This weekend features a rematch between Kansas and Kansas State and the first game against each other since their ugly brawl that took place in January. Bubble teams like Providence, Saint Mary’s, Oklahoma, and USC are in must-win situations on Saturday including a rematch between Saint Mary’s and #3 Gonzaga. Meanwhile, two of the top teams in the Big West slug it out with the UC Irvine Anteaters hosting the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos.
We also have a bum fight brewing with New Jersey Tech (8-20) at Kennesaw State (1-27). Both sound like made-up schools, but the two worst teams in the Atlantic Sun conference meet. Kennesaw State desperately seeks their first conference win and only their second victory of the season.
COLLEGE HOOPS SATURDAY (2.28.20)
#1 Kansas at Kansas State
Saint Mary’s at #3 Gonzaga
Providence at #12 Villanova
Oklahoma at #20 West Virginia
Arizona State at USC
UC Santa Barbara at UC Irvine
New Jersey Tech at Kennesaw State
It’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. It’s the last weekend in February before March begins and the postseason conference tournaments heat up. Teams with less-than-stellar records have one last long shot to earn an automatic bid to March Madness if they can ship their conference tournament. Of course, it’s a daunting task that will require teams to win up to three or four games in a row in consecutive nights on a neutral court.
Rematch: Kansas and Kansas State Basketbrawl
#1 Kansas (25-3) at Kansas State (9-19)… The Main Event fight! When these two teams met at Kansas, the Jayhawks blew out the Kansas State Wildcats 81-60 but the game ended with an ugly brawl that spilled into the crowd. Multiple participants were suspended but it’s time for the rematch. Kansas secured the #1 ranking after knocking off Baylor last weekend in Waco. Kansas now faces their rival, Kansas State, in a rematch with a chance to secure the season sweep.
Saint Mary’s Needs a Hail Mary
Saint Mary’s (24-6) at #3 Gonzaga (28-2)… Saint Mary’s had an opportunity to prove to Gonzaga and the selection committee that the second-best team in the WCC were worthy of an at-large big. Alas, Saint Mary’s were beatdown and blown out by 30 points. Saint Mary’s won four in a row since that ugly game and they’d like a second chance to prove their worthiness. Saint Mary’s sharpshooter, Jordan Ford led all scorers with 23 points in the blowout, but they’re going to need a lot more help if they expect to defeat Gonzaga on their home turf (14-0).
PVD Big East Bubble
Providence (16-12) at #12 Villanova (22-6)… The Providence Friars have a couple big wins recently against ranked Big East teams including Seton Hall, Butler, and Creighton. They’re looking to avenge an earlier loss to Villanova, ranked #9 at the time. Villanova held Alpha Diallo, the top scorer for Providence, to zero points in their first meeting. If Diallo can stay out of foul trouble, then they have a shot at upending Villanova in Philadelphia.
Big 12 Bubble Battle
Oklahoma (17-11) at #20 West Virginia (19-9)… Oklahoma won their first meeting in Norman, Oklahoma when West Virginia was ranked #13. On Saturday, the Sooners hit the road to take on Bob Huggins’ squad in Morgantown, West Virginia. The Mountaineers are ranked #13 in defense this season allowing 61.7 ppg, but they’ve lost five out of their last six games. They’ve been on tilt since the loss to Oklahoma when Kristian Doolittle lit them up for 27 points. If West Virginia can stop Doolittle, they’ll even the season series. If Oklahoma wins this game, they’ll move off the March Madness bubble and secure a play-in game with the #11 seed.
West Coast Bubbles: Arizona State and USC
Arizona State (19-9) at USC (20-9)… Arizona State was the hottest team in the Pac-12 before they had a seven-game win streak including a win over #14 Oregon. However, the Sun Devils saw their win streak stopped cold by UCLA. Danny Hurley is trying to secure another play-in game, but they’ll have to knock off USC in LA this weekend if they expect to stay on the good side of the bubble race. Arizona State defeated USC earlier this season in a close one 66-64 when Remy Martin knocked down the winning shot for the Sun Devils.
Fear the Anteaters
UC Santa Barbara (19-9) at UC Irvine (20-10)… The selection committee will not show any love to the second place team in the Big West. That means the winner of the conference tournament will secure an automatic bid (and only invite) to March Madness. The UC Irvine Anteaters won an opening round game last season, but missed out on a trip to the Sweet 16. They’d like to go back to the Big Dance and do some more damage as a Cinderella team. UC Irvine lost to Santa Barbara 64-61 the last time they met and it’s payback time for the Anteaters.
ASUN Bum Fight
New Jersey Tech (8-20) at Kennesaw State (1-27)… Kennesaw State is on a 19-game losing streak. The Owls struggle to score averaging only 55.3 points per game, which is ranked #464 in the nation. Tyler Hooker, a 5-foot-10 senior guard, leads Kennesaw State with 13.5 ppg. He’s the only player on the Owls with a double-digit scoring average. The New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders started the season 2-2, but it’s been all downhill since then with a 6-18 record. The had a three-game winning streak at one point this season, but went 2-8 since then. NJIT won their first meeting by 18 points. Zach Cooks led all scorers with 19 points for the Highlanders.