Viewer's Guide: Kansas State looks for revenge vs. Kansas' Brannen Greene
Kansas and Kansas State renew their heated rivalry, plus a matchup for the ACC lead and four other games between ranked teams. All here in this weekend's Viewer's Guide.
Fourth-best game: No. 17 Purdue at No. 22 Indiana (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Following Iowa's shocking loss to Penn State earlier in the week, Indiana finds itself tied for first place in the Big Ten. With a win here, they can keep pace with the Hawkeyes and continue to set up a collision course for when the two play on March 1. But to do that, they're going to have to get past rival Purdue. The key here is just who can impose their strength on the other team. Purdue is a team that wants to get the ball inside, and Indiana doesn't have a great interior presence. The Hoosiers want to play perimeter-based basketball with floor-spacing, slashing, and shooting, and they matchup well to do that against Purdue. It's a battle of wills here basically. Which one can impose that will on the other?
Fifth-best game: No. 14 Kentucky at Texas A&M (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
How Texas A&M has fallen is beyond me. Just three weeks ago, the Aggies were the No. 5 team in the country at 17-2 with a 7-0 mark in the SEC. Now though, they're 19-7 following a string of losses that has placed them two games behind Kentucky in the SEC race. That's going to be easier said than done against a Wildcat team that is playing better than nearly anyone else in America, but this is a home game for the Aggies. The key here will be the backcourts. Can Alex Caruso and Anthony Collins slow down Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray? If they can even hinder them at all, A&M should have a good chance to get things back on the right track.
Again though, easier said than done.
Seriously, this is probably the best day of basketball yet this season. FIVE games between ranked teams, as well as a few others with major league title implications. This one is the last of the ranked games, as Baylor comes in riding high off of a tough overtime win over Iowa State without Rico Gathers. Gathers's status is currently unknown, as he missed the Bears last two games with what was called "the flu." Without him, Baylor does still have enough inside to match up with this terrific Texas team, as Johnathan Motley showed in their last game with 27 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. This will be a fun one.
Another big one: Butler vs. No. 1 Villanova (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox)
The Wildcats are the No. 1 team in the county right now for a reason, and it's largely based around discipline. They defend like crazy, do a solid job of limiting turnovers, run terrific offense night-in, night-out, and constantly get open looks. Maybe they do have a bit of a limited season compared to others in the country, but there isn't anyone playing better right now, that's for sure. Again Butler, they'll face off against a like NCAA Tournament team that has been better recently. Watch for the Josh Hart-Kelan Martin matchup that should be terrific.
- Saint Mary's and Gonzaga are in a battle for the league's regular season title. The Gaels took the first game, but it's looking like there is only room for one of them in the NCAA Tournament. Their game at the Kennel on Saturday will be critical to saying which one it will be. (10 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
- Georgetown's hopes are hanging on by a thread, and they get to take on No. 8 Xavier in what could be a bit of a last stand for them until the Big East Tournament. (Noon ET, Fox)
- LSU has a critical road game against Tennessee that it can ill-afford to lose and stay on the right side of the bubble. (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
- Notre Dame's not necessarily on the bubble, but a loss to Georgia Tech wouldn't be the best look. (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
- Oregon State has a chance to pick up a critical road win against rival No. 16 Oregon. If they can get that one, look for the Beavers to feel better about their hopes. (10 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)
- Connecticut and Cincinnati are likely on the right side of the bubble, but the Bearcats have to feel a bit worse about those hopes. A win against the Huskies would be big. (4 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
- Neither Florida nor South Carolina have punched their ticket to the Dance yet. Both could use a big win when the Gators travel to Columbia this weekend. (Noon ET, SEC Network)
- Florida State can ill-afford to pick up another loss against Virginia Tech. (3 p.m. ET)
- Texas Tech is squarely on the bubble now, but a loss to Oklahoma State would not help. (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
- Clemson goes to North Carolina State in a tough game that could hurt their hopes. (3 p.m. ET)
- Colorado needs to get back on the right rack at UCLA, which is a tricky place to play. (11 p.m. ET, FS1)
- St. Joseph's goes to Davidson to take on a tough offensive team after its huge win over Dayton. (2 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)
- Pittsburgh needs a win against Syracuse, pure and simple. The Panthers are reeling and their resume doesn't inspire much confidence. (2 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
A Big Ten Showdown: Michigan at No. 6 Maryland (1 p.m. ET, CBS / CBSSports.com)
Maryland is coming off of a stunning loss on Thursday night to Minnesota. A dumbfounding one, really. The Gophers came into that game at 0-13 in Big Ten play, and the Terps just went out an laid an egg. They'll get Diamond Stone back, which will help against a Michigan team that needs a win in the worst way. Their resume isn't as strong as their record, so getting a sweep over the Terrapins would be a nice feather in their cap. Having said that though, the rest of the season is important for Maryland in order to build momentum toward the Tournament. This is a national title contender that really needs to figure a few things out, particularly on offense.
A Pac-12 contender showdown: Utah at USC (6 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)
These two are tied one game below Pac-12 leaders Arizona and Oregon. One team will leave the Galen Center feeling like it still has a shot to win the league, while the other won't exactly feel great about their hopes. USC is undefeated at home this year, so Utah has a pretty tall task. The key matchup here will be inside. If Nikola Jovanovic can match up reasonably well with Jakob Poeltl, the Trojans should pick up a win.
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