Saturday Syllabus: Games Not to Miss

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It’s the last full weekend of the regular season as mid-major and low-major conferences begin their conference tournaments next week. And the slate of games doesn’t disappoint. There are two huge games in the Big 12 (but aren’t we saying that every weekend?), a late-night special in the WCC and a Big East battle that has all the makings of an instant classic. Grab your popcorn and settle in for a day of fantastic hoops.

#6 Villanova at Xavier

2 p.m. ET, FOX

Villanova has a tough matchup this week against the Musketeers of Xavier. Nova’s two losses this season have come on the road, and the home of Xavier the Cintas Center gives the Musketeers a leg up. The first game they played this season ended with an 88-75 win for Villanova. With their last home game resulting in a win over No. 19 Butler, the Xavier crowd is going to be a major advantage. This is definitely a game to keep on your radar.

Key Players:

  • Villanova: Darrun Hilliard II (14.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, .449 FG percentage)
  • Xavier: Trevon Bluiett (12.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, .452 FG percentage)

#20 West Virginia at #19 Baylor

4 p.m. ET, ESPNU

The Big 12 is having a big weekend, and this may be the most important game of all. If Baylor ends with a win, Baylor and West Virginia will have the same exact record (conference and overall). West Virginia is on a three-game win streak, but their last loss was to fellow Big 12 member, No. 12 Iowa St. Baylor is also on a three game win streak … but beat Iowa State. The big difference here is remaining schedule. Baylor has a much easier road to finish the season than West Virginia does, which puts the Mountaineers in a much more important situation.

Key Players:

  • West Virginia: Juwan Staten (14.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, .423 FG percentage)
  • Baylor: Taurean Prince (13.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, .468 FG percentage)

#12 Iowa State at Kansas State

4 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Coming off a loss to No. 19 Baylor, the Iowa State Cyclones are playing to win against the Wildcats of Kansas State. In its last four games, Kansas State has pulled off two Top 20 upsets against No. 17 Oklahoma and No. 8 Kansas. With the end of the season quickly approaching, Iowa State is trying to hold on to its third spot in the Big 12. If Iowa State happens falls, Iowa State’s seed in the NCAA Tournament could be shifted.

Key Players:

  • Iowa State: Georges Niang (14.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, .467 FG percentage
  • Kansas State: Nino Williams (11.5 ppg, 5.62rpg, .483 FG percentage)

Syracuse at #4 Duke

7 p.m. ET, ESPN

Even on a post-season ban, Syracuse is looking to keep its wave of upsets churning. With wins over No. 12 Louisville and No. 9 Notre Dame, Syracuse is planning to avenge their Valentine’s Day 8-point loss to Duke. The Blue Devils are on an 8-game win streak and not looking to stumble against an unranked opponent.

Key Players:

  • Syracuse: Rakeem Christmas (18.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg, .567 FG percentage)
  • Duke: Jahlil Okafor (17.9 ppg, 9.4 rpg, .661 FG percentage)

BYU at #3 Gonzaga

10 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Riding a five-game win streak, BYU is looking to pull a major upset against No. 3 Gonzaga. The first game these two played ended up with a seven point win by the Bulldogs of Gonzaga. While Gonzaga has only lost one game all season, it is definitely on the upset radar with this matchup. BYU has nothing to lose and is hoping to keep its momentum heading in the WCC tournament.

Key Players:

  • BYU: Tyler Haws (22.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, .474 FG percentage)
  • Gonzaga: Kyle Wiltjer (17.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, .543 FG percentage)

 

Upset Radar:

Watch out for these possible upsets this weekend:

  • No. 12 North Carolina at Miami (FL) – 2 p.m. ET, CBS
  • Dayton at No. 22 VCU – 2 p.m. ET, ESPN2
  • Boise State at No. 24 San Diego State – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Long shots:

  • Texas at No. 8 Kansas – 5 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Virginia Tech at No. 2 Virginia – 4 p.m. ET, ESPN3
  • Michigan at No. 14 Maryland – 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • No. 17 Louisville at Florida State – 12 p.m. ET, ESPN2

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