Seth Davis makes his picks for this weekend's games, including Coach K's first shot at 1,000 wins as Duke takes on St. John's and a big matchup in the Big 12 as Texas faces Kansas.
Saturday, Noon, ESPN
When the Gamecocks beat Iowa State in Brooklyn on Jan. 3, the program was brimming with optimism. Lately? Not so much. South Carolina has lost four out of five games since, and it won’t get easier against a Kentucky squad that is doing a better job lately of not playing down to the level of its competition.
Kentucky 74, South Carolina 60
Saturday, 2 p.m., CBS
Texas finally got an encouraging performance out of sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor, who had 13 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in Monday’s win at TCU, his best game since returning two weeks ago from a shoulder injury. This is one of the shortest teams Bill Self has had at Kansas, which does not bode well in a road game against one of the best front lines in the country.
Texas 76, Kansas 70
Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN2
Baylor had a great opportunity to win at Kansas State last weekend before blowing a 14-point lead and losing by two. Oklahoma looked like a jayvee team in the first half against Kansas on Monday before storming back and losing by seven. So we’ve got two pretty good but inconsistent league rivals. I’ll take the home team.
Baylor 74, Oklahoma 70
Saturday, Noon, BTN
Aside from getting embarrassed at Wisconsin Tuesday night, the Hawkeyes have played pretty well on the road. Their problem has been in second halves. Purdue has now lost three of its last four and faces Indiana at home next. If the Boilermakers are going to have any shot at making the NCAA tournament, they need to earn at least a split. I spy a desperate home team.
Purdue 66, Iowa 63
Saturday, 4 p.m., CBS
Oregon continues to be unwilling to play defense and unable to find scoring outside of Joseph Young. UCLA got outclassed at Oregon State on Thursday night, when the Bruins had to play without center Tony Parker (back). Even if Parker plays in this one, he won't be at full strength, and that's a problem for a team that has no bench.
Oregon 70, UCLA 65
Saturday, 10 p.m., ESPNU
Colorado State crept into the rankings after winning its first 14 games, but the Rams have been more beatable in conference play. The Aztecs are riding a four-game win streak, but I don’t think they will be able to score enough to win a road game against the highest-scoring team in the Mountain West.
Colorado State 70, San Diego State 61
No. 5 Duke (16-2) at St. John’s (13-5)
Sunday, 2 p.m, Fox
Setting aside the hype surrounding Mike Krzyzewski’s pursuit of his 1,000th career win, St. John’s badly needs a win. The Red Storm have lost four of their last six games, but despite their history of playing lights out against Duke, they do not have enough depth to pull this one out.
Duke 71, St. John’s 61
Sunday, 8:30 p.m., ESPNU
The Utes are still licking their wounds from that thrashing at Arizona last weekend. That is literally the case with freshman center Jakob Poeltl, who sat out Wednesday’s win over Washington State because of an elbow injury. Even without him, Utah has enough size inside scoring to overcome Washington’s shot blocking stud Robert Upshaw.
Utah 72, Washington 64
No. 23 Indiana (15-4) at Ohio State(15-5)
The Hoosiers played their best 40 minutes of the season on Thursday night, when they shot a ridonkulous 15-for-22 from three-point range and blitzed Maryland by 19 points. Now they have to fight the swinging pendulum, and the reality that three-pointers don’t usually fall as freely on the road.
Ohio State 69, Indiana 65
Sunday, 3 p.m.
The Pirates built a nice lead over DePaul at home on Thursday night, but couldn’t finish the Blue Demons off. They will have a tougher time scratching out a road win against a Butler team that beat them in overtime two weeks ago.
Butler 62, Seton Hall 58