This is the first weekend college basketball has all to themselves (meaning no NFL competition), and there are plenty of intriguing match-ups. Conference games dominate as everyone begins to solidify their teams heading to the February stretch run to conference championships and onto March Madness.
Here are five pretty interesting games for you to keep an eye on.
1. Louisville at UConn (Noon): UConn has built its reputation on tough play…and like all college teams, plays very well at home. The Cardinals are coming off a big last second win over West Virginia. UConn has won six in a row going back to their 82-81 victory over Texas in early January. Nothing but Big East games remain…but they better not look ahead to Monday’s game with Syracuse. UCONN wins.
2. Georgetown at Villanova (Noon): The Hoyas started 1-4 in the Big East, but are riding a three-game win streak to even their record. Nova won 11 in a row, but now have lost two of their last three including the shocking loss at Providence on Wednesday. Nova, like most teams, plays well at home and they prove it Saturday by winning. NOVA wins.
3. Kansas State at Kansas (7:00 p.m.): A shocking…and I mean shocking…home loss last Saturday to Texas snapped a four-year winning streak. The Jayhawks would love nothing more than to start a new one this Saturday against in-state rivals, Kansas State. They rebounded from the Texas loss by winning at Colorado, 82-78, and should be ready for the Wildcats. KSU began the season ranked in the top 10, but they have not lived up to the hype. Reason: TURNOVERS. They turn the ball over 1 out of every 4 possessions…and Kansas WILL take advantage of this. Kansas wins and starts a new home streak.
4. West Virginia at Cincinnati (8:00 p.m.): The ‘Eers are confounding everyone. What has Bob Huggins done to this team? They won (in succession) at DePaul, at Georgetown and home against Providence and Purdue. Now, Georgetown is pretty good…Providence just ran roughshod over Villanova, winning by 15 points ,and Purdue is a top-ten team. BUT…then they lost at home to Marshall (an in-state rival), beat South Florida and then lost in the last seconds at Louisville. Is this a great team, a good team or just a so-so team. Saturday night at Cincinnati, they better be careful with the ball because with the great Bearcat defense (#4 in the NCAA, #1 in the Big East), they won’t be getting many chances to make up for mistakes on the court. Defense wins games, and Cincinnati is at home…so go with Cincinnati.
5. Missouri at Texas (9:00 p.m.): Texas has been playing some outstanding ball lately. Just last Saturday they were down big at Kansas, but came back to clobber the Jayhawks and end the nation’s longest home-court win streak. Since their January 8 lost to UConn, Texas has won five Big 12 Conference games in a row (at Texas Tech, vs. Oklahoma, vs. Texas A&M, at Kansas and at Oklahoma State). Now they get the Tigers who are rested after a week off. At 17-3, but just 3-2 in the conference, Mizzou needs to be more consistent. The road has NOT been their friend in conference, losing at Colorado by 13 and at Texas A&M by just 2. Their only other loss was at home to Georgetown after Thanksgiving. The fastest forty minutes style of play has made Mizzou the 5th highest scoring team in the country, and they lead the Big 12 also, with 85 ppg. Their defense is not so great, but they are counting on out-scoring and out-running you. Texas is no slouch…they score 77 points a game (33rd in NCAA, 4th in Big 12) and their defense, however, is much better than Mizzou’s. Texas is 24th in the NCAA and 3rd in the Big 12 allowing just 60.7 ppg contrasting to Mizzou’s 168th and 10th with 68.6 ppg given up. I’d like to pick Mizzou in an upset, but so far my upset record this season is not great. I have to go with the hot hand at home…TEXAS wins.
I’ll be back next Friday with my preview of next Saturday’s Top 5 NCAA Basketball Games!