Weekend Picks: Notre Dame-Duke, Louisville-Virginia highlight action
Saturday, 9 p.m., ESPN
In most seasons, this would be the marquee game of the SEC regular season. Unfortunately, Florida, which fell at Vanderbilt Wednesday night for its fourth loss in six games, is not ready to play its part as the plucky challenger. Even without Trey Lyles, who is out with an undisclosed illness, the Wildcats’ defense should overwhelm an offensively challenged Gators squad.
Kentucky 76, Florida 60
No. 10 Notre Dame (21-3) at No. 4 Duke (19-3)
Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS
If this is anything like the first meeting in South Bend, it will be the most entertaining game of the weekend. Both of these teams are lethal offensively but susceptible defensively. A big question is whether Duke will convert better from the foul line after making just 10-of-20 attempts in the first meeting. Returning home to Cameron Indoor Stadium should cure that ill.
Duke 78, Notre Dame 71
No. 9 Louisville (19-3) at No. 3 Virginia (20-1)
Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN
For a team that supposedly has some flaws, the Louisville Cardinals sure have won a lot of games. Guards Terry Rozier and Chris Jones have been shooting the ball much better the last three weeks, but they are going to be facing the best perimeter defensive team in the country. Plus, try as he may, try as he might, Rick Pitino still has no bench.
Virginia 72, Louisville 66
No. 24 Georgetown (15-7) at No. 7 Villanova (20-2)
Saturday, 2 p.m., Fox
Georgetown has been surprisingly vulnerable at home of late, but that was not the case on Jan. 19, when the Hoyas shredded Nova by 20 points at the Verizon Center. Freshman forward Isaac Copeland came off the bench to score 17 points in that game, but he has only averaged 7.3 points in his last three. Returning home, with the previous meeting fresh in their minds, you have to believe the Wildcats will exact their revenge.
Villanova 75, Georgetown 64
No. 8 Kansas (19-3) at Oklahoma State (15-7)
Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN
Kansas has been on an absolute tear, winning five in a row, including Monday’s 13-point pasting of Iowa State in Lawrence. That gave them a two-game lead atop the Big 12. I’ve said all along I thought the Jayhawks would win their 11th straight title, but they have to lose again sometime, right? Right?
Oklahoma State 78, Kansas 77 (OT)
No. 19 Baylor (17-5) at No. 15 West Virginia (18-4)
Saturday, Noon, ESPNU
The Mountaineers have been due for a stinker, and they got their money’s worth in a 19-point loss at Oklahoma on Tuesday night. West Virginia put very little energy into its vaunted fullcourt pressure, which was a big reason why the Sooners only committed 13 turnovers. Baylor will hang tough, but I’m guessing Bob Huggins was not in a great mood the last few days during practice.
West Virginia 75, Baylor 70
Saturday, 8 p.m., ESPNU
This is going to be the biggest game in Tulsa in a long, long time. The Golden Hurricane, under first-year coach Frank Haith, are undefeated in AAC play. Larry Brown’s Mustangs are 9-2 but just lost a crusher at home to Cincinnati on Thursday night. Logic would dictate that Tulsa, which does not play any seniors, will be overwhelmed by the circumstances, but I feel something magical in this one.
Tulsa 74, SMU 71
Saturday, 7 p.m.
This has been a circle-your-calendar game ever since Yale knocked off UConn in Storrs back on Dec. 5. For a team that returned a supposedly stellar lineup headed by the backcourt tandem of Wesley Saunders and Siyani Chambers, Harvard sure has had a hard time scoring. Instead, the Crimson have had to grind out wins with a slower tempo and stingy defense. That won’t cut it at Yale, which is undefeated in the Ivy thanks to the inside-outside tandem of Justin Sears and Javier Duren, who are two of the league's top six scorers.
Yale 68, Harvard 63
Sunday, 3:15 p.m., Big Ten Network
Maryland is still tied for second in the Big Ten standings, but this team has clearly lost its mojo. Melo Trimble has hit the freshman wall. He has shot 50 percent from the field just once in his last 10 games, and he was 0-for-13 combined in his last two outings. He’ll come around eventually, but Iowa is a confident team right now. I expect the Hawkeyes to hold serve at home.
Iowa 74, Maryland 66
San Diego State (18-5) at Boise State (16-6)
Sunday, 6 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Very quietly, the Aztecs have won seven of their last eight games, including on the road at Wyoming on Jan. 14. Boise State has also won its last six, even though its second-leading scorer, Anthony Drmic, suffered a season-ending ankle injury in early December. The Cowboys are second in the Mountain West in scoring (72.5) and first in both three-point percentage (41.0) and free throw percentage (72.7). They also commit the fewest turnovers in the league (10.0 per game). As good as SDSU is defensively, the Aztecs still don’t have enough offensive punch to pull off this win on the road.
Boise State 68, San Diego State 65