College basketball is brilliant, and it gets better and better every week as the season progresses. This is shaping up to be a great weekend. Here’s a look at five games I will be paying particular attention to:
Oklahoma at Texas – Oklahoma will be number one next week if they win this game. They are certainly good enough to do that and probably do it easily. This will be a very good chance, though, for us to see what Oklahoma is made of. Because of the ranking and the rivalry this is probably the biggest game this team has played. If they don’t get in their own way then this could be a very tough team in March.
Wake Forest at Duke – I’m very curious about this one. Both teams have made a bit of a habit out of losing games they should win recently. I don’t particularly like either team, and I have little faith in the heart and soul of either team right now. It should be that this game will go to the team that wants it more, but I’m not sure if desire means much to either of these teams right now. I’ll be watching it, but I wouldn’t touch the game with a bet.
Marquette at Georgetown – I’ve been negative about Marquette here in the past, and I am still not particularly a believer. They surely should be able to win here, though. Georgetown is a mess, and Marquette needs to be able to beat them to prove that their position in the Big East isn’t a fluke. Self interest is at work in my case, too – Georgetown is, bizarrely, still a prominent bubble team. A loss here would make Michigan’s case all the stronger.
Butler at Davidson – The most interesting part of this game will be the pre-game moments. Stephen Curry is supposedly a game time decision with his ankle. If he goes, and is reasonably healthy and effective in the warmup, then this game will be the class of the Bracket Buster weekend, and could turn out almost any way. If, on the other hand, he is out, then Butler will get a very easy win.
Memphis at UTEP – I love this Memphis team, and I have very high hopes for them in March. I think they have very legitimate Final Four hopes. On paper this should be another easy conference win for them. It’s more interesting than that, though. UTEP’s coach, Tony Barbee, was a long-time assistant for John Calipari. He was a brilliant recruiter and a top assistant. He’s only in his third season at UTEP, and he is turning things around nicely. He’s only 37, and I expect him to develop into a top coach in the country with time. He’s got his team at 16-9, which is a move in the right direction. He could really use a defining win for his program, and he knows the Memphis system well, so he’ll certainly be up for this game. It should be fun.