College basketball bettors' TV guide

College basketball bettors' TV guide

College basketball bettors' TV guide
By MATT SEVERANCE

It's a good but not great weekend of college basketball on the tube, with three games featuring matchups between top-25 teams. We also will see a new No. 1 team in the land. Check back Sunday for a look at the best matchups coming early next week.

All times are Eastern.

Maryland at Duke (Saturday, noon, ESPN)

The Dukies likely will replace Wake Forest atop the national polls with a win over the Terps. Wake may have got caught looking ahead to Duke when it lost to Virginia Tech this week. Let's see if the Blue Devils can avoid the same fate with the Deacons on tap Wednesday night.

There probably won't be a lot of post play between Duke and Maryland. Both teams realistically run four-guard offenses, even if some of the players aren't classified as guards.

The Blue Devils haven't lost since early December and are beating foes by 19.9 points, which is third in the nation. But this series has been very back and forth. Duke has won the last two meetings, Maryland the two before that, Duke the two before that and Maryland the three before that.


Memphis at Tennessee (Saturday, 3:30, CBS)

Remember the last time these schools met? On Feb. 23, 2008, in Memphis, it was the No. 1 Tigers vs. the No. 2 Vols in the biggest basketball game in the Volunteer state's history. UT pulled out a 66-62 win to hand Memphis its only loss of the regular season. It also vaulted Tennessee to No. 1 for the first time, although that lasted only a week as the Vols lost their next game.

Tennessee has dominated the series, winning seven of the last nine meetings, including the last two.

The Vols had a players-only meeting to stress defense after UK's Jodie Meeks dropped 54 on them and they have responded with wins over South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Those two opponents shot just 38.1 percent (48-of-126) overall and 28.9 percent (13-of-45) from beyond the arc.


Baylor at Oklahoma (Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPNU)

The Sooners have won 15 straight home games dating to last season. No one doubts Baylor is an improving program, but how's this for a stat: OU has won the last 28 meetings against Baylor. It is the only series in Big 12 history where one team has beaten the other in every matchup (OU is 24-0).

The Sooners' Blake Griffin is averaging a Big 12-high 22.3 points and 13.6 rebounds (best in the NCAA). He totaled 46 points and 30 rebounds in two meetings last year. Last season's games were decided by a total of just seven points and Baylor missed two free throws with one second left in overtime when it was down by just a point in the second meeting to lose by one.


UCLA at Washington (Saturday, 4 p.m., Fox Sports Net)


The Bruins, as expected, are atop the Pac-10 but joined by the unexpected Huskies, who handed UCLA one of its three regular-season losses last year.

The Bruins escaped Washington State on Thursday thanks to a career-high 20 points and six 3-pointers from Nikola Dragovic. Since beginning the season 8 of 39 (20.5 percent) from 3-point range, Dragovic is 17of 36 (47.2). He is averaging 14.5 points in four games since becoming the starting power forward.

The Huskies beat USC on Thursday night and have a stud freshman you may not know of, although the name sounds familiar. Guard Isaiah Thoma is now the team's leading scorer at 15.8 points per game, and he is averaging 18.4 points per game in Pac-10 play. He had 17 against the Trojans.   


Connecticut at Notre Dame (Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN)

Great matchup of All-American big men in the Huskies' Hasheem Thabeet and the Irish's Luke Harangody, who leads the Big East in points and rebounds. The Irish star dominated the matchup last season, averaging 23 points and 13 rebounds in two games against UConn (the teams split). Thabeet averaged just six points and 9.5 rebounds

Despite those numbers, Thabeet made some news in an ESPN the Magazine article in the fall when he said this: ”Nobody's better than me, only more experienced. I played Luke Harangody and he was not tough.”

Thabeet has since sent a letter of apology, but Harangody has kept a copy of the issue, saying: “Did he mean it? Maybe he did. It gives me a little more motivation. Am I going to take it that seriously? No.”

The Irish currently have the longest home win streak in the nation, 45 games.


Xavier at LSU (Saturday, 8 p.m., ESPN2)

This should be a great non-conference matchup between two teams mostly under the radar this season. At least the Musketeers, whose only losses are to Duke and fellow mid-major power Butler, are ranked, which LSU can't say – although a win here certainly will get the Tigers in the polls.

This is Xavier's first game at LSU since 1980 and the Tigers have won 17 straight at home dating to last season. LSU leads the SEC in rebounding margin and has won three in a row by an average of 15 points to lead the SEC West.


Louisville at Syracuse (Sunday, noon, ESPN360/Big East Network)

Yet another Big East game featuring two top-25 clubs, but this one features two heading in different directions: UL has won six in a row including beating then-No. 1 Pitt (the Cards' third straight win over a ranked team), while the Orange have dropped two of three.

The Cardinals have won 14 of their last 15 regular season conference games over two seasons, which is pretty impressive considering the competition.

"We're the best road team in the Big East the last three years," UL coach Rick Pitino said recently.


Michigan State at Ohio State (Sunday, 3:35 p.m., CBS)

The Spartans were shocked at home by Northwestern on Wednesday night, which no doubt got coach Tom Izzo's attention. Michigan State, which could drop out of sole position of first in the Big Ten with a loss, beat the Buckeyes 67-58 on Jan. 6 but have lost two in a row in Columbus.

Raymar Morgan, the Spartans' leading scorer at the time, played just 18 ineffective minutes against Northwestern because of the flu, but he should be fully recovered by Sunday.

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