Basketball: Saturday Previews & Predictions
Campus Insiders' Ken Bikoff breaks down all the big Saturday games.
Check out all of Bikoff's college basketball analysis including his running blog.
The pretenders -- and some of the expected contenders -- have been skimmed off the top of the conference tournaments, and all that is left is the best of the best. A number of leagues will crown a champion Saturday, but even the conferences that player their finals on Sunday will feature some interesting matchups today.
Every game features some intrigue, but some bring more than others. Here's a look at the best games of the day in each of the power conferences.
American Athletic Conference
Louisville Cardinals vs. Connecticut Huskies, 6 p.m. ET
The Cardinals have knocked off UConn twice before this season, and Louisville has pretty much dominated in both outings. These two teams met just a week ago when the Cards ripped the Huskies 81-48, and it should be interesting to see how UConn responds to that outing. Will the Huskies be fatigued from its tooth-and-nail battle with Cincinnati Friday night and roll over for Louisville? Or will Kevin Ollie use the beating last week to U of L as motivation to get his team to bounce back quickly and play with a chip on its shoulder? UConn will have to play its best game of the season to slow down the Cardinals.
CI's Pick: Louisville
Atlantic 10 Conference
VCU Rams vs. George Washington Colonials, 4 p.m. ET
The Rams were dominant en route to a 71-53 win over Richmond, and George Washington looked just as strong in an eight-point victory over a scrappy UMass squad. The Rams are tough to beat on short preparation, and GW's youth could be an issue in this one. That said, Maurice Creek can fill it up for the Colonials, and GW split the season series with the Rams during the regular season. This one should be nip-and-tuck all day, but VCU's defense will be too much in the A-10 pressure cooker.
CI's Pick: VCU
Atlantic Coast Conference
North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. Duke Blue Devils, 3 p.m. ET
You can't go wrong with either game in the ACC Saturday -- Virginia-Pitt tips off a 1 p.m. ET -- but N.C. State has looked hungry and had an opportunity to rip Syracuse Friday if it didn't make so many mistakes. Duke, meanwhile, looked shaky vs. Clemson in a game that went down to the last possession, and the Blue Devils could be primed for the taking. The Wolfpack got ripped by 35 points in the only meeting between the two schools, but any team that is playing for its NCAA Tournament dream is dangerous.
CI's Pick: Duke
Iowa State Cyclones vs. Baylor Bears, 9 p.m. ET
Baylor split the season series with the Cyclones, but the Bears have been on a roll and might be one of the few teams with the depth to handle playing four games in four days. They were comfortable in whipping Texas Friday night, and Baylor's length will give Iowa State all it can handle inside. The Cyclones will answer with Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane, but it might be the status of Georges Niang that makes the difference. Niang took an elbow to the face and suffered a nasty cut that required five stitches to close, and he is expected to play Saturday. Still, playing with a puffed-up face can impact anybody on the court, and he will need to be at his best to slow Baylor's roll.
CI's Pick: Iowa State
Providence Friars vs. Creighton Bluejays, 8:30 p.m. ET
Providence's march to the NCAA Tournament should be complete following its trip to the Big East Tournament final, but it would love to put aside all doubt with a win over Creighton to take home the title. The Friars have been rolling offensively, but they will have to turn up the defense on the red-hot Bluejays to cut down the nets. Doug McDermott has been his usual brilliant self for Creighton, and he will have to drain some early shots to give the Bluejays a boost. These two teams are evenly matched with both teams winning one game in the season series, and Creighton outscored Providence 156-154 in those two battles.
CI's Pick: Creighton
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Michigan State Spartans, 4:05 p.m. ET
It was a dirty shame during the regular season that the Badgers only got to play Michigan State once, winning 60-58, but the basketball gods have given fans an opportunity to see the rematch. Both teams enjoyed blowout wins Friday, but Wisconsin was made for a tournament setting and is playing its best basketball of the season. Michigan State boasts more talent, but the Spartans are still finding themselves now that everyone is healthy, and they could find themselves on the losing end in this one.
CI's Pick: Wisconsin
San Diego State Aztecs vs. New Mexico Lobos
New Mexico lost the regular-season title the Mountain West when it fell 51-48 in the final game of the year, and the Lobos would love to pay back the Aztecs by winning the MW Tournament in style. The Lobos boast better size inside and feature more weapons, but San Diego State plays swarming defense and will force the Lobos to work on every possession. If SDSU controls the glass and pushes the tempo, New Mexico could be in trouble.
CI's Pick: New Mexico in a close one
Arizona Wildcats vs. UCLA Bruins
The two top teams in the Pac-12 square off in what should be a fantastic battle between two teams looking to build some momentum for the NCAA Tournament. Arizona has steamrolled its first two opponents in the conference tourney, but UCLA has done the same and is playing its best basketball of the year. The Wildcats can lose focus at times, but they will have to turn up the defense to slow down the uptempo Bruins. Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon have to play under control for Arizona and can't make mistakes with the ball that will turn into easy baskets at the other end. UCLA only lost by four in the only meeting between these two clubs back in January. The Bruins believe they can pull the upset and knock the Wildcats out of a No. 1 seed.
CI's Pick: UCLA
Kentucky Wildcats vs. Georgia Bulldogs, 3 p.m. ET
The top four teams have advanced to the semis in the SEC Tournament, and the Florida-Tennessee matchup should be interesting. But Georgia head coach Mark Fox turned up the stakes earlier this week when he vented frustration about people calling Atlanta "Catlanta" in honor of the Wildcats, and he has the Bulldogs looking for respect. Kentucky has been up and down all season, and the Wildcats haven't been great in games that feature a lot of pressure. It will be Georgia's teamwork vs. UK's talent in this one, and the Bulldogs are itching to make up for a 25-point loss in Rupp Arena earlier this year. Determination can take a team far, but the same motivator Fox is using with his team should wake up the Wildcats as well.
CI's Pick: Kentucky