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The Early Lead
Posted at 10:13 AM ET, 02/03/2012

Kansas-Missouri, Ohio State-Wisconsin highlight critical Saturday of college basketball showdowns


Thomas Robinson and Kansas have a huge game at Missouri on Saturday. (Orlin Wagner - AP)
Does Missouri have real hope of ending Kansas’s run of Big 12 titles? Is Ohio State the best team in the best conference? Who is the hottest team in the Big East?

These questions, and many others, will be answered during what will be a monster Saturday of college basketball. No fewer than six must-see games across the country highlight the schedule:

No. 8 Kansas at No. 4 Missouri, 9 p.m. (ESPN): Kansas is one game ahead of Missouri and Baylor in an ultra-competitive race for the regular season Big 12 crown. Missouri lacks size and has to combat interior force Thomas Robinson, a favorite for national player of the year. But Kansas has to deal with Missouri’s speed and home crowd. The winner could make a case to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

No. 3 Ohio State at No. 19 Wisconsin (2 p.m., ESPN): This is the first of two regular season meetings between these two Big Ten heavyweights. The Badgers are tough to beat in Madison, but they lost three games at home this season. The Buckeyes, at the moment, are in line to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Badgers should have a good chance at a top-five seed in the NCAAs.

No. 25 Vanderbilt at No. 12 Florida (1 p.m., not televised in the Washington area but on CBS in some parts of the country) : The winner can claim to be the second-best team in the SEC behind Kentucky. Both teams have had hiccups at times this season, with Florida losing at Rutgers and at Tennessee and with Vanderbilt losing to Indiana State and Cleveland State in non-league play while not at full strength.

No. 16 Virginia at No. 21 Florida State (1 p.m., WDCA-20, WNUV-54): Don’t expect anything like an offensive shootout in this one. Both teams rely on stingy defenses. The winner will be right in the mix for the top spot in the ACC. If Florida State wins, the Seminoles will have claimed victories against — besides themselves — the three top teams in the ACC. Virginia has not had a quality victory since Nov. 29 against Michigan.


Tu Holloway and Xavier visit Memphis on Saturday. (Al Behrman - AP)

Xavier at Memphis (1 p.m.): This matchup actually looked more appealing before the season. Xavier, of course, has not been the same team since the brawl against Cincinnati. Memphis has been inconsistent throughout the season and is no lock to win the Conference USA regular season title. That said, there will be a lot of talent on the floor with Will Barton, Tu Holloway, etc.

No. 15 Marquette at Notre Dame (1 p.m., CBS): Few teams in the country, much less the Big East, are hotter than these two. The Irish are back in the NCAA tournament mix after consecutive victories against Syracuse, Seton Hall and Connecticut. And Marquette has not lost since Jan. 7.

Bracketology: Here’s my projected NCAA tournament field .

More on Washington Post Sports:

Maryland coverage at Terrapins Insider

Virginia coverage at Cavaliers Journal

Virginia Tech coverage at Hokies Journal

By  |  10:13 AM ET, 02/03/2012

 
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