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Syracuse-Marquette, Wisconsin-Michigan headline weekend hoops

The Weekend Forecast
 
 
Seth Davis' Take 5
Source:SI
SI.com's Seth Davis weighs in on the five hottest topics in college hoops.
 
Saturday, Jan. 7
 
1:00 p.m.Missouri State (9-6, 2-1 Missouri Valley) at Indiana State (10-4, 2-1)
The Sycamores caused some waves when they won at Vanderbilt back on Dec. 17, but that hasn't done them much good in the Valley so far. They were putrid in their loss at Northern Iowa, where they made just three of their 15 three-point attempts, but I'm guessing in this must-win situation they'll do fare with friendly home rims. Defensively, Indiana State's top priority will be to contain the Tigers' leading scorer, Kyle Weems (16.2 ppg), who is also ranked in the top 10 in the Valley in rebounds (7.4) and field goal percentage (43.1).
 
4 p.m. (Big East Network)No. 20 Marquette (12-3, 1-1 Big East) at No. 1 Syracuse (16-0, 3-0)
The Golden Eagles are a mystery wrapped inside an enigma. They had Georgetown down 17 points on the road Wednesday night but let the game slip away to suffer their third loss in five games. The problem for Marquette in the second half was defense; the Hoyas shot 76 percent from the field after intermission. That's a bad deficiency against a Syracuse team that is leading the Big East in scoring (81.1 ppg) and field goal percentage (49.9).
 
1:30 p.m. (Big 12 Network)No. 7 Missouri (14-0, 1-0 Big 12) at No. 23 Kansas State (11-2, 0-1)
How long can Missouri keep this up? Despite being a team with no height (it plays a four-guard lineup) and little depth (which just got littler thanks to freshman guard Kadeem Green's decision to transfer), the Tigers are undefeated and lead the nation in field goal percentage. So what happens when the shots aren't falling? We could find out Saturday in Little Manhattan, where the Wildcats will be in need of a win following their debacle in Lawrence Wednesday night. You all know I love desperate home teams, and I'm quite confident Missouri will not go undefeated this season. Hence, the mild upset.
 
3 p.m. (Big Ten Network)No. 6 Ohio State (14-2, 2-1 Big Ten) at Iowa (10-6, 2-1)
Let's be honest, I wouldn't have envisioned even including this game in my pickoff a week ago. It seems Iowa hasn't played a relevant basketball game since Roy Marble was there. Yet, the Hawkeyes scored back-to-back Big Ten road wins over Wisconsin and Minnesota thanks largely to Marble's son, Roy Jr., a 6-foot-5 sophomore who leads the team in assists (3.6) and is second in scoring (10.9). Fran McCaffrey is only in his second year at Iowa, but his reclamation project seems to be ahead of schedule. A visit from Big Sully and the boys will slow things down, but if nothing else it's nice to see Iowa playing in a game of consequence again.
 
8 p.m. (Big East Network)No. 8 UConn (12-2, 2-1 Big East) at Rutgers (8-7, 0-2)
Yes, UConn only lost one starter from last season's national champs, but this is still a team that relies mostly on freshmen and sophomores. You could see how much this crew missed not having Jim Calhoun on the sidelines during Wednesday night's loss at Seton Hall. Calhoun's three-game suspension is over now, and UConn is facing an even younger team in Rutgers, which has lost two straight since its double-overtime upset of Florida. Calhoun's top priority will be to somehow, some way, snap his lone junior, Alex Oriakhi, out of his season-long funk. Oriakhi did not score a point in 19 minutes against Seton Hall, and his numbers are way down across the board from his sophomore season.
 
Noon (MASN)No. 9 Georgetown (13-1, 3-0 Big East) at West Virginia (11-4, 2-1)
Unlike many teams atop the rankings, Georgetown has actually won significant road games over Alabama and Louisville. West Virginia is a decent team, far from a great one, but with a big-time opponent coming to Morgantown, the Mountaineers should ramp it up just high enough to win. None of the players in the Big East -- and few players in the country -- are playing better basketball than Kevin Jones. The Mountaineers' 6-8 senior forward is ranked sixth in the country in rebounds (11.6), plus he leads the Big East in scoring (19.6 ppg) and is second in field goal percentage (54.2).
 
7 p.m. (Comcast Sports Net)Georgia State (11-3, 3-0 CAA) at George Mason (11-4, 2-0)
Don't look now, but Ron Hunter's Georgia State Panthers have won 11 straight games and sit atop the standings in one of the best mid-major conferences in America. Georgia State served notice that it's for real by eking out a two-point road win at VCU Wednesday night behind 17 points and 11 rebounds from 6-5 senior guard Jihad Ali. The streak will end, however, in Fairfax, where the Patriots are increasingly looking like the team to beat in this league. They got a big boost three weeks ago when senior guard Andre Cornelius returned from suspension, and they scored an impressive road win Thursday night over an Old Dominion team that gave Missouri all it wanted last week.
 
6 p.m. (ESPNU)Miami (9-4, 0-0 ACC) at No. 21 Virginia (13-1, 0-0)
Miami has lost its fair share of games this season, but none since it got back to full strength two weeks ago. That's when the Hurricanes welcomed back 6-10 junior center Reggie Johnson, who missed the first nine games while recovering from a knee injury, and 6-5 senior forward DeQuan Jones, who was sitting out while the school investigated his potential involvement with rogue booster Nevin Shapiro. If this game were in late February I might be inclined to pick the Hurricanes, but I don't think they're ready to win a road game against a team that will really test their patience. Eventually, however, Miami is going to be a top-tier ACC team, and I'd be very surprised if it doesn't play in the NCAA tournament.
 
 
Sunday, Jan. 8
 
1:30 p.m. (CBS)No. 18 Wisconsin (12-4, 1-2 Big Ten) at No. 16 Michigan (12-2, 2-0)
Things I never thought I'd write: I'll bet the Badgers are relieved to get out of Madison. Wisconsin is riding a two-game losing streak into Ann Arbor, both coming at home to Iowa and Michigan State. Jordan Taylor seems to have regained his outside touch, but we've learned that overall, when the Badgers are not making shots (they were 5-for-22 from three-point land against the Spartans), they don't have much of a Plan B (got out-rebounded by 11). Meanwhile, Michigan did everything but win at Indiana on Thursday night. The Wolverines are fortunate this game is on Sunday instead of Saturday. The extra day to rest and prepare should allow them to scrape out a victory.
 
5:30 p.m. (Fox Sports Net)Arizona (10-4, 1-0 Pac 12) at USC (5-10, 0-2)
Calling Casey Stengel: Can't anyone in the Pac 12 play this game? On Thursday night, Arizona lost to a UCLA team that went 7-5 during the nonconference. Meanwhile, USC lost at home to an Arizona State team that came in with a 4-9 record. I'll go with Arizona here only because somebody has to win (I think), but right now the Wildcats' best wins this season are over St. John's in Madison Square Garden and Oakland at home. That's not much of a resume if you're in the hunt for an at-large bid.
 
Last Pickoff: 5-5               Overall: 35-15
 
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