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Weekend Look Ahead: Rematch vs. Mizzou could prove Baylor's undoing


Saturday is loaded.

Sunday is something different.

Let's do the Weekend Look Ahead and get prepared for what's to come.

Top game: There were a handful of us basketball writers sitting in the media room at the Dean Smith Center the other night monitoring Kansas' blowout win over Baylor in the moments before Duke-North Carolina tipped. I'll be honest, the comments about the Bears weren't flattering. I think the word "fraudulent" was used. I know the word "soft" was used.

I guess that's what happens when you're ranked sixth but have been handled on your home floor by the last two Top 25 teams you've hosted.

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One of those teams was fourth-ranked Missouri three Saturdays ago. The rematch of that game is this Saturday at Mizzou Arena. And every team that's visited Mizzou Arena this season has lost there, including the Kansas team that just worked over Baylor at Baylor. That can't be a good sign for Scott Drew. But we'll see.

Another interesting matchup: I've always believed there was a gap between Ohio State and everybody else in the Big Ten, and there will be a notable gap in the league standings if Michigan State doesn't win on Saturday in Columbus.

The third-ranked Buckeyes enter with a league-best 9-2 Big Ten record while Michigan State is alone in second with an 8-3 mark. That means an Ohio State victory will give Thad Matta's team a two-game lead in the standings, and I don't believe the Buckeyes are vulnerable enough to squander such a lead -- unless Jared Sullinger's back starts acting up again.

Yet another interesting matchup: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after Wednesday's win in Chapel Hill that he believes North Carolina is still the best team in the ACC, and I agree. But if the fifth-ranked Tar Heels don't take care of No. 19 Virginia at the Dean Smith Center on Saturday, then I'm going to have to reconsider, and Coach K will probably need to alter his opinion too.

Guaranteed to be a blowout: Saint Mary's is 11-1 in the West Coast Conference. Santa Clara is 0-11. The former will host the latter late Saturday at McKeon Pavilion. The only way this'll be close is if Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos transfers to Santa Clara and is cleared by the NCAA before tipoff.

Guaranteed to be an upset: I think Kentucky has the nation's best roster, is the nation's best team and will win the national championship. Unless Anthony Davis' arms shrink before Selection Sunday, I'm picking the Wildcats to win it all. Write it down in blood. But John Calipari's team is going to lose Saturday night at Vanderbilt just like I watched Billy Donovan's second national championship team at Florida once lose at Vanderbilt. I don't know how it's going to happen or why, but it's going to happen. And then this Kentucky team is never going to lose again. You can write that down in blood too.

Player trying to keep rolling: Austin Rivers scored 29 points, hit the game-winning shot and really screwed up my initial column Wednesday night at North Carolina. The Duke freshman, whose adjustment to college hasn't gone as smoothly as most anticipated, was terrific in the stunning 85-84 victory. Now let's see if he can continue playing at a high level Saturday when the 10th-ranked Blue Devils host Maryland.

Player trying to get rolling: I saw Connecticut's Andre Drummond last Monday for the first time in person since July, and I've never in my life been more disappointed in a possible No. 1 pick. He was awful against Louisville. Even worse, he didn't seem to care that he was awful. The 6-foot-10 freshman was 0 of 6 from the field in 16 minutes -- and he only played 16 minutes because he got benched for much of the loss. Like I said, awful. Now Drummond has a matchup Saturday with Fab Melo and No. 2 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. Unless he plays significantly better (and Syracuse is off), UConn is about to drop to 5-7 in the Big East.

Three things you need to know

1. Wichita State could essentially lock up the Missouri Valley Conference title with a win at No. 17 Creighton on Saturday. A victory would move the Shockers to 13-2 in the league and drop Creighton to 11-4 with only three MVC games left for each. So Doug McDermott better bring it and have a POY-type performance.

2. Tennessee freshman Jarnell Stokes did not play in Wednesday's victory over South Carolina because of a sprained right hand, but he should be available for Saturday's game at No. 8 Florida. This is worth noting because Stokes' recruitment basically came down to Tennessee and Florida. Both schools were willing to enroll the 6-foot-8 forward in January. Only UT did.

3. All this weekend's great games -- Baylor-Missouri, Michigan State-Ohio State, Virginia-North Carolina, Kentucky-Vanderbilt, etc. -- are on Saturday. Sunday offers little. There are no ranked teams playing each other Sunday. The best game is Illinois at No. 22 Michigan. It's on CBS. So watch it and just pretend Illinois is ranked.

Final thought: There was some talk late Thursday on Twitter that Murray State should drop from the Top 25 and, by extension, the Top 25 (and one) because of its home loss to Tennessee State, but that's silly talk. Yes, it was a bad loss. Of course, I'd rather the Racers not have taken it. And, absolutely, it's going to cost them on Selection Sunday.

But this is a Top 25 team.

The Racers have beaten Southern Miss and Dayton and won at Memphis and UAB. I don't believe they're the seventh-best or ninth-best team in the country, which is what the latest coaches and AP polls suggest. But I do believe they're one of the nation's best 25 outfits -- just one that happened to, in a 40-minute game on Thursday, cave under the pressure of being the last undefeated team.

Now Murray State is one of three one-loss teams.

That's still pretty good.

Are the Racers in the same class as Kentucky (24-1) and Syracuse (24-1)?


They never were.

But they are in the same class as any of the teams ranked from 15 to 25.

So that's where they'll be when the rankings update next week.

It's probably where they should've been all along.

Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and college basketball insider for the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts an award-winning radio show in Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two sons and two dogs.

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