Weekend Predictions: Will Kentucky lose?

Here are my weekend predictions.

Oh, last weekend?

Um, I guess we should discuss that.

I don’t know what to say.

North Carolina was just too big and athletic for Ohio State. I should have known better. Oklahoma almost made me look like Nostradamus when it nearly beat Washington after being down by 20 points. But “nearly” doesn’t matter in sports. And Maryland won at Oklahoma State, which isn’t easy to do.

So that means I fell below .500 again.

Last week: 2-3

Overall: 19-11

No. 1 Kentucky at No. 5 Louisville, 2 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN2: No need to waste time. There are reasons to believe that Kentucky could lose, but they’re tied to the history of college basketball’s best rivalry game more than this season’s reality. In the past five seasons, coach John Calipari is 1-4 in Kentucky’s first true road game of the season. Per ESPN Stats & Info, the past five meetings between these two enemies have been decided by single digits. Plus, the Cardinals can swarm the Wildcats with full-court pressure (they're seventh in defensive turnover percentage). Here’s the issue with all of that: Kentucky is still huge and it still has the best defense in America. Its opponents have connected on just 32 percent of their 2-pointers, and they’re shooting 27 percent from beyond the arc. How do you get an offensive rhythm going against that, especially if you’re a Louisville team that doesn’t really stretch the floor (29 percent from the 3-point line)? But this is Louisville-Kentucky. And Rick Pitino ain’t lettin’ Calipari just walk into the Yum! Center and whip his squad. This will be a fight. That’s the only way with these two teams.

Prediction: Kentucky 80, Louisville 77 (OT)

Georgetown vs. Indiana (Madison Square Garden in New York City), noon ET Saturday, ESPN2: There have been so many bad losses in the Big Ten that the whole conference (outside Madison) is on the bubble or miles away from an NCAA tourney bid, it seems. Indiana’s loss to Eastern Washington at home could come back to haunt it on Selection Sunday. Last week’s neutral-site win over Butler, however, will help its cause. Coach Tom Crean has a chance to snatch a quality win over a balanced Georgetown team that has lost to only Butler, Wisconsin and Kansas. All tight games. Joshua Smith and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera lead a Georgetown attack that can hurt the Hoosiers, who are allowing a 55 percent clip at the rim (per hoop-math.com) in the paint and slow an offense that’s fueled by Indiana’s 42 percent mark from the 3-point line. Should be a great game.

Prediction: Georgetown 69, Indiana 68

No. 8 Gonzaga at BYU, 6 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN2: So here’s the thing about the Cougars: They are who we thought they were. They’re a freestyling, run-and-gun, ABA kind of offense. Translation: The Cougars get buckets. All day. They don’t really do defense, though (No. 133 in adjusted defensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). And that’s an issue in a game against a Gonzaga team that’s arguably the most difficult matchup in America outside Lexington. Domantas Sabonis and Przemek Karnowski are tough to deal with in the post. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. are two of the best guards in the country, and Kyle Wiltjer, the team’s leading scorer, is a 6-foot-10 matchup problem. The good news is that the Marriott Center will be buzzing and BYU hasn’t been blown out yet. The Cougars' three losses were decided by a total of 11 points combined and those games demanded three overtimes. BYU will make Gonzaga play fast, and the Cougars can beat anyone in a track meet.

Prediction: BYU 85, Gonzaga 81

Harvard at Arizona State, 2 p.m. ET Sunday, Pac-12 Network: To make the NCAA tournament, both squads will need a big second half of the season. Harvard’s Wesley Saunders is the favorite for Ivy League player of the year honors, but the Crimson’s offense overall has been a mess. Virginia has been whipping teams all season, but Harvard’s 27-point outing last weekend was embarrassing. Tommy Amaker’s squad is better than that. And here’s its chance to prove it in a true road game. Arizona State’s offense has been mediocre thus far, and its defense has been weak, (103rd in adjusted defensive efficiency) but this is its last game before it opens Pac-12 play against Arizona. Both squads could use the momentum.

Prediction: Harvard 71, Arizona State 67

UCLA at Alabama, 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday, ESPNU: The Bruins might be a good squad in the end. Maybe that sounds crazy after their 41-7 disadvantage at halftime versus Kentucky last weekend. But UCLA boasts the No. 16 strength of schedule in the country, per the BPI (losses to Oklahoma, North Carolina, Gonzaga and Kentucky). Kevon Looney, Bryce Alford and Norman Powell need to elevate UCLA’s defense (88th in adjusted efficiency) to make a push in the Pac-12. Bama’s Levi Randolph & Co. showcased their potential in a one-point loss at Wichita State earlier this month. They showed up in a big game. Will the Crimson Tide do it again against the Bruins?

Prediction: Alabama 69, UCLA 65