Pregame Shootaround: Two top-ten ACC matchups dominate a loaded Saturday

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source: AP
(AP)

GAME OF THE DAY:  No. 10 Notre Dame at No. 4 Duke, 1:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:

These two teams squared off last month in South Bend, and it produced one of the most entertaining games of the entire season. Duke looked to be pulling away in the second half, but Jerian Grant sparked a comeback from 10 points down in the final eight minutes, notching the go-ahead bucket and the game-clinching assist in the final minute. Since that game, however, Notre Dame has lost to Pitt while Duke has gone into Virginia and knocked off the Cavaliers.

As it was the first time around, the key here is going to be how Duke tries to slow down Grant. The Irish are a nightmare to try and zone because of how many lethal shooters they have and how willing they are to make the extra pass. But the Irish love to put Grant in ball-screen actions — where he is as good as anyone in the country and playing All-American caliber basketball — and Duke’s Achilles’ heel on the defense end of the floor is pick-and-roll defense.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY:  No. 9 Louisville at No. 3 Virginia, 7:00 p.m.

Once again from Rob’s Weekend Preview:

This matchup might be even more intriguing that the Notre Dame-Duke game. Let me explain: Virginia runs the Pack-Line defense, which, essentially, is a man-to-man with aggressive on-ball defense and a ton of help side. (You can read an in-depth breakdown of what the Cavaliers do here.) The goal? Force ball-handlers to dribble into the help and dare teams to shoot threes over the top of the defense. Louisville has a pair of good penetrators in Chris Jones and Terry Rozier. What they lack is a bevy of catch-and-shoot threats.

In simpler terms, Louisville’s strengths offensively play right into the hands of what Virginia does best defensively. That’s usually not a good thing.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Harvard at Yale, 7:00 p.m.

The top two teams in the Ivy League meet in a game that could very well decide the fate of the league’s NCAA Tournament bid. The Crimson already have dropped an Ivy game at home to Dartmouth and could really use a road win at conference unbeaten Yale. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have been an underrated team this season who could very well take Harvard’s seat in the Big Dance if they continue to play this way. Justin Sears and Javier Duran are a nice one-two punch.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. A duo of Atlantic 10 games will be played Saturday on NBCSN:

  • No. 18 VCU at St. Bonaventure, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
  • Saint Louis at Fordham, Sat. 4:00 p.m

2. A couple of sliding Big 12 teams play on Saturday as No. 25 Texas travels to Kansas State. Texas has fallen to 3-6 in the Big 12 this season, while Kansas State has lost three straight and four of their last five and just suspended their star, Marcus Foster. One collapse has to get stalled.

3. A big one in the Big East as No. 24 Georgetown travels to No. 7 Villanova. Georgetown pounded Villanova in the first meeting between these two teams in D.C., but the Hoyas are coming off of a really tough loss to Providence at home. Georgetown is essentially out of the Big East title race with a loss.

4. Many said that No. 1 Kentucky would get their biggest test in the SEC at Florida. Florida is down this season, but unexpected things happen in rivalry games. That said, it’s Gameday, and when Kentucky shows up fired up to play, they tend to embarrass people.

5. The AAC has an important one as No. 23 SMU travels to conference unbeaten Tulsa. The Mustangs were buried a bit prematurely after a rough start against good competition and they’ve been significantly better with Markus Kennedy in the lineup. Tulsa’s received great guard play, but played a very light schedule, even within the American.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 2 Gonzaga at San Francisco, 11:30 p.m.
  • Northwestern at No. 5 Wisconsin, 5:30 p.m.
  • No. 6 Arizona at Arizona State, 4:30 p.m.
  • No. 8 Kansas at Oklahoma State, 2:00 p.m.
  • Texas Tech at No. 11 Iowa State, 2:00 p.m.
  • No. 12 North Carolina at Boston College, 3:00 p.m.
  • No. 13 Utah at Colorado, 10:00 p.m.
  • Drake at No. 14 Northern Iowa, 8:00 p.m.
  • No. 19 Baylor at No. 15 West Virginia, 12:00 p.m.
  • Missouri State at No. 16 Wichita State, 8:00 p.m.
  • No. 21 Oklahoma at TCU, 3:00 p.m.
  • DePaul at No. 22 Butler, 3:30 p.m.

OTHER GAMES TO WATCH

  • Creighton at St. John’s, 12:00 p.m.
  • Marquette at Seton Hall, 12:00 p.m.
  • Illinois at Michigan State, 12:00 p.m.
  • Tennessee at Georgia, 12:00 p.m.
  • Temple at Memphis, 1:00 p.m.
  • Providence at Xavier, 1:00 p.m.
  • Purdue at Minnesota, 3:00 p.m.
  • Syracuse at Pittsburgh, 4:00 p.m.
  • Nebraska at Penn State, 4:00 p.m.
  • UConn at Tulane, 6:00 p.m.
  • Alabama at LSU, 6:00 p.m.
  • UCLA at Cal, 8:00 p.m.