Scouting Report: Kentucky and chaos, Marcus Smart and NCAA chase highlight week
Every Monday morning, One and One will examine the upcoming slate of games and highlight individual matchups that intrigue us in the weekly Scouting Report.
Marquette's Todd Mayo and Providence's Bryce Cotton, Tuesday. There is plenty of bubble consternation in the final week of the regular season for the big leagues, and these two Big East teams are at the epicenter. Adding to the drama: The Friars are seeking their first NCAA tournament invite since 2004, which would cap a stellar career for the under-the-radar Cotton. A win over the Golden Eagles is all but required. But same goes for Marquette, too, which is led by Davante Gardner and Jamil Wilson but needs someone like Mayo to slow the Friars' top scorer.
Utter chaos and Kentucky, Tuesday and Saturday. The second meeting with Florida beckons on the weekend ... but it's fair enough to ask what shape the Wildcats will be in when Alabama rolls into Lexington on Tuesday night. The Tide haven't recorded a true road victory all season and are 6-10 in the SEC. It would be a new low for John Calipari if he followed his ejection at South Carolina with a defeat versus Alabama. But assuming the Wildcats rebound at home – and they most likely will – are they in any shape to avoid a debilitating beat-down in Gainesville?
Louisville's Russ Smith and SMU's Nic Moore, Wednesday. By now, it's clear Larry Brown will have the Mustangs in the NCAA tournament. By the end of the week, SMU could also have a league title, or at least a share of it. It's a tough one-two punch to end the regular season, with the Cardinals' visit followed by a trip to Memphis. But if Moore (14.1 points per game) can find a way to spark his team against the Cards, the possibilities are tantalizing entering the weekend.
Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart and Iowa State's DeAndre Kane, Saturday. The Cowboys could reassure their NCAA tournament fate in this meeting, especially if they beat Kansas State on Monday. Either way, the showdown between the guy who has been the best lead guard in the Big 12 (Kane) and the guy who was supposed to be the best lead guard in the Big 12 (Smart) should be terrific theater. And Oklahoma State needs all the wins it can get. New Mexico's Kendall Williams and San Diego State's Xavier Thames, Saturday. When the Aztecs entered the Pit two weeks ago, the Lobos grabbed momentum toward a Mountain West title with the win. The regular season championship may come down to the rematch at Viejas Arena, and Thames (16.6 points per game) will seek to atone for a 3-of-15 meltdown in the first meeting. Williams, averaging 17.1 points and 4.9 assists per game, can stake a claim as best guard in the league with a big effort in a win.