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Basketball

NARBER: Your weekend hoops viewer’s guide

Morning Block

A Good One: VCU at Richmond | 1:00 PM, CBS Sports Network

VCU has hit its stride under first-year head coach Will Wade. After starting 5-5 out of the gate, the Rams have ripped off seven straight, scoring 80+ points in all but two of them. They’ll visit a Richmond team who has just one quality win against California to show for a decently loaded schedule through 16 games. VCU’s ability to tire out the Spiders will be important, as Chris Mooney really only plays 6-7 guys.

KenPom Line: Spiders by 1

Matchup to Watch: ShawnDre’ Jones vs. Korey Billbury

A Better One: Notre Dame at (9) Duke | 1:00 PM, ESPN2

Given Notre Dame’s reputation for being a liability defensively, I would be worried about taking on a fiery Duke squad fresh off a five-point loss to Clemson. Grayson Allen is playing like an All-American but should have his work cut out for him against counterpart Demetrius Jackson, who is logging some insane minutes for the Fighting Irish in ACC play (39.0 through four games). This should be a shootout of extremely epic proportions.

KenPom Line: Blue Devils by 9

Matchup to Watch: Grayson Allen vs. Demetrius Jackson

The Best One: (15) Texas A&M at Georgia | 1:00 PM, ESPNU

I chose to include this one only because a road game at Georgia may be one of the only speed bumps in an otherwise undemanding road to a SEC title for Texas A&M. KenPom projects the Aggies to win the SEC by two games as of right now, but the Bulldogs are no easy test and are absolutely fierce on the defensive end. Charles Mann and Yante Maten are undersized forwards who will still wear you out in the paint.

KenPom Line: Aggies by 1

Matchup to Watch: Yante Maten vs. Tyler Davis

Afternoon Block

A Good One: Seton Hall at (12) Providence | 3:30 PM, FS1

This is easily the best individual matchup of the night between two outstanding point guards. Isaiah Whitehead leads Seton Hall into Providence, where the Friars had an eight-game win streak broken by Marquette on Jan. 5. PC rebounded with a last second win at Creighton, who then actually beat Seton Hall on its home floor last weekend. Both teams are starved for a convincing victory and will need a massive improvement on offense to get one.

KenPom Line: Friars by 6

Matchup to Watch: Isaiah Whitehead vs. Kris Dunn

A Better One: (17) Iowa State at Kansas State | 3:00 PM, ESPNU

The only time in the last five years Iowa State lost four out of five games was in 2014, considered by many to be the program’s best season in over a decade. So step off the ledge… but also be wary of K-State, who is astronomically better than we thought they’d be at this point in the year. Call perimeter defense random if you want—the Wildcats are good at it. ISU can and should win this game inside. The Iwundu-Nader senior pairing should be great, too.

KenPom Line: Wildcats by 2

Matchup to Watch: Wesley Iwundu vs. Abdel Nader

The Best One: (11) West Virginia at (2) Oklahoma | 3:00 PM, ESPN2

I’ve had my eye on this all week as the game of the day, but it’s quickly garnering potential to be one of the best we’ve seen all season. This is kind of alarming, but the Mountaineers have a top-three national ranking waiting for them on Monday if they can find a way to win in Norman. Oklahoma? Win and capture No. 1. How this Sooner offense handles “Press Virginia” is going to be fascinating, especially after it committed 20 turnovers last weekend against Kansas State.

KenPom Line: Sooners by 5

Matchup to Watch: Buddy Hield vs. Jaysean Paige

Evening Block

A Good One: San Diego State at Boise State | 9:00 PM, ESPN2

After dropping their season opener to Montana (as some teams do), the Broncos have really won every game they were supposed to, with losses to Arizona (twice) and Michigan State along the way. They’ll be looking for consecutive win number 11 against a San Diego State team that just can’t seem to click this season. The Aztecs are dismal shooters and will rely on that Steve Fisher staple of playing tough defense, as always. Boise State is 320th nationally in bench minutes—something to keep an eye on.

KenPom Line: Broncos by 5

Matchup to Watch: Mikey Thompson vs. Winston Shepard

A Better One: Florida at Mississippi | 7:00 PM, ESPN2

The Gators have just three true road wins since the start of last season will be seeking revenge for their one-point loss in 2015 that came down to the wire in Oxford. If not for Ben Simmons, Stefan Moody might be looking like a runaway candidate for SEC Player of the Year and will certainly be a tough assignment for undersized sophomore Chris Chiozza. Florida is deep and plays outstanding defense, a recipe for success we Iowa State fans can certainly appreciate.

KenPom Line: Gators by 1

Matchup to Watch: Sebastian Saiz vs. John Egbunu

The Best One: Arkansas at LSU | 7:30 PM, SEC Network

I have no earthly idea who’s guarding Ben Simmons in this game. I have no earthly idea how you match up against a 6’10” point guard. I have no earthly idea how you try to contain an offense that has hung 90, 85 and 90 against Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Ole Miss so far in 2015. But Arkansas is going to try, and they’re beginning to click in SEC play after going 6-6 in the non-conference. A key stat here: the Razorbacks are 4th nationally in 3P% and LSU is 224th defending the three.

KenPom Line: Tigers by 4

Matchup to Watch: Ben Simmons vs. Anthlon Bell

A

Austin Narber

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