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Basketball

NARBER: Your weekend hoops viewer’s guide

My grandfather was one of the greatest men I’ve ever known.

He had the patience of a saint. His hands were rough as sandpaper. His unwavering work ethic was surpassed in importance only by the unconditional love he had for his family. He was multi-tasking before multi-tasking was even a word. He taught me what it meant to put in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. No whining. No complaining. No excuses. Just do it.

Grandpa always believed there was something that needed fixing, and he never hesitated to start with Iowa State athletics. He loved that I was a Cyclone.

And since his passing didn’t allow me to put together a viewer’s guide last week, I dedicate this one to him.

Grab a beer and enjoy, Jerry.

Saturday Morning Block: 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

A Good One: Florida vs. Arkansas | 12:00 PM, CBS

Florida is probably the best 11-9 college basketball team ever, whatever that’s worth. The Gators won three straight to open SEC play, dropped three straight, but then got off the schneid Tuesday at Alabama. Arkansas is about as night-and-day, offensively vs. defensively, as Iowa State is. We all know how frustrating that is.

Pick: Florida by 4.

A Better One: Iowa vs. (5) Wisconsin | 11:00 AM, ESPN

If this game is anything like the first meeting, then I would probably advise watching something else. Wisconsin throttled Iowa by 32 on Jan. 20, in which seven Badgers scored in double-digits (six of them with 18+). The Hawkeyes have lost two in a row, and fortunately this is the toughest test left on their schedule.

Pick: Wisconsin by 5.

The Best One: Seton Hall vs. Xavier | 11:00 AM, FS1

This is Chris Mack’s best team at Xavier since 2010, which saw the Musketeers nearly reach the Elite Eight. Seton Hall looked to be legitimate Big East contenders about three weeks ago but have lost three of four. Still, the Pirates could be a tough test for a Xavier team that’s 2-5 in true road games this season.

Pick: Xavier by 1.

Saturday Afternoon Block: 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM

A Good One: (20) Baylor vs. (19) Texas | 5:00 PM, ESPN2

Baylor and Texas are adjacent in the AP Top 25, adjacent in KenPom ratings (18 vs. 19) but are light years apart as far as this season’s expectations go. Only Kansas has traveled to Waco and won in the last calendar year, but Texas does have three true road wins on its 2014-15 resume. Rico Gathers is a terrifying human and reason enough to watch this game.

Pick: Baylor by 5.

A Better One: (18) Northern Iowa vs. (12) Wichita State | 3:00 PM, ESPN2

This is as good as mid-major basketball gets. The McLeod Center is going to be absolutely nuts as Northern Iowa tries to take back the reins in the Missouri Valley Conference. But a Wichita State win would likely lock up the regular season conference title. Marvin Singleton will have his hands full with Darius Carter. Get to Cedar Falls for this one if you can!

Pick: Wichita State by 2.


The Best One: (10) Louisville vs. (13) North Carolina | 3:00 PM ESPN

Game one in Chapel Hill was an easy addition to the viewer’s guide on Jan. 10, and the rematch should be just as good. As I mentioned then, Terry Rozier vs. Marcus Paige is arguably the best point guard matchup you’ll find anywhere all season long. North Carolina is 7-1 in ACC play but has played their last five against teams outside the KenPom Top 50.

Pick: Louisville by 5.

Saturday Evening Block: 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM

A Good One: (1) Kentucky vs. Alabama | 6:00 PM, SEC Network

This can be your backup plan when the following two games are on commercial break. Kentucky is going to obliterate Alabama.

Pick: Kentucky by 21.

A Better One: Oklahoma State vs. (24) Oklahoma | 7:00 PM, ESPN2

Bedlam Round Two makes another appearance in the viewer’s guide. Oklahoma won by 17 in Norman on Jan. 17 and has only managed to knock off Texas Tech since. Will there be empty seats at Gallagher-Iba Arena? Probably. But Oklahoma State is 9-1 in their last 10 games in Stillwater dating back to last year.

Pick: Oklahoma State by 2.


The Best One: (2) Virginia vs. (4) Duke | 6:00 PM, ESPN

It’s crazy to live in a world where KenPom gives Virginia an 88% win probability in this game, but they really are that good. Facing UVA in the half court is even more nightmarish than what the Blue Devils had to deal with Wednesday night at Notre Dame. And this is not a great Duke defense. Could Coach K be stuck on 1,000 forever?!

Pick: Virginia 9. 

Your Sunday Best

Enjoy your Super Bowl parties, but make note of these just in case:

1. Florida State vs. (23) Miami | 11:30 AM, ESPNU

2. Michigan State vs. Michigan | 12:00 PM, CBS

3. USC vs. (11) Utah | 1:30 PM, ESPNU

A

Austin Narber

contributor

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