Pregame Shootaround: Top-25 Pac-12, Valley clashes highlight 150 games and lots of Bubble drama
GAME OF THE DAY: No. 7 Arizona at No. 13 Utah, 9:00 p.m.
When these two teams met in Tucson earlier this season, the Wildcats embarrassed the Utes and their all-american, Delon Wright. Don’t think, for a second, that Utah has forgotten about that. With their Pac 12 title hopes on the line and the league’s power coming into their building, Utah will be ready for this one. It helps that they’ve been playing some of their best basketball of the season of late, as their defense as been embarrassingly good. As in, they embarrass people. Ask Arizona State, who was down 41-9 at halftime on Thursday night.
THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: No. 10 Northern Iowa at No. 11 Wichita State, 2:00 p.m.
Also from Rob’s preview:
Big games in the Missouri Valley are always going to be entertaining to watch, and this matchup will be no different. Both the Shockers and the Panthers are exceedingly well-coached defensive powerhouses that execute well offensively and count the three best players in the conference — Seth Tuttle, Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet — on their rosters. Oh, and should I mention that this is the Missouri Valley championship game? Both teams are currently tied at 16-1 in the league.
With all due respect to Utah, Kentucky and Kansas, you will not find a better environment for a basketball game on Saturday than in Koch Arena.
UPSET ALERT: No. 6 Villanova at Xavier, 2:00 p.m.
The Wildcats are far and away the best team in the Big East this season, which says more about Villanova than it does the rest of the conference. Xavier is one of those teams in the next team, in the conversation with Georgetown, Providence and Butler as the second-best team in the league. The Wildcats can clinch the outright Big East title with a win, but the Musketeers are playing for the chance to avoid sweating out Selection Sunday.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:
1. Saturday will be the first time that No. 1 Kentucky has faced a ranked team this year. Literally. The last time was in December, when they won at Louisville. This is not a great matchup for No. 18 Arkansas, but their pressure might rattle Kentucky’s back court.
2. Texas is on the verge of playing themselves out of the NCAA tournament, while No. 8 Kansas was on the verge of playing themselves out of the Big 12 title race before Iowa State lost.
3. BYU is currently out of CBT Bracketologist Dave Ommen’s latest bracket, but a road win at No. 3 Gonzaga could certainly change that. The Zags just need to keep winning to stay in the No. 1 seed conversation.
4. Miami desperately needs this win if they are going to get an at-large bid, and No. 15 North Carolina has had some issues this season. Which Angel Rodriguez will show up on Saturday?
5. Bubble games to track:
- Missouri at Georgia, 12:00 p.m.
- Georgetown at St. John’s, 12:00 p.m.
- N.C. State at Boston College, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
- Ole Miss at LSU, 2:00 p.m.
- Cincinnati at Tulane, 2:00 p.m.
- Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 4:00 p.m.
- Iowa at Penn State, 6:00 p.m.
- George Washington at Davidson, 7:00 p.m.
- Northwestern at Illinois, 7:00 p.m.
- Tulsa at Memphis, 8:00 p.m.
- Auburn at Texas A&M, 8:30 p.m.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: There will be a game on NBCSN and streaming on Live Extra on Saturday:
- Rhode Island at La Salle, 12:30 p.m.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- Virginia Tech at No. 2 Virginia, 4:00 p.m.
- Syracuse at No. 4 Duke, 7:00 p.m.
- No. 12 Iowa State at Kansas State, 4:00 p.m.
- Michigan at No. 14 Maryland 12:00 p.m.
- TCU at No. 16 Oklahoma, 2:00 p.m.
- No. 17 Louisville at Florida State, 12:00 p.m.
- No. 20 West Virginia at No. 19 Baylor, 4:00 p.m.
- Dayton at No. 22 VCU 2:00 p.m.
- No. 23 Butler at DePaul, 2:00 p.m.
- Boise State at No. 24 San Diego State, 8:00 p.m.