Saturday Syllabus: Five games not to miss

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Yes, we realize it’s Valentine’s Day. But these are five basketball games that you definitely want to have on your radar on Saturday (even if its checking your phone while you’re at dinner).

#21 West Virginia at #14 Iowa State

4 p.m. ET, ESPN2

After losing two of its last three, West Virginia is looking to get back on track with a tough matchup against against Iowa State. This will be one of the best match-ups of the week due to the fact that Iowa State ranks in the top 15 in the nation in points per game, assists per game and field goal percentage but has a weak defense that allows an average of 91.5 points scored against them. The Cyclones defense will give West Virginia a chance to put up some big points, who currently rank last in the Big 12 in field goal percentage and total offensive production.

Key Players:

  • West Virginia: Juwan Staten (14.2 PPG, 3.1 RPG, .410 FG percentage)
  • Iowa State: Georges Niang (14.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, .465 FG percentage)

#6 Villanova at #18 Butler

6 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network

With both teams on a five-game win streak this is the Big East (#1 vs. #2) game of the week. The first time these teams faced each other this season went Villanova’s way with a win 67-55 over the Bulldogs. Nova hopes to sweep the rivalry this year and keep its games versus ranked opponents unblemished this season. This game could potentially give us a real run for first place in the Big East; if Butler pulls off the upset, both teams would be tied with the best conference record and would have split the games against each other. To pull it off, Butler is hoping for their “1-2 punch” of Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones to continue their recent success, averaging around 50 percent of the Bulldogs total scoring.

Key Players:

  • Villanova: Darrun Hilliard II (13.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG, .450 FG percentage)
  • Butler: Kellen Dunham (16.7 PPG, 2.8 RPG, .437 FG percentage)

#16 Baylor at #8 Kansas

1 p.m. ET, CBS

After its loss to Oklahoma State, Baylor is looking to bounce back against conference foe Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won the first meeting between these two teams, 56-55, back on Jan. 7. It’s going to be a battle of the bigs as Rico Gathers versus Perry Ellis should be the matchup of the night on who can control the boards. Also worth noting: Two of Baylor’s four losses have been on the road in conference play.

Key Players:

  • Baylor: Rico Gathers (11.2 PPG, 12.6 RPG, .445 FG percentage)
  • Kansas: Perry Ellis (12.9 PPG, 7.0 RPG, .443 FG percentage)

#4 Duke at Syracuse

6 p.m. ET, ESPN

Duke is back to playing like Duke, riding a four-game win streak with two of those wins being against top five teams. Duke is going into a hostile environment at the Carrier Dome where Syracuse has only lost three games this season. Jahlil Okafor will look to continue his success after a huge game against Notre Dame where he finished with 22 points and 17 rebounds.

Key Players:

  • Duke: Jahlil Okafor (18.0 PPG, 9.1 RPG, .665 FG percentage)
  • Syracuse: Rakeem Christmas (18.0 PPG, 9.3 RPG, .582 FG percentage)

#20 VCU at George Washington

2 p.m. ET, ESPN2

With the conference being so competitive, this is a key A-10 game for both teams. VCU is tied for first, while George Washington is tied for second in the conference. VCU has its hands full going into Charles E. Smith Center where GW has not lost a game at home this season. With losses in three of its last four games, VCU looks to bounce back against GW.

Key Players:

  • VCU: JeQuan Lewis (7.5 PPG, 1.3 RPG, .372 FG percentage)
  • George Washington: Patricio Garino (12.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, .529 FG percentage)

Dorm Room Hoops writer Jake Hapner also contributed to this report.

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