Mar 2, 2012, 10:30 AM EST
Game of the Weekend: Sat. No. 6 UNC @ No. 4 Duke, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
It doesn’t get much better than this. Last day of the regular season. Duke and North Carolina. An ACC title on the line. A potential No. 1 seed in the balance. And the icing on the cake? The last time these two got together, Duke somehow erased a 10 point deficit in the final two and a half minutes, winning in the Dean Dome when star freshman Austin Rivers did this.
Yeah, this should be fun.
There are really two ways to look at this game. On the one hand, in the first matchup, North Carolina dominated the Blue Devils for 37 minutes. I still find myself asking the question “how in the world to Duke manage to come back?” Duke may have gotten the victory, but you would be hard-pressed to find someone willing to say that the Blue Devils were actually the better team that night.
Having said that, I think that Duke is just starting to hit their stride this year. I think Miles Plumlee, who has recently been moved into Duke’s starting lineup, and Mason Plumlee to be able to hold their own against UNC’s front line, I expect Austin Rivers to have another big game and with a raucous crowd in Cameron for Saturday evening tip, I think Duke completes the sweep.
Sat. No. 11 Georgetown @ No. 8 Marquette, 2 p.m. (ESPN3): To me, this may be an even more interesting game than UNC-Duke because I believe both teams are real Final Four threats. We all know about Marquette by now. They like to press, they like to run and they have a number of versatile players that have really bought into what Buzz Williams is selling. Georgetown, however, is thriving because of their own versatility. The Hoyas are a tremendous defensive team when they want to be. They have three 6’8″ athletes that can defend any position on the court, which makes it so difficult to run offense because they can switch everything. Their zone, when they go to it, is as long as Syracuse’s. The key is going to be Henry Sims. Is he going to be aggressive offensively, attacking the rim and distributing the ball, or will he settle for 15 foot jumpers?
Sat. No. 19 Louisville @ No. 2 Syracuse, 4 p.m. (CBS): Louisville really needs to get this win. As of now, they are 0-6 against the Big East teams currently above them in the standings. That’s concerning. How good of a team are you if you cannot steal a win or two against the teams situated ahead of you? The problem? I just don’t see the Cardinals winning, not with the Syracuse defense and how Louisville has played on the offensive end of the floor of late.
Sat. No. 9 Baylor @ Iowa State, 7 p.m. (ESPN3): As we all know, Baylor has slowly started to fade down the stretch of the season, as they’ve lost all four of their games to Missouri and Kansas and have struggled with the likes of Texas and Oklahoma since then. they did, however, handle the Bears fairly easily about a month ago, which puts even more intrigue into this game. With a win, the Baylor and ISU will have split their season series and will be tied for third place in the Big 12. But since ISU has knocked off Kansas, they would get the three seed in the Big 12 Tournament and avoid Kansas until the title game.
Sat. No. 21 San Diego State @ TCU, 7 p.m. (MTN): TCU is 6-0 at home in Mountain West play. They have already beaten New Mexico and UNLV in their own arena. SDSU, on the other hand, is 3-3 on the road and coming off of a loss at Air Force the last time they played outside of Viejas Arena. He’s the tricky part — a loss for the Aztecs means that New Mexico, should they be able to beat Boise State at home on Saturday, will be the outright winner of the MWC. Wouldn’t that be wild?
Sun. No. 1 Kentucky @ No. 16 Florida, 12 p.m. (CBS): The only thing standing in between Kentucky and a perfect regular season in the SEC is Senior Night at Florida. I’ve been warning folks that losing Will Yeguete had the potential to be disastrous for the Gators, and so far they are 0-2 since he broke his foot. That said, we do have to keep in mind the fact that Florida does have a potent perimeter attack. If Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton and the rest of those guys get into a rhythm, Florida always has a chance. But even if they do, we shouldn’t forget just how badly the Gators were beaten at Rupp. It was bad. And they had Yeguete.
Sun. No. 10 Ohio State @ No. 5 Michigan State, 4 p.m. (CBS): What a perfect way to cap off the regular season in college hoops. Michigan State senior night, not only honoring Draymond Green but bring Delvon Roe back as well. A Big Ten title on the line. The leagues two favorites for player of the year squaring off. Thad Matta vs. Tom Izzo. This should be fun.
The key, in my opinion, is going to be Keith Appling. Aaron Craft is the best on-ball defender in the country and Appling isn’t a natural point guard. If he can avoid being rushed into offense and protect the ball when he is trying to orchestrate offense, the Spartans will have a great shot of winning this game.
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