Otto Porter Jr., John Thompson III

Pregame Shootaround 3.6.13: Six ranked teams head on the road

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Game of the Night: No. 5 Georgetown at Villanova (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

The biggest game of the night pits two old school Big East programs and future Catholic 7 programs that could determine quite a bit come NCAA tournament time.

Here’s what’s on the line:

– For Villanova, they have a chance to lock up an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. As of today, the Wildcats should be able to feel pretty good about where they stand thanks to wins over Syracuse, Louisville and Marquette. But they enter this game on a two-game losing streak, and with the Big East tournament looming next week, a loss in the first round could mean that Jay Wright’s club enters Selection Sunday on a four game losing streak. Still deserving? Maybe not.

– For Georgetown, they have a chance to lock up a share of the Big East regular season title. with Syracuse visiting DC on Saturday afternoon looking to get revenge for a beat down last month and change the course of their season, a loss would put the Hoyas in danger of missing out on a chance to win a Big East title and to get the No. 1 seed in the Big East tournament. With a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament a legitimate possibility, that’s a lot riding on these last couple of games.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Night: No. 16 St. Louis at Xavier (8:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

Read this story from Dana O’Neil on this year’s St. Louis team.

You done yet?

The Billikens have become one of the feel-good stories of the year, and they just so happen to be the best team in the Atlantic 10 and a group with a real shot at making a long run in the tournament. Which is why Xavier wants this win so badly. There is still a chance that, if the Musketeers can win out and pick off a couple more good teams in the A-10 tournament, they can sneak into one of the last at-large spots. The Cintas Center is always tough to play in.

Who’s Getting Upset?: No. 13 Oklahoma State at Iowa State (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Iowa State is one of the most entertaining and dangerous teams in the country, and they just so happen to be awesome when playing at home. They desperately need this win if they are going to make the NCAA tournament as an at-large. I think they get it.

Five Things

1) Five conference tournaments start tonight: the WCC, the Ohio Valley, the Patriot League, the NEC and the Atlantic Sun.

2) There are four top 25 teams on the road against teams that have a real shot at pulling an upset. Three are listed above. The fourth? No. 7 Michigan at Purdue. The Boilermakers are coming off of a win at the Kohl Center over Wisconsin. (7:00 p.m ET, Big Ten Network)

3) No. 21 VCU and Richmond actually have a pretty healthy rivalry as the two biggest programs in the city of Richmond. Throw in the fact that the Spiders beat the Rams earlier this season, and this should be an intense matchup. (8:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

4) Maryland’s NCAA tournament hopes are all but gone, but if they can beat a North Carolina team that is peaking at the right time tonight, they may still have a chance. (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

5) Tennessee is on their last breath as well, and while beating Auburn isn’t going to do much for their profile, losing to the Tigers would be a monumental disaster. (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Top 25

  • No. 5 Georgetown at Villanova (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • Georgia Tech at No. 6 Miami (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • No. 7 Michigan at Purdue (7:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)
  • Vanderbilt at No. 11 Florida (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • No. 12 New Mexico at Nevada (10:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)
  • No. 13 Oklahoma State at Iowa State (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
  • No. 16 St. Louis at Xavier (9:00 p.m. ET)
  • DePaul at No. 17 Syracuse (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Richmond at No. 21 VCU (8:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)
  • No. 23 UCLA at Washington State (9:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)

Notable Games

  • North Carolina at Maryland (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Temple at Fordham (7:00 p.m. ET)
  • George Washington at La Salle (7:00 p.m. ET)
  • Tennessee at Auburn (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • UConn at South Florida (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
  • Wake Forest at NC State (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
  • Minnesota at Nebraska (9:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)
  • West Virginia at Oklahoma (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • Colorado State at Wyoming (10:00 p.m. ET, ROOT)
  • Stanford at Cal (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
  • Air Force at San Diego State (11:30 p.m. ET)
  • USC at Washington (11:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.