Weekend Picks: UCLA-Arizona, Gonzaga-St. Mary's highlight action
No. 3 Gonzaga (27-1) at Saint Mary’s (20-6)
Saturday, 10 p.m., ESPN2
The Gaels are usually supposed to be Gonzaga’s biggest test in the West Coast Conference, but that was not the case back on Jan. 22, when the Zags ripped Saint Mary’s by 21 points in Spokane. I don’t think homecourt advantage is going to make enough of a difference.
Gonzaga 74, Saint Mary’s 63
Saturday, 2:30 p.m., Fox
Villanova has been in the top 10 for most of the season and is quietly building a possible case for a No. 1 seed. Darrun Hilliard, who would be my choice for Big East player of the year, continued his hot shooting with an 18-point performance in Monday’s win over Seton Hall.
Villanova 76, Marquette 64
Saturday, 9 p.m., ESPN
The Bruins did a good job of playing themselves back into the bubble conversation, but now they are slip-slidin’ away. They blew a 10-point lead at Arizona State to lose by two on Wednesday, thanks largely to center Tony Parker’s no-show performance. It’s hard to imagine them doing better in Tucson against a far more formidable front line.
Arizona 78, UCLA 63
Miami (17-9) at No. 12 Louisville (20-6)
Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN
Rick Pitino said he would all but banish Chris Jones to Siberia, and then 24 hours after suspending him for an unspecified violation of team rules invited him back onto the team. Jones is obviously having issues beyond his inability to make three-pointers, but his on-ball defense is going to give Miami point guard Angel Rodriguez all sorts of problems.
Louisville 70, Miami 63
No. 14 Iowa State (19-6) at Texas (17-9)
Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN2
This is a fascinating match-up between two narratives—Iowa State’s troubles winning on the road vs. Texas’ troubles playing with cohesion. The Longhorns gave a good Oklahoma team all it wanted in Norman before losing by two on Tuesday night. Freshman center Myles Turner is coming off his best two-game stretch of the season (combined 42 points, 22 rebounds, nine blocks). Texas really needs this one which, combined with the homecourt advantage, will carry the day.
Texas 77, Iowa State 74
UMass (16-10) at No. 25 VCU (20-6)
Saturday, Noon, ESPN2
The Minutemen have been surging of late, winning six straight before falling at Rhode Island on Wednesday. VCU guard Treveon Graham is still nursing a high ankle sprain, but he only had to play 22 minutes in the Rams’ rout of Saint Louis, so he should be in good shape for this one.
VCU 76, UMass 67
Pittsburgh (17-10) at Syracuse (17-9)
Saturday, Noon, ESPN3
Jim Boeheim will tell you that over the years, no team has executed better against the Syracuse zone than Pittsburgh. The Panthers are running out of real estate to get a bid-clinching road win, and the Orange are coming off an emotional high after beating Louisville Wednesday night. I spy a swinging pendulum.
Pitt 68, Syracuse 65
No. 24 Ohio State (19-7) at Michigan (13-13)
Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS
The Wolverines are reeling amid a five-game losing streak, but the good news is the season is almost over. This game is worth watching just to catch D’Angelo Russell in action. He is a smooth scorer, but his passes are what makes you jump out of your seat.
Ohio State 75, Michigan 59
Sunday, 6 p.m., CBS Sports Network
When the Owls fell at SMU on Thursday night, it was the first time all season they lost with their full complement of players for an entire game. They’re going to be hungry for a bounce-back against a Tulsa team that started off 10-0 in the American but has been exposed the last two weeks, dropping two of its last three as the competition got tougher.
Temple 69, Tulsa 61
Michigan State (18-8) at Illinois (17-9)
Sunday, 7:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
Two weeks ago, the Illini won by five in the Breslin Center behind Malcolm Hill’s 19 points. Rayvonte Rice, who was the team’s leading scorer when he got injured in early January, did not play in that one, but he is back now, and Illinois is fighting for its tourney lives. In other words, it’s a desperate home team.
Illinois 67, Michigan State 62