Another weekend, another set of staff predictions. The weekend slate brings with it a bevy of major college basketball clashes and the NBA All-Star Game
Hail Varsity's Brandon Vogel, Greg Smith, Jacob Padilla and Derek Peterson take their best shot.
Our weekly Friday Forecast is presented by the Gamblers Assistance Program, the Nebraska Council on Compulsive Gambling and Choices Treatment Center. If you or someone you love has a problem with gambling, call the state-wide help line at 1-800-522-4700.
MBB: No. 4 Xavier vs. No. 3 Villanova
BV: Villanova is the hump Xavier can’t get over. The Wildcats are 9-1 against the Musketeers over the last 10. Expect more of the same. PICK: Villanova 90, Xavier 84
GS: This should be a really fun game. I’ll go with the home team though. PICK: Xavier 88, Villanova 83
JP: Xavier is a really good basketball team, but Villanova is 17-of-71 from 3 over its last three games (including two losses). The Wildcats are shooting 40.1 percent from deep on the year and 39 percent in conference. I’m not expecting them to continue this poor shooting. PICK: Villanova 83, Xavier 78
DP: I want to say Xavier pulls the upset here. They’re at home and Nova has lost two of three, but Nova has lost two of three and I think they’ll be angry for this one. PICK: Villanova 87, Xavier 82
MBB: No. 22 Michigan vs. No. 8 Ohio State
BV: Give me the home crowd plus Michigan’s burning desire to beat Ohio State in something of late. PICK: Michigan 74, Ohio State 72
GS: The great football rivalry hits the hardwood and much like in football, the Buckeyes are better. PICK: Ohio State 79, Michigan 72
JP: Michigan should be fired up for this one as Ohio State is a big opportunity to secure a postseason berth and earn a chance for a good seed. The Buckeyes won by nine in Columbus way back in December, but this one is in Ann Arbor and the Buckeyes are coming off a tough loss to Penn State. PICK: Michigan 75, Ohio State 72
DP: Michigan isn’t Penn State so Ohio State shouldn’t have any issues with this one. PICK: Ohio State 78, Michigan 71
MBB: No. 11 Clemson vs. No. 12 Duke
BV: Littlejohn Coliseum will be rocking, which only makes things worse when Duke does what Duke does – inflict a slow basketball death on football schools, even those in the middle of good seasons. PICK: Duke 80, Clemson 70
GS: Duke has been inconsistent but I think they start to get it together in time for a tourney run. PICK: Duke: 82, Clemson 69
JP: Clemson is having a terrific season, but at a certain point talent has to win out and the Tigers lost their second-leading scorer for the season a handful of games ago. PICK: Duke 85, Clemson 74
DP: Is Duke a part of the bad half of the top 16 NCAA schools? I really need the feds to drop the hammer. I don’t even care about the game, I want drama. PICK: Duke 84, Clemson 72
MBB: No. 13 Kansas vs. No. 20 West Virginia
BV: Well, the rooting interests are clear here if you’re not a Jayhawks fan, but somehow I think Kansas gets it done at home to keep its conference title hopes alive and set up one of the biggest games Lubbock has ever seen next weekend. PICK: Kansas 81, West Virginia 80
GS: West Virginia’s press gives Kansas all types of fits in this one. Give me the Mountaineers. PICK: West Virginia 63, Kansas 59
JP: I’m going with the homer pick here and taking West Virginia and my boy Teddy Buckets. Kansas has looked shockingly mortal at Allen Fieldhouse this year. PICK: West Virginia 70, Kansas 65
DP: Press Virginia strikes again and Kansas’ run atop the Big 12 in the regular season comes to an end. PICK: West Virginia 67, Kansas 63
MBB: Illinois vs. Nebraska
BV: Having already survived a scare from the Illini, which really would’ve changed about a month’s worth of conversation around this team, the Huskers will show up here. PICK: Nebraska 72, Illinois 64
GS: The Huskers will look to leave no doubt in this one after a close game last time. PICK: Nebraska 75, Illinois 62
JP: Illinois has played a bad team, an average team, a solid team and a really good team in its last four and lost all of them by eight or more. Nebraska needed a buzzer-beater at home to win the last meeting, but the Huskers have improved since then and I’m not sure that’s the case for the Illini. PICK: Nebraska 74, Illinois 63
DP: Are you worried that the Huskers needed a buzzer-beater from James Palmer Jr. to beat Illinois last time? At home, no less? You shouldn’t be. PICK: Nebraska 73, Illinois 67
BONUS: NBA Slam Dunk Contest — Donovan Mitchell (UTA), Victor Oladipo (IND), Larry Nance Jr. (CLE), Dennis Smith Jr. (DAL)
BV: The props will win. Don’t the props win every dunk contest post-Vince Carter? Get off my lawn. Take your props.
GS: I don’t think there is any way that Larry Nance Jr. doesn’t put on a show in LA after they traded him. He will wear his dad’s old jersey and wow the crowd. PICK: Nance Jr. over Smith Jr.
JP: Who cares about the dunk contest? It’s all about the 3-point contest. Devin Booker, baby! PICK: Victor Oladipo, I guess
DP: I will be glued to my TV Saturday night as this field has me more amped than usual for a dunk contest. They got the right guys this year, haven’t been able to say that in years past. That being said, I think Mitchell gets a little too ambitious here and Oladipo does something absurd. PICK: Oladipo over Mitchell
Our picks today are for entertainment purposes only. Between 6 and 8 million Americans meet the criteria for gambling addiction, and many more are affected by another individual’s gambling problem. Don’t gamble more than you can afford and if it stops being fun seek help.
Problem gambling is not a bad habit or a moral weakness. It’s a serious condition. But with help, problem gamblers can put the game in perspective and make decisions to improve their lives.
If you or someone you love has a gambling problem, in Lincoln call Choices treatment center 24/7 at 402-476-2300 or statewide call The Nebraska Council on Problem Gambling 24/7 at 1-800-522-4700. Help is free so call today.