College Basketball Weekend Guide: February 9
Things are starting to heat up in College Basketball as the Bubble Watch is officially on. There’s a lot to be made right now with the Pac-12 having a massively down year and the Big East beating itself up. There should be plenty of opportunities for some non-Power 6 schools to potentially steal a bid and we will focus on the big games for both ranked and bubble teams.
19 Wisconsin at 7 Michigan 11am CT FOX
Huge game in Ann Arbor as the streaking Badgers take on the stumbling Wolverines. Wisconsin has played their way into the Big Ten title talks while Michigan has let the others in after such a strong start. Wisconsin sits just one game behind Michigan and there are five total teams within 1.5 games of the top spot. Michigan’s defense continues to be strong while Wisconsin is riding the hot hand of my current Big Ten POTY Ethan Happ.
11 Virginia Tech at Clemson 11am CT ESPN 2
Clemson has a strange resume, Lipscomb is their best win and they have no bad losses. They let a huge game slip away a couple weeks back at NC State which would have put them on the right side of the bubble. Now they need a few wins and this could be a big one. Virginia Tech has struggled since they lost Justin Robinson. The offense is a bit out of whack, but they still have a strong defense. Clemson will need to play a strong offensive game to win.
Providence at St. John’s 11am CT CBSSN
Providence’s season is hanging on by a thread with the Friars losing their last 3 games despite getting AJ Reeves back from injury. St. John’s just completed the season sweep of Marquette winning in Milwaukee. In that game, Shamorie Ponds proved why he is one of the top players in not just the Big East, but the country. For the Johnnies it is about playing to their style and not forcing shots. Providence needs to play strong defense and defend the paint.
14 Villanova at 10 Marquette 1:30pm CT FOX
As I mentioned above, Marquette is coming off a home loss to St. John’s, possibly looking ahead to this showdown with Villanova, who remains unbeaten in Big East play. The Wildcats got all they could handle from an undermanned Creighton team earlier this week and frankly should have lost in regulation. But good teams find ways to win and that’s what Nova did. Phil Booth has been off lately and it’s been Gillespie filling in scoring. For Marquette, someone besides Markus Howard needs to score, they should dominate the glass against Villanova and getting 2nd chance points will be crucial.
16 Louisville at 22 Florida State 3pm CT ESPN 2
How about the job Chris Mack has done this year at Louisville? He returned zero double digit scorers from a season ago and has this team just half a game back of the ACC crown. Truly impressive. Florida State has had a rough run following that devastating loss to Duke with losses at Pitt and BC. They have bounced back from that with 4 straight over inferior teams but need to find some consistency to play their way into a better seeding for the tournament. This would be a huge win for both teams, but if you’re asking who needs it more, it is clearly Florida State.
18 Texas Tech at Oklahoma 3pm CT ESPNU
Once upon a time Oklahoma was ranked and looked like they might actually be a contender in the Big 12, 10 games into conference play and the Sooners have won just 3 games. They are in desperation mode and need a win to keep any hopes of the tournament alive. Texas Tech is just 1.5 games behind Big 12 leader Kansas State and they have a real chance to not only win the Big 12 but land a top-4 seed in the tourney. Jarrett Culver is the real deal, but as we’ve seen he can’t do it all himself.
2 Duke at 3 Virginia 5pm CT ESPN
I’m not sure if you heard, but Duke and Virginia are playing this Saturday…that’s right the rematch of the year following Duke’s narrow win at Cameron Indoor takes place this weekend. The status of Ty Jerome is still unknown and will be a huge factor in this game. Jerome does so many things for this team but arguably his most important is setting up and taking extra eyes off Kyle Guy. Duke has Tre Jones back and he’s playing impressive ball right now. If Jerome is out you’d have to expect a healthy dose of Jones covering Kyle Guy. DeAndre Hunter had a nice game last time and remains the key for Virginia (assuming Jerome plays). Duke needs to hit from 3, they shot just 2-14 in the first meeting.
Kansas State at Baylor 5pm CT ESPN 2
I doubt many eyes will be on this one given it’s time slot opponent but this is an intriguing one in the Big 12. Kansas State is fresh off their senior class’s first win over Kansas while Baylor is just one game behind the Wildcats for 1st place in the Big 12. Offense is the key for Kansas State, we know what they can do on the defensive end, but they are maddeningly inconsistent on offense, I’m sure Bruce Weber would agree. I really don’t know too much about Baylor, they have some nice wins and head scratching losses, which is par for the course lately for them. This will be a nice TV2 option.
Creighton at Seton Hall 7pm CT CBSSN
This is as bubble as it gets, the Pirates and Jays were flying high just a few short weeks ago and following tumultuous Januaries have found themselves in desperate need of a win. Creighton let one slip at Villanova earlier this week despite missing their leading scorer. Martin Krampelj is key for the Jays as he should eat up the weak Seton Hall interior. The Pirates were once flirting with a ranking before their horrid run began at DePaul. Now, they are holding on for dear life and thanking the basketball gods that Kentucky and Maryland have played well. Playing a full 40 minutes and limiting turnovers is the focus for the Hall.
Utah State at San Diego State 9pm CT ESPN 3
The Aggies are one of the NET darlings this year coming into the weekend at 33. There’s no saying what the committee will make of that but for now this is what we have to go off of. San Diego State is always a tough game especially on the road, just ask Nevada from a year ago. Utah State pretty much can only afford to lose to the Wolfpack if they want a shot at an at-large bid. This feels like a trap game.
Washington at Arizona State 9pm CT ESPN
Arizona State got absolutely obliterated at home by a bad Washington State team this week. Their bubble has already just about burst, but their saving grace is that Washington remains unbeaten in Pac-12 play. The Huskies are off to one of their best starts in conference play ever following their road win at Arizona. This is the 2nd leg of the daunting Arizona trip and they have to be feeling pretty good about it. Guard play wins this game, Jaylen Nowell and Matisse Thybulle are one of the best duos in the country with Thybulle being one of the nation’s leader in steals.