Tonight, 7 p.m. ESPN, No. 3 Duke at No. 12 Virginia: Virginia is currently suffering from a two game losing streak and has a losing record in ACC play at 5-6. Point guard Donald Hand was a disastrous 0-for-9 from the field in the Cavaliers” most recent loss to unranked Georgia Tech. Virginia desperately needs a win and is glad to be returning to University Hall to try to get it.
Unfortunately for Virginia, the Blue Devils of Duke are the ones coming up to Charlottesville to see them. Duke is trying to regain its supremacy over the ACC, and what better team to do it against than the team it beat 103-61 earlier this year?
Virginia has the talent and ability to beat Duke tonight. Duke is not very deep and as was evident in last year”s tournament game against Florida it can beat the trap, but begins to tire at the end of the game. Virginia runs the trap as well as Billy Donovan”s Gators and will use it to wear out the Blue Devils.
The key to this game will be point-guard play. Hand must come back from his most recent debacle and play the smothering defense he is capable of against Jason Williams. If Williams can not beat the trap, Duke cannot beat Viginia.
Virginia 102, Duke 92
Saturday, CBS 1 p.m., No. 6 Kansas at No. 9 Iowa State: Big 12 foes square off to see who is the best of the West in this matinee matchup.
Kansas is coming off an embarrassing loss to unranked Baylor and is looking for something to crush to validate its No. 6 ranking nationally. Standing in its way is senior Jamaal Tinsley and Iowa State.
However, maybe Kansas is standing in the Cyclones” way. Iowa State leads the Big 12 after Kansas” loss, and this would be the justification that it is the best team in the conference.
The Cyclones are undefeated at home this year, and a lot of that can be attributed to Tinsley”s 15 points and six assists per game. Also averaging 87 points per game at home as a team is a great bonus. Compare that to the 77 points per game Kansas averages on the road and it looks bad for the Jayhawks.
Kenny Gregory will have to score more than his average of 16 for Kansas to reclaim the top spot in the conference. Do not be surprised if the Iowa State fans chant the Jayhawks off the court with “overrated” all the way to the Big 12 tourney.
Iowa State 90, Kansas 78
Saturday, CBS 4 p.m., Ohio State at No. 17 Alabama: The Buckeyes are trying to prove they deserve respect with a record of 15-9 (7-5 Big Ten). They have wins over Wisconsin and Michigan State. Ohio State plays three guards each of whom can shoot the long ball but is by no means small with 6-11 Ken Johnson and his 4.25 blocks per game.
The Crimson Tide is also a very balanced team, but the star is Rod Grizzard, a two-guard who is listed at 6-8 and can do it all. Grizzard averages almost 19 points a game and is only a sophomore. Alabama also has another sophomore sensation in Erwin Dudley, a great power forward who knows how to work in the paint.
This is going to be a great nonconference game to watch. These teams do not get to see each other very often and both are ready to play. The edge goes to the Crimson Tide though due to their dominance at home this year, losing only one game all season in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama 88, Ohio State 75
Sunday, CBS 2 p.m., No. 9 Florida at No. 13 Tennessee: This is a must win game for both teams as Florida is two games back and Tennessee is three games back from the SEC East”s best, Kentucky. The loser of this game might as well pack its bags and forget about winning the division.
The matchups in this game are incredible. Florida”s Teddy Dupay, Matt Bonner and Udonis Haslem take on Tennessee”s Tony Harris, Vincent Yarbrough and Charles Hathaway.
The point guards lead their teams by running the offense and shooting the three when needed. The two forwards are scorers through and through with range from the perimeter to the interior. Do not forget the big guys either as they will control the boards and put up some points for their team.
Florida will try to press the Volunteers, but Tennessee has a deep bench and the premiere sixth man in the country in Ron Slay. This will be a close game and Florida”s 3-point shooters will need to be hot for them to beat Tennesee.
Tennessee 82, Florida 79