#16 Villanova vs. Georgetown (9:00 AM PT, FS1)
A quip from the good folks over at VuHoops opened up my eyes to the fact that Villanova head coach Jay Wright is 18-12 in his career against Georgetown, a surprisingly pedestrian mark for the two-time National Championship coach. Georgetown has had a rollercoaster season off-the-court, but has somehow managed their way to an 11-5 record, despite two road losses in Big East play.
Illinois vs. Rutgers (9:00 AM PT, BTN)
The Scarlet Knights have been the hands-down surprise of the Big Ten this year, as they currently sit 3-1 in league play, with help from a six-game overall winning streak. Illinois isn’t far behind as they’ve won three of their last four, anchored by some improved bench play from guys like guard Alan Griffin, a high-energy piece out of New York. Who will claim this grindfest in Champaign?
#3 Kansas vs. #4 Baylor (10:00 AM PT, CBS)
They say that the only thing better than #1 versus #2 would be #3 versus #4 and that’s what college basketball delivers on Saturday. Kansas has been the same ole Jayhawks, who will contend for another Big 12 crown and likely fall along the #1 seed line in March, unless the wheels fall off the wagon. Baylor has been the surprise group, with Scott Drew’s guys sitting at 12-1.
Tennessee vs. South Carolina (10:00 AM PT, SECN)
The SEC has an absolutely loaded slate to keep an eye on, but this league meeting really sticks out to me. Yes, the Gamecocks are 8-6 and hold losses to Stetson and Boston University, but Frank Martin is finding answers in this depth chart with unxpected pieces. The Vols haven’t been the same since losing Lamonte Turner, yet the addition of wing Santiago Vescovi has helped.
Xavier vs. Creighton (11:00 AM PT, FOX)
The Bluejays and Musketeers are a combined 1-4 in their last five games, leaving the room for margin for these two regular NCAA Tournament squads to shrink by the day. Creighton let a key win get away in a collapse against Villanova. Xavier just hasn’t been as sharp as their fan base is accustomed to. Both these rosters need to do some soul searching and piece things together fast.
#20 Penn State vs. Wisconsin (11:15 AM PT, BTN)
After picking up five straight victories, Penn State was stunned by Rutgers just one night before Wisconsin got clipped by Illinois. What an interesting coincidence heading into Saturday’s slate of games, with two programs that could use a bounce-back win. Badgers forward Nate Ruevers has really come along in his junior year, but he’ll have his hands full with Penn State’s bigs.
#18 Virginia vs. Syracuse (1:00 PM PT, ESPN)
Maybe not the most television friendly game to take in on Friday, it’ll sure be interesting to see what happens when the Orange and Cavaliers meet for the second time this season. In their season opening meeting, the two teams combined for just 82 points in a 48-34 victory for Virginia. Syracuse has gotten better offensively since then. Maybe it’s the Orange’s big breathrough game?
Seton Hall vs. Marquette (1:00 PM PT, CBSSN)
A Big East clash featuring two guards who were both named to the Wooden Award Watchlist, what an individual showdown this one should be between Seton Hall’s Myles Powell and Marquette’s Markus Howard. The Pirates have won three straight as Powell’s averaged 22.0 PPG, while Howard hasn’t tallied less than 19 points in a game since December 1st.
#17 West Virginia vs. #22 Texas Tech (3:00 PM PT, ESPN2)
In a league full of top-level coaches, two of the Big 12’s best square off on Saturday when West Virginia’s Bob Huggins and Texas Tech’s Chris Beard meet in Morgantown. Few expected this young Mountaineers group to be this good this quickly and a similar narrative could be attributed to the Red Raiders, who own a win over Louisville already. This one won’t be for the faint of heart.
UCLA vs. USC (7:00 PM PT, ESPN2)
A battle of two legendary Pac-12 rivals will take on a bit of a different feeling with two program sitting at very different junctures. UCLA is still discovering themselves under first-year head coach Mick Cronin, having lost four of their last five (outside a confounding win at Washington). For USC, they were coasting until a road trip to Washington went sour. Ah, the chaos of L.A. basketball.