College basketball Saturday viewing guide: The madness continues as we inch closer to March

Jamie Squire

Just another jam-packed Saturday in college basketball. These haven't been too eventful the past few weeks. You probably won't miss much. Those last two sentences weren't penned seriously.

Hit it, Rockapella.

Kent State at Ohio (11 a.m./ESPNU)

There are worse first hours of basketball to watch if you're a junkie looking to kill time before the noon tips. Ohio is one of the most offensively efficient teams in the country, and Kent State has scored at least 82 points in each of its past three games. The Bobcats are looking to stay just a game behind undefeated Akron in the East Division standings.

Central Connecticut State at Mount St. Mary's (11:30 a.m./MSG)

This game between two middling NEC teams is also taking place before noon.

Villanova at Connecticut (Noon/ESPN)

Villanova was the final team to make the cut in the mock bracket produced by the college basketball writers in Indianapolis this week. It's an exercise that has run its course (reading about media members "having a lot more respect for the process" has become as tiresome a February tradition as Dick Vitale getting wacky in the Duke student section), but the point remains that the Wildcats need some wins in coin flip games like these if they want to go dancing. I wouldn't advise anyone to bet against a home team after what we've seen over the past month, but I think worries over UConn's ability to get up for this game after their emotional upset of Syracuse on Wednesday are definitely justified.

Xavier at Dayton (Noon/ESPN2)

The Flyers are a total of 15 points away from being 7-3 and tied for third place in the A-10. As it is, they're 3-7 and wouldn't make the conference tournament if it started today. Beating their arch-rivals at home - who are 7-3 in league play - would be a nice first step to a potential final month surge.

No. 21 Notre Dame at Providence (Noon/SNY/MASN)

The Friars, whom Rick Pitino recently said are playing the best basketball in the Big East, are riding their first three-game league winning streak since the 2008-09 season. PC hasn't won four straight Big East games since 2004. Also of note is that senior guard Vincent Council is three assists away from breaking the career mark set by Ernie DiGregorio back in 1973.

No. 25 Kentucky at Tennessee (1 p.m./CBS)

Life without Nerlens Noel begins for Kentucky against a border rival they beat by 10 back on Jan. 15. Kyle Wiltjer was the star of stars on that night, coming off the bench to score 17 points and help quell every Volunteer rally. No one knows what the Cats are going to look like without their star center, but A Sea of Blue takes its best guess.

No. 16 Pittsburgh at No. 18 Marquette (1 p.m./CBS)

The only game of the day pitting two ranked foes against one another is a rematch of an overtime tilt on Jan. 12 in which Marquette picked up an ever-rare Big East win inside the Petersen Events Center. The Golden Eagles were helped in that game by the absence of Pitt point guard Tray Woodall, who left early in the first half after suffering a concussion. Woodall leads the Panthers in scoring (10.9), assists (5.4) and steals (1.4), and recently became just the seventh player in school history to record 1,000 points and 500 assists.

St. Joseph's at LaSalle (1 p.m./NBC Sports Network)

LaSalle hasn't won an outright Big 5 title since 1990, and hasn't won a share of the championship since 1997. The Explorers can keep their outright hopes alive and clinch a share of the title with a win at The Palestra on Saturday.

Rutgers at DePaul (1 p.m./ESPNU)

I've been tailgating for this game since 5 p.m. on Friday. Don't be surprised if you see these two dueling again in "The DePaul" (the nickname given to the first game of the Big East Tournament, which always features the last place team in the conference...which is usually DePaul), which this year will be the 11/14 game on that Tuesday night of the tournament. Finally, the sports world gets The DePaul in primetime so it can throw the collective viewing party it's always dreamed of.

Oklahoma at No. 17 Oklahoma State (1:30 p.m./YES/Altitude)

Bedlam II has the potential to be better than Bedlam I, as the Cowboys have won six straight and the Sooners also appear to be playing their best basketball of the season. Marcus Smart has been the OSU frontman all season, but Markel Brown is finally starting to generate some serious national buzz. That will happen after you drill 7-of-8 three-pointers, a feat Brown accomplished against Texas Tech on Wednesday.

No. 7 Florida at Auburn (1:30 p.m./MSG)

How big is this game down in Tiger land? So huge that it's sharing a headline with news of someone joining the football team's support the staff.


The blurb in the story makes sure to point out that the gentleman in question will not actually be an Auburn coach. Still, he's more than important enough to share the spotlight with hosting the No. 7 team in the country.

Purdue at No. 1 Indiana (2 p.m./ESPN)

Indiana beat Purdue by (approximately) 175 points in Lafayette, prompting the college hoops world to wonder aloud whether or not the Hoosiers were evolving into the first "great" team in the country. Then they collapsed in the final minute and lost to Illinois a week later. They're still a lot better than Purdue though.

Virginia Tech at NC State (2 p.m./ESPN2)

Virginia Tech, which began the James Johnson era 7-0, has gone 2-11 since Dec. 23. It's like my great grandmother always said, "nothing good ever happens after Christmas Eve Eve." I've actually never heard anyone say that in my life, I just didn't know where to take the blurb after the first sentence. NC State wins easily and Rodney Purvis does something GIFable.

Army at Navy (2 p.m./CBS Sports Network)

This is the only rivalry in college sports where I don't cringe when I hear clichés like "you can throw out the records when these two square off" hurled in its direction. Army/Navy is about as pure as it gets in American sports, and there won't be two teams who will play harder on Saturday.

VMI at Campbell (2 p.m./MASN)

A battle for a share (or sole custody in VMI's case) of second place in the North Division of the Big South standings. Go ahead and tell the family you can't because you have plans this afternoon.

SMU at Tulane (2:30 p.m./Fox Sports Regional)

Ok you're going to have to work with me a little bit here, 2-4 time slot. It's like my great grandmother used to tell me, "it's not always rainbows and butterflies, it's compromise that moves us along." And then she'd say "yeah" real sultry like. Always creeped me out. First part is still applicable though.

Creighton at Evansville (3 p.m./ESPNU)

It's taken two weeks for the main debate surrounding Creighton to go from "are they good enough to reach the Final Four" to "do they really deserve to be in the tournament right now?" Colt Ryan and company would like to give even more ammo to the folks who think the answer to the latter question is no.

Missouri at Arkansas (4 p.m./ESPN)

Perhaps the country's most notoriously bad road team playing at perhaps the country's most notoriously stellar home team. Which only means Missouri will probably win by 50. Did you know that the Tigers are the only team in the country with six players averaging double figures? Because the Tigers are the only team in the country with six players averaging double figures.

UCLA at Stanford (4 p.m./ESPN2)

College basketball fans want UCLA to happen more than your best friend wants you to start watching "Duck Dynasty." I f---ing watched like three episodes in a row, all right. Yes, I was entertained, but the fact that the shows are so obviously pre-planned made me not want to watch anymore. Can we stop with this now? It's been like six months. Also, UCLA's never going to least not the way these people want it to.

No. 11 Butler vs. Fordham (4 p.m./CBS Sports Network)

Butler could get Andrew Smith back a game ahead of schedule, but they shouldn't need him against a Fordham squad on the verge of losing its sixth straight.

No. 24 Colorado State at Air Force (4 p.m./Altitude)

Who would have thought a month ago that this game would be more important to the Mountain West title race than UNLV/San Diego State? If the Rams win a few more and keep climbing in the rankings, then the "Larry Eustachy: The Resurrection" stories are going to start popping up at a ridiculous pace. Not that he won't deserve all the good press.

Texas Tech at West Virginia (4 p.m./YES/MASN)

Neither of these teams deserve to be anywhere near national television, and yet they're on these things as consistently as any two teams in the country. I will not be watching.

South Carolina at Alabama (4 p.m./MSG)

South Carolina's probably feeling pretty good about itself heading into this one after what Frank Martin said about his Gamecocks earlier this week.

"If you take Bruce Ellington off our team, you'd probably have the 12 leading candidates for the starring roles in The Return of the Living Dead, the zombie movie."

And then.

"I've been doing this for 28 years, nine of which as a junior varsity high school coach. That means I've dealt with 14-year-olds. I've never been more embarrassed to call myself a basketball coach than I am today."

And then.

"I have never been so embarrassed. I shouldn't coach basketball ever again if this is how my team plays."

And then.

"We lead the country in air-ball lay-ups."

How could you not come out swinging with that type of support from your corner?

Houston at Tulsa (4:30 p.m./Fox Sports Regional)


No. 5 Gonzaga at San Francisco (4:30 p.m./ROOT Sports)

This is a complete mismatch on paper, but the Zags have lost three straight at San Francisco. A far worse teaser is that Gonzaga has taken 26 of the last 30 meetings with the Dons.

Mississippi State at LSU (5 p.m./ESPNU)

LSU has quietly won four of its last five. Mississippi State has deafeningly lost nine straight.

No. 2 Duke at Maryland (6 p.m./ESPN)

This is the perfect setup for a Terrapin squad in desperate need of a resume win. Maryland hasn't played in a week, while Duke is in the final game of its toughest stretch of the season. The last time the Blue Devils lost the game immediately following a win over arch-rival North Carolina? A 99-92 overtime defeat at the hands of Maryland back in 2005.

Detroit at Valparaiso (6 p.m./ESPN2)

The two best teams in the Horizon League meet for the final time in the regular season. Valpo won an 89-88 thriller at Detroit back on Jan. 17. A third meeting in early March seems likely.

Temple at Massachusetts (6 p.m./CBS Sports Network)

Get ready to feel old...It's been 19 years and two days since this happened:

Princeton at Harvard (7 p.m./NBC Sports Network)

The top two teams in the Ivy battle for first place at the halfway point of the 14-game tournament.

Baylor at No. 10 Kansas State (7 p.m./ESPNU)

K-State hasn't won a regular season conference championship since 1977, Baylor since 1950. The loser of this game is probably destined to see that fact stick around for at least another year.

Saint Mary's at Loyola Marymount (7 p.m./ROOT Sports)

Despite Anthony Ireland averaging 20.5 ppg, the Lions haven't won since Jan. 10.

Charlotte at Saint Louis (7 p.m./Fox Sports Midwest)

If Saint Louis can win this one and VCU takes care of business against George Washington, then Wednesday's meeting between the two will be for sole possession of first place in the A-10.

High Point at Liberty (7 p.m./MASN)

Tubby Smith went to High Point. That's the only excuse I need to post this.

Georgia at Ole Miss (8 p.m./ESPN2)

Not your best work today, Deuce.

No. 22 Memphis at Marshall (8 p.m./CBS Sports Network)

This rematch of last year's C-USA title game was supposed to have regular season championship implications, but Marshall has been one of the more disappointing teams in the country. Still, the Thundering Hers have come closer than any team in the conference (an 89-88 loss at the FedEx Forum last month) to knocking off the Tigers.

No. 8 Michigan State at Nebraska (8 p.m./Big Ten Network)

Hey look, a Tom Izzo team started the season relatively slow and now is playing as well as anyone in the country in mid-February. Let's not let this affect our ability to freakout when the Spartans lose to someone they shouldn't next November, though.

No. 6 Syracuse at Seton Hall (8 p.m./SNY/MASN)

Remember when the Pirates were 12-2? They're not 12-2 anymore.

Texas at No. 14 Kanas (9 p.m./ESPN)

ESPN has had a great run with its College GameDay game of the week so far this season, but this one is going to need to play above its head to keep that streak alive. Myck Kabongo being back for the Longhorns certainly helps in the intrigue department.

San Diego State at UNLV (9 p.m./NBC Sports Network)

Few teams have disappointed more this season than UNLV, whose road to redemption needs to start with a win over their much-disliked rivals.

Arizona State at Colorado (9 p.m./ESPNU)

Colorado improved its chances of earning an at-large bid dramatically by knocking off Arizona earlier this week. Arizona State, meanwhile, chose to go the opposite route and lost to lowly Utah by five. This is a biggie for both.

Boise State at No. 19 New Mexico (9 p.m./ROOT Sports)

The Lobos are 12-1 in games decided by eight points or fewer this season, and have also won four times when they've trailed by 10 points or more. They trailed by as many as nine in their first meeting with the Broncos before storming back to snatch a 79-74 overtime victory.

New Mexico State at Utah State (11 p.m./ESPNU)

The Aggies from Utah are still trying to recover from this happening on Thursday.

Oregon State at Washington (11 p.m./Fox Sports Regional)

This game is meaningless, but it'll be on television and you obviously enjoy college basketball, so...I don't judge. Happy Valentine's Day weekend. Enjoy Oregon State/Washington all you want.

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