Each weekday, our college hoops experts discuss the biggest issues, trends and themes in college basketball.
1. What will be the biggest upset we see on Friday?
Andy Katz: Northern Iowa over Texas. The Panthers have proven they can take down major competition this season with wins over North Carolina, Iowa State and Wichita State (twice).
Jeff Goodman: I’m going with Stephen F. Austin over West Virginia. This is SFA coach Brad Underwood’s best team, which is saying something considering the Lumberjacks beat VCU a couple years ago. If the Mountaineers don’t make shots — which happens often — Thomas Walkup & Co. can win this one.
Eamonn Brennan: I agree with Andy, but I want to agree with Jeff. It’s a pretty brutal matchup for SFA, a team that looks to be among the best mid-majors in a season that has already given us Yale and Little Rock (not to mention Wichita State). A very hot Northern Iowa team getting the win feels more likely, but an SFA upset would be more fun.
2. VCU, the No. 10 seed in the West, is favored over 7-seed Oregon State. Why?
Katz: The Beavers were probably over-seeded. The Rams didn’t have as impressive a finish, but the overall power rating of the Pac-12 was more respected than the Atlantic 10’s.
Goodman: Oregon State will be without Tres Tinkle for this one — and he’s the team’s second-leading scorer. It puts a lot of pressure on Gary Payton II. VCU also has experience in the NCAA tourney — where Oregon State does not.
Brennan: Injuries, yes, but Oregon State is one of two teams in the Pac-12 to a) get outscored by opponents per possession, on average, across 18 conference regular season games and b) still get in the tournament. Vegas doesn’t care what the RPI says about teams. It’s too smart for that.
Katz: Not yet. It could create more post-ups for Ivan Rabb and better ball movement, according to one Pac-12 assistant. It might also prevent some of the one-on-one play that Wallace tends to bring. But his absence has to give the Warriors a huge jolt of confidence.
Goodman: The good news for Cal is that its has played without Wallace for a stretch earlier this season — and fill-in Sam Singer did a pretty good job. With two likely lottery picks in the lineup, the Bears should still get past Hawaii.
Brennan: I’m not willing to go that far. It may limit Cal’s deep-bracket upside and chances against (probably) Maryland, but I don’t think the Bears lose here.