It's Super Bowl weekend, but that doesn't mean there isn't a load of college hoops on the menu over the next few days as well. There are a number of matchups featuring conference leaders on either Saturday or Sunday, including Michigan's trip to Iowa, Southern Illinois's visit to Wichita State, and Akron's trek to Kent State. It's also a weekend when resurging teams like Kentucky, Marquette, and Oklahoma will all be away from home looking to stay hot and improve their NCAA hopes in the process.
MUST-SEE THIS WEEKEND
Connecticut at Indiana
Both squads come into this showdown just a game back of the league leader in their respective conferences. The Huskies have lost just once all season, that on the road in their Big East opener at Marquette. Since then, Jim Calhoun's team has won eight straight games, including victories over LSU, Georgetown, Louisville, and most recently, Pittsburgh. UConn is playing as well as anyone in the country, while the Hoosiers are pulling themselves out of a mini-slump where they've lost two of three. Indiana has lost just once at home all season, that to Duke, so it should be a great test for both teams as they attempt to begin positioning themselves for NCAA seeds.
Marquette at Villanova
The 'Cats are just one game back of West Virginia in the Big East standings, while the Golden Eagles find themselves at 6-3 in league play and a couple of games behind Villanova. Coach Jay Wright's team has lost just twice all year but not since mid-January. Marquette, meanwhile, has won four of their last five, the one loss coming in a hard-fought road battle with Pittsburgh. The Eagles have proven they can play with the big boys, and they'll need to pull the upset here to have a chance of staying in the Big East title chase.
Arizona at UCLA
The top portion of the Pac-10 standings is as crowded as any league in the country right now. No less than six teams are at .500 or above in league play, and one strong weekend could propel any of those squads to the top of the league standings. These two, along with Washington, were expected to contend for the conference title, and though they've lost some games and been joined by several more near the top of the standings, both the Wildcats and Bruins are very much in hunt for the Pac-10 championship. A victory here helps not only that goal but also the winner's NCAA resume and possible NCAA seeding.
Michigan at Iowa
Very quietly, these two squads have worked their way into a tie with Illinois atop the Big Ten standings one game into the month of February. The Wolves are playing as well as anyone in the land right now, working on a five-game winning streak that includes victories over both Michigan State and Wisconsin. UM has played two previous tough road games in the Big Ten at Indiana and Illinois, coming away with two losses decided by a grand total of 12 points. But there has been no tougher place to win for the visitor than Iowa City this season. The Hawkeyes are 12-0 at home with victories over the likes of NC State, Indiana, and Ohio State. Winner makes a huge statement in their quest for a championship.
Kentucky at Florida
Surprisingly, this pair trails East-leading Tennessee by a single game heading into the weekend. After an 0-2 start to SEC play, the Wildcats have won five straight, three of those on the road. If UK wishes to keep pace with the Vols, it'll take yet another road victory in the O'Dome Saturday evening. The Gators, after winning their first 17 games of the year, dropped two straight before rebounding for a pair of victories over the past week. Still, UF is battling a number of issues, including the health of guards Lee Humphrey and Corey Brewer. How Billy Donovan's squad responds against a red-hot Kentucky team will be interesting to see.
Pittsburgh at Georgetown
These two squads are among the top five teams in the Big East. Few teams in the nation are as hot as the Hoyas right now. G'Town has won four consecutive games, including victories over then top-ranked Duke, Notre Dame, and Cincinnati. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has been consistent throughout the season. The Panthers have lost just twice this year, those two defeats coming by a combined nine points. It's interesting to note, however, that both losses have also come on the road. The Hoyas have won seven straight at home, so expect a down-to-the-wire battle.
Southern Illinois at Wichita State
The Salukis' win streak came to a surprising end Wednesday night, meaning these two squads - as well as both Creighton and Northern Iowa - are all even atop the MVC standings heading into the weekend. One team will find themselves in second place when the day is over.
Akron at Kent State
No MAC teams have played as well as these two this season. Each is 9-1 in league play and tied atop the East divison standings. This is the first of two meetings, the second set to take place in both's season finale on March 4.
Utah State at Louisiana Tech
Though both were beaten on Thursday, the Bulldogs continue to top the WAC standings, while the Aggies, along with Nevada, are a game back of LA Tech. USU won the earlier meeting between the two, and if they can pull out another victory, things would get even tighter in the WAC.
UNC-Wilmington at George Mason
It's yet another matchup of conference co-leaders, this pair out of the Colonial Athletic Association. The two have close competition, however, with a number of teams following just one game behind. Winner takes the lead into the first full week of February.
YOU'LL WANT TO CATCH THESE, TOO
Notre Dame at Louisville - Saturday 11:00 AM CDT
Cincinnati at West Virginia - Saturday 11:00 AM CDT
LSU at Alabama - Saturday 12:00 PM CDT
Miami at Georgia Tech - Saturday 12:30 PM CDT
Mississippi at Tennessee - Saturday 2:00 PM CDT
Texas A&M at Texas - Saturday 2:00 PM CDT
South Carolina at Arkansas - Saturday 2:05 PM CDT
Clemson at North Carolina - Saturday 3:00 PM CDT
Oklahoma State at Kansas State - Saturday 3:00 PM CDT
Georgia at Vanderbilt - Saturday 4:00 PM CDT
Washington at Washington State - Saturday 4:00 PM CDT
Boston College at Virginia Tech - Saturday 6:00 PM CDT
Michigan State at Northwestern - Saturday 6:00 PM CDT
Rutgers at Seton Hall - Sunday 11:00 AM CDT
Oklahoma at Kansas - Sunday 12:00 PM CDT
Maryland at NC State - Sunday 1:00 PM CDT
Colorado at Iowa State - Sunday 1:00 PM CDT