Presto’s Picks: My old Kentucky home

WASHINGTON — College basketball season tips off this weekend, because there’s nothing better than playing games under the radar in November while most of us still have our college football cap completely on.

For many fans in Lexington, Kentucky, a reverse-hibernation wraps up: Wildcat boosters across the Bluegrass state that begin their sports nap after the Derby (sometimes the nap on Derby weekend is Mint Julep-induced) are now fully awake (the alarm clock ringing on Midnight Madness) and ready to debate how good their new crop of one-and-done player class is and how SEC hoops really isn’t as bad as you think it might be. But wait. Across campus, the Kentucky football team is one victory away from a major milestone.

The Wildcats last posted a winning record in conference play during the 1977 season. Since then, they have had as many winless conference campaigns as they have had .500 SEC seasons.

Jerry Claiborne, Bill Curry, Hal Mumme, Guy Morriss, Rich Brooks and Joker Phillips each came and left Lexington without leading the Wildcats to a winning conference record. Hold on, they hired a guy named “Joker” to run the football program? Only at UK. Saturday, Mark Stoops’ team faces a Tennessee team that’s been consistently uneven this fall and is more than capable of a letdown. I’m not even going to say that a victory over the Volunteers plus Florida losses to South Carolina and LSU deliver the SEC East.

Here’s to Big Blue football potentially stealing 0.3 percent of the spotlight from men’s hoops — at least until the No. 2 Wildcats face 15th-ranked Michigan State Tuesday.

Navy (6-2, 4-1 AAC) vs. Tulsa (7-2, 4-1), noon, CBS Sports Network

The West Division lead is up for grabs as the Golden Hurricane brings the conference’s No. 1 offense to Annapolis. They also commit the most penalties in the league (naturally Navy’s been flagged the fewest times this fall). Last week Will Worth and the Mids option put together as productive a day as they had all season, one where they converted eight of 13 third downs and four of five fourth downs (effectively meaning they moved the chains on 12 of 13 situations). With Tulsa rather vulnerable against the pass (10th in the AAC), will Worth air it more than the eight times he threw against the Fighting Irish?

Midshipmen get it done on the ground and in the air, 36-28.

Virginia (2-7, 1-4 ACC) vs. Miami (5-4, 2-3), 2 p.m., ACC Network

The Cavaliers are one week removed from snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against Wake Forest, something the Hurricanes know all too well this fall. A missed extra point in the fourth cost them against Florida State, and the ‘Canes allowed two scores in the final 10 minutes of their loss at Notre Dame. Virginia remains one rough watch defensively, 11th in the ACC against the run, 13th against the pass and 14th in defensive passing efficiency. Kippy and Buffy plan to pass their tailgating time with a bottle of Barboursville Sangiovese Reserve: “Generously forthcoming plum and luscious red berry fruit offer firm body and elegant texture.” Try a glass with Caciocavallo cheese on crispbread.

Cavaliers come up short, 38-21.

Maryland (5-4, 2-4 Big Ten) vs. No. 6 Ohio State (8-1, 5-1), 3:30 p.m., ESPN

The November nightmare continues as the Buckeyes come to College Park fresh off a 62-3 thumping of Nebraska.

J.T. Barrett is the dual-threat quarterback that drives defenses nuts, and the banged-up secondary will have its hands full all afternoon. Once again Perry Hills and his injured shoulder are squarely in the land of limbo. While the Buckeyes aren’t as dominant defensively as Michigan, they’re not far off.

Terrapins tumble, 42-14.

No. 18 Virginia Tech (7-2, 5-1 ACC) vs. Georgia Tech (5-4, 2-4), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU

Thanks to North Carolina’s loss at Duke Thursday night, the Hokies can clinch the Coastal Division. From 2005 to 2012 these two schools dominated the Coastal, winning the division every year. The Yellowjacket option won’t be completely unfamiliar to Justin Fuente, as he faced a version of it at Navy while coaching Memphis. Georgia Tech’s defense has been dismal this fall, allowing 34 points per game after a 3-0 start. The Hokies come back to Blacksburg after consecutive 3-point road wins.

Hokies make it happen, 29-26.

Georgetown beats Bucknell, Howard falls to NC Central, Richmond routs Delaware, James Madison beats Villanova, William & Mary tops Towson, Morgan State falls to Florida A&M.

Last Week: 4-5.

Overall: 62-28.

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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