Top 5: The best upcoming college hoops games
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
The College basketball season has heated up lately and while the madness of March is still weeks away, a February frenzy highlighted by buzzer-beating upsets has taken over.
The weekday games are always the appetizer for Saturday’s main course offerings. Here are the best bets to watch this Saturday:
Villanova at Connecticut | Saturday, noon, ESPN
About the Wildcats (15-10, 6-6): Villanova is one of the nation’s most inconsistent teams — having beaten two then-top-five teams in Syracuse and Louisville in one week then having lost consecutive games to Providence and Notre Dame the next. Last week, the Wildcats beat Big East doormats South Florida and DePaul, but their conference schedule got more challenging this week and they coughed up an 18-point loss at Cincinnati. Villanova likely will need to finish above .500 in the conference to make the NCAA tourney, and that means winning games on the road. JayVaughn Pinkston leads the team in scoring with 12.5 points a game, but sophomore guard Darrun Hilliard has carried the Wildcats as of late.
About the Huskies (17-6, 7-4): UConn has won against bottom-of-the-pack teams in the Big East but its 66-58 win over Syracuse on Wednesday was its first win against a premier conference foe, having lost to Pittsburgh, Marquette and Louisville. The Huskies don’t have any bad losses this season, but to tread water in a conference with six ranked teams, they’ll need to win at home against teams with records similar or worse than theirs. Shabazz Napier is one of the Big East’s best players, leading UConn in scoring with 16.9 points a game while dishing out 4.4 assists.
The matchup: Villanova has proved it can measure up against the top teams in the Big East, but winning on the road is the challenge. Connecticut’s Napier will be tough to contain.
Our pick: Connecticut
No. 17 Pittsburgh at No. 20 Marquette | Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS
About the Panthers (20-5, 8-4): Pittsburgh has rattled off three consecutive Big East wins, including one at Cincinnati and one against Syracuse at home, and seven of eight in the conference overall. The Panthers feature a balanced … [For more on Top 5: The best upcoming college hoops games, click here.]