This weekend’s men’s college basketball slate features multiple games every fan should watch. Brandon Miller and Alabama will go to rival Auburn in a major SEC matchup. Baylor and TCU will battle in Fort Worth, Texas, in a game with Big 12 title implications. And UConn will travel to Omaha, Nebraska, to face a Creighton squad that finally looks like the preseason Big East favorite it was projected to be after having won seven in a row.
This weekend is also an opportunity for a handful of teams that could use a boost for their résumés — whether they’re trying to solidify a spot in the 2023 NCAA tournament, or hoping to avoid a risky path to the second weekend. One matchup on the West Coast might have more “win and you’re in” potential than any other game on the schedule:
No. 7 UCLA Bruins (20-4, No. 5 NET) at Oregon Ducks (15-10, No. 53 NET)
Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN
If there were a commercial for teams on the bubble, it would star Dana Altman and the Ducks. The good stuff? They have a home win over Arizona. The bad? Nothing on their résumé beyond that stands out, and losses to UC Irvine (home), Utah Valley (home) and Stanford (road) won’t help their cause. Saturday’s matchup against the Bruins, however, offers Altman and Co. another chance to add a major victory to their résumé — the Bruins are currently a 2-seed on Lunardi’s latest Bracketology — and emerge from “First Four Out” purgatory in their last shot to get a signature win in Pac-12 action.
Star Power: Jaime Jaquez Jr. (16.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG) has made 59% of his shots at the rim for UCLA this season, per hoop-math.com.
Score prediction: UCLA 73, Oregon 69
Other weekend games that can boost résumés
Saturday, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Mike Boynton’s squad is hanging out on the bubble — “Last Four Byes,” per Lunardi — but a road victory, albeit an unlikely one, over a strong Cyclones team that’s undefeated at home and looking for revenge, would change the Cowboys’ fortunes.
Star Power: With Osun Osunniyi on the court, Iowa State has forced turnovers on 25% of its opponents’ possessions, per hooplens.com.
Score prediction: Iowa State 71, Oklahoma State 66
Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN
A victory for Duke, which is 4-2 in its last six games and coming off a 22-point road loss to Miami, would increase the likelihood that the Blue Devils will avoid a dangerous first-round matchup in the NCAA tournament.
Star Power: Jayden Gardner is averaging 18.2 PPG over the last four games for the Cavaliers.
Score prediction: Virginia 68, Duke 63
Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Fresh off a home win over Iowa State, the Mountaineers (a 9-seed per Lunardi) would feel even better about their Selection Sunday positioning with another victory over a ranked Big 12 team.
Star Power: Texas has made 56% of its shots inside the arc with Sir’Jabari Rice on the floor this season, per hooplens.com.
Score prediction: Texas 81, West Virginia 73
Saturday, 6 p.m. ET, SEC Network
The Tigers (wins over Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky and Iowa State) seem to be in a good spot to make the NCAA tournament, but a road win over a top-10 Vols squad could improve their seeding, and help them avoid a dangerous matchup in the opening round in March.
Star Power: With Kobe Brown and Isiaih Mosley on the floor together this season, the Tigers have shot 57% from inside the arc and 46% from the 3-point line, per hooplens.com.
Score prediction: Tennessee 60, Missouri 53