Yes- it’s time for that special weekend, where after carefully selecting the finest bouquet of roses you can find, you can sit down with that special someone over a romantic dinner, gaze deep into her eyes through the candelight, and blah blah blah. Obviously, the best events going on this weekend have nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, and everything to do with hoops. It ‘s already been a great week, with UK knocking off Florida in a thriller, UNC running away from Duke on their home floor, UConn continuing their dominant run by throttling Syracuse, and Arizona State completing a season sweep of UCLA. Here’s a few games that should keep your attention this weekend.
Friday, Feb. 13
9 p.m. ESPN -
#13 Villanova at West Virginia
At just 5-6 in the
conference, West Virginia needs a win at home to keep themselves on the bubble.
The Mountaineers always defend, but their problem this year in their losses have
been scoring; they're averaging just 58 points in their eight losses, compared
to 79 in their 16 wins. Da'Sean Butler and Alex Ruoff need to step up and
demonstrate some veteran leadership if they want to see the tourney this year.
Villanova has been on fire lately, winning six in a row, while averaging 84
points per game during the streak. Forward Dante Cunningham has become a bona
fide star this year, and his inside scoring provides a nice balance with Scottie
Reynolds and Corey Fisher bombing away from the perimeter. Look for ‘Nova to
keep the nets scorching as they get the road win.
Saturday, Feb. 14
3:30 ABC - #16 Kansas at Kansas State
This doesn't have quite the same star power it did a year ago, with Michael Beasley, Bill Walker, Brandon Rush, Darrel Arthur and Mario Chalmers all drawing NBA paychecks this year, but this is still a big one in the conference. KU was stunned at Missouri their last time out as they suffered their first Big 12 loss, but they're still sitting pretty at 19-5 overall and 8-1 in the conference. Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich lead the way, but the Jayhawks have a nice rotation that keeps everyone fresh and allows them to push the pace. Few expected the Wildcats to even be in the NCAA discussion this year after losing Beasley and Walker, but they've very quietly won six in a row, including tough road victories over Texas and Texas A&M. Guards Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente have the ability to explode, and forward Darren Kent has been solid all year. A win here would be huge for the Wildcats' March resume, but look for KU to pull out a tough road win.
4 p.m. ESPN - Cincinnati at #4 Pittsburgh
Like Kansas State,
Cincinnati is another bubble team that has been surprising people. Overlooked in
the depth of the Big East, the Bearcats have ridden the scoring of Deonta Vaughn
and am aggressive defense to a 7-5 conference record. The Bearcats are young,
but they've gained confidence by winning seven of their last nine. Pitt has
rattled off four wins in a row after being stunned but Villanova, and DeJuan
Blair has turned himself into one of the country's best big men...pretty
impressive for a guy who is a shade under 6'6". The Panthers can't get caught
looking ahead to their huge showdown on Monday with UConn, or UC could steal one
from them. Look for the Bearcats to hang around for a little while, but Pitt has
too much talent and experience and they'll pull away for a comfortable win.
4 p.m. ESPN360.com / Full Court / Raycom - #25 Florida State at #8 Wake Forest
Is this finally the year the Seminoles get off the bubble and into the tournament? They’ve been playing well lately, having won three in a row since dropping a heartbreaker to North Carolina. Guard Toney Douglas is a lethal scorer, but the Seminoles also have nice balance inside, led by freshmen forwards Chris Singleton and Soloman Alabi. Wake has lost three of four since knocking off Duke, including a tough loss at NC State this week. The Deacons still have a ton of explosive athletes, but their youth has been exposed in ACC play, where super sophomore Jeff Teague has been up and down. A win here would virtually assure FSU a place in the tournament, but look for Wake to rebound from their loss this week with a home win in this one.
Sunday, Feb. 15
7:45 FSN - #3UNC at Miami
The Tar Heels come
into this game on a roll, having won eight in a row, including the
afore-mentioned win in Durham on Wednesday, a game in which their speed
eventually wore down Duke. Tyler Hansbrough has been his usual super self this
year, but the backcourt of Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington have been spectacular
during the winning streak. The Heels also have to be encouraged by the play of
role players Deon Thompson, Bobby Frasor and Ed Davis against Duke. The
Hurricanes desperately need a big win to pad their March resume, having blown a
great opportunity at Duke last week when they coughed up a 16-point second half
lead. Jack McClinton has been lights out in ACC play, but the rest of the team
has been inconsistent. Lance Hurdle and James Dews need to play big if the Canes
are going to get the win here. With UNC coming off the emotional win in Cameron,
and the Canes desperate to get a big win, I look for Miami to pull the upset