Viewer's Guide: Top-25 matchups on Sunday highlight weekend
It's Wild Card Weekend, but that doesn't mean college basketball is taking a back seat. Sunday is absolutely loaded, while Saturday is also intriguing.
You’re probably noticing something different about the Weekend Viewer’s Guide. There’s an easy explanation. Because everyone loves delicious hoagies, the Friday version of our Viewer’s Guide will now mirror the "Hoagie Scale" used for Jason La Canfora’s NFL Game Rankings. Nothing much will change with the content; only the categories separating the games. Now I’m hungry.
Being snowed in can be annoying – but it can also mean that you get to sit inside all weekend and watch a loaded weekend of college basketball. NFL wild-card games will get the headlines, but Sunday has three top-25 matchups, while Saturday features plenty of interesting conference clashes in the AAC and Big East. Will any unbeatens fall this weekend?
Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP Poll.
The undefeated Ducks remained that way after Damyean Dotson’s steal and dunk gave Oregon a two-point overtime win over Utah – but will they survive the weekend? Colorado has won 12 of its last 13, and is unbeaten at home this season. Spencer Dinwiddie is an elite Pac-12 guard, and Josh Scott’s improvement down low has given Tad Boyle an extra threat. The big key for Colorado could be its ability to defend the 3; the Buffaloes have struggling guarding the perimeter, and Oregon is loaded with guards. Oregon has to keep Colorado off the glass, though.
Wisconsin is another unbeaten facing a top-25 team on Sunday. The Badgers are sitting at 14-0 after dispatching of Northwestern on Thursday, while Iowa‘s only two losses are to Villanova and Iowa State, by a combined eight points. Both teams are disciplined and efficient on the offensive end, and it could come down to Iowa’s ability to get points in transition and not have to go against Wisconsin’s set defense. On the other side, the battle along the perimeter will be key. Iowa’s size enables them to defend the 3 effectively; but Wisconsin relies heavily on the trifecta.
No. 21 San Diego State at No. 16 Kansas (Sunday, 4:30 p.m., CBS)
The best non-conference game of the weekend pits two teams playing their best heading into league play. San Diego State might be the Mountain West favorite after rolling off 10 wins in a row, and Kansas seemed to be figuring out roles in wins over New Mexico, Georgetown and Toledo. Can the Aztecs pose a threat in Lawrence? San Diego State plays some of the best defense in the country, and their length and size makes life difficult inside the arc. If they can force turnovers and not allow Kansas to get out in transition, they have a shot. But Winston Shepard will have to play a big role; he’s averaging 17.3 points in his last four games.
Cincinnati at No. 18 Memphis (Saturday, 12 p.m., ESPN2)
A couple of weeks ago, but Cincinnati and Memphis played at Madison Square Garden. Not against each other, of course, but Cincinnati faced Pittsburgh and Memphis played Florida. The Bearcats looked inept offensively, while Memphis looked like a Final Four threat. However, Cincinnati plays some of the best defense in the country – and Memphis loves to drive to the rim. Will the Bearcats’ top-five two-point defense be able to stifle the Tigers’ guard play? On the other end, Justin Jackson needs to continue his stellar play.
Indiana had a chance to get some momentum on New Year’s Eve, but the Hoosiers fell in overtime at Illinois – and now have to play Michigan and Wisconsin in a 10-day span, with a road trip to Penn State in between. That won’t be easy, and a win on Saturday would take some of the pressure off. Michigan State is starting to get healthy again, and the Spartans have the ability to make the Final Four at full strength. Noah Vonleh going against Adreian Payne will make for a key matchup inside.
No. 6 <span data-shortcode= State" data-canon="Oklahoma Sooners" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_TEAM" id="shortcode0"> at Kansas State (Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPNU)
This game increasingly added intrigue over the past few weeks, as Kansas State defeated both Gonzaga and George Washington in a three-game span. The Wildcats also took down Ole Miss in early December. Is Oklahoma State the next victim for Bruce Weber’s troops? The Cowboys will be without Michael Cobbins for the rest of the season, which obviously will help Kansas State, one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country. The guard battle will be key, though, as Kansas State needs to take care of the ball – and stifle Markel Brown, Marcus Smart and co.
No. 17 Connecticut at SMU (Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPNU)
Complete contrast of styles in this one. Connecticut and its fantastic perimeter group take on SMU’s size and length on the inside. The Huskies rely heavily on the 3-point shot, where SMU doesn’t excel defensively. Shabazz Napier and the Huskies lost to Houston on New Year’s Eve, but should create problems for Nic Moore and SMU on the defensive end.
St. John’s at Georgetown (Saturday, 1 p.m., FOX Sports 1)
Both teams are looking for a win this weekend. St. John’s dropped its Big East opener to Xavier on Tuesday, and face Villanova next Saturday. A loss to the Hoyas could mean a 0-3 start. Georgetown has won eight of nine, but lost by 22 to Kansas in its last true test. St. John’s will look to force turnovers and get points in transition, while Georgetown gets a major edge if it’s a half-court affair. Markel Starks’ experience at the point could be the difference.
Both teams were projected to finish in the bottom half of the Big East heading into the season, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see both in the NCAA tournament come Selection Sunday. Xavier has reeled off four straight wins against Cincinnati, Alabama, Wake Forest and St. John’s, while Butler is coming off a three-point loss to Villanova on Tuesday. Can the Bulldogs keep Semaj Christon out of the lane?
Pittsburgh at North Carolina State (Saturday, 12 p.m., ESPN3)
Ever since Pittsburgh lost to Cincinnati, the Panthers have fallen from the nation’s focus. A win at NC State would help.
No. 7 Duke at Notre Dame (Saturday, 4 p.m., CBS)
This would have been a marquee game if Jerian Grant was playing. Instead, the Fighting Irish need to find additional scoring.
Virginia at <span data-shortcode= State" data-canon="Florida Gators" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_TEAM" id="shortcode0"> (Saturday, 5 p.m., ESPN2)
Should be a low-scoring affair. Virginia looked awful against Tennessee earlier this week, while Florida State has won four in a row.
Oklahoma at Texas (Saturday, 8 p.m., Longhorn Network)
Are either of these teams NCAA tourney threats in the Big 12? Getting some early momentum could be key.
USC at UCLA (Sunday, 3 p.m., FOX Sports 1)
The battle for Los Angeles. Andy Enfield’s hiring got more pop than Steve Alford in the spring; but the Bruins should get the win on Sunday.
Other games to watch:
- Savannah State at No. 9 Baylor (8 p.m., FOX Sports Affiliates)
- Stony Brook at VCU (9 p.m., Regional TV)
- Nebraska at No. 3 <span data-shortcode= State" data-canon="Ohio Bobcats" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_TEAM" id="shortcode0"> (12 p.m., Big Ten Network)
- No. 13 Iowa State at Texas Tech (1:30 p.m., ESPN3)
- Washington at No. 1 Arizona (2 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
- Miami at No. 2 Syracuse (2 p.m., ESPN3)
- <span data-shortcode= Tech" data-canon="Georgia Bulldogs" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_TEAM" id="shortcode0"> at Maryland (2 p.m., ESPN3)
- DePaul at Marquette (2 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
- Penn State at Illinois (2:15 p.m., Big Ten Network)
- Richmond at No. 12 Florida (3 p.m., ESPN3)
- Creighton at Seton Hall (3 p.m., FOX Sports 1)
- Oregon State at Utah (4 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
- Long Beach State at No. 25 Missouri (5 p.m., FOX Sports Affiliates)
- Rhode Island at LSU (5:30 p.m., Regional TV)
- No. 14 Louisville at Rutgers (6 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
- Colorado State at New Mexico (6 p.m., ESPNU)
- Miami (Ohio) at No. 23 Massachusetts (7 p.m.)
- Pacific at No. 24 Gonzaga (8 p.m., ROOT)
- Dayton at Ole Miss (8 p.m., ESPN3)
- Northwestern at Michigan (12 p.m., Big Ten Network)
- Northern Iowa at No. 8 Wichita State (2 p.m., ESPN3)
- Purdue at Minnesota (2:30 p.m., Big Ten Network)
- Washington State at Arizona State (6 p.m., ESPNU)
- Providence at No. 11 Villanova (7 p.m., FOX Sports 1)
- No. 19 North Carolina at Wake Forest (8 p.m., ESPNU)
The NCAA formally notified MSU of its investigation into Nassar on Tuesday
The Sooners' freshman, pilloried for his recent performances, showed a different side Tues...
Young is leading the NCAA in both scoring and assists per game
Our advanced computer model simulated Tuesday's UNLV vs. Fresno State game 10,000 times
Our advanced computer model simulated Tuesday's Kansas-Oklahoma game 10,000 times
Our advanced computer model simulated Tuesday's Virginia vs. Clemson game 10,000 times