By Jon Rothstein
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RUTGERS AT WEST VIRGINIA
Just who are the real Scarlet Knights? Rutgers lost its first two Big East games but has rallied to win consecutively against UCONN and Pitt. In Wednesday’s win over the Panthers, Mike Rice’s team got a monumental game from junior small forward Dane Miller, who is looking and looking more and more like this team’s “X Factor” and he’ll need to be on Saturday in Morgantown. West Virginia is starting to look like a team on the rise and are getting a career year from senior power forward Kevin Jones. It says here the Mountaineers will be too much for the young Scarlet Knights.
PREDICTION: WEST VIRGINIA 74, RUTGERS 62
NORTH CAROLINA AT FLORIDA STATE
The Seminoles have been searching all year long for a marquee win and they’ll have a prime chance to do it on Saturday at home against the third ranked Tarheels. In order for Leonard Hamilton’s team to have a chance against North Carolina, they’ll have to take better care of the basketball — something that’s been an arduous task all season long. Florida State’s length and athleticism will keep them in this game at home but they’re just not crisp enough offensively to beat the nation’s most explosive fast break unit.
PREDICTION: NORTH CAROLINA 79, FLORIDA STATE 68
MICHIGAN STATE AT NORTHWESTERN
You have to feel for Bill Carmody and the Wildcats. Twice in the last week against Illinois and Michigan, Northwestern had opportunities to build their NCAA resume and came up just short on both occasions — it won’t get any easier against Michigan State. Sparty is on a roll after opening the season with back to back losses against Duke and North Carolina. Tom Izzo’s team has displayed unbelievable chemistry and has three freshmen — Branden Dawson, Alex Gauna, and Travis Trice that have yet to hit their apex — that’s not good news for those in Evanston.
PREDICTION: MICHIGAN STATE 77, NORTHWESTERN 72
INDIANA AT OHIO STATE
Payback could be a you know what. Just a few weeks after the Hoosiers narrow win over the Buckeyes in Bloomington, Thad Matta’s team looks ripe for a bounce back victory after suffering a bitter loss this week at Illinois. Ohio State doesn’t shoot the ball as well as they did a year ago but they’ll have more than enough to get revenge on Indiana Sunday in Columbus.
PREDICTION: OHIO STATE 83, INDIANA 69
UNLV AT SAN DIEGO STATE
Can the Rebels be any hotter? Even despite their 16-2 start, Dave Rice’s team got a monstrous addition this week when former Pitt big man Khem Birch opted to transfer to the Las Vegas school. Now, they’ll go to Southern California to face a surprising but not overwhelming San Diego State team.
While the Aztecs are better than people expected they don’t have the offensive firepower to hang with UNLV, who could have the Mountain West Player of the Year in UCLA transfer Mike Moser.
PREDICTION: UNLV 77, SAN DIEGO STATE 70
What’s your upset pick of the weekend? Be heard in the comments below…