Duke-Virginia headlines top men’s college basketball games this weekend

We get it, sports fans. There’s an event this weekend that’s grabbing all the headlines.

But in this little corner of the department, Selection Sunday beats Super Bowl Sunday, and the action on the hardwood is intensifying with the big bracket coming out in just a month.

There are a lot of viewing options, and of course if your school’s team is in action you will seek it out. But here at the Starting Five, we try to point out the best televised options for the coming weekend to the casual fan. Here then are our picks, with the standard advice to keep the remote handy.

No. 24 Duke at No. 9 Virginia

TIME/TV: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

Follow every game: Latest NCAA Men’s College Basketball Scores and Schedules

After the intensity of the North Carolina win, the Blue Devils faced a quick turnaround for the long trip to Miami. That predictably did not go well Monday night as the Hurricanes rolled easily, but Duke should be better rested for this shorter road trip. It won’t be any easier, however, as the Cavaliers appear poised to finally take charge of the ACC race. Topping the marquee is the matchup of Virginia’s Kihei Clark and Duke’s Jeremy Roach, two of the league’s premier floor generals.

No. 12 Baylor at No. 19 TCU

TIME/TV: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN2

It’s unfortunate that both the day’s Top 25 clashes are in the same timeslot, but those are the breaks. The Horned Frogs aren’t in bubble jeopardy by any stretch, but the reality of life in the Big 12 is any small lapse in performance means you’re never far removed from a losing streak. They’ll look to protect their home court and snap a mini slide, but the Bears have been trending upward since a rough start in league play. TCU likely will still be without point guard Mike Miles, who poured in 33 points in the Frogs’ earlier win against Baylor in Waco. The smallish Bears can struggle on the boards at times, but it hasn’t mattered of late the way they’ve been shooting.

No. 3 Alabama at Auburn

TIME/TV: Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN

We can’t promise a kick-six, but there’s always a chance for fireworks whenever these rivals schools get together regardless of the sport. The Crimson Tide are comfortably atop the SEC with the Tigers hoping to bolster an otherwise lackluster resume that features just one Quad 1 win to date. Auburn has dropped four of its last five due to inconsistent play at both ends. Alabama will want to start fast to take the Tigers’ crowd out of the game.

No. 21 Connecticut at Creighton

TIME/TV: Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, Fox

Sitting just outside the Top 25, the Bluejays are the hottest team in the Big East. They’ll try to run their winning streak to eight and pick up another top-tier victory in the process. The Huskies, however, have won three in a row themselves and seem to have snapped out of last month’s funk. Creighton’s hot streak coincides with the return of big man Ryan Kalkbrenner, who missed three games due to illness. Connecticut guard Tristen Newton posted a triple double in Tuesday night’s win against Marquette but will need to be sharp again in hostile environs.

No. 1 Purdue at Northwestern

Time/TV: Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, BTN

This one might be worth a look as you await the kickoff for that big football game that closes out the NFL season. The Boilermakers look to defend their lofty poll position, while the upstart Wildcats look to collect another high-end victory that can get them their second NCAA berth in school history. Northwestern likely won’t have an answer for Purdue’s Zach Edey – not that anybody does really –, but they might be able to pressure the ball enough to limit the entry passes.

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