Saturday, March 1, 2014

College Basketball Games to Watch: March 1

(4) Syracuse vs. (12) Virginia - Believe it or not, right now the ACC leaders are not Syracuse or Duke but Virginia.  At 15-1 in the conference, they are 1.5 games above Syracuse and 3 above Duke, not to mention that they are currently riding a twelve game win streak.  Thus, I am completely baffled at how they are not ranked higher than 12th with the resume that they have.  Today will be a huge opportunity for them to prove themselves against a top-shelf team, as Syracuse enter the game having won just one of their last three.  This should be a hotly contested matchup between two teams that both will have their eyes set on a number one seed come tournament time.

(5) Kansas vs. Oklahoma State - There was a time when Oklahoma state was a fixture in the AP top ten rankings; then they lost eight of nine in conference play to drop them out of the rankings altogether. The first of those eight losses was a defeat against then 15th ranked Kansas.  Oklahoma State have won their last two, so they will come into this rematch in better form and looking for revenge.  Also, Marcus Smart has returned from his three game suspension for Oklahoma State, so he will provide them a bit of star-power to combat the Kansas stars: Joel Embiid, Perry Ellis, and Andrew Wiggins.  Kansas has already clinched the Big 12 Title, but the certainly have much to play for as they look for a number one seed come tourney time, while the incentive is huge for Oklahoma State, who likely need to win this game to make it into the tournament at all.

(7) Louisville vs. (21) Memphis - Louisville just won their first game against a ranked team, beating Cincinnati last Saturday on a game-winning jumper by Russ Smith.  Maybe now that they've broken through against ranked opponents, Louisville should have their way against Memphis.  However, Memphis have actually been fairly effective in upsetting higher ranked teams this year, and already have a win against Louisville back in January.  Both of these teams have outstanding offenses, led by Russ Smith and Montrezl Harrell for Louisville and Joe Jackson for Memphis.  You won't want to miss this sure-to-be high-scoring clash between these two ranked, conference opponents.

(11) Cincinnati vs. Connecticut - We have another AAC matchup here, as Cincinnati is currently tied for first in the conference, while Connecticut have dropped back to fifth.  Both teams need to get back on track as Cincinnati just lost to Louisville and Connecticut's loss to SMU is only one game removed. Though neither team is in danger of dropping out of the tournament, they both would like to get back on track before it starts up.  Most important is that both teams get some offensive production out of their supporting units.  Sean Kilpatrick has been fantastic for Cincinnati and Shabazz Napier has been equally as superb for Connecticut, but outside of them, the scoring has been severely lacking from these two teams.  It will likely be a two-man contest between Kilpatrick and Napier but I believe whichever supporting cast steps up today will decide the winner.

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