Sports Prediction Central Season 2, Edition 7


Brent Gelick / Talon

Welcome‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ seventh ‌edition‌ ‌of‌ ‌Season‌ ‌2‌ ‌for‌ ‌Sports‌ ‌Predictions‌ ‌Central,‌ ‌a‌ ‌column‌ ‌for‌ ‌predictions‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌exciting‌ ‌games‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌sports‌ ‌docket‌ ‌this‌ ‌week.‌ ‌

In‌ ‌this‌ ‌edition,‌ ‌we‌ ‌will‌ ‌be‌ ‌predicting‌ ‌and‌ ‌breaking‌ ‌down‌ ‌the‌ ‌outcomes‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌following‌ ‌games:‌ North Carolina vs. #4 Duke, #16 USC vs. #17 UCLA, Michigan vs. #23 Ohio State, Nets vs. Celtics, and Suns vs. Bucks. 

North Carolina vs. #4 Duke, Saturday, Mar. 5, 3 p.m.

Adam: I just can’t imagine that Duke would lose in Coach K’s final home game. A lot can be said about both teams and their star players, but Duke simply isn’t going to let Coach K go out on a loss. The crowd is going to be insane, the energy will be off the charts, and Duke will come out on top.

Duke 81, North Carolina 74

Alex: Just as the last matchup went, but this time in front of the home crowd, Duke will yet again embarrass rival North Carolina. The talent drop off between the two teams is more than significant, and I don’t see North Carolina hanging in there for too long. Banchero and the Blue Devils win in style in Coach K’s last battle against the Tarheels. 

Duke 88, North Carolina 71

Eric: Just like in the first matchup between these two blue bloods, I think that Duke will win easily. There is a lot of excitement for this game, as it is Coach K’s last game in this rivalry and the atmosphere will be crazy. Duke has too much talent and they have the better coaching staff to lead them to a win against the Tar Heels

Duke 83, North Carolina 70

Final Score: North Carolina 94, Duke 81

#16 USC vs. #17 UCLA, Saturday, Mar. 5, 7 p.m.

Adam: As long as UCLA’s star player Johnny Juzang is healthy, as he has missed UCLA’s past three games, UCLA should cruise to a much-awaited win against their crosstown rivals. UCLA has the experience necessary to go back to the Final Four, just like they did last year. After underestimating a Mobley-less Trojan team last time out, they’ll bring their A-game on both their senior night and a game that has huge implications for Pac-12 and NCAA tournament seeding.

UCLA 72, USC 58

Alex: The last rivalry matchup between these two teams was fun to watch, as the Trojans handled the Bruins at home despite not having their undebatable best player Isaiah Mobley, who leads the teams in points per game and rebounds per game. While the Bruins will play with a chip on their shoulder in front of the home crowd to try and overcome 5 straight losses against their crosstown rival, Mobley and the Trojans will deliver yet another down-to-the-wire victory. 

USC 76, UCLA 73

Eric: With USC having won the past 6 matchups against their biggest rival, I think UCLA comes out of the gates swinging. USC just got blown out by #2 Arizona and I think that their shooting struggles may continue. This game will be at Pauley Pavilion and the Bruin faithful will come out strong for this highly-anticipated matchup between two ranked rivals. 

UCLA 75, USC 72

Final Score: UCLA 69, USC 59

Michigan vs. #23 Ohio State, Sunday, Mar. 6, 9:30 a.m.

Adam: Michigan is on the bubble of the NCAA tournament right now. They already have a signature win against Purdue last month – now they’ll look to bolster their resume with a win against an Ohio State team who is firmly in the tournament right now. Michigan had lofty expectations to begin the seasons and quickly became one of the most underachieving teams in the country. Now, they’ve bounced back. They need this win to get them solidly into the field. I think they’ll get it done against one of their biggest rivals in OSU.

Michigan 69, Ohio State 65

Alex: In a rivalry that means everything to Michigan, who is currently on the bubble of making March Madness, the Wolverines will bring everything they got to Value City Arena. However, the prowess of EJ Liddell, who’s averaging a well-respected 19.3 points per game paired with 7.5 rebounds per game, will be too much for Michigan to handle. The home crowd will lift the Buckeyes to victory, ultimately being the final blow to Michigan’s tournament hopes. 

Ohio State 79, Michigan 72

Eric: Without their coach, Michigan has a big task at hand. Ohio State’s EJ Liddell is on a tear and his abilities will be too dominant for the Wolverines. With Michigan’s postseason on the line, I think that Michagan comes out firing and jumps out to an early lead. However, the Buckeyes will stay in it and steal it at the end of the game when Liddell takes over. 

Ohio State 77, Michigan 73

Final Score: Michigan 75, Ohio State 69

Nets vs. Celtics, Sunday, Mar. 6, 10 a.m.

Adam: The new-look Nets are fresh off one of the biggest trades in recent NBA memory and should be ready to turn it around after they’ve had an injury-plagued beginning of the season. The additions of Ben Simmons, Andre Drummond and Seth Curry adds much-needed depth and defense that I think will make them an absolute force in the east the rest of the season. The Celtics have been hot recently, but the Nets’ new additions will shine and they will ultimately come out on top.

Nets 109, Celtics 105

Alex: In their last two showdowns, the Celtics have won by a whopping 35 points and 23 points. While I do think this outcome will be much closer, I don’t think a Nets team without their superstar Kevin Durant will be capable of knocking down the high-powered Celtics offense. Unless Kevin Durant is back from injury on Sunday, consider this a done deal.  

Celtics 118, Nets 112

Eric: The Celtics have been on fire recently and have looked like a team that is ready for the playoffs right now. Jayson Tatum is averaging 26 ppg and the supporting cast is finally ready to play. On the flip side, the Nets have none of their stars playing with Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving all out with injuries. I don’t see this game being close and the Celtics win in a blowout. 

Celtics 120, Nets 99

Final Score: Celtics 126, Nets 120

Suns vs. Bucks, Sunday, Mar. 6, 12:30 p.m.

Adam: The Suns won the prior finals rematch convincingly and now, even without Chris Paul, I think they can do the same thing. After losing the finals last year, they should come out motivated. The loss of Chris Paul is huge, but the Suns have a ton of depth. They’ll take this one.

Suns 119, Bucks 109

Alex: Both of these teams are dominant in their respective ways, and it’s difficult to bet against Giannis Antetokounmpo, but in this instance, I’ll take the Suns. The Suns dominated in their prior matchup, and I feel that Devin Booker will keep this momentum rolling. In a shootout, I expect the Suns to come out on top.

Suns 118, Bucks 114

Eric: In a rematch of last year’s Finals, both teams are in great positions to make runs in the playoffs once again. The Suns have quietly been dominant in the west and the Bucks are always a tough game for opponents. Even without Cameron Payne and Chris Paul, I think that the Suns will win by a comfortable margin.

Suns 114, Bucks 103

Final Score: Bucks 132, Suns 122

Current Prediction Standings (Through Sixth Edition):

Alex: 16-12 (3-2 last week)

Adam: 15-13 (3-2 last week)

Eric: 14-14 (2-3 last week)