Dougie Buckets, Creighton face St. John's in NYC, more weekend action
Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPNU
No guard in the country is having a better season than the Bearcats' Sean Kilpatrick. He was fabulous during Thursday night's win over UConn, when he finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. The Bearcats have been flying high ... which means they are due for a comedown. The Mustangs are a deep and improving team that just got their starting center, Yanick Moreira, back from a knee injury. This is going to be the biggest basketball game at SMU in two decades.
SMU 64, Cincinnati 62
Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN
The Mountaineers have quietly won three straight games to climb into the NCAA tournament picture. The last of those was a riveting overtime win over Oklahoma in Morgantown on Wednesday night. Sophomore guard Eron Harris scored 26 of his 28 points after halftime, but he and his teammates will be facing a far stiffer defensive challenge in Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas 76, West Virginia 66
Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN
I've been tooting Iowa's horn since the preseason, so I've been surprised to see the Hawkeyes drop three of their last five games, including twice at home. This is a skilled and deep team, but it is not tough enough defensively to survive a 3-for-20 shooting night from three-point land, as was the case in the loss to Ohio State. The Hawkeyes need to get back on track, and I've got a feeling their shooting touch will return.
Iowa 72, Michigan 70
Saturday, 5 p.m., ESPN2
There's nothing at all exciting about the Saint Louis Billikens. All they do is win -- as in 15 games in a row. Yet, they don't have a single player who is ranked in the top 10 of the Atlantic 10 in scoring. It is difficult to run the table inside your conference, so I suspect that Saint Louis will lose soon, but this is not the trap game it might look like at first blush. The Explorers, who rank 12th in the Atlantic 10 in both field goal percentage (41.3) and three-point percentage (31.4) have lost four of their last five games, and they are not likely to shoot their way past a veteran, grinding team.
Saint Louis 56, La Salle 50
Saturday, 1:30 p.m., ESPN3
Texas, which is alone in second place in America's toughest conference, has been one of the most remarkable stories this season, but I can't shake the feeling that the Longhorns are due for a market correction. According to kenpom.com, they are younger than all but five teams in the country. The Wildcats, meanwhile, were riding high just a couple of weeks ago, but after dropping three of their last four -- including a three-point loss in Austin on Jan. 21 -- they should take the court at Bramlage Coliseum with vigor.
Kansas State 74, Texas 69
Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN2
The Sooners were also riding high until a two-game road losing streak (at Iowa State and West Virginia) brought them back to reality. Since they already beat Baylor 66-64 in Waco on Jan. 18, you have to like the Sooners' chances in this one. It would help if Oklahoma could get 6-foot-7 senior forward Cameron Clark back on track. Clark scored 32 points in a loss to Kansas a month ago, but over his last three games, he is averaging 7.7 points on 38 percent shooting.
Oklahoma 71, Baylor 66
Saturday, 9 p.m., ESPN
Don't you just love that these two programs still play each other in mid-February? We take Gonzaga's success for granted so much that the Zags can win 11 of their last 12 games and stay in the rankings all season without creating a peep. Memphis has also won five of its last six, but all those wins have come against lower-echelon teams in the AAC. The Tigers could really use another signature win against a ranked team, and even though Gonzaga is stronger up front with Sam Dower and Przemek Karnowski, I believe that the Tigers' overall team speed, combined with their homecourt advantage, will prove too much to overcome.
Memphis 84, Gonzaga 80
Saturday, 3 p.m., Fox Sports 1
Both of these teams badly need wins. The Friars own home wins over Creighton and Xavier, but they lost two of their last three to fall back to third place in the Big East. Xavier, meanwhile, followed its eight-game win streak by losing four of its last six. The Musketeers are never going to be a great outside shooting team -- witness their 2-for-14 performance from behind the arc in a home loss to Seton Hall -- but when they are playing lock-down D and getting to the foul line, they can be tough to beat. I'll go with Xavier because it's at home, but unless this team gets back to its blue-collar roots, it could find itself on the outside looking in five weeks from Sunday.
Xavier 64, Providence 61
Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS
Another day, another injury for Michigan State. Just when the Spartans were getting senior forward Adreian Payne back for their game against Penn State Thursday night, they had to sit Keith Appling because of a lingering wrist problem. Tom Izzo said after the game that he did not know whether Appling would play against Wisconsin. Under these circumstances, normally I would go with the Badgers at home, but these Badgers have been more beatable at the Kohl Center than in the past. Plus, Michigan State is accustomed to playing -- and winning -- despite all its injury problems.
Michigan State 70, Wisconsin 65
Sunday, 7 p.m., FS1
Start spreading the news: Dougie McBuckets is coming to the World's Most Famous Arena. Hopefully New Yorkers will catch him while they can. McDermott is having a season for the ages, and I fully expect he will shoot Creighton past the suddenly hot Red Storm, who have won five of their last six games. St. John's boasts three of the Big East's top 10 shot blockers in Chris Obekpa, Orlando Sanchez and Sir'Dominic Pointer, but none of those guys can hang with Dougie on the wing. Then again, nobody can. That's what makes him so hard to guard yet so fun to watch.
*Creighton also plays Friday night, so their record will be altered before Sunday's game at St. John's.
Creighton 77, St. John's 70
Last Week: 3-7