Scott Shapiro's Saturday college basketball preview
We are 30 days away from Selection Sunday, and there is so much still on the line. There is a plethora of important matchups in college hoops on Saturday, which will impact who gets into the NCAA Tournament and seeding.
Here are my thoughts on a few of the day's most intriguing contests.
#9 Maryland at Michigan State, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Terrapins head to East Lansing with a one-game lead in the Big Ten. Mark Turgeon’s squad is 20-4 and projected to be No. 2 or No. 2 seed in the Big Dance, but the Terps have struggled away from home. However, they have found a way to win three consecutive games away from College Park, including an impressive, come-from-behind, 75-66 victory at Illinois a week ago.
Maryland is nearly unbeatable when it gets contributions from players other than the dynamic duo of Anthony Cowan and Jalen Smith. That just hasn't happened consistently on the road.
Michigan State has underachieved this year and has suffered through a lull in February, with three losses the last four games. The good news is the Spartans got production from sophomore Aaron Henry in their 70-69 victory at Illinois on Tuesday. When Henry has posted double figures in his career, Michigan State is 12-4.
Michigan State will need to continue to get offensive contributions from Henry, freshman Rocket Watts, and sophomore Gabe Brown. The Spartans also need to find a way to contain Maryland’s secondary options if they want to get a huge victory in the Breslin Center.
Pick: Michigan State
Purdue at Ohio State, noon ET (FOX)
Winning games on the road has been a challenge for the entire Big Ten all season long, and Purdue is no exception. However, the Boilermakers have been better away from Mackey Arena in February, with wins at Northwestern and Indiana.
Matt Painter’s team was favored at home earlier in the week, but ran into a buzz saw against a red-hot Penn State team that made 14 of its 26 shots from three-point range.
I am not confident Purdue will head into Columbus and earn an outright victory. The Buckeyes have underwhelmed in conference play, but turned things of late, with four wins in their last five games. But I expect the Boilermakers to play well, after they were dominated in front of their home crowd.
Look for Purdue to hang in this one throughout.
#25 LSU at Alabama, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
The Crimson Tide head back to Tuscaloosa after a gut-wrenching, 95-91, overtime loss to arch rival Auburn. Alabama has lost four of its last five and is below .500 in SEC play.
LSU put together a 10-game win streak from Dec. 29 to Feb. 1, but has not played quite as well over its last three games. Scoring against the Tigers should not be an issue, but stopping their offense will be a major challenge, because they rank third in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency.
The Tigers regrouped after a slow start to best Missouri on Tuesday and should be able to score at will in the paint Saturday. I expect Skylar Mays and Darius Days to go off.
Will Wade’s squad has played well away from the Maravich Assembly Center and catches the Tide after a tough defeat. I like their chances to come away with a big road win.