During a joint interview with ESPN on Friday, Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski stated that as coaches, “they are not bigger than the game” of basketball. Still, both coaches come from a different era of manning the sidelines. They’ve combined for 1914 wins during their tenure, and they each earned 900 victories at their current schools. That’s longevity that the college basketball world will likely not see again.
When Syracuse and Duke take the court for the game of the week, there will be a lot on the line in the new look ACC. While the game is not for first place, the winner will have a leg up on the competition for the month of February.
The second ranked Orange have yet to lose a game and they have one game lead over the Virginia Cavaliers. Right now, it looks like a four team race for the ACC regular season crown. Although Duke is tied for third place with a (6-2) record, they’ve given Virginia and Pittsburgh losses. The Blue Devils will be going for the trifecta on Saturday evening.
Richmond vs. Virginia Commonwealth (11:00 a.m., ESPN 2)
VCU has quietly put together another strong season after getting off to a slow start. The Rams are tied for second place in the Atlantic 10, and they need a win to keep pace with St. Louis. They face a game Richmond Spiders team in this city rivalry to start Saturday’s basketball slate. If VCU wins this game, look for them to get back into the rankings.
Ohio State vs. Wisconsin (12:00 p.m. ESPN)
Ohio State and Wisconsin have been struggling so much lately in the Big 10. The good news is one of the teams will get a win. Unfortunately, one of these former top 5 teams will have another loss. Both teams have combined to lose nine games in the conference. Can they turn it around before the season gets away?
Kentucky vs. Missouri ( 1:00 p.m. CBS)
Does anybody even know that Missouri has a (16-4) record? Currently, the Tigers are stuck in the middle of the pack of the SEC, but they can’t afford a loss to the Kentucky Wildcats. The young Kentucky team must weather the storm of another road contest in the SEC. They already lost at Arkansas and at LSU. If they have any chance of winning the SEC, Kentucky might have to win out.
Michigan State vs. Georgetown (3:00 p.m. Fox Sports 1)
Super Bowl week has showcased many events, and this is another one that was supposed to put on a show. When Michigan State takes on Georgetown at MSG, neither team will look like the one that we expected at the beginning of the season. For Michigan State, they fought through injuries very well, and have survived Big 10 play with only one loss. When Michigan State is healthy, they look like the best team in the nation. Georgetown hasn’t found success since they’ve loss players to injury and suspension, but this could be the day that their season turns around. Keep your eye on the back courts. It should be a tremendous match of wits.
Oklahoma vs. Iowa State (4:00 p.m. ESPN 3)
It seems like Iowa State hasn’t won a big game in forever. They are below .500 in the conference, and the Cyclones are approaching bottom feeder status in the Big 12. Out of the four losses, two were to Kansas, so it’s not quite time to panic in Ames. However, Oklahoma has flourished during Big 12 play, and they may be the only team that has a chance to catch Kansas. This should be one of the more entertaining games on Saturday.
Kansas vs. Texas (4:00 p.m. ESPN)
Kansas is undefeated in conference play and they’ll look to keep it rolling against Texas. This should be a great road challenge for the Jayhawks. Andrew Wiggins has done a lot of damage recently, but will the size of Texas slow down Kansas’ potent attack? Texas can become a serious player with a win. They already look like a final four sleeper.
Duke vs. Syracuse (6:30 p.m. ESPN)
The first moment this game was announced, buzz was abundant surrounding this game. Both teams are coming in on high notes and it should be a record crowd in Syracuse for the first ever conference game between the two schools. The game itself should present tremendous match ups everywhere on the court. Let's see how Syracuse's zone handles the high flying attack from the Duke Blue Devils.
Arizona vs. Cal ( 10:30 p.m. PAC 12 Network)
The Wildcats survived a game at Stanford with great defense, while Cal lost a heartbreaker in overtime. Arizona is one of three teams undefeated, and if they win here, there aren’t many road games where you can see the Wildcats losing this season. California needs a resume building win on their home court. We expect Justin Cobbs not to miss another fast break lay-up between the rim and the backboard.
Baylor vs. Oklahoma State (2:00 p.m. ESPN)
Baylor is (1-6) in the conference and it doesn’t get easier for them. They are on the verge of throwing the season away. Oklahoma State has had their troubles in conference as well, but they are in far better position. It’s time for Marcus Smart to play better. He’s had a lull during the middle of the season.
Memphis vs. SMU (2:00 p.m. CBS Sports Network)
Like Memphis, SMU is trying to earn the second seed in the AAC. Memphis has won 16 straight road games in conference play, but as Sportsline.com notes, SMU hasn’t lost at home this season. For NCAA tournament purposes, SMU needs it more. The Mustangs can’t afford to lose two straight.
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