Viewer's Guide: Kansas, Syracuse push for No. 1 seeds
Fairly light slate on Monday, but there are two top-10 teams in action, as well as some intriguing mid-major and bubble action.
Saturday featured the best slate of the 2013-14 college basketball season, and it lived up to expectations. Sunday followed with a couple of noteworthy results as well. We are now less than three weeks from Selection Sunday, and there is still certainly much in play -- in conference standings, at the top of the bracket, and on the bubble.
Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.
Best game: Oklahoma at No. 8 Kansas (9 p.m., ESPN). With the shuffling at the top of the rankings, Kansas is looking to play itself into a No. 1 seed. Six losses aren't attractive, but the Jayhawks are going to win the Big 12 -- and they are coming off a 31-point demolition of Texas over the weekend. Oklahoma also looked very solid Saturday, easily handling Kansas State in an 86-73 win. The Sooners lost the first meeting between these two teams by seven back in early January, proving unable to stop Kansas' secondary options (Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis, Naadir Tharpe). With Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid clicking, this one could be tough for Oklahoma.
Second-best game: No. 1 Syracuse at Maryland (7 p.m., ESPN). Time for Syracuse to bounce back -- or continue to fall. The Orange went into last week as the undefeated No. 1 team in the country, but left the weekend with two losses and second place in the ACC. And things don't get much easier for Jim Boeheim's team. After the trip to College Park, they play first-place Virginia in Charlottesville on Saturday. Can Maryland pull off the upset? The Terps have been playing much better basketball lately, but they will need to take care of the ball and knock down shots from the perimeter. Defensively, they have to keep Syracuse off the offensive glass and not allow Tyler Ennis to get in transition.
Another one to watch: Oklahoma State at TCU (7 p.m., ESPNU). This is obviously a game Oklahoma State can't afford to lose. The Cowboys snapped a seven-game losing streak on Saturday against Texas Tech, as Marcus Smart went for 16 points, 10 assists and six steals in his first game back from suspension. Le'Bryan Nash played well, and Phil Forte seemed to get more open looks on the perimeter. Monday should be another confidence-booster for Oklahoma State, before a final stretch that includes Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State.
Other things to watch:
• North Carolina Central is atop the MEAC, but Hampton (at Maryland-Eastern Shore, 7:30 p.m.), Norfolk State (at Howard, 7:30 p.m.) and Morgan State (at Delaware State, 7:30 p.m.) can stay within two games in the loss column with wins.
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