The road is an unfriendly place in college basketball this season and these five squads could be headed home with an upset loss as a souvenir this weekend.
If there is one thing we’ve learned in college basketball this season, it’s that road teams have a very hard time winning games. Home court advantage is massive in college basketball because rowdy student sections in packed arenas create an intimidating atmosphere for visitors.
Last week’s upset special column went 3-for-5 in picks so there is wisdom to be mined here if you’re looking to place a few wagers. Let’s take a look at the five schools most in danger of getting upset this weekend, beginning with the Houston Cougars.
No. 22 Houston at Memphis – Saturday at 2:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Few expected the Houston Cougars to be atop the AAC standings this late in the season but that is exactly where they are. The Cougars’ deep rotation and balanced offensive attack have made it tough on their conference foes, which has them fighting for the top spot in the American.
Houston hits the road here for a spot against a struggling Memphis squad loaded with talent and needs a marquee win to improve their resume for the NCAA Tournament. The desperation factor, combined with the fact that Memphis is 12-3 at home means the Cougars absolutely are on upset alert.
No. 8 Florida State at NC State – Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET on ACC Network
The ACC may not send more than four teams to the NCAA Tournament but NC State is firmly on the bubble The Wolfpack has mostly taken care of business against bad teams but they don’t have a marquee win under their belt.
A few bad losses leaves them in need of that bullet point victory, which is bad news for Florida State that has lost two of its last three road games. The Seminoles are the better team but NC State has much more to lose and is playing in front of its home fans.
No. 14 Oregon at No. 24 Arizona – Saturday at 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
The Pac-12 has been wildly entertaining this season and it does feel a bit like cheating to list this game as an upset alert but Oregon is in trouble here. The Ducks have a high-flying offense led by senior point guard Payton Pritchard but they have had some recent difficulties away from home.
Oregon has dropped three of its last four on the road, including two vs. teams that won’t be close to the bubble, Washington State and Oregon State. The Wildcats are a more efficient team on both ends of the floor than Oregon so don’t be surprised if they’re able to defend their home court.
No. 2 Gonzaga at No. 23 BYU – Saturday at 10:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Gonzaga has been on cruise control for a while, racking up 19 straight victories after Thursday’s win vs. San Francisco but the West Coast Conference has gotten better around them. The second-best team in the conference has been BYU, which entered the polls this week and is looking for revenge after getting blown out in Spokane earlier this season.
Mark Few’s team has been so dominant that logic dictates they are due for an off night and no team in the WCC may be better equipped to take advantage of it than the Cougars. BYU is led by the tremendous backcourt of Jake Toolson and TJ Haws, who are talented enough to get in a shootout with Gonzaga and win.
No. 7 Maryland at No. 25 Ohio State – Sunday at 4:00 p.m. ET on CBS
This isn’t a slight against Maryland, which has become the Big Ten’s top dogs after racking up nine straight wins. The Terrapins have all four of their road wins in that stretch, but the margins have got a bit tighter, including narrow wins over the league’s doormats (Northwestern and Nebraska) at home.
Ohio State is back in the polls this week. The Buckeyes play extremely stingy defense, giving up only 61.5 points per game and feature a dominant big man in Kaleb Wesson. The Buckeyes’ spot on the seed line is more tenuous than Maryland’s so there is plenty of motivation to score the upset and boost their resume.
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