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

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Utah’s Jakob Poeltl (AP Photo)

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.