Time to Separate Pretenders from Contenders on Saturday

3 Feb

#8 Kansas at #4 Missouri: The Jayhawks travel to Columbia for the final time as a Big 12 foe (Missouri moves to the SEC next season), and with their one game lead in the conference at stake will Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor and crew walk out of Mizzou Arena with sole possession of the conference lead?  And will the Tigers resort to a zone defense to combat some of the match up problems they will face inside?

#3 Ohio State at #20 Wisconsin: Ohio State faces the same task as Kansas, take your 1-game lead into the house of your closest competitor, Kohl Center in this case and come out with a win.  But much like Missouri, Wisconsin doesn’t have the inside presence to guard Jared Sullinger.  The Badgers do however have Jordan Taylor to combat Ohio State’s Aaron Craft.  Will Ohio State prevail or will the top half of the Big Ten be within one game of each other when this one is over?

#15 Marquette at Notre Dame: It seems like we say this every year, but Mike Brey should be the Big East Coach of the Year with the job he has done with the Irish after losing Senior leader Tim Abromaitis for the season.  Notre Dame currently sits 4th in the conference, but face a tough test as Marquette, winners of 7 straight come to town.  The Eagles come in a little banged up without Chris Otule for the rest of the year and forward Davante Gardner is likely to miss this one as well.  Can Marquette keep pace with front-running Syracuse or will they come back to the pack?

South Florida at #14 Georgetown: The Bulls have been a nice quiet story in the Big East currently tied for 4th in the conference.  That’s the good news, the bad news now USF gets into the meat of their schedule, beginning with a trip to DC to take on Georgetown.  With Pitt twice, Lousiville, Cincinnati, Syracuse and West Virginia remaining on the schedule, we will find out quick if the Bulls are pretenders or contenders.

#18 Virginia at #24 Florida State: In a battle between the two teams behind Duke and North Carolina, which team will grab the edge as the team that wants to challenge the Heels and Devils?

Xavier at Memphis: In November one would’ve thought that this would be a game between the A10 and C-USA leaders.  Fast forward two months and both teams are suddenly not locks for the NCAA, both could use this signature win.  Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons battling Will Barton and Joe Jackson is an entertaining side show as well.

Old Dominion at George Mason: Surprise surprise there is a 4-way tie atop the Colonial (ODU, George Mason, VCU and Drexel) at 10-2.  All four teams have remaining games with each other in some machination.  Buckle up for another fun February ride in the Colonial.

Iona at Manhattan: In a battle of the top 2 teams in the MAAC Iona travels to Manhattan to take on the Jaspers.  Iona will be looking to avenge a 3-point loss at home to Manhattan and reclaim the top spot in the conference.  Add to that the Gaels back court of Scotty Machado and Momo Jones combined for 57 points and 16 assists in win over Canisius on Thursday.

Marshall at Tulsa: Two dark horses to creep up the standings in Conference USA do battle in Tulsa Saturday night.   Tulsa, winners of 6 straight are looking to leapfrog 2nd place Memphis, while Marshall has struggled at 3-4 in their last seven are looking to right the ship with the first of 4 remaining games with the teams ahead of them in C-USA.

Oregon at Colorado: Two teams in a 3-way tie for 2nd place, with California at 7-3 do battle in Boulder, where the Buffaloes have been staunch this season.  In a league where three bids to the NCAA Tournament is no guaranty, this is a key game for both teams.

Vanderbilt at #11 Florida: Before the season some people thought Vandy had Final Four potential. The ‘dores struggled but have climbed to 3rd in the SEC behind Florida and Kentucky.  This is one of Vandy’s chances to prove that they belong with Florida in the discussion on the 2nd best team in the SEC.  Florida could use the win at home to stay on Kentucky’s heels.

College Hoop Haven

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