Morning Block (Saturday)
A Good One: Villanova at Providence | 1:30 PM, Fox Sports 1
Still one of my favorite stats in college basketball, Villanova has now strung together 14 straight Big East wins away from home. That is absurd and likely to be extended to 15, as the Wildcats get a Providence team that just lost at DePaul and has one home win in the last month. But don’t count them completely out — the Friars did win this matchup in Philadelphia on Jan. 24. Noteworthy: star F Ben Bentil is still day-to-day after injuring his ankle at DePaul.
KenPom Line: Wildcats by 4
MATCHUP OF THE DAY: Kris Dunn vs. Ryan Arcidiacono
A Better One: Iowa State at Oklahoma State | 1:00 PM, ESPN2
A loss sucks. Two of them in a row is worrisome. Three is problematic, although that’s where Iowa State found itself toward the beginning of conference play in 2014 before rattling off eight of 10 heading into March. Oklahoma State by most measures is down this year, and they could be without freshman sensation Jawun Evans, who missed the second half against Texas Tech with a shoulder injury. The Cowboys need a conference win in a bad way. Then again, so do the Cyclones.
KenPom Line: Cyclones by 2
Matchup to Watch: Leyton Hammonds vs. Georges Niang
The Best One: Michigan State at Michigan | 1:00 PM, CBS
You’re not getting the Michigan-MSU rivalry of 2013 or 2014 here, but the atmosphere is always tremendous inside the Crisler Center. The Wolverines are trying to build on their one signature win of the season against Maryland, but Sparty brings in a three-game winning streak since Jan. 23 — and a three-game streak in the rivalry, too. I’m a big fan of the Irvin-Harris matchup in a game that should see a ton of perimeter looks. The two have combined to hit 28 threes in their last seven games.
KenPom Line: Spartans by 2
Matchup to Watch: Zak Irvin vs. Eron Harris
A Good One: Florida at Kentucky | 3:00 PM, CBS
We won’t call Florida a bubble team just yet, but a win at Kentucky would go a long way in securing an NCAA Tournament berth after starting the season 10-6. The Wildcats are in the midst of their first losing streak since Mar. 1, 2014, and need to get right with these next two home games (Georgia on Tuesday) with a severely back-loaded schedule looming. I actually like how Florida matches up in the backcourt, so a guy like Alex Poythress could be a huge factor here for UK.
KenPom Line: Wildcats by 4
Matchup to Watch: Jamal Murry vs. Dorian Finney-Smith
A Better One: Oklahoma at Kansas State | 5:00 PM, ESPNU
The Octagon of Doom may be one of very few remaining roadblocks in Oklahoma’s quest for a Big 12 regular season title. The Wildcats are 10-2 at Bramlage Coliseum, winning by an average of 16 points per game. But as always, they’ll need an answer for Buddy Hield, who is averaging an incredible 30 points per game in seven road contests this season. K-State needs to win the battle on the glass, otherwise this gets ugly quick.
KenPom Line: Sooners by 5
Matchup to Watch: Justin Edwards vs. Buddy Hield
The Best One: Purdue at Maryland | 3:00 PM, ESPN
We can beat this to death until they lose, but Maryland has still not dropped a home game as a member of the Big Ten. Other than a blowout at Rutgers (is there any other kind?), Purdue has looked rough away from home this season, and a fourth conference loss for could be a deadly blow with the surprising strength sitting at the top. The Stone-Hammons matchup is going to be a ton of fun. Hammons is fresh off a 32-11-5-4 performance against Nebraska.
KenPom Line: Terrapins by 5
Matchup to Watch: Diamond Stone vs. A.J. Hammons
A Good One: Vanderbilt at Mississippi | 7:00 PM, ESPNU
Iowa State’s loss to Texas A&M took an interesting twist when the Aggies traveled to Vanderbilt on Thursday and lost by 17. The Commodores, for their nine losses, don’t have many head-scratchers. Other than a blowout at Kentucky, each loss has come by about seven points a game, all of them to the KenPom top-55. Ole Miss will be keyed as usual by point man Stefan Moody, who’s averaging 24.4 points in 10 home games this season. Vanderbilt’s top-ranked 3P% defense should be an interesting test for him.
KenPom Line: Commodores by 2
Matchup to Watch: Stefan Moody vs. Wade Baldwin
A Better One: Baylor at West Virginia | 7:00 PM, ESPN2
Coming off a home loss to Texas, Baylor is staring at two straight road tests against West Virginia and Kansas State between now and Wednesday. As a member of the Big 12, WVU still hasn’t managed to beat the Bears in Morgantown. Busting out of that slump would mean maintaining its tie for first with Oklahoma, with a showdown at Kansas on Tuesday. Key stat: in conference play, Baylor is ranked just 9th out of 10 in steals allowed. That’s a problem against this press.
KenPom Line: Mountaineers by 8
Matchup to Watch: Devin Williams vs. Rico Gathers
GAME OF THE DAY: North Carolina at Notre Dame | 6:00 PM, ESPN
North Carolina had its 12-game win streak halted Monday night at Louisville. In terms of style of play, the Tar Heels have a completely different beast to deal with Saturday in South Bend. Notre Dame, once again, boasts the nation’s most efficient offense, but they get it done in long drawn-out possessions that could fluster an upbeat squad like UNC. If the Heels can control the pace, it could be trouble for an Irish team that’s dreadful defensively and ranks 345th in bench minutes.
KenPom Line: Tar Heels by 2
Matchup to Watch: Brice Johnson vs. Zach Auguste