Games to watch

We’re past the midway point in college basketball, and now that teams are battling for conference titles rather than toying around with Division II teams, there are plenty of games to watch.

No. 2 Duke at Virginia Tech, Thursday, 5 p.m. MST, ESPN

The Blue Devils received a wake up call from Georgetown last Saturday, joining Florida, Wisconsin and Pittsburgh as high-ranked teams that have been dealt surprise losses.

Now that they’ve lost a game, they have shown they’re vulnerable and beatable, which should make this game interesting.

The last time these two teams met in December, Duke’s Sean Dockery hit a half-court prayer at the buzzer, helping the Blue Devils escape a home upset by coming back and beating the Hokies, 77-75.

Now it’s on Virginia Tech’s floor, where the crowd and players must be foaming at the mouth in anticipation for this rematch.

But the Blue Devils have motivation to take back the No. 1 spot.

Patton’s prediction: Blue Devils 77, Hokies 65

Arizona at North Carolina, Saturday, 11 a.m. MST, CBS

Both the Wildcats and the Tar Heels have struggled in what has become a rebuilding season for each team, but they are at about the same talent level once again this year.

The Tar Heels barely escaped their third straight loss last Sunday by slipping past Florida State, 81-80.

The Wildcats went through a similar losing stretch earlier in the month, where they lost to UCLA, Oregon State and Oregon over a 10-day span.

This game could be the factor that sends one team back on track and the other reeling.

North Carolina is fortunate to be playing this one at home.

Patton’s prediction: Tar Heels 80, Wildcats 78

No. 4 Texas at No. 24 Oklahoma, Saturday, 7 p.m. MST, ESPN2

After losing to Duke and Tennessee in early December, the Longhorns have won eight straight, including wins over then No. 4 Memphis and No. 3 Villanova.

Meanwhile, the Sooners are slowly falling apart. They recently lost to Nebraska and Missouri and had ugly victories over Texas A&M and Texas Tech.

Texas should win this one easily.

Patton’s prediction: Longhorns 84, Sooners 60

No. 22 Louisville at No. 6 Villanova, Monday, 5 p.m. MST, ESPN

Louisville has gone 2-3 since Villanova handed them their second loss of the season back on Jan. 5.

Of course, two of those losses came to UConn and Pittsburgh.

But what it shows is that the Cardinals can’t win the big games.

The Wildcats are coming off a big game against Syracuse and still remain in the hunt for being a top-four team in the nation. Just like before, they shouldn’t have any problem with Louisville.

Patton’s prediction: Wildcats 68, Cardinals 60

No. 8 Illinois at No. 23 Wisconsin, Tuesday, 5 p.m. MST, ESPN

Last Saturday was filled with some great upsets, but I think the North Dakota State romp of the Badgers was the most shocking.

Just two days after losing to Utah Valley State College (yeah, that little college down in Orem), the Bison outplayed Wisconsin to pull off the upset.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Badgers respond to such an embarrassing loss.

The Illini, led by Dee Brown and James Augustine, know how to win and expect to win in every game they play.

Patton’s prediction: Illini 72, Badgers 66.

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