UConn's loss to Pitt earlier this week should signal our sixth No. 1 team in the rankings come Monday when the next polls are released. Oklahoma, ranked second in both of the latest polls, is the most likely candidate to ascend to the precarious perch. Truth is it doesn't really matter right now with so much basketball still to be played, including several crucial matchups in the ACC this weekend.
College hoops is usually more about the team – and the coach – than any one individual player. But most individuals aren’t as talented as Stephen Curry. When the leading scorer in Division I (29.0 points in 33.8 minutes per game) missed Wednesday night’s action with a sprained left ankle, his Davidson Wildcats fell 64-46 at home to The Citadel (+14). The ‘Cats were 17-of-67 from the floor in that game, including 3-of-23 from long range. Ouch.
Curry hopes to be back on Saturday when Davidson hosts No. 21 Butler. Meanwhile, the 2008-09 regular season is getting down to brass tacks, so make sure to keep an eye on the local papers to see how healthy the following six teams are heading into this weekend.
No. 3 North Carolina at Maryland
Saturday, Feb 21, 3:30 p.m. (ET) ABC
The Tar Heels (24-2 SU, 10-14 ATS, No. 1 Pomeroy) had some good news and some bad news Wednesday. Freshman forward Tyler Zeller made his return from a broken left wrist and played nine minutes off the bench in an 89-80 victory over North Carolina State. The bad news: Zeller’s two points weren’t nearly enough to get UNC to the pay window as a 19½-point road chalk. The Heels have only hit paydirt in one of their last five games.
It’s been a bit of a rough ride this year for UNC supporters. Depth is an issue without swingman and top defender Marcus Ginyard (foot) or reserve forward Will Graves (suspension) available for the rest of the season. The Wolfpack were the third team in five games to drop at least 80 points on North Carolina – although that’s partly because the Tar Heels run the third-fastest pace in the nation at 75.6 possessions per game
Maryland (16-9 SU, 9-7-2 ATS, No. 73 Pomeroy) was one of the other two teams to light up the Tar Heels. The Terrapins got paid as 22-point puppies on Feb. 3 when they went into Chapel Hill and lost 108-91. The over is on a surprising 4-0 run for the offensively dubious Terps and 6-2 in North Carolina’s last eight.
Florida State at Virginia Tech
Saturday, Feb 21, 8:00 p.m. (ET)
And then you have the Hokies (16-9 SU, 8-12 ATS, No. 69 Pomeroy), who have the over cashing in at an incredible 14-5. Having a porous defense helps; Tech gave up 83 points to the Terps on Valentine’s Day, and have allowed at least 70 in eight of their last nine. But the Hokies are anything but gifted on offense. They’re not particularly good shooting from anywhere on the floor – Tech relies on frequent trips to the foul line, with 23.4 percent of the scoring coming on freebies.
Florida State (20-6 SU, 13-6-1 ATS, No. 54 Pomeroy) will not be terribly compliant when these two clubs meet on Saturday. The giant Seminoles are very disciplined on defense, racking up blocks and steals while allowing just 21.9 percent of points against to come from the free-throw line. They have the offense of a big team, too: awful from the perimeter and turnover-prone. The under is 11-9-1 for FSU this year.
No. 8 Wake Forest at No. 9 Duke
Sunday, Feb 22, 7:45 p.m. (ET)
Here’s a pair of former No. 1 teams in a race to see who can fall the furthest. Wake Forest (20-4 SU, 12-8 ATS, No. 19 Pomeroy) is 3-3 SU and ATS in its last six games. Duke (20-5 SU, 11-12-1 ATS, No. 5 Pomeroy) went into Thursday’s action riding a 2-4 SU and 1-5 ATS slump that started with a 70-68 loss to the Deacons (+2) on Jan. 28 at The Joel. The Blue Devils have allowed at least 70 points in five of those six contests; only three of their previous 19 opponents were able to score that much. The under is still a highly profitable 15-8 despite failing to reach the pay window in Duke’s last three outings.
While the Devils endure another late-season slump, Wake has taken advantage of easier competition of late – like Wednesday’s 87-69 win at home over Georgia Tech (+13½). The Deacs are 8-2 ATS at home, 4-4 on the road and 0-2 on neutral ground; Duke is 6-7-1 ATS at Cameron Indoor Stadium and looking for revenge on Sunday. They’ll probably get it.