Weekend Preview

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Weekend Preview: Duke-Carolina Part Two, and which bubble teams have the most on the line?

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GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 3 Duke at No. 19 North Carolina, Sat. 9:00 p.m.

The first time these two teams got together this season, it was an instant classic. The Blue Devils jumped out to a huge lead in Cameron, only to see the Tar Heels not only erase that lead, but take a ten point lead of their own in the final six minutes. Duke responded, forcing overtime and eventually winning the best game of the season, 92-90. Carolina on the road will be a good test for Duke, as the Tar Heels are monsters on the offensive glass. That’s one of Duke’s weaknesses this season. One thing that will be interesting to watch is how Duke defends Marcus Paige. Will they face-guard him again?

THE OTHER GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 6 Wisconsin at No. 23 Ohio State, Sat. 4:30 p.m.

This will be Wisconsin’s final test before the regular season comes to an end, and it should be a good one. For starters, D’Angelo Russell is one of the few players that is good enough to take over a game against anyone, even one of the best teams in the country. The Badgers aren’t great defensively and can, at times, struggle with dynamic lead guards. Ohio State is also much smaller than Wisconsin, and while that should give them an advantage in the paint, it will make it tough to guard the Buckeyes.

FIVE MORE GAMES TO WATCH

  • No. 21 Butler at No. 24 Providence, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: The battle for second-best in the Big East. Butler is back to full strength with Andrew Chrabacsz back. If you haven’t seen Kris Dunn play, tune in.
  • Tulsa at No. 22 SMU, Sun. 3:00 p.m.: Not only is the title in the American on the line in this game, Tulsa’s at-large bid could end up going up in smoke if they lose this game.
  • Yale at Harvard, Fri. 8:00 p.m.: While this is the second-to-last game of the Ivy League season, this may as well be the title game. Yale and Harvard are tied for first place, with the winner of the regular season earning the Ivy’s automatic bid.
  • No. 9 Kansas at No. 15 Oklahoma, Sat. 4:00 p.m.: This game would have had a lot more intrigue if Kansas had lost to West Virginia. As it stands, the outright league title has been clinched and Kansas will be without Perry Ellis and Cliff Alexander.
  • No. 2 Virginia at No. 16 Louisville, Sat. 6:30 p.m.: This is Louisville’s last chance in the regular season to prove that they can still beat one of the nation’s best teams.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: Stanford at No. 5 Arizona, Sat. 4:00 p.m.

This is a similar situation to what we saw at Gonzaga last week. Stanford is playing for their tournament lives. Arizona? They clinched the outright Pac-12 title on Thursday, their only motivation on Saturday being to better their profile for a No. 1 seed. Throw in the fact that it’s Senior Night, and the setting couldn’t be better for the Cardinal to pull off an upset.

UPSET WATCH

  • LSU at No. 18 Arkansas, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: LSU really needs to add another win to their profile. As it stands, they’re showing up as Last Four In in many bracket projections.
  • Florida at No. 1 Kentucky, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: I don’t know if Florida can actually pull off this upset. I really only listed them here because there aren’t many better options this weekend. But hey, it’s Billy Donovan. Maybe I’ll look smart.
  • No. 10 Maryland at Nebraska, Sun. 7:30 p.m.: Nebraska’s Senior Night during a lost season. Will that be enough for the Huskers to finally wake up?
  • St. John’s at No. 4 Villanova, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: The Johnnies have been on a roll of late, and they actually matchup pretty well with the Wildcats.

FIVE STORY LINES TO FOLLOW

1. There are two games on NBCSN and the NBC Sports Live Extra app this weekend:

  • UMass at George Washington, Sat. 3:30 p.m.
  • George Mason at VCU, Sat. 5:30 p.m.

2. In addition to the Ivy League, four other tickets to the Big Dance will be punched this weekend:

  • Ohio Valley (Saturday)
  • Atlantic Sun (Sunday)
  • Big South (Sunday)
  • Missouri Valley (Sunday)

3. There are two more de-facto regular season title games this weekend:

  • Georgia Southern at Georgia State, Sat. 2:00 p.m. (Sun Belt)
  • Sam Houston State at Stephen F. Austin, Sat. 7:30 p.m. (Southland)

4. Kansas State at Texas, Sat. 4:00 p.m.: Easily the weekend’s most interesting bubble game, as these are the nation’s two most surprising bubble teams. Texas because they fell from the top ten, and Kansas State because they were left for dead weeks ago.

5. And lastly, here are the rest of the weekend’s games with bubble implications:

  • Syracuse at N.C. State, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
  • Miami at Virginia Tech, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
  • Northwestern at Iowa, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
  • Michigan State at Indiana, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
  • Oklahoma State at No. 20 West Virginia, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
  • UConn at Temple, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
  • Alabama at Texas A&M, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
  • LSU at No. 18 Arkansas, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
  • Xavier at Creighton, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
  • Stanford at No. 5 Arizona, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
  • Georgia at Auburn, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
  • Illinois at Purdue, Sat. 4:30 p.m.
  • Davidson at Duquesne, Sat. 7:00 p.m.
  • Fresno State at Boise State, Sat. 8:00 p.m.
  • Colorado State at Utah State, Sat. 9:00 p.m.
  • Vanderbilt at Ole Miss, Sat. 9:00 p.m.
  • Memphis at Cincinnati, Sat. 12:00 p.m.

 

Weekend Preview: The first weekend of conference play is here

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GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 22 Baylor at No. 18 Oklahoma, Sat. 4:00 p.m.

There is only one game this weekend that features two teams that are both ranked, and that pits the Bears against the Sooners. We think we know what Oklahoma is this year, a top 20 team with the ceiling of being a Final Four-caliber program. The question mark is Baylor, who entered the season without much in the way of expectations thanks to the graduation of Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson.

But the Bears have been one of the nation’s surprises. They have just one loss on the season and look like they could end up being a tournament team, a fact that would (gasp!) get Scott Drew some coach of the year consideration. And here’s the scary part: Kenny Chery is just now getting back into the rotation.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE WEEKEND: UNLV at No. 13 Kansas, Sun. 4:30 p.m.

Two weeks ago, this game would not have made this list as the Rebels were one of the more disappointing teams in the country. But they’ve bounced back with a win over Arizona in Vegas and a five point loss to Wyoming on the road. Christian Wood suddenly looks like he’ll be the best big man on the floor, and Kansas has been struggling enough that the Rebels just may be able to pull off the upset in Lawrence.

FIVE GAMES TO WATCH

  • No. 21 Washington at Stanford, Sun. 10:00 p.m.: Washington has a tough road trip this week, but they match up better with Stanford than they do Cal. Chasson Randle vs. Nigel Williams-Goss will be fun.
  • No. 17 West Virginia at TCU, Sat. 4:00 p.m.: If there are two teams that are expected to come back to earth during Big 12 play, it’s these two. The Mountaineers, who have just one loss, look like they’re for real. TCU? Well, let’s just say this will be an interesting gauge game.
  • Minnesota at No. 12 Maryland, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: Maryland hosts their first game as a Big Ten member, and they get a Minnesota team that is coming off of a loss after looking like one of the hottest teams in the league.
  • Butler at No. 15 St. John’s, Sat. 4:00 p.m.: St. John’s lost their Big East opener at Seton Hall on Wednesday. Can they bounce back with a win on Saturday?
  • UCLA at No. 10 Utah, Sun. 4:00 p.m.: UCLA has not played like it yet this year, but the Bruins are one of the more talented teams in the conference.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 6 Villanova at Seton Hall, Sat. 12:00 p.m.

Seton Hall already has an upset win at home under their belt this week, as they knocked off No. 15 St. John’s at the Prudential Center on Wednesday afternoon. The most impressive part is that the Pirates were able to do it without Isaiah Whitehead healthy. Villanova is a much different team from Seton Hall: more talented, more disciplined, better defensively. The Pirates are going to need another terrific performance from Sterling Gibbs and Jaren Sina, but those two have been good this year.

UPSET WATCH

  • No. 24 Colorado State at New Mexico, Sat. 8:00 p.m.: Colorado State has not lost yet this season, but playing at New Mexico is never an easy thing to do.
  • No. 21 Washington at Cal, Fri. 10:00 p.m.: Cal actually matches up with the Huskies pretty well. David Kravish can pull Robert Upshaw away from the rim and the Bears have plenty of guards.
  • Creighton at No. 25 Georgetown, Sat. 4:30 p.m.: Creighton is coming off of a loss in their Big East opener, but Georgetown is as well.
  • No. 3 Virginia at Miami, Sat. 5:30 p.m.: Miami has struggled a bit of late, but the Hurricanes do have some talent on their roster.
  • No. 19 North Carolina at Clemson, Sat. 8:00 p.m.: Clemson likes to take the air out of the ball offensively, and that could slow down North Carolina enough to get them into a half court game.

FIVE MORE STORY LINES

1. UConn at Florida, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: A rematch from last year’s Final Four features two teams in desperate need of quality wins for their NCAA tournament resume.

2. No. 5 Louisville at Wake Forest, Sun. 8:00 p.m.:

3. Illinois at No. 20 Ohio State, Sat. 3:30 p.m.: This is one of the games that I will be watching closely on Saturday, as the Buckeyes have not looked like a team that can compete at the top of the Big Ten.

4. There will be four games on NBCSN and streaming on the NBCSports Live Extra app this weekend:

– Duquesne at Dayton, Sat. 3:00 p.m.
– Rhode Island at Saint Louis, Sat. 5:00 p.m.
– Richmond at Davidson, Sat. 7:00 p.m.
– Saint Louis at George Mason (women), Sun. 2:00 p.m.

5. Kansas State at Oklahoma State, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: There haven’t been many more disappointing teams in the country than Kansas State this season.

Weekend Preview: A loaded Saturday slate highlights the weekend

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GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 15 Oklahoma vs. No. 16 Washington, Sat. 9:00 p.m.

Oklahoma looks like they’re going to be one of the top four teams in the Big 12, a sleeper to win the league. And Washington? They look like they are the third-best team in the Pac-12 right now, sliding in right behind Utah as Arizona’s main challenger in the conference.

But here’s the thing: I’m not anyone really knows just how good these two teams are. The Huskies are the bigger question mark at this point. Nigel Williams-Goss is the real deal, and the nation’s best shot-blocker Robert Upshaw is one of the five most valuable players in the country, but if the Huskies are a borderline NIT team without a guy that plays 18 minutes a game and struggles to hit free throws, just how good are they? And Oklahoma? Their starting five can matchup with anyone, particularly with the way that TaShawn Thomas has played of late and how well Ryan Spangler is shooting. But they don’t have much depth at all.

By 11:00 p.m. on Saturday night, we should have a much better idea about both of these teams.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 12 Ohio State vs. No. 24 North Carolina, Sat. 1:00 p.m.

So what’s going on with North Carolina this season? What about Marcus Paige? Why is he struggling so much, and what is going to happen when he is forced to deal with a defender as good as Shannon Scott is? That should be a major concern for Tar Heels fans heading into Saturday. The good news? North Carolina should be downright abusive to the Buckeye front line.

FIVE MORE GAMES TO WATCH

  • UCLA vs. No. 1 Kentucky, Sat. 3:30 p.m.: I’m not convinced that UCLA is all that good this season. In fact, I think there’s a chance that they’re an NIT team. They do have some athletes on the wing, but we’ll see how Bryce Alford is able to deal with the Kentucky pressure.
  • Syracuse at No. 7 Villanova, Sat. 1:00 p.m.: A good old-fashioned Big East rivalry game! Syracuse has had some major struggles this season as Jim Boeheim tries to find the right lineups and rotations. Villanova hasn’t had that problem at all.
  • Harvard at No. 6 Virginia, Sun. 12:00 p.m.: This game may end up being played in the 50s, but that doesn’t mean these teams are bad. And as good as Virginia has been this season, Harvard is legit. There’s a reason they’ve won a game is two straight tournaments.
  • Indiana vs. No. 23 Butler, Sat. 2:30 p.m.: Talk about a difference in styles. Indiana wants run and gun and fire threes and play as fast as possible. Butler wants to muck things up as much as they can. This is a very, very important game for the Hoosiers, who haven’t done much in the non-conference.
  • St. Mary’s at No. 24 St. John’s, Fri. 7:00 p.m.: The Gaels looked really good going into Creighton and knocking off the Bluejays. They didn’t when they lost to Northern Arizona at home. I’m not convinced the Johnnies are all that good yet, but if they are, this is the kind of game that they win.
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WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 3 Arizona at UTEP, Fri. 11:00 p.m.

UTEP is good. I’m not saying this just to hype them up or to make this game sound more intriguing than it is. The Miners are good enough that they will compete with Louisiana Tech and Old Dominion for the Conference USA title this season. Vince Hunter is a legitimate NBA prospect, and when combined with Julian Washburn and Cedrick Lang, it gives Tim Floyd a front line with the size to hang with Arizona, at least on paper. And that’s before you consider the Tim Floyd effect.

Arizona is very, very good, but they’re playing on the road late on a Friday night against a team that’s sneaky-talented. These are the kinds of games when good teams can get picked off.

UPSET WATCH

  • No. 4 Louisville at Western Kentucky, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: Louisville did not look all that impressive against UNC-Wilmington. Western Kentucky just won at Ole Miss. Montrezl Harrell yelled in the press conference about his teammates being selfish.
  • N.C. State vs. No. 22 West Virginia, Sat. 9:30 p.m.: The Wolfpack are better than West Virginia this season, but the Mountaineers are pressing all-out this season. How will Cat Barber handle it?
  • Eastern Washington at Cal, Fri. 10:00 p.m.: Ty Wallace is one of the nation’s most underrated players, but Eastern Washington is a talented mid-major team that could win a game in the NCAA tournament.
  • No. 14 Utah at UNLV, Sat. 11:30 p.m.: UNLV has the talent to be a top 25 team. Will they put it all together at any point this season?
  • No. 17 Maryland at Oklahoma State, Sun. 2:00 p.m.: Going on the road in non-conference play is never an easy thing to do, particularly when you’re missing your best player (Dez Wells).

FIVE STORY LINES

1. Iona at George Mason, Sat. 7:00 p.m.: A terrific matchup of mid-major programs that will be shown on NBCSN.

2a. VCU at Cincinnati, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: Both VCU and Cincinnati really, really need to start amassing non-conference wins thanks to the how poorly their leagues have done this year. The only two teams that may need wins more this weekend than these two teams are …

2b. SMU at Michigan, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: … SMU has struggled this season in the absence of Markus Kennedy. And Michigan? They lost to NJIT and Eastern Michigan before getting blown out by Arizona.

3. Purdue vs. No. 21 Notre Dame, Sat. 5:15 p.m.: Notre Dame is putting up ridiculous numbers offensively, but they’re doing it against an atrocious, embarrassing schedule. Purdue is a borderline tournament team at best, but they’ll guard and they have a ton of size. How real are the Irish? We’ll find out.

4. No. 13 Iowa State at Drake, Sat. 5:00 p.m. and Iowa at Northern Iowa, Sat. 7:30 p.m.: The four in-state teams play on Saturday, although I wish they would let us see Northern Iowa play Iowa State. Is it too late to change that?

5. Missouri at Illinois, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: The Braggin’ Rights Game.

Weekend Preview: Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA all with major tests

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GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 13 Utah vs.. No. 10 Kansas, Sat. 3:15 p.m.

Kansas, as we noted yesterday, is trending in the right direction these days after an embarrassing start to their 2014-2015 season. Their last two games have been an 18-point comeback against Florida at home and a win on the road against a Georgetown team that might be the second best team in the Big East.

Next on their list? A visit from Utah — the game is in  Kansas City — who is clearly the second-best team in the Pac-12 right now. The Utes are not sneaking up on anyone anymore, not after beating Wichita State at home or going into the Marriott Center and knocking off BYU. Utah starts a pair of future pros — Delon Wright and Jakob Poeltl — and has depth along their front line. It looks like the Jayhawks are finally starting to hit their stride, but they will certainly be tested by Larry Krystkowiak’s club.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 21 North Carolina at No. 1 Kentucky, Sat. 12:00 p.m.

This was a lot more intriguing before we realized that North Carolina simply does not know how to score. That said, I’m certainly not ready to write off the Tar Heels just yet. In fact, I think this is actually a fairly decent matchup for them, particularly if Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker don’t play. Roy Williams has the big bodies along his front line that can hold their own against UK’s towering platoons. The key for UNC is whether or not they actually get any kind of support for Marcus Paige from their perimeter. Good teams can take away Paige because they don’t after to be worried about Justin Jackson, Nate Britt or J.P. Tokoto.

FIVE MORE GAMES TO WATCH

  • No. 9 Gonzaga at UCLA, Sat. 10:00 p.m.: This will be a great chance for us to see just how good the Bruins are. They have the athleticism and versatility up front to give Gonzaga some issues. That said, the Zags are not going to be happy about the way things ended for them against Arizona.
  • No. 14 Iowa State at Iowa, Fri. 8:00 p.m.: This game took a bit of a hit on the intrigue scale when Bryce Dejean-Jones was suspended by Fred Hoiberg for his Wednesday arrest. It’s a big game for Iowa, who will be looking to build off of their road win over North Carolina.
  • No. 23 Northern Iowa at VCU, Sat. 7:00 p.m.: The most underrated game of the day. Northern Iowa looks like they’ll be able to give Wichita State a run for their money in the Missouri Valley. But VCU is VCU, and it will be interesting to see how the Panthers handle that pressure. ALSO! Watch it on NBCSN and online via Live Extra.
  • Michigan at No. 3 Arizona, Sat. 5:15 p.m.: This game was a lot more intriguing before Michigan lost to NJIT and Eastern Michigan. It has blowout written all over it.
  • St. Mary’s at Creighton, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: Creighton has been a bit up and down this season, but they’re going to have some trouble with a talented Gaels team. Brad Waldow has been downright sensational.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 15 Butler at Tennessee, Sun. 2:00 p.m.

This will be a tough matchup for the Bulldogs, as Donnie Tyndall gets his guys to play as hard and as tough as anyone, even Butler. That said, Butler can really, really make it difficult for you to score on them, and Tennessee is not exactly dynamic offensively.

UPSET WATCH

  • Louisiana Tech at Syracuse, Sun. 4:00 p.m.: Tech loves to press and loves to try and wear down opposing point guard. The problem for Syracuse? For them, it’s point guard. Singular.
  • Sam Houston State at LSU, Sat. 7:00 p.m.: SHSU is actually pretty good this season, and may be the best team in the Southland. LSU bounced back from a slow start last week, but is it a fix that will hold.
  • Morehead State at No. 12 Ohio State, Sat. 1:00 p.m.: Morehead State is a team that can press you and force turnovers, and Ohio State can struggle with teams that do that.
  • Stony Brook at Providence, Sat. 1:00 p.m.: The Friars righted their ship with a win over Rhode Island this week, but they had lost their previous three, including a home date to Brown. Stony Brook is way better then Brown.
  • Wofford at N.C. State, Sun. 4:00 p.m.: Wofford is underrated this season, and they should be able to matchup well with the Wolfpack.

FIVE STORY LINES

1. Eastern Washington at No. 17 Washington, Sun. 8:00 p.m.: Washington looks like a completely different team with shot-blocker extraordinaire Robert Upshaw patrolling the paint. But EWU has two guys that average 20, including Venky Jois.

2. Temple at No. 7 Villanova, Sun. 2:00 p.m.: Some Sunday afternoon Big 5 ball? Who doesn’t love that? They’ve been reintroducing an old tradition of late.

3. Dayton at Arkansas, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: Dayton appears to be a bit overrated this year despite coming off of a trip to the Elite the same can be said of Arkansas, who just lot at Clemson.

4. Florida State at No. 25 Notre Dame, Sat. 8:00 p.m.: Florida State already has four losses, but a number of those came without Devon Bookert and Aaron Thomas in the lineup.

5. No. 16 Oklahoma at Tulsa, Sat. 2:30 p.m.: Tulsa was a tournament team last season under Danny Manning. This year? They’ve already lost to a Division II team. Can they turn things around against Oklahoma.

Weekend Preview: Three great matchups, headlined by two top ten battles

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GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 9 Gonzaga at No. 3 Arizona, Sat. 5:15 p.m.

There may not be five games this season that are more intriguing than seeing the two best teams on the west coast square off. Kevin Pangos has been the best guard in the country this season — I’m not sure it’s all that close — but he will be forced to square off against a tough, veteran defender in T.J. McConnell. Up front is where it gets even more interesting, as Arizona’s massive front line will be forced to deal with the versatility that Mark Few has at his disposal.

The game is at the McKale Center in Tucson, which means that the Wildcats will enter the game as the favorites. But they are going to have to find a way to score, because Gonzaga is one of the toughest teams to matchup with in the country. The key may end up being how the Zags deal with the size of Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson on the wing.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 6 Texas at No. 1 Kentucky, Fri. 7:00 p.m.

As good as this game is on paper, I’m not sure that it will end up being all that close come 9:00 p.m. on Friday night. There are two reasons for that: 1. The game is being played at Rupp, and with the way that Kentucky is playing right now, I’m not sure anyone can beat them in Rupp; and 2. Texas will be without guard Isaiah Taylor, the lightning quick penetrator that would help them negate the size advantage the Harrisons have in the back court. The good news for Texas? They won’t get pushed around inside. The Longhorns have just as many bigs that are just as, well, big as Kentucky’s front line.

THE OTHER, OTHER GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 7 Virginia at VCU, Sat. 2:00 p.m.

You won’t find a better matchup of styles all season long. Virginia likes to grind it out, controlling tempo and clock and running their sets until they get a good look, even if it takes 30 seconds to do so. VCU? They’re ‘Havoc’. They’re flying all over the court, trying to force turnovers and make the game as choppy as possible. What wins out?

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FIVE MORE GAMES TO WATCH:

  • Florida at No. 11 Kansas, Fri. 9:00 p.m.: Fair to say that these have been the two most disappointing preseason top ten teams? Kansas looks like they’ve turned a corner. Florida? Not so much.
  • No. 2 Wisconsin at Marquette, Sat. 12:30 p.m.: Rivalries don’t get much more heated than this. The problem? Marquette is rebuilding and Wisconsin is pissed they just lose to Duke.
  • Boise State at Saint Mary’s, Sat. 11:30 p.m.: Saint Mary’s is probably better than they are getting credit for right now, and Boise State should matchup well with them.
  • Creighton at Nebraska, Sun. 7:00 p.m.: Wisconsin-Marquette isn’t the only in-state rivalry game being played. This game becomes that much better now that both programs are good.
  • St. Joseph’s at No. 10 Villanova, Sat. 1:00 p.m.: There’s a reason this is called ‘the Holy War’.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 13 San Diego State at Washington, Sun. 9:00 p.m.

Washington is better than anyone is giving them credit for this season, although I’m not sure that actually means all that much. They won the Wooden Legacy last month and have one of the nation’s most underrated point guards in Nigel Williams-Goss running the show. SDSU is good — really good — but a road game late on a Sunday night is never an easy one to play.

UPSET WATCH:

  • Yale at UConn, Fri. 7:00 p.m.: Yale is the second-best team in the Ivy, they have a powerful front line and UConn’s all kinds of banged up right now.
  • Green Bay at No. 15 Miami, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: The Phoenix may not pull this off, but Angel Rodriguez vs. Keifer Sykes will make watching them try worth the time.
  • Towson at Georgetown, Sun. 12:00 p.m.: A local battle, as the Tigers are from right up I-95 in Baltimore. Should we call this the Annual Jerelle Benimon Classic
  • FGCU at UMass, Sun. 2:00 p.m.: UMass is in a bit of a rebuilding mode this season. FGCU? They have as good of a back court as you will find at the mid-major level. They’re not #DunkCity, but they can play.
  • No. 18 Arkansas at Clemson, Sun. 5:00 p.m.: The Razorbacks are not very good on the road, at least not historically. Clemson isn’t all that good either, but Arkansas has a tendency to lose games like that upon occasion.

FIVE STORY LINES

1. Saint Louis at No. 8 Wichita State, Sat. 6:00 p.m.: The Shockers are coming off of their first loss in the regular in 35 games. How will they bounce back?

2. St. John’s at Syracuse, Sat. 5:15 p.m.: Two only Big East rivals square off.

3. Eastern Kentucky at No. 1 Kentucky, Sun. 6:00 p.m.: The nation’s best team will be in action for the second time this weekend.

4. Wyoming at SMU, Fri. 7:00 p.m.: SMU desperately needs a marquee win, and believe it or not, Wyoming is actually a pretty good win. They are one of the best teams in the MWC and already own a 23-point win over Colorado.

5. Ole Miss at Oregon, Sun. 4:00 p.m.: Ole Miss had a rough start to the year, but they’ve turned things around in recent weeks. Can Oregon, who lost to Michigan and VCU last week, do the same?

Weekend Preview: The regular season comes to a close

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GAME OF THE WEEKENDNo. 14 North Carolina at No. 4 Duke, 9:00 p.m.

It really doesn’t get better than the Duke-Carolina on the final weekend of the regular season. The only odd part about it is that there really isn’t all that much on the line anymore. Virginia’s already locked up the ACC regular season title. Duke pretty much cost themselves a shot at a No. 1 seed by losing to Wake Forest on Wednesday. North Carolina did the same with their struggles earlier this season. If anything, this game will be a chance for the Blue Devils to prove that they actually are a Final Four contender.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 21 New Mexico at No. 10 San Diego State, Sat. 10:00 p.m.

This will be fun. The two best programs in the Mountain West will square off in arguably the rowdiest environment on the west coast for the right to call themselves Mountain West regular season champions. The Aztecs have long been considered the favorite to win the league title, with their win at Kansas and New Mexico’s struggles earlier in the season. But the Lobos are peaking at the right time. Like I said, this will be fun.

THE OTHER, OTHER GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 19 UConn at No. 11 Louisville, Sat. 2:00 p.m.

Senior night for Russ Smith will also feature a chance for the Cardinals to lock up the AAC regular season title in their only year in the conference. The Cards already went up to Storrs and knocked off UConn this season. The Huskies will be playing to stay out of the 4-5 game in the AAC tournament, which means they would have to play Memphis or SMU instead of one of the league’s bottom-feeders. Shabazz Napier vs. Russdiculous is appointment viewing.

FIVE MORE TO WATCH:

  • No. 18 SMU at No. 20 Memphis, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: SMU is tough to peg. They were rolling people at home and struggling on the road … and then won at UConn and lost to Louisville in Dallas.
  • No. 25 Kentucky at No. 1 Florida, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: So is Kentucky really going to make some noise in March? Or is this team a lost cause? If it’s the latter, Saturday could get ugly in Gainesville.
  • Oklahoma State at No. 16 Iowa State, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: Oklahoma State is a different team when Marcus Smart plays the way he has since the 10 minute mark of the second half against Kansas. Even still, I don’t think anyone is expecting a win at Iowa State.
  • Providence at No. 13 Creighton, Sat. 8:00 p.m.: Doug McDermott’s senior night. The Friars will hope that the Bluejays are distracted so they can pick up a much-needed resume win, while Creighton is looking to end a two-game losing skid.
  • No. 22 Michigan State at Ohio State, Sun. 4:30 p.m.: Can Michigan State turn this thing around? Are they ever going to be able to live up to the potential they had earlier this season?

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?

  • No. 3 Arizona at Oregon, Sat. 4:00 p.m.: The Wildcats struggled at Oregon State on Wednesday night. The Ducks like to get up and down the floor as well, which is how Sean Miller is now trying to get his team to play. Mike Moser’s scalding hot of late, and will be fun to watch matchup with Aaron Gordon.
  • No. 5 Virginia at Maryland, Sun. 12:00 p.m.: Maryland is probably out of the bubble picture at this point, but it would be nice for them to pick off Virginia in their final regular season game as a member of the conference.
  • No. 7 Syracuse at Florida State, Sun. 2:00 p.m.: Syracuse apparently cannot score anymore. Florida State is good defensively and desperate for a win. Hmm.
  • No. 17 Saint Louis at UMass, Sun. 2:00 p.m.: The Billikens are struggling of late and play a completely different style from that of UMass. Who stops Chaz Williams?
  • No. 9 Wisconsin at Nebraska, Sun. 7:30 p.m.: Lincoln has suddenly turned into one of the toughest places in the Big Ten to play, and that won’t change with the Huskers needing a win over Wisconsin to get a bid to the Big Dance.

FIVE THINGS TO KEEP AN EYE ON:

1) Five automatic bids to the NCAA tournament will be determined by the Sunday night, the most notable of which is the Missouri Valley’s. Arch Madness kicked off on Thursday night, Wichita State will play their first game on Friday night and, if all goes to plan, they’ll be ready to head to the NCAA tournament with an undefeated record Sunday afternoon.

RELATED: Our latest bracket projections — is your team in?

Harvard will earn the Ivy’s automatic bid on Friday night with a win at Yale. If the Crimson lose, they’ll need a win at Brown or a Yale loss to Dartmouth on Saturday. The Ohio Valley’s championship game is on Saturday, while the Atlantic Sun and Big South bids will be given out on Sunday.

2) The four biggest bubble games of the weekend:

  • Georgetown at No. 6 Villanova, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
  • Utah at Stanford, Sat. 2:30 p.m.
  • Missouri at Tennessee, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
  • Colorado at Cal, Sat. 6:30 p.m.
  • Pitt at Clemson, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
  • Arkansas at Alabama, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
  • Arizona State at Oregon State, Sat. 4:30 p.m.
  • Indiana at No. 12 Michigan, Sat. 6:00 p.m.
  • Richmond at Dayton, Sat. 7:00 p.m.

3) No. 8 Kansas at West Virginia, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: Don’t be surprised if West Virginia gives the Jayhawks a fight in Morgantown.

4) St. John’s at Marquette, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: St. John’s has to win this game if they want a chance to dance.

5) Baylor at Kansas State, Sat. 1:30 p.m.: Both teams are likely going dancing already.