5 NCAA basketball teams on alert this week: Duke is playing with fire

The Duke Blue Devils have tended to play down their inferior competition from the ACC, which could make them one of the most intriguing picks in college basketball this week.

Time flies when you’re having fun, and this college basketball season is no exception. The calendar is about to flip in February and it looks like the sport has moved on from the worst of Omicron’s push which has led to numerous postponements and cancellations, which is a fantastic development for teams looking to solidify their Resume before the NCAA Tournament.

Avoiding upsets is a key part of life for teams trying to make the 68 field or improve their standings once they get to the dance. Getting tripped up in a big spot, like what happened to Michigan State, LSU and Baylor last week, could lead to bad unintended consequences in March.

Let’s take a look at five teams that rank among college basketball’s top upset picks of the week, starting tonight with the Duke Blue Devils.

Upset alert: Upset college basketball picks in Week 13

Note: All games referenced in this article were in the works at the time of publication. COVID-19 issues may result in postponements at any time.

Duke No. 9 at Notre Dame – Monday

The Blue Devils are the best team in the ACC, but have developed a bad habit of minimizing their competition, as evidenced by last week’s two-point home win over a mediocre Clemson team and struggle against a Louisville team that just fired its coach on Saturday before leaving late. Heading into the road of Notre Dame, which has won 10 of its last 11 games, is a dangerous place for Duke if it continues to underperform relative to its talent level.

No. 15 Providence at St. John’s – Tuesday

The Friars became Big East class after a 9-1 start to the league, but have a quick turnaround from Sunday’s snow-delayed emotional victory over Marquette in their game against St. John’s on Tuesday night. The Red Storms are playing their best basketball right now, picking up a dominant road victory at Seton Hall last week before hanging on to Villanova on Saturday, and know they have to find a way to bring down Providence to strengthen their sagging resume from the NCAA Tournament.

No. 12 Villanova at No. 24 Marquette – Wednesday

Staying with the Big East theme and looking at Villanova, who have already lost to Marquette at home and now have to travel to Wisconsin for the rematch in this game. Shaka Smart’s team is one of the hottest units in the country and the Golden Eagles are more than capable of completing a season sweep if the Wildcats don’t fix their mistakes from their Jan. 19 loss.

Gonzaga No. 2 at BYU – Saturday

The WCC got stronger, but that wasn’t evident watching Gonzaga’s early matchups with BYU and San Francisco, which turned into blowouts at home against two NCAA tournament contenders. Playing either team on the road is another story and the Bulldogs could be ambushed in Provo while the Cougars are a perfect 10-0 at home.

No. 6 Houston at Cincinnati – Sunday

The Cougars could face a lighter case of what Duke faces in the United States as they are the conference’s only NCAA Tournament lock, leading anyone with March Madness hoping to give Houston their best shot as a win on them could dramatically boost a resume. Sunday’s game is huge for Cincinnati, a bubble team that has quite a few bad losses (to Monmouth, to Tulane, to Temple to name a few) that they can help erase by knocking out the Cougars. .

For more NCAA basketball news, analysis, opinion, and features, check out the FanSided College Basketball section to stay up to date with the latest action.

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