College Hoops Weekend Watch: Oklahoma-Kansas Rematch Highlights Stellar Saturday
After 55 minutes of basketball, 215 points scored, and a month of time to gain perspective, we still can't truly conclude who the better team was the first time Oklahoma and Kansas met this season.
"Kansas-Oklahoma I" may be impossible to top as the game of the year in college hoops. But, hey, why don't we give this Saturday's rematch a chance anyway?
The Jayhawks-Sooners encore highlights a terrific post-Super Bowl college basketball weekend. If you haven't watched much of the college game this season, this Saturday would be a great time to spend all day on the couch to get caught up. Just make sure you've got Valentine's Day figured out before you shift it into cruise control. This viewer's guide cannot condone screwing that up, no matter how good this weekend's games are.
10. Gonzaga at SMU (16)
Saturday, 10 p.m., ESPN2
Gonzaga has become a fixture at the Big Dance, but their streak of tournament appearances is in jeopardy this season. Our bracketology has Gonzaga missing the field of 68, and they're sure to be one of the more hotly-debated bubble teams as we approach March. Short of winning the West Coast Conference Tournament, beating SMU on Saturday would be the best thing the Zags could do for their postseason prospects. They've won three straight on the road, while SMU has gone 3-3 in their last six after starting the year 18-0.
9. Xavier (5) at Butler
Saturday, 2:30 p.m., FOX
Xavier's hopes for a 1 seed took a hit with Tuesday's 14-point loss at Creighton, but the Musketeers still feature a great resume, with a top-10 RPI and 10 wins against the top 100. Saturday begins a stretch where Xavier will close the season against the six toughest opponents the Big East has to offer. Butler has rallied from a 2-5 start in conference play to win four of their last five, including an impressive win on Wednesday at Seton Hall. A win against Xavier would go a long way in ensuring that Butler stays on the right side of the bubble as the season winds down.
8. Purdue (18) at Michigan
Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN2
Purdue and Michigan are tied at 8-4 in Big Ten play, two games behind the the front-running trio of Iowa, Maryland, and Indiana. Last time these two teams met, Purdue shot the lights out in a 17-point win at home. With Michigan looking for revenge, and Purdue coming off of a thrilling one-point win against Michigan State, the stage could be set for the Wolverines to snag a significant resume booster.
7. Kentucky (22) at South Carolina
Saturday, 12 p.m., ESPN
South Carolina followed up a huge win at Texas A&M last weekend by hanging 94 points on LSU on Wednesday. The victory over the Ben Simmons-led Tigers allowed the Gamecocks to force a three-way tie atop the SEC with LSU and Kentucky. Now, Frank Martin's crew gets a home date with Kentucky and has an eye on jumping back into the AP Top 25 and gaining outright conference supremacy. That will be easier said than done against John Calipari's Wildcats, who bounced back after a pair of losses two weeks ago by smashing Florida and Georgia by a combined margin of 53 points.
6. Louisville (13) at Notre Dame
Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN2
Notre Dame protected their home court last Saturday night in a signature win against North Carolina, helping to elevate Mike Brey's Fighting Irish to a 7 seed in our bracketology. This Saturday will present an opportunity for Notre Dame to secure their third win against a team ranked inside the top 10 of our nERD power rankings, when Rick Pitino and the Cardinals come to town. You won't see many strength-versus-strength matchups better than this, as our efficiency metrics rank Louisville as the country's third-best defense and Notre Dame as the fourth-best offense in the nation.
5. USC (23) at Arizona (17)
Sunday, 8 p.m., FS1
Five days after the aforementioned Oklahoma-Kansas triple overtime game, USC knocked off Arizona by two points in not three, but four overtimes. The rematch of that game will also take place this weekend, in a matchup that contains big Pac 12 implications. Oregon's loss Thursday night at Cal opened the door for either USC or Arizona to make a serious run at first place in the conference with a victory on Sunday night. USC is even with Oregon in the loss column, while Arizona is just one loss behind. The trip to Tucson for USC will be a critical test, as the Trojans are undefeated at home this year, but have lost three of their last four road games.
4. Texas (24) at Iowa State (14)
Saturday, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
After a 16-4 start that was punctuated with a 13-point victory over Kansas, Iowa State has dropped three of their last four games, including a Wednesday night overtime loss to Texas Tech. While there's not a bad loss in that bunch, the schedule doesn't get any easier for the Cyclones, with a trip to Baylor following Saturday's game with Texas. The Longhorns are a legitimate candidate to hand Iowa State their third home loss of the season. They led almost the whole way in their last second defeat on Monday at Oklahoma, and have only one other loss (at Kansas) in their last nine games.
3. Indiana at Michigan State (8)
Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS
It's been quite the week for Tom Crean and the Indiana Hoosiers. After losing at Penn State, of all places, last Saturday, Indiana picked up a huge signature win at home over Iowa. The win allowed Indiana to jump back into a tie with Iowa and Maryland for the lead in the Big Ten. The Spartans trail in the conference standings but have recovered nicely after dropping three straight in January. Michigan State fell in a one-point decision in overtime at Purdue but are starting to look the part of the team that almost always seems to end up in the Final Four under Tom Izzo.
2. Virginia (7) at Duke
Saturday, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
The Blue Devils showed that they don't need to be ranked in the AP Top 25 to beat top talent, when they took out Louisville (fifth in our power rankings) at home on Monday night. Duke's advanced metrics tell a much better story than their poll status would lead one to believe. Coach K's team is 10th in our power rankings, 6th in ESPN's Basketball Power Index, and 11th in Jeff Sagarin's ratings. The team immediately ahead of them in our rankings is Virginia, who hasn't lost in almost a month. KenPom's Defensive Efficiency ratings would suggest that this year's Cavaliers defense, while still top 10 in the country, is a bit behind where it's been the last two years. The offense, however, is the best it's been since Tony Bennett arrived in Charlottesville, making this group more balanced than the teams that earned a top-two seed in each of the last two NCAA Tournaments.
1. Kansas (6) at Oklahoma (3)
Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ESPN
The Sooners get to host this much-anticipated rematch at the Lloyd Noble Center, where they haven't lost all year (although Monday night was a close call until Buddy Hield did what Buddy Hield does). Kansas, meanwhile, has beaten Kentucky and West Virginia at home in the last two weeks and has been picking up steam as a candidate to earn a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Time will tell if there's room enough for both of these Big 12 foes on the top seed line of the brackets, but whoever wins on Saturday will undoubtedly notch a huge resume-fortifying win. If this game is anything like the one we saw on January 4, make sure you're near a television.