By Seth Davis
March 02, 2012
The Weekend Forecast
Seth Davis' Take 5
Source:SI's Seth Davis weighs in on the five hottest topics in college hoops.
Saturday, March 3
4 p.m. (CBS) No. 19 Louisville (22-8, 10-7 Big East) at No. 2 Syracuse (29-1, 16-1)
I love seeing all these Senior Day ceremonies, but I'll be especially happy to see Scoop Jardine take his final bow in the Carrier Dome. Jardine's five years at Syracuse has been beset by injuries, off-court issues and unmet expectations, but he has become one of the steadiest, toughest and most efficient point guards in the country. He's also one of the most likable players I've ever dealt with. On a team lacking individual star power, Jardine is the glue that holds things together. Syracuse doesn't technically have much to play for -- it has already wrapped up the Big East regular season crown and is virtually assured of a number one seed -- but it's impossible to imagine the Orange falling flat in Jardine's and Kris Joseph's final home game.
7 p.m. (ESPN) No. 6 North Carolina (26-4, 13-2 ACC) at No. 4 Duke (26-4, 13-2)
Neither team has lost since their first meeting, and both have gotten better. Even though North Carolina is down a man in the backcourt thanks to Dexter Strickland's knee injury, the Tar Heels have done a better job attacking teams off the dribble and going to their strength inside. That has helped Tyler Zeller establish himself as the ACC Player of the Year, and John Henson isn't far behind. Duke, meanwhile, showed it can fight hard and play tough defense -- especially during its win at Florida State. The Blue Devils have been perfect on the road in league play this season, and yet they've lost twice at home. I don't see them losing a third time. The difference in the first game was three-point shooting (Duke made 14 threes in the win to Carolina's one). You'd think Duke would be even more comfortable shooting in its own gym.
2 p.m. (Big East Network) No. 11 Georgetown (22-6, 12-5 Big East) at No. 8 Marquette (24-6, 13-4)
When these two teams faced off in D.C. on Jan. 4, the Hoyas overcame a 17-point deficit to win by three, courtesy of Hollis Thompson's three-pointer with 24 seconds to play. With the location switching to Milwaukee, I'll go with the home team, especially considering the Golden Eagles just had a five-game win streak snapped at Cincinnati. I like Marquette sophomore guard Vander Blue's toughness, but there's never a reason for him to take 13 shots in a game as he did against the Bearcats. (He only made three.) I'm guessing he'll be a little more prudent in this one.
7 p.m. (Fox Sports Southwest) No. 9 Baylor (25-5, 12-5 Big 12) at Iowa State (21-9, 11-6)
Baylor might be the most maligned five-loss, top-10 team in history, but the fact is, the Bears have not shown the ability to win tough games. One exception came on Feb. 13, when they blitzed the Cyclones by 15 in Waco. Now, however, they have to come to Ames, where Iowa State, which is one of the most dangerous three-point shooting teams in the country, will probably not go 8-for-26 from behind the arc like they did the first time. Iowa State is improving each time out. Even Frank Haith said the Cyclones won "the effort game" for most of Wednesday night before Mizzou finally put them away.
7 p.m. (The Mtn.) No. 21 San Diego State (23-6, 9-4 Mountain West) at TCU (17-12, 7-6)
TCU has been quite the spoiler lately. Over the last two weeks, the Horned Frogs have beaten three of the Mountain West's four at-large candidates at home: Colorado State, UNLV and New Mexico. Now Jim Christian's club gets a shot at the fourth, and I think their aim will be true. After losing three in a row, the Aztecs have rebounded to win three straight, thanks largely to the fact that Jamaal Franklin appears to be recovered from his sprained ankle. (He had 19 points and 12 rebounds in SDSU's win over Boise State Wednesday night.) Still, this will be the final home game for Horned Frogs guard Hank Thorns, and as he showed in dropping 32 against UNLV, when he gets hot, Thorns smells like a rose.
Noon (Big East Network) West Virginia (18-12, 8-9 Big East) at South Florida (19-11, 12-5)
This might be the most bubblicious game of the weekend. These teams have been headed in opposite directions the last few weeks. West Virginia has lost seven of its last 10 to fall under .500 in the Big East, while the Bulls have won six of their last seven to put themselves within reach of an at-large bid. The loser is going to find itself on the outside looking in (for now), so between those trends -- and the fact that this game will be played in Tampa -- I'll go with the home team. Either way it won't be pretty: South Florida ranks dead last in the Big East in scoring (60.1) and it's first in fewest points allowed (57.4).
2 p.m. (CBS) Washington (21-8, 14-3 Pac 12) at UCLA (17-13, 10-7)
Suffice to say, this has not been the greatest week for Ben Howland. The only thing more troubling than the revelations made by my colleague George Dohrmann was the tepid support Howland subsequently received from his athletic director and chancellor. A team can react to adversity in one of two ways -- by falling apart or coming together. I think it's going to be the latter, as evidenced by the Bruins' 31-point thrashing of Washington State Thursday night. UCLA has actually been playing some pretty decent basketball lately, including during a 65-63 loss at Arizona last weekend. Washington has been on a tear of its own, having won 10 of its last 11, but when the Huskies played UCLA at home on Feb. 2, they had to erase a 10-point deficit with seven minutes to play just to win by two.
2:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network) Northwestern (17-12, 7-10 Big Ten) at Iowa (16-14, 8-9)
It can't be easy being a Northwestern basketball fan. Three times in the last three weeks, the Wildcats have been on the verge of a breakthrough victory, only to have it slip away. The latest heartbreak came Wednesday night, when they rallied to tie Ohio State at home in the final seconds, only to watch Jared Sullinger's hook shot sink them with 3.1 seconds on the clock. Now, Northwestern is playing the wrong team at the wrong time in the wrong place. The Hawkeyes have recently beaten Indiana and Wisconsin at home, and they dominated Nebraska on the road Wednesday night. In Matt Gatens, the Hawkeyes have one of the few players in the Big Ten who can match John Shurna bucket for bucket. The Hawkeyes are a good team playing at home that really needs this win to vault to the right side of the bubble. That's a tough combination for any team, much less a snake-bitten one like Northwestern, to overcome.
Sunday, March 4
Noon (CBS) No. 1 Kentucky (28-1, 14-0 SEC) at No. 16 Florida (22-8, 10-5)
Behold, perfection. Kentucky did not technically win every single game during the regular season, but it has lorded over the SEC -- and college basketball in general -- all year long. This would be the perfect time for the Wildcats to lose if Florida was at full strength. The Gators, alas, look like a walking MASH unit these days, and they are not as tough without 6-7 sophomore forward Will Yeguete, who broke his foot two weeks ago and is done for the year. Florida can still get lights-out from three, so Kentucky better bring its A game, but I think the Wildcats are going to primed and ready to claim their chance at history.
4 p.m. (CBS) No. 10 Ohio State (24-6, 12-5 Big Ten) at No. 5 Michigan State (24-6, 13-4)
Draymond Green has been the best player in the Big Ten this season, and he should be a shoo-in as a first team All-America. But he needs a little more help from his friends. That was painfully evident Tuesday night, when Green scored 29 points but was the only Spartan in double figures in a 15-point loss at Indiana. The problem wasn't so much that nobody else was scoring, it was that nobody else even wanted to shoot. The Buckeyes, of course, have their own problems, not the least of which is poor timing in having to face Michigan State at the Breslin Center following a loss -- and with a chance to win an outright Big Ten title, no less. I'll say it one more time: Nobody puts Day Day in a corner. I just can't imaging him going out with a loss.
Last Pickoff: 7-3               Overall: 92-38

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