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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Friday Look Ahead: Aztecs, Aggies in for a challenge


Georgetown needs Chris Wright to be good, Nebraska needs the Morris twins to be bad and Tennessee just needs a victory, one way or another. Me? I need Syracuse and Pittsburgh to win. I'll tell you why in the Friday Look Ahead.

Best game of the weekend: Four undefeated teams remain, and I think I'll be able to type those same words in the Monday Look Back. But if the question is which one is most at risk to lose this weekend, the answer is No. 6 San Diego State. No, it's not because the Aztecs are the lowest ranked of the bunch. It's because they've got the toughest challenge, specifically a Saturday tilt against New Mexico at the Pit. Should be a nice environment. And regardless of the outcome, there's a decent chance the arena will be evacuated at some point, which is always fun.

Another interesting matchup: I remember sitting with Mark Turgeon and assistant Scott Spinelli for a little while back in November, right after Texas A&M had beaten Temple in the Old Spice Classic three days after losing to Boston College. "I think we're gonna be pretty good," Spinelli told me, and, I must admit, I wasn't 100 percent sure he was correct. But now I am. The 14th-ranked Aggies have won 12 straight heading into Saturday's showdown with No. 15 Missouri. They haven't lost since that loss to Boston College. That was way back on Nov. 25.

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Yet another interesting matchup: Illinois and Wisconsin will play Saturday for the second time in 14 days, meaning it's a rematch of the Illini's 69-61 win over the Badgers from two weeks ago. The only difference is that this game will be played in a different location, which is why we're likely to get a different result, because beating Wisconsin at the Kohl Center is more difficult than keeping Snooki sober. For proof, consider that Illinois is more likely (not likely, just more likely) to beat Ohio State next weekend than they are Wisconsin this weekend, according to KenPom.com. And Ohio State will be ranked No. 1 next weekend. So you can see what Bruce Weber is up against.

Guaranteed to be a blowout: Top-ranked (for now) Duke, fresh off a loss at Florida State, is back home Saturday for a game against a Virginia team operating without its top scorer and rebounder, Mike Scott, who is injured and out for the season. If that's not a recipe for a blowout, I don't know what is. (And I do know what it is.)

Guaranteed to be an upset: I love home underdogs, and I'm assuming West Virginia will be one Sunday. So give me the unranked Mountaineers in a close win over No. 8 Purdue, and by close win I mean something way closer than last season's meeting in which the Boilermakers ran West Virginia off the Mackey Arena court.

Player trying to keep rolling: Marcus Morris is a good candidate for this spot, but I might as well throw in Markieff too because both Kansas twins have been really good lately. They combined for 35 points and 21 rebounds in last weekend's win at Michigan, then combined for 50 points and 24 rebounds in Wednesday's victory at Iowa State. The Morris twins won't need to be similarly awesome Saturday to earn a home win over Nebraska. But I'm still interested in seeing if they are.

Khris Middleton and the 14th-ranked Aggies will put their 12-game win streak on the line against No. 15 Mizzou. (Getty Images)  
Khris Middleton and the 14th-ranked Aggies will put their 12-game win streak on the line against No. 15 Mizzou. (Getty Images)  
Player trying to get rolling: No. 22 Georgetown has dropped its past two games against unranked opponents, and Chris Wright was terrible in both. The senior guard was a combined 6 of 22 from the field with six assists and seven turnovers in recent losses to St. John's and West Virginia. He'll need to be better if the Hoyas are to avoid a loss at Rutgers on Saturday that would drop them from the Top 25 (and one).

Three things you need to know

1. The Pac-10 is the only power conference in which every member has at least one league loss heading into the weekend. Washington's loss at Stanford late Thursday is what made that so. The 17th-ranked Huskies are at California on Sunday.

2. Wesley Witherspoon's indefinite suspension at Memphis -- a result of mocking an assistant coach after Wednesday's loss at SMU -- means Josh Pastner now officially has no players from the John Calipari era. The Tigers host Marshall at FedExForum on Saturday. According to KenPom.com, they should win ... and then go on a four-game losing streak that'll drop their C-USA record to 2-5. Worth noting: Memphis was 61-1 in C-USA over Calipari's final four seasons. So the locals aren't really used to this kind of stuff.

3. Tennessee started 7-0 but has since gone 3-6 heading into Saturday's game against Vanderbilt that Cameron Tatum has already labeled a "must-win." In some ways, he's right because a loss would drop the Vols to 0-3 in the SEC heading into next week's game at Georgia in which they'd be clear underdogs in advance of next weekend's game at Connecticut in which they'd be underdogs again. In other words, if the Vols lose at home to Vanderbilt they're likely headed for a five-game losing streak. So, yeah, a must-win sounds about right.

Final thought: No. 25 Cincinnati upsetting No. 4 Syracuse and/or unranked Seton Hall upsetting No. 5 Pittsburgh this weekend are the only things that can prevent Monday's game between the Orange and Panthers from being a showdown between top five teams. I've already made plans to attend Syracuse-Pitt at the Peterson Events Center, regardless. So it would be best if the Bearcats and Pirates played their predetermined roles because I'd like my trip to be as good as possible.

I thank them both in advance for their cooperation.

But if either pulls the upset, I'll applaud them in the Monday Look Back.

From Pittsburgh, of course.

In advance of a game that would not feature two top five teams.

Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.

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