College hoops experts predict: Duke vs. UVA, other marquee matchups

Duke's week of adversity ends with another test (0:58)

After an overtime loss at home and injury to Tre Jones, No. 1 Duke welcomes undefeated No. 4 Virginia on Saturday in a pivotal ACC tilt. (0:58)

Virginia travels to Duke on Saturday (6 p.m. ET, ESPN) for the marquee game of the college basketball weekend. Here's how ESPN.com's college basketball experts see that and the other top games on the schedule playing out, while also weighing in on some of the weekend's pertinent issues.

Jump to score predictions on the week's top games

First things first: Who ya got in Duke/Virginia on Saturday night?

Myron Medcalf, senior college basketball writer: Duke. Virginia has been the most dominant team in America this season, and that lopsided win over Virginia Tech this week punctuated the breathtaking effort for Tony Bennett's program thus far. But I'm picking Duke, even though it will likely be without Tre Jones, because I think the only way a team might have a chance against Virginia would be if it possessed a collection of freakish, long, versatile talents who could (maybe) impose their will against this great squad. I don't think we've seen the best collective effort from Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish and RJ Barrett yet, but I think we will on Saturday.

Jeff Borzello, college basketball Insider: Virginia. Had Tre Jones been healthy, I would have probably gone with Duke in a close one. With Jones likely out, especially since it's Duke's first game without him, it's hard to see the Blue Devils running cohesive offense against an elite half-court defense. The Cavaliers slow the pace, take care of the ball and eliminate drives to the paint; sounds like a recipe to beat Duke.

John Gasaway, college basketball writer: Virginia, though I suspect Mike Krzyzewski and the staff will put the five-day layoff between games to good use. Still, here's what I can't get around: Duke looked awful on offense in the first half of the Texas Tech game last month, and that was with Jones. Well, the Cavaliers have been doing the Texas Tech thing on D for a very long time, and, unlike the Red Raiders, Tony Bennett's guys then turn around and make shots.

Jordan Schultz, Insider/analyst: Duke. The Blue Devils got a wake-up call in Monday night's home loss to Syracuse in OT, especially with the potential costly injury to freshman point guard Tre Jones. And, even though this might be Tony Bennett's best and most talented team yet, expect the young Blue Devils to force their way into the open floor just enough to leave the Hoos vulnerable in Cameron.

Who's your surprise pick for the weekend?

Medcalf: I'll take Illinois going to Iowa and getting another Big Ten win on Sunday. After their 27-point win over Minnesota on Wednesday, Brad Underwood's squad finally has a dose of confidence after a 4-12 start against a schedule ranked sixth overall by Ken Pomeroy. Ayo Dosunmu, who has averaged 21.0 PPG over his last five games, is due for another big night in Iowa City, Iowa.

Borzello: Kentucky goes into Auburn and beats the Tigers. Are we positive Auburn is a top-three SEC team? The Tigers have lost their three toughest games this season: Duke, NC State and Ole Miss. I know they haven't lost a home game in the past two seasons, but I think the Wildcats can come out with a win. The key will be Ashton Hagans taking care of the ball.

Gasaway: West Virginia shocks Kansas. The Mountaineers are 0-5 in the Big 12, but the one thing (well, pretty much the only thing) Bob Huggins' men still do is get offensive rebounds. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks are nothing special on the defensive glass, and, besides, this will be the first trip to Morgantown for a lot of KU guys not named Lagerald Vick.

Schultz: Notre Dame beats NC State in South Bend, handing the Wolfpack their second straight loss. Mike Brey's club has been close to numerous big wins lately, most recently in a 75-69 loss to North Carolina. Undoubtedly, Kevin Keatts has flipped this once-proud program, which currently ranks 17th in the country, after last season's tournament berth. Notre Dame, however, does not turn the ball over -- they're third nationally with fewer than 10 per game -- and consistently runs quality half-court offense. Look for much of the same as the Irish control the tempo from star Wolfpack point guard Markell Johnson and break through with their best win of the season.

If you had to vote for Coach of the Year honors right now, who would you pick, and why?

Medcalf: Bill Self, Kansas. I get it. It's Bill Self, and he has a top-10 recruiting class, and Dedric Lawson and the Jayhawks are always good. But he has had a season of uncertainty due to Udoka Azubuike's injuries and Silvio De Sousa's suspension, and this team has still amassed wins over Tennessee, Marquette, Michigan State and Villanova. That's got to be good for a spot in the Coach of the Year convo.

Borzello: John Beilein, Michigan. I think it comes down to Beilein or Texas Tech's Chris Beard at this point, and the argument for Beilein is fairly simple: The Wolverines have lost one of their last 32 games, the national title game against Villanova. Beilein lost three of his top five players from last season's team, was barely ranked in the preseason Top 25, and yet is the likely No. 1 team in the country after this weekend.

Gasaway: Rick Barnes, Tennessee. It was just 15 months ago that the Volunteers were picked to finish 13th in the 2017-18 SEC. Now Barnes' team is the league co-defending champion who just, by the way, looks like it might win the 2019 national title. An SEC team is making us say "Kentucky who?" Is this COY thing even up for debate?

Schultz: Chris Beard, Texas Tech. What a job Chris Beard has done in Lubbock. After guiding his Red Raiders to their first ever Elite Eight last season, he returns an even better team, despite the loss of first-round draft choice Zhaire Smith. Most important, Beard has helped maximize the special talents of rising wing Jarrett Culver -- a Wooden Award candidate -- while also securing the nation's No. 1-ranked defensive efficiency, per KenPom.

ESPN.com expert picks for this week's top games

(Lines, published as they become available, from the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.)