Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana all need wins on Saturday for their NCAA Tournament resumes.
LEXINGTON. Ky. (WDRB) – If you love college basketball, and if you stopped at this post I am assuming that you do, this might be the most relentlessly entertaining day of the season.
By my count, there are 153 games involving at least one Division I team Saturday, starting with Toledo-Akron (already underway) and concluding with UC-Riverside at Hawaii, which begins at midnight.
The Associated Press Top 25 has already taken five direct hits this week – and you can expect more turmoil on Saturday because there are three games involving two ranked teams.
But like politics, all college basketball is local. It's time for a capsule look at the three major local games.
Tennessee at Kentucky (noon)
Line: Wildcats by 7 ½.
Pomeroy: UK 73, UT 68.
Sagarin: UK by 7.8
If you trust the Pomeroy ratings, then this is a matchup between the second (UK) and third (UT) best teams in the Southeastern Conference. If you made a note that Tennessee could not beat Texas A&M in Knoxville last weekend, then you wonder if the Volunteers are really that dangerous.
Keep an eye on the glass – and the turnovers. Kentucky leads the SEC in rebounding margin. Tennessee is second. The Vols are plus-1.4 in turnover margin. Kentucky is minus-1.9.
And remember this: For the first time since forever, there is no rematch in Knoxville this season. Thanks, SEC.
Northwestern at Indiana (2:30 p.m.)
TV: Big Ten Network
Line: IU by 13.
Pomeroy: IU 69, Northwestern 59.
Sagarin: IU by 13.
This game moved into Trap Game territory after the Wildcats toppled Illinois at home last Sunday and followed that performance by playing Michigan State tough in Evanston. Tom Crean will have to convince his IU players that their upset victory against Wisconsin will be forgotten if they stumble against the Wildcats.
Look for Northwestern to do what Wisconsin refused to do – zone the Hoosiers and make them prove they can score from the perimeter. Any road map that has Indiana returning to serious NCAA Tournament discussion starts with two victories over Northwestern.
Louisville at Connecticut (9 p.m.)
Line: U of L by 1 ½.
Pomeroy: UConn 70, U of L 69.
Sagarin: Louisville by 2.93.
Critics keep chirping that Louisville lacks a quality win. Winning in Storrs should quiet that discussion. For a few minutes.
Can the Cards deliver? The Huskies have only lost once in Storrs this season – and that was a puzzling defeat against a mediocre Stanford club. Louisville has a history of playing well in Storrs, but UConn coach Kevin Ollie started the day on Twitter, imploring UConn fans to set a noise level mark at Gampel Pavilion, a comparatively tiny venue that seats 10,167.
That's because Dick Vitale, Dan Shulman and the ESPN A-Team will be calling the game – and UConn needs to solidify its NCAA Tournament resume, too.