by Jordan Coleman
This Saturday, thousands of college basketball fans will flood arenas and sports bars in order to catch some of the greatest games of the season. While this week has been full of conference rivalries, this weekend’s competition is sure to liven up the social calendar of any college basketball fan. Though this may be a social gathering for fans, For these teams, these games are not only an opportunity that can either make or break their chances of dancing in March, but also an opportunity to claim (or reclaim) bragging rights within their conference. Here is a preview of some of the most anticipated match-ups this weekend:
Kentucky at Vanderbilt - Vanderbilt has yet another opportunity this weekend to prove they are a force to be reckoned with in the SEC as they take on the nation’s top contender, the Kentucky Wildcats. Coming off a disappointing week of two losses to Arkansas and Florida, Kevin Stallings and the Commodores are itching for a win. However, the good ole’ shellacking the Wildcats put on the Gamecocks last weekend, followed by the thumping of No. 7 Florida on Tuesday night, have propelled Calipari’s Wildcats to a perfect 10-0 conference record. Therefore, slowing the momentum of the Kentucky’s high-powered offense, while maintaining offensive flow against their hellacious defense, won’t be an easy feat for the Dores.
Connecticut at Syracuse- While the 2011 National Champion Huskies have experienced a few lulls in their season—losing games against UCF and Seton Hall— they must bring their ‘A’ game against the No. 2 ranked Orangemen this weekend. Regardless of the location, the contest between these two teams is always hotly contested; therefore, Orange and Huskie fans alike should be in for a treat Saturday.
Michigan State at Ohio State- All-American Jared Sullinger fueled his team passed the Badgers last Saturday with a double-double, adding 24 points and 10 rebounds to secure the 58-52 win in the Kohl Center. While the Buckeyes took on their conference rival last weekend, Draymond Green and the No. 12 Spartans salivate at their opportunity to stun Big Ten’s top dogs and tie-up their conference records. Sullinger and the rest of the Buckeyes will have to muster up some intestinal fortitude in order to top Michigan State.
Baylor at Missouri – Coming off an incredible win against their border rival, the Kansas Jayhawks, the Tigers must regain focus fast in order to take on yet another fierce conference competitor, the No. 6 Baylor Bears. While the Tigers escaped the Ferrell Center with a 1-point victory over Baylor in their last meeting earlier this season, they will have to use their experience and team coalesce to pull-off another win over Pierre Jackson and the Bears.
Miami at Florida State –Reggie Johnson’s career-high of 27 points lead the Hurricanes to their first victory over Duke at Cameron Arena. Despite this commendable feat, their in-state rival, No. 17 Florida State, who not only have a win against Duke, but impressive wins over North Carolina and Virginia to as well, will definitely have their number. It will be interesting to see whether Miami’s momentum on the road can carry them past the Seminoles, or will the co-conference leaders make a statement as to who really dominates the ACC.