As conference play in the 2022-23 men’s college basketball season continues, we see a clear separation at the top of many leagues. Others see several teams competing for the best offer (see: the Big 12). Every game counts for the tournament selection committee.
Some of the key clashes this weekend are an opportunity for some teams to try to find some rhythm. Some are an opportunity to extend recent winning streaks. And some are not game-breaking, just guaranteed to be fun. Here’s what to watch and why.
12 p.m. ET, Saturday, ESPN
Why this game is important: Duke is 3-5 against Quad 1 teams, a top-30 NET finish and solid quality wins (Xavier, Iowa, Ohio State). But a 3-3 record in their last six games and Jeremy Roach’s toe injury – he’s missed the last three games – means this Blue Devils side need to avoid a tough time to feel confident going forward. get a solid seed in the selection on Sunday. A win over Miami at Cameron Indoor Stadium (the Blue Devils are 9-0 at home this season) in a turbulent first season for new coach Jon Scheyer counts.
Impacting player: Isaiah Wong (16.7 PPG, 4.5 RPG 1.6 SPG) was a star for a Hurricanes team vying for the ACC crown. With Wong on the ground, Miami (10th in adjusted offensive efficiency over KenPom) has made 57.3% of its shots from inside the arc this season.
Isaiah Wong nails deep 3 points from downtown
Isaiah Wong nails deep 3 points from downtown
Stat to know: Only Louisville has a higher turnover rate in ACC play than Duke (20.2%), which has committed one turnover on five possessions so far.
Score prediction: Duke 73, Miami 69
1 p.m. ET, Saturday, CBS
Jalen Wilson hits a career-high 36 points with 3 points
Kansas’ Jalen Wilson hits a new career high with a 3-pointer against Kansas State in overtime.
Why this game is important: The Jayhawks entered the weekend in a three-way tie for first place (with Iowa State and Kansas State) in the Big 12, but a TCU team that is 1-3 in its last four games is aiming for a seeded in the top four in the NCAA Tournament. A road win would be a big addition to the Horned Frogs’ resume, but another loss could extend the ongoing slump that could eventually send them into the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Impacting player: Prior to the 2022-23 season, Bill Self challenged Jalen Wilson to play as an All-American. Wilson responded, with numbers — 20.8 PPG, 8.9 RPG — that made him a bona fide Wooden Award contender. After scoring a career-high 38 points in his team’s 83-82 loss to Kansas State on Tuesday, he may be the only player in the country who can catch Zach Edey in the national player race. year.
Stat to know: In Big 12 play, TCU is No. 2 with a 54.8 percent mark from inside the arc, but last in the conference with a 24.7 percent mark from the 3-point line.
Score prediction: Kansas 84, TCU 74
2 p.m. ET, Saturday, ESPN
Cason Wallace rises for a mighty flush
Cason Wallace rises for an impressive slam dunk against Georgia.
Why this game is important: The Aggies are tied with Alabama for first place in the conference. They and the Wildcats, however, were listed in Joe Lunardi’s “first four out” category in the final bracket. Every game counts for both right now.
Impacting player: Cason Wallace, a projected first-round pick in the NBA Draft this summer, per ESPN, was crucial in Kentucky’s recent defensive turnaround. Their last two opponents, Tennessee and Georgia, failed to exceed 100 points per 100 possessions. With Wallace on the ground in those two games, both teams connected on just 29% of their 3-point attempts, according to hooplens.com.
Stat to know: Texas A&M has won five of its double-digit seven-game winning streak. Score prediction: Kentucky 78, Texas A&M 70
No. 5 UCLA Bruins (17-2, 8-0 Pac 12) vs. No. 11 Arizona Wildcats (16-3, 5-3 Pac-12)
2 p.m. ET, Saturday, ABC
Jaime Jaquez Jr. elevates for high-profile bouldering
Why this game is important: This may not be the tiebreaker in the race for the Pac-12 championship because UCLA is so far ahead. But the winner of this game — UCLA is fifth and Arizona is 15th in the NET rankings — will improve their chance of competing for a top-two seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Impacting player: Jaime Jaquez Jr. (16.7 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.7 SPG) helped the Bruins get ahead of the pack in league action. He made 58% of his shots from the edge and 49.5% of his jumps from inside the arc, according to hoop-math.com.
Stat to know: UCLA is one of only two teams (Alabama Crimson Tide is the other) that is undefeated at home and on the road. The Bruins’ only two losses this season — to Illinois and Baylor — have come on neutral ground.
Score prediction: UCLA 82, Arizona 78
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