PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Huge Big 12 game highlights a strong Saturday schedule
GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 11 West Virginia at No. 2 Oklahoma, 4:00 p.m.
From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview.
West Virginia will become the first team since 1997 to play the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country in the same week when they head to Norman on Saturday to take on No. 2 Oklahoma. On Tuesday night, the Mountaineers knocked off No. 1 Kansas in Morgantown.
With a win, West Virginia will become the first team since 1989 to beat the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country in back-to-back games. That honor belongs to Kansas, who pulled off the feat on back-to-back nights in November of that season during the Preseason NIT.
For the Bobby Huggins’ club to make that happen, they are going to need the press that turned the Kansas guards into a high school team to be operating in top gear. Oklahoma can be susceptible to pressure. Buddy Hield is averaging more than 26 points on a nightly basis, but he’s turnover prone. Ask Oklahoma State. They got him to cough up the ball 10 times on Thursday night. Isaiah Cousins has been inconsistent this season. Jordan Woodard doesn’t really have a back-up ready to handle the kind of pressure that West Virginia is going to throw at them. They’ve got a chance.
That said, the question with this group is whether or not they can travel. We know how good they are in their own building; it’s a long flight to Morgantown to play in a loud arena against a team that plays tough, physical, in your jock defense for 94 feet for 40 minutes. That’s not fun. It’s also a different story when they’re trying to do that same thing on the road, when they have to make that long trip and the crowd is getting loud when they mess up.
But in a year where five top ten teams losing in the span of three days doesn’t seem all that strange, West Virginia sweep the top two teams in the country in the span of five days isn’t out of the question.
THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 6 Villanova at Georgetown, 1:00 p.m.
From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:
A good old fashioned Big East battle. After struggling through the early part of the season and getting run out of the gym by Oklahoma and Virginia, Villanova has found a rhythm. They’re shooting less threes than they were at the start of the season, they’re hitting a higher percentage of the threes that they do take and, as a result, they’re winning games and currently sitting atop the Big East conference standings. The team sitting directly behind them right now? Georgetown, who is 4-1 in the Big East. That said, the Hoyas have yet to beat one of the top four teams in the conference and they’ve also lost to the likes of Monmouth, Radford and UNC Asheville. I don’t totally trust them yet.
But I will if they pick up this win at home on Saturday.
WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 8 Miami FL at Clemson, 2:00 p.m.
From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:
In the last three games, Clemson has knocked off Syracuse, they’ve knocked off Louisville and they’ve knocked off Duke. And on Saturday, they get Miami, who just may be the best team out of that quartet. (That’s crazy to think about, isn’t it?) The Hurricanes are coming off of a loss at Virginia on Tuesday, a loss where they did not play all that well and got lit up by UVA’s big three down the stretch. At 4-1 in the ACC, Clemson currently looks like a team that might end up being a factor in ACC play this season. If they can beat Miami on Saturday, you might be able to take the ‘might’ out of that last sentence.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:
1. No. 7 Xavier will be back at full strength at Marquette on Saturday, a game that tips at 2:00 p.m. Edmond Sumner, the star point guard for the Musketeers, will return to the lineup for the first time since New Year’s Eve, when he suffered a concussion that caused him to miss the last two weeks.
2. No. 9 Duke will be looking to bounce back from an upset loss at Clemson on Thursday night when they host Notre Dame at 2:00 p.m. If you like high-scoring basketball games, games that have a lot of points and a lot of threes and not all that much defense, this will be right up your alley. The Blue Devils have been nearly unguardable since Brandon Ingram moved to the four when Amile Jefferson broke his foot.
3. The first edition of this year’s Tobacco Road rivalry will pit N.C. State heading over to Chapel Hill to take on No. 5 North Carolina at 12:00 p.m. This is getting pretty close to must-win territory for the Wolfpack, who have not exactly lived up to their talent this season.
4. It’s not a secret that John Calipari and Bruce Pearl are not exactly the best of friends. That’s a rivalry that stems back to the days when Memphis and Tennessee were two of the best teams in college basketball. On Saturday at 4:00 p.m., No. 14 Kentucky makes the trip down to Auburn to take on Bruce Pearl’s new program. This is a winnable game for the Tigers. Don’t think Bruce Pearl doesn’t know that.
5. There will be two Atlantic 10 games featured on NBCSN on Saturday afternoon as UMass travels to Davidson at 12:30 and La Salle heads to Rhode Island at 2:30 p.m.
CLICK HERE to watch this game on NBC Sports Live Extra Saturday afternoon.
OTHER TOP 25 GAMES
- TCU at No. 1 Kansas, 2:00 p.m.
- Ohio State at No. 3 Maryland, 12:00 a.m.
- Seton Hall at No. 12 Providence, 4:30 p.m.
- No. 15 Texas A&M at Georgia, 2:00 p.m.
- No. 17 Iowa State at Kansas State, 4:00 p.m.
- Washington State at No. 18 Arizona, 9:30 p.m.
- Missouri at No. 19 South Carolina, 1:00 p.m.
- Boston College at No. 20 Pitt, 2:00 p.m.
- No. 22 Baylor at Texas Tech, 3:00 p.m.
- St. John’s at No. 23 Butler, 12:00 p.m.
- San Diego at No. 25 Gonzaga, 8:00 p.m.
OTHER NOTABLE GAMES
- South Florida at Memphis, 12:00 p.m.
- Cincinnati at Temple, 12:00 p.m.
- Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech, 12:00 p.m.
- Syracuse at Wake Forest, 12:00 p.m.
- Indiana at Minnesota, 12:30 p.m.
- Nebraska at Illinois, 2:30 p.m.
- Tennessee at Mississippi State, 3:30 p.m.
- East Carolina at UCF, 4:30 p.m.
- Alabama at Vanderbilt, 6:00 p.m.
- Okalahoma State at Texas, 6:00 p.m.
- Washington at Arizona State, 7:00 p.m.
- Florida at Ole Miss, 8:00 p.m.
- Arkansas at LSU, 8:30 p.m.
- Penn State at Northwestern, 8:30 p.m.
- San Diego State at Boise State, 10:00 p.m.