Well, life was good last weekend. Nailed the Texas A&M-Kentucky score (79-77) -- but the officiating crew that hit Isaac Humphries with that late technical got it all wrong. We also guessed Maryland would score 86 points in a win over Michigan. That actually happened. And Oklahoma’s 76-point tally in a win at West Virginia. OK, this is getting weird now.
We heard the tweets of praise. And now we’re concerned.
For you. Because it won’t last. It can’t. A lot of success last weekend. This weekend? Who knows. But we’re worried.
No. 10 Maryland at No. 20 Purdue, 4 p.m. ET, Saturday, ESPN: First, we’d like to thank the Big Ten for closing the season with a pair of powerhouse matchups that will impact the regular-season race. Indiana, first place at 13-3, will face Iowa in Iowa City and Maryland in Bloomington before the season ends. Iowa and Maryland will enter the weekend with matching 11-4 records and second-place slots. But we can’t ignore what’s happening this weekend. This Maryland-Purdue matchup could ruin the Terps’ chances of snatching a slice of the Big Ten title. In the first meeting, a 72-61 win for the Terps, Maryland’s Robert Carter and Rasheed Sulaimon scored 40 points combined. That didn’t decide the game, though. This did: Maryland shot 27 free throws and made 24 of them, while Purdue finished 2-for-5 from the foul line. But Maryland’s only road win over a tourney team this season demanded a Melo Trimble buzzer-beating 3-pointer in Madison. The Terps didn’t have the same luck in losses at North Carolina, at Michigan, at Michigan State and ... at Minnesota. Purdue is 6-1 in Big Ten play at home. That lone blemish featured a 17-point halftime lead in a loss to Iowa. But the Boilermakers aren’t easy to beat in West Lafayette. And we’re still not convinced Maryland can beat a good team outside College Park.
Prediction: Purdue 78, Maryland 74
No. 7 North Carolina at No. 3 Virginia, 6:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, ESPN: After the Tar Heels fumbled late and lost a home game to its rival Duke in Chapel Hill, there were only questions. Valid questions. Why didn’t Brice Johnson get the ball in the final minutes? Can the Tar Heels beat elite teams if Marcus Paige (2-for-10) goes cold again? After that drama, however, the Tar Heels registered 1.41 points per possession in a win over Miami in their next game. They scored 80 on North Carolina State in the win after that. We know UNC’s ceiling and it’s high. Clearly. But Virginia’s relentless interior defense is the perfect elixir for a team that gets 62.1 percent of its offense from shots inside the arc (No. 2 in the country). In their first meeting last season, Virginia won after holding UNC to a 44.7 percent clip inside the arc but lost when North Carolina connected on 57 percent of its 2-pointers in the ACC tourney. But the Cavs will protect the rim on Saturday.
Prediction: Virginia 75, North Carolina 73
Texas Tech at No. 2 Kansas, 12 p.m. ET, Saturday, ESPN: Tubby Smith has already achieved things in Lubbock few expected. The Red Raiders have won five in a row (three over ranked opponents). Joe Lunardi’s latest bracketology slots Texas Tech as an 8-seed, which is crazy when you remember the Red Raiders lost seven of eight games earlier this season. This is a great story. An even better story? Kansas sealing a share of its 12th consecutive Big 12 title with a win on Saturday in a building where the Jayhawks always win.
Prediction: Kansas 85, Texas Tech 71
No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 25 Texas, 2 p.m. ET, Saturday, CBS: Shaka Smart could win Big 12 coach of the year. Texas lost lottery pick Myles Turner, an entire coaching staff and starting big man Cam Ridley midway through the season, but the Longhorns likely will hear their names called on Selection Sunday. A win over an Oklahoma squad that needed a Buddy Hield miracle in the final seconds to win the first game would guarantee a ticket and enhance their resume. But the Sooners are pushing for a No. 1 seed. They want this too.
Prediction: Oklahoma 73, Texas 70
No. 11 Louisville at No. 12 Miami (FL), 2 p.m. ET, Saturday, ESPN3/WatchESPN: This is a critical game and day for the ACC. Both teams will enter the matchup in second place in the league with 11-4 records. First-place North Carolina could lose in Charlottesville on Saturday evening. Damion Lee & Co. are chasing the ACC crown because it’s the only championship they can win this season. But Miami wants the ACC title and more. And if Davon Reed, Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez are all rolling, they can beat any team in the league. If. That’s a difficult task against Louisville’s pressure.
Prediction: Louisville 74, Miami 69
No. 9 Arizona at No. 22 Utah, 2 p.m. ET, Saturday, ESPN: In four of Arizona’s six losses this season, Gabe York shot below 36 percent from the field. York asked for this role as an offensive catalyst for an Arizona team that will need one in a difficult final chapter. Saturday is key in the Pac-12 race. No need to panic, Wildcats fans. But Arizona will face a Utah team that’s won five in a row and held a 30-2 advantage in the first half of Thursday’s 81-46 win over Arizona State. Did we mention Jakob Poeltl has accrued a 70 percent (or better) success rate from the field in seven of his last nine games. Arizona ain’t worried about all that, though.
Prediction: Arizona 89, Utah 85 (Overtime)