Utah welcomes back Jordan Loveridge and welcomes in UCLA for a Pac-12 matchup and more in this weekend of college basketball. Seth Davis makes his picks for the best games.
Saturday, 5:30 p.m., ESPN2
After losing three out of four, the Hurricanes took care of business by routing a bad College of Charleston squad at home this week, but the level of competition is going to be much tougher in this one. The Cavaliers were pushed at home by a plucky Davidson team but pulled away thanks to a career-high 25 points and 13 rebounds from 6-foot-8 junior forward Anthony Gill. Just what Virginia needs: another weapon.
Virginia 70, Miami 62
Saturday, Noon, Fox Sports 1
The Pirates may have lost freshman guard Isaiah Whitehead for the foreseeable future, but they still pulled off a surprising, confidence-building win over St. John’s Wednesday. The downside now is that the Wildcats will come into this matchup amped up and ready to play. It would help Villanova’s cause if 6-2 junior guard Dylan Ennis would snap out of his shooting slump.
Villanova 71, Seton Hall 65
The Terrapins may be one of the nation’s surprise teams, but they have played most of the season at less than full strength. That is not the case anymore, which should mean another win over a Minnesota squad that just dropped a road game against Purdue, which had been struggling the last few weeks.
Maryland 75, Minnesota 65
Saturday, 4 p.m.
My decision to rate the Horned Frogs a Sell-Plus in the Hoop Thoughts Stock Report was not taken took kindly by some of my Twitter followers. Here’s a chance for their team to prove me wrong.
West Virginia 76, TCU 67
Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPNU
A big reason Oklahoma has been playing better the last few weeks is the way sophomore point guard Jordan Woodard has improved at taking care of the ball. That will need to be the case against an athletic Baylor team that has been racking up easy wins against inferior competition.
Oklahoma 72, Baylor 70
Both of these teams are badly in need of a win. Illinois should get some good looks at the rim against Ohio State’s soft 2-3 zone, but the way the Illini have been shooting lately, I’m not sure that will be much of an advantage. As for the Buckeyes, freshman guard D’Angelo Russell needs to show he can perform well against good competition.
Ohio State 68, Illinois 61
Saturday, 8 p.m., CBSSN
Larry Eustachy’s Rams have been terrific in the nonconference, but hitting the road against a league foe is a different kind of challenge. I might like the Lobos at home, but since they are still without leading scorer Cullen Neal, who has not played since Nov. 20 because of a severely sprained ankle, I’ll go with the visitors in this one.
Colorado State 65, New Mexico 59
Sunday, 4 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Utah has done a wonderful job exceeding its considerably high preseason expectations, and the team will continue to improve now that 6-6 junior forward Jordan Loveridge has returned from injury. UCLA, meanwhile, is not built to win on the road. It will be a bumpy ride for the Bruins the rest of the season.
Utah 75, UCLA 66
The Jayhawks have been struggling on offense without freshman point guard Devonte Graham, who injured a toe in the win over Georgetown, but they should still have enough firepower to get by the Runnin’ Rebels at home. I realize UNLV freshman guard Rashad Vaughn is getting most of the pub (as well he should; he’s leading the Mountain West in scoring), but keep your eye on 6-11 sophomore forward Christian Wood. He’s a terrific shot blocker who was the offensive hero of the win over Arizona.
Kansas 72, UNLV 63
Sunday, 10 p.m., ESPNU
Aside from a head-scratching 15-point loss at DePaul in November, Stanford has been pretty consistent. The same was true for Washington until its pratfall at home against Stony Brook last week. The Huskies need to do a better job utilizing the free throw line, but that will be hard to do on the road against a tall team that plays a lot of zone.
Stanford 68, Washington 64