Game of the Day: No. 16 Pittsburgh vs. No. 18 Marquette (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)
Pittsburgh began its Big East schedule with two straight losses. Since then, though, the Panthers have gone 8-2 and have quality wins over Syracuse and Cincinnati. One team they have yet to beat, though, is Marquette, who won in overtime on Jan. 12. In that game, Tray Woodall played just four minutes after suffering a concussion. With him in the lineup Saturday, his 10.9 points and 5.4 assists per game could make the difference.
For Marquette, Davante Gardner has struggled over the last five games. In that January meeting with Pittsburgh, he was 6-of-6 from the floor for 13 points. Another night like that from him would have the Golden Eagles on the right track for a win Saturday.
Who’s Getting Upset?: North Carolina (-6) vs. Virginia (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
North Carolina does well when it is able to get out in transition and score when the defense is scattered. Against Virginia, those opportunities will be limited because the Cavaliers take care of the basketball and shoot a solid percentage from the field (46% FG, 40% 3pt FG).
Joe Harris will again be the key for Virginia on the road. If he continues to hit shots as he has for much of ACC play, it will open up opportunities for complementary scorer Akil Mitchell toward the interior. With limited possessions, North Carolina can’t afford to turn the ball over, and will need James Michael McAdoo to bounce back after shooting 4-of-12 from the floor vs. Duke.
Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: San Diego State vs. UNLV (9:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)
Saturday night’s matchup sees two of the Mountain West’s best players (and likely the two top contenders for the conference’s Player of the Year award) face off. The Rebels are in need of a win after dropping three of their last four, including losses to Boise State, Air Force, and Fresno State.
San Diego State, on the other hand, has won two of its last three but fell on Wednesday to Colorado State. In that game, Frankling struggled to shoot just 4-of-13 from the floor for 11 points. He needs to return to his typical 17 points and nine rebounds for the Aztecs to get a win Saturday.
Five Things to Watch For
1) No. 2 Duke has responded with six straight wins after getting blown out by Miami on Jan. 23. We’ll see one of the better individual big man matchups Saturday as the Blue Devils’ Mason Plumlee meets Maryland’s Alex Len. The Terrapins will be without Pe’Shon Howard because of suspension.
2) No. 8 Michigan State finds itself in a trap game Saturday against Nebraska. With a brutal four-game stretch waiting over the next two weeks (No. 1 Indiana, No. 13 Ohio State, No. 4 Michigan, No. 20 Wisconsin), the Spartans need not overlook the Cornhuskers on the road. Don’t expect any problems, but it’s something to keep in mind.
3) No. 15 Kansas needed a big win over Kansas State to try to return to equilibrium after three straight losses. They got it. Now they face a Texas team that has gotten a lift from the return of guard Myck Kabongo.
4) No. 11 Butler has a chance to bounce back after a loss to Charlotte on Wednesday. The Bulldogs travel to 6-19 Fordham, though they could be without center Andrew Smith, who was cleared to practice but is a game-time decision. Expect Rotnei Clarke to find his groove again after being quiet until late vs. Charlotte.
5) Both UCLA and Stanford need a win Saturday. The Cardinal are fresh off a loss to USC on Thursday, and the Bruins started off their road trip to the Bay Area with a loss to Cal that same day. Stanford will look to the interior with Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis, while UCLA hopes Shabazz Muhammad finds his shooting touch again after going 4-of-13 from the floor vs. Cal.
The Top 25
No. 1 Indiana vs. Purdue (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
No. 2 Duke vs. Maryland (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
No. 5 Gonzaga vs. San Francisco (4:30 p.m. ET, ROOT Sports)
No. 6 Syracuse vs. Seton Hall (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
No. 7 Florida vs. Auburn (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
No. 8 Michigan State vs. Nebraska (8:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)
No. 10 Kansas State vs. Baylor (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
No. 11 Butler vs. Fordham (4:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)
No. 14 Kansas vs. Texas (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
No. 16 Pittsburgh vs. No. 18 Marquette (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)
No. 17 Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
No. 19 New Mexico vs. Boise State (9:00 p.m. ET)
No. 21 Notre Dame vs. Providence (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
No. 22 Memphis vs. Marshall (8:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)
No. 23 Oregon vs. Washington State (7:00 p.m. ET, Pac 12 Networks)
No. 24 Colorado State vs. Air Force (4:00 p.m. ET)
No. 25 Kentucky vs. Tennessee (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)
Other Notable Games
Villanova vs. Connecticut (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Virginia vs. North Carolina (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
Saint Joseph’s vs. La Salle (1:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)
NC State vs. Virginia Tech (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Army vs. Navy (2:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)
Creighton vs. Evansville (3:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
Missouri vs. Arkansas (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN2)
Stanford vs. UCLA (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN2)
Temple vs. Massachusetts (6:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)
Detroit vs. Valparaiso (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Princeton vs. Harvard (7:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)
Charlotte vs. Saint Louis (7:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)
Saint Mary’s vs. Loyola Marymount (7:00 p.m. ET)
Georgia vs. Ole Miss (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Arizona State vs. Colorado State (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
San Diego State vs. UNLV (9:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_