regular Season is over, college basketball really heats up from now until the NCAA Tournament! Teams go deep into their conference battles this week. Will second-ranked UCLA continue to show up as the best team in the Pac-12? Or, will California take it to the Bruins? On Saturday, Jan. 7, will 13th-ranked Butler add to Georgetown’s Big East misery? Also on Saturday, will Top 10 ranked North Carolina blow up rival NC State?
New Year College Basketball Picks
California at #2 UCLA
When: Thursday, Jan. 5 at 9:00 pm ET
Where: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
Analysis: UCLA has been the best team in the nation so far this season. I think they should be ranked second after only losing a single game, 87 to 89 to Oregon on the road. Oregon made it to the Elite Eight in 2015. The Ducks are a good basketball squad.
The Bruins have gone 0 and 3 against the spread in their last 3 games to start the week. UCLA doesn’t battle Cal until this Thursday. Cal has a decent 10 and 4 straight up record. The Golden Bears have lost 2 out of their last 3 games. That’s not a big deal. The 2 losses were to Virginia and Arizona. California figures to be a huge underdog in this.
I think they can keep this game to between 6 to 12 points. I like California against the spread versus UCLA on Thursday.
#13 Butler at Georgetown
When: Saturday, Jan. 7 at 12:00 pm ET
Where: Verizon Center Washington, DC
Analysis: This is going to be a tough game for the ranked Butler Bulldogs. Butler tackles Villanova on Jan. 4. If Butler were to upset the number one ranked Villanova Wildcats, they’d most likely suffer a letdown in this game.
I’m not ready to write that Butler beats Villanova on Jan. 4. I am ready to write that Butler lays it all out against the defending champions in that match up. What it means to me is that Butler ends up losing straight up to a Georgetown team that has been competitive versus much better competition already this season.
Georgetown was in it until the final 2 minutes versus Xavier this past Saturday. Although the Hoyas are 1-5 ATS at home, I think they end up winning this one straight up.
NC State at #9 North Carolina
When: Saturday, Jan. 7 at 8:00 pm ET
Where: Dean E Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
Analysis: North Carolina’s 3 losses this season have been on the road. Although the game versus Kentucky was at a neutral site, Kentucky was the home team in that game. The Tar Heels have a chance at winning the ACC. But, so does North Carolina State who also only has 3 losses on their record.
The Wolfpack should stick with North Carolina throughout this game. NC has the better players but NC State might have the better overall defense. I think that the Wolfpack figures to be ultra-motivated in this one as well.
I’m going with NC State against the spread. This is a rivalry game that could come down to the very last possession or even go into overtime. I’ll take the points, whatever they are, when NC State battles NC this Saturday.
Pick: NC State