CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Sporting Alert) — A busy day of action in NCAA DI college men’s basketball is on the schedule for Saturday, March 7, as several top 25 teams close out their regular-season fixtures.
Among the highlighted teams in action on Saturday are No. 1 Kentucky, No. 3 Duke, No. 4 Villanova and No. 5 Arizona. There are also several highlighted conference clashes on the day, including the Big 12 matchup between ninth-ranked Kansas and the 15th-ranked Oklahoma.
At the Rupp Arena in Lexington, top-ranked and undefeated Kentucky (30-0, 17-0 Southeastern Conference) will look to extend its winning streak to 31 straight on the season and stay perfect when they play hosts to Florida.
The Wildcats, who edged to an uncomfortable 68-61 victory when these two teams last met on February 7, are just one win away from clinching its first unbeaten regular season.
The battle up to this point has been challenging, but head coach John Calipari believes his team has handle the situation maturely.
“I’m not reflecting back right now, I’m looking forward,” he said on the school’s official website. “But I will tell you for them to stay the course is a challenge in itself here.”
Calipari added: “To stay into each other, to not listen and let the clutter affect who you are and how you play, it’s amazing.
“I mean, you got guys that aren’t worried about Player of the Year, yet if they were playing 35 minutes a game and getting the ball every time, they’d be Player of the Year.
“They’re not worried about it. They’re just playing basketball. They’re just trying to play for each other.”
The Gators (15-15, 8-9 SEC) head into this game with a two game winning streak and will want to end its campaign on a winning note.
Aaron Harrison scored 23 points, Karl-Anthony Towns netted 19 and the Wildcats, as a team connected on 21 of 22 from the free throw line in the last matchup between these two sides a month ago in Gainesville.
Kentucky, which is averaging 74.9 points per game and allowing 53.5 overall, is 18-0 at home, while Florida is 2-8 on the road this season.
Meanwhile, in what is expected to be a feisty rivalry matchup in the Atlantic Coast Conference, third-ranked Duke takes on No. 19 North Carolina, hoping to complete the regular-season sweep.
The Blue Devils (27-3, 14-3 ACC) secured an entertaining 92-90 overtime victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 18 and the travelers are bracing for another thriller, as the Tar Heels are looking to return the favour at their place.
“The last game we played against them was an amazing game,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose Duke team won four straight after that win and carries a 10 game winning streak into this contest.
North Carolina (21-9, 11-6 ACC) has looked good in patches this season, but struggles with consistency.
Nevertheless, the Tar Heels, who sit fifth in the ACC standings, are always motivated to face Duke, and come Saturday nothing in that department will change.
Roy Williams’ side has won two straight and three of the last four games, but he will be a little worried about the drop in form of key man and leading scorer Marcus Paige (13.2 points per game), who is averaging 9.8 points per game over his past five contests.
Paige has also failed to score in double figures in four of the last six outings and is shooting 37.5 percent in this period. He scored just five points and was 2 for 11 in the last clash with Duke.
Elsewhere on Saturday in NCAA top 25 action, No. 2 Virginia closes out its regular-season fixtures at No. 16 Louisville.
The Cavaliers (28-1, 16-1 ACC), which already clinched the ACC regular-season title, are on a nine game winning streak, while the Cardinals (23-7, 11-6 ACC) have won three of the last four, but are coming off a 71-59 defeat against No. 12 Notre Dame.
In other games, (4) Villanova battle with St. John’s, Stanford travels to (5) Arizona, while No. 7 Gonzaga will seek to bounce back from their last defeat when they take on San Francisco in the West Coast Conference tournament.
NCAA Top 25 Men’s Basketball Games
Live TV Channels and ESPN3 Streams
TIME (ET) ESPN
12:00 PM (21) Butler at (24) Providence Fox Sports Net
2:00 PM Florida at (1) Kentucky CBS
2:00 PM LSU at (18) Arkansas ESPN, WatchESPN
2:00 PM Oklahoma State at (20) West Virginia ESPNEWS, WatchESPN
2:00 PM St. John’s at (4) Villanova FOX
2:35 PM Illinois St vs (8) Wichita State* ESPN 3
4:00 PM (9) Kansas at (15) Oklahoma ESPN, WatchESPN
4:00 PM Stanford at (5) Arizona CBS
4:00 PM Clemson at (12) Notre Dame ESPN 3
4:30 PM (13) Utah at Washington Pac-12 Network
5:05 PM Loyola (IL) vs (11) Northern Iowa* ESPN 3
6:30 PM (2) Virginia at (16) Louisville ESPN, WatchESPN
7:00 PM Belmont vs (25) Murray State* ESPN2, WatchESPN
8:30 PM (17) Iowa State at TCU ESPNEWS, WatchESPN
9:00 PM (3) Duke at (19) North Carolina ESPN, WatchESPN
9:00 PM San Francisco vs (7) Gonzaga* ESPN 2, WatchESPN