We have reached the final Saturday of the 2021-22 college basketball regular season, and the slate is highlighted by a showdown between No. 4 Duke and North Carolina at 6 p.m. ET. It marks legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's last game on the bench after 42 seasons leading the program, and there are major implications for both teams. The Blue Devils may need a win to secure the outright ACC title, and the Tar Heels are in search of a victory to boost their NCAA Tournament chances.
While the Tobacco Road rivalry will take up lots of oxygen within the sport, it's just one of several key games on a loaded slate in the first weekend of March. Among the other big showdowns are a pair of SEC clashes on CBS, beginning with a noon tilt between No. 25 Alabama and LSU and continuing with a 2 p.m. game between No. 7 Kentucky and Florida.
If the Wildcats win, they could be in position to clinch a share of the SEC title, depending on how Auburn fares against South Carolina. Similarly, there will be league title implications in the Big 12 as No. 6 Kansas hosts No. 21 Texas and No. 3 Baylor hosts Iowa State. As the postseason looms -- in fact it's already begun in several conferences -- the intensity typically ratchets up in college basketball, and that should be on display Saturday.
Our experts have picks and predictions for the day's biggest games here.
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook | All times Eastern
North Carolina at No. 4 Duke
6 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) -- Will Duke's young team be overwhelmed by the historic nature of this moment and struggle to get in a rhythm amid the emotion and mayhem surrounding Coach K's final home game? Potentially, yes. The Blue Devils used a 31-8 start to run away from North Carolina in the first meeting. Since that 20-point Duke win, the Tar Heels have won six of their last seven. Replicating the fast start of the first meeting against a UNC team playing for its spot in the NCAA Tournament won't be easy for Duke. In the end, however, UNC's defense is too porous to hold Duke down for 40 minutes. Prediction: Duke 80, North Carolina 74
No. 25 Alabama at LSU
12 p.m. | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) -- Both teams are headed for at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament. Both are also guaranteed to begin SEC Tournament play in next Thursday's second round and will be on track to face a challenging quarterfinal opponent. So it's not as if this game has some massive implication in the league standings. But it's a huge contest for two teams needing momentum. Home court advantage has been huge in the SEC this season and is too much of a factor to ignore here. Prediction: LSU 79, Alabama 72
No. 7 Kentucky at Florida
2 p.m. | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) -- Kentucky guards Sahvir Wheeler and TyTy Washington played like their usual selves in a win over Ole Miss on Tuesday in their second game back after missing two games due to injury. That's bad news for Florida, which is seeking a big win to solidify its NCAA Tournament chances. The Wildcats should complete a sweep of the Gators in a rematch that will be closer. Florida beat Auburn two weeks ago on this same court, but expecting another upset of that caliber from this team feels like too much. Prediction: Kentucky 76, Florida 70
Oregon at Washington State
4 p.m. | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) -- Oregon is playing for its NCAA Tournament life and needs a win to avoid putting itself deep on the wrong side of the bubble entering next week's Pac-12 Tournament. Washington State nearly took down the Ducks on the road on Feb. 14, but the Cougars have struggled to get over the hump against quality foes this season. Look for Oregon to get a close victory. Prediction: Oregon 70, Washington State 68
No. 21 Texas at No. 6 Kansas
4 p.m. | ESPN, fuboTV (Try for free) -- The Jayhawks are struggling, yes. Consecutive 10-point losses against Baylor and TCU have made this a must-win in their Big 12 title pursuit. But it's hard to see KU losing three straight, especially with this game coming at home with a conference title at stake. The Longhorns won the first meeting 79-76 at home Feb. 7 by flexing their defensive muscles with a 15-7 edge in turnovers. But KU didn't have Remy Martin in that game, and the graduate transfer point guard should help keep the Jayhawks under control in the rematch. Prediction: Kansas 80, Texas 60
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