Saturday, Feb. 7
12 p.m. ESPN #20 Syracuse vs #16 Villanova
What do you know – another Big East game between two ranked teams. The Cuse pulled out of their three-game slide with a win over West Virginia this week, relying on the clutch scoring of Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf. The Orange are a little banged up with nagging injuries to Andy Rautins and Arinze Onuaku, but they’ve still got a ton of talent. Nova meanwhile, has quietly won five of their last six, including a huge win over Pitt. As always, Nova relies on the play of PG Scottie Reynolds, but forward Dante Cunningham has been terrific this year, and actually leads the team in scoring. This is a big game in terms of the conference standings, and a win for either team will look good on their resume for March. The Reynolds-Flynn matchup at the point should be great. Look for Syracuse to get a big win here.
1:30 p.m. ESPN Full Court Miami at #3 Duke
This one features one team coming off a blowout victory, while the other was pummeled their last time out. Shockingly though, it’s the Blue Devils that come into this one reeling, having lost two of their last three, including a 27-point throttling by Clemson on Wednesnday. The Tigers turned up the pressure on Duke’s guards, who showed just how beatable Duke is when their perimeter shots aren’t falling. The Devils’ defense, normally their calling card, was noticeably absent most of the game as well. Miami on the other hand, demolished Wake Forest on Wednesday, the same Wake Forest who knocked off Duke two weeks ago. Led by hot shooting from Jack McClinton, the Hurricanes proved they can play with anyone when their confidence is high. But with all that being said, it’s toughto go against Duke here. They’ll be at home, and they should come out fired up after being embarrassed this week. Look for the Devils to win going away here.
6 p.m. ESPN Michigan at #1 UConn
Can Michigan pick up another huge non-conference win here? Will UConn suffer the same fate as Duke and UCLA, highly-ranked teams who couldn’t handle the Wolverines motion offense? Does Michigan cement their NCAA status with huge road upset? Umm…no, no and no. The Wolverines have been a nice surprise this year, led by high-scoring guard Manny Harris and versatile forward DeShawn Sims, but they don’t have enough to hang with the Huskies, who are loaded and focused after their beat-down of Louisville this week. Jeff Adrien and Hasheem Thabeet form perhaps the best frontcourt in America, and a veteran backcourt with AJ Price and Jerome Dyson has only improved with the addition of freshman Kemba Walker. Look for UConn to win this one fairly easily.
9 p.m. ESPN #15 Memphis at #18 Gonzaga
Spokane will be rocking for this matchup of the two best “non-BCS” teams in the past few years. Memphis has very quietly won 13 in a row, taking control of Conference USA in the process. Frosh Tyreke Evans’ move to the point has been a success, and the Tigers are, as always, long, athletic and talented. The Zags have put together a nice nine-gaming streak of their own, with a balanced attack of Josh Heytvelt, Austin Daye, Matt Bouldin, Steven Gray and Jeremy Pargo. This will be a huge resume-building win for either team, as both should cruise through the rest of their conference games. Look for the Zags to pull out a close win here.
Sunday, Feb. 8
1 p.m. CBS #13 Purdue at #21 Illinois
Ok – all those who were aware Illinois was ranked, raise your hands. Nobody? Well turns out the Illini have put together a nice team this year, with Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale down low and Trent Meachem and Demetri McCamey up top. The Illini play tough defense, and have some veteran experience in the backcourt. However, this is also the same team that has lost two of three, and only put up 36 total points in a loss to Minnesota. The Boilermakers opened conference play on a skid, then tore off six wins in a row before being tripped up by Ohio State this week in overtime. Forward JuJuan Johnson has stepped up his game to counter defense who key on E’Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel. Look for Purdue to get the road victory in this one.