What to watch for this weekend in college basketball: Deciding the Pac-12

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22: PAC 12 logo on the hardwood floor at USC Trojans Galen Center before game against the Temple Owls on November 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22: PAC 12 logo on the hardwood floor at USC Trojans Galen Center before game against the Temple Owls on November 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /

With the college basketball season coming to a close, there’s a host of rematches on the horizon that could change everything.

Rematch Weekend

The regular season is almost over but before we get to March there are a few rematches around the college basketball landscape that must be settled first.

Kansas versus Kansas State might not be a battle of the titans per se but given what happened in the first meeting there will definitely be a lot of eyes on this game this weekend.

For those that might’ve forgotten, the previous game ended with an embarrassing brawl between the two teams that poured over into the stands after the final buzzer.

Things got heated when a Wildcat stole the ball with only a few seconds remaining and Silvio De Sousa of the Jayhawks went out of his way to block the shot. Emotions got the best of everyone and in the blink of an eye both benches had cleared and the infamous moment captured in time of De Sousa holding a stool above his head.

Kansas should win this game easily, much as they did in the prior face off. However, most will be tuning in to see whether things boil over again between the two longtime rivals.

In a game that will have the talent to go along with the rivalry, the Auburn Tigers make their first and only trip to Lexington of the year. Last time, Auburn was able to put continuous pressure on the Kentucky Wildcats and needed to do just enough to pull off the victory.

Lately, Kentucky has rounded into shape and is looking more like a Final Four contender than they did when they lost to Evansville in front of Big Blue Nation.

With a win, the Wildcats can seal the regular-season SEC conference championship.

Finally, there’s Michigan State and Maryland who will be meeting for the second time in the same as many weeks.

Last week, the Terrapins jumped off to a big lead and then were able to hold strong long enough to escape from East Lansing with a victory.

A win tonight would just about lock up the Big Ten for Mark Turgeon’s squad and help potentially persuade the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee to consider them as a one seed for the big dance.

For the Spartans, they have a chance to save their season and remind everyone about why they were considered the preseason favorite to win the 2020 NCAA Tournament. The storied career of Cassius Winston will eventually come to an end but the hope is that Izzo can find the magic to extend it all the way to Atlanta this Spring.

Who wants to win the Pac-12?

The Pac-12 has taken a back seat to other West Coast teams lately. There are only a few games left in the regular season. With the postseason about to start, there are still some things left to be figured out in regard to conference champions.

The one that is the most up in the air is the Pac-12. Oregon and UCLA are at the top with identical 11-5 records in conference play. However, Arizona State, Colorado and Arizona all have a shot at being able to hang a brand new banner in their gymnasium next season.

The Ducks and Wildcats were expected to be in a tight battle this year but the play of the Bruins, Sun Devils and Buffaloes caught many by surprise.

The lone game to feature two of these five teams will occur between Arizona and UCLA on Saturday night. The Wildcats have lost each of their last two games. An overtime letdown against Oregon at home and a disappointing loss to the USC Trojans.

They now complete their Los Angeles road trip by taking on the Bruins. If they are able to get a win it will not only knock UCLA off the top spot but also keep Arizona alive in the race a little longer.

Given how the Pac-12 scheduling works, this means that Arizona State will be taking on USC on Saturday as well. So it’s a very big weekend for both of the Pac-12 programs in Arizona and Southern California.

Meanwhile, Colorado will be playing in California as well as they get to take on the Stanford Cardinal on Sunday.

There’s the added bonus of a few of these teams also being part of the latest bubble projections for the NCAA Tournament.

More likely than not, things will not be completely resolved at the end of this weekend. There are still too many things that are undecided for three games to completely clarify. However, by the time Monday rolls around things will be clearer for the conference of champions.

Can Duke bounce back?

The Duke Blue Devils had hoped to be the team to beat in the ACC this year. The North Carolina Tar Heels are having the definition of a down year meaning that Tobacco Road was up for grabs this season.

Granted, not much was thought to come from Wake Forest and North Carolina State this year so it was Duke or bust basically. Yet, both of those teams have been able to upset Mike Krzyzewski’s team within the last few games.

The Blue Devils are falling off course at the exact wrong time. With the track they’re on now, it looks more likely that they’ll be exiting the NCAA Tournament early as opposed to making a run to the Final Four.

Another unranked road game awaits them as they travel down to Charlottesville and take on the defending national champions, the Virginia Cavaliers.

Tony Bennett’s pack-line defense has remained as one of the stingiest defensive units in the country despite them not having the same amount of offensive firepower as they did a season ago.

Duke gets an opportunity to fix things quickly though. Even though Virginia isn’t the team they once were it would still be a momentum-changing victory.

Tre Jones and Vernon Carey Jr. are the team’s best players and it is going to be on them to right the ship. The Cavaliers do a good job of hounding ball handlers and stifling post players. If Duke is able to get past this test then their March Madness future could look a lot better than it does at the moment.