It's the biggest Saturday of the season thus far in regards to games played with 135 games on the schedule. The afternoon delivers two of the many important contests, with Connecticut visiting Georgetown and Duke taking on Georgia Tech. The Huskies are ranked thirteenth in the polls right now but they lack a headline victory, something that can be attained at the Verizon Center. UConn's "big three" of Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson and Kemba Walker rank among the nation's best when they're on; they key for them is consistency. Georgetown is going to force them to execute in the half court and Connecticut has struggled to do so at times.
The Hoyas aren't the most explosive team when it comes to scoring but their efficiency is what's makes them so difficult to stop. Greg Monroe will be a difficult matchup for the likes of Ater Majok and Charles Okwandu if they see extended time on the talented sophomore; UConn may be best served using Gavin Edwards to guard him. But whether or not the Hoyas win will likely rely on the play of Chris Wright. When he's on the Hoyas are nearly unbeatable. But when he struggles the entire offense slows down as a result. Keep an eye on tempo and turnovers in this one; whichever team has the upper hand in those areas likely wins.
As for Duke's visit the Georgia Tech, the Blue Devils can cement themselves as the clear favorite in the ACC with a win. Jon Scheyer has played the point as well as just about anyone in the country and Nolan Smith has also played solid basketball of late. But the key against a tall Yellow Jacket front line will be the rebounding, especially from Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek. When Duke notched some of their bigger wins of the season earlier in the season that tandem combined to perform extremely well on the boards.
Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal are NBA-caliber bigs for Paul Hewitt, but until their guards take better care of the basketball Georgia Tech will struggle to be considered a favorite in the ACC. But that could all change with a win at the Thrillerdome. As for the remainder of Saturday's schedule there are a pair of very good Big 12 games to keep an eye on as Kansas State visits Missouri and Oklahoma State hosts Texas Tech. Games like these could make all the difference come March if any of these four (which is likely) finds themselves on the bubble. And speaking of bubble, it may be imperative that UTEP beat BYU for their own at-large hopes, which may be getting away from them.
Noon ESPN Connecticut at Georgetown
Noon ESPN2 Florida at Vanderbilt
Noon ESPNU SEMO at Eastern Illinois
Noon BEN-HD St. John's at Louisville
1:30p BTN Michigan St at Iowa
2p ESPN Duke at Georgia Tech
2p ESPN2 Kansas State at Missouri
2p ESPNU Creighton at Wichita State
3:30p BTN Ohio St at Minnesota
3:30p MTN TCU at Utah
4p VS UNLV at New Mexico
4p ESPN2 Northern Iowa at Illinois State
4p ESPNU North Dakota State at Iowa State
5:30p BTN Purdue at Wisconsin
6p ESPN2 Murray State at Austin Peay
6p ESPNU Wake Forest at Miami
6p MTN San Diego St at Wyoming
7p CBS-College Tulsa at Houston
8p ESPNU West Virginia at Notre Dame
8p BTN Illinois at Indiana
8p CSS Memphis at USM
9p CBS-College BYU at UTEP
9p MTN Air Force at Colorado St
10p ESPNU Gonzaga at Portland
10:30p FSN USC at Cal
1p Niagara at Siena
1:30p Mississippi St at Ole Miss
2p Marquette at Villanova
4p Arkansas St at South Alabama
4p Hofstra at Old Dominion
4p William @ Mary at Drexel
6p Cincinnati at Seton Hall
6p Oklahoma at Baylor
7p Radford at High Point
7:05p Charleston at The Citadel
8p Texas Tech at Oklahoma St
Duke over Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets definitely have a chance to pull off the upset given the fact that they're at home. But the reason for picking Duke is turnover margin. Jon Scheyer has been one of the best when it comes to taking care of the basketball while the tandem of Mfon Udofia and Iman Shumpert have left something to be desired in that department. Look for Duke to win that battle and as a result the game.