Worried about your favorite team? Well, you should be. With nearly two weeks until Selection Sunday, the hierarchy of the 2023 men’s NCAA tournament will largely be decided — besides the automatic berths — in the days ahead.
This weekend is packed with pivotal matchups that will influence those results.
And for one coach who leads a team with Final Four hopes, a journey of redemption could continue this weekend. Here’s what to watch, and why.
No. 8 Texas Longhorns (22-6, 11-4 Big 12) at No. 9 Baylor Bears (20-8, 9-6 Big 12)
Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN
Timmy Allen takes Texas to 8-0 run with a nice bucket
Timmy Allen makes a nice shot while being toughly defended.
In his 10 seasons as the head coach at Fresno State and UTEP, Rodney Terry made just one NCAA tournament appearance. But the acting head coach for the Longhorns has now set himself up to either fill the permanent role at Texas or secure another high-major job elsewhere. After Chris Beard was suspended in December, nothing seemed certain in Austin. But Terry is 15-5 since he took over as interim head coach. A win against the Bears in Waco on Saturday will increase the possibility that the March 4 clash between Texas and Kansas at Moody Center will decide the Big 12 title between the two. Terry is also in the hunt for national coach of the year honors. But Baylor’s Keyonte George (16.9 PPG) leads a team with a high-powered offense (No. 2 in adjusted offensive efficiency on KenPom) that aims to avoid a three-game losing streak.
Score prediction: Texas 82, Baylor 77
Saturday, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
The mysterious shooting slump of Pete Nance (46% from the 3-point line last season; 28% this season) has been a contributing factor in a desperate UNC squad’s descent from top four in shooting from beyond the arc (38%) in league play last season to last place in the ACC (28%) this season. But this league is wacky, highlighted by Virginia’s loss to Boston College on Wednesday.
Score prediction: Virginia 69, North Carolina 65
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox
Ten years ago, former Indiana star Victor Oladipo crashed the Wooden Award race after not being included on the midseason list of nominees, and nearly stole the award from Michigan’s Trey Burke. By leading his team to a second win over the Boilermakers this season, Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis (20.5 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.9 BPG) could also make this year’s Wooden Award race more than just “The Zach Edey Show.”
Score prediction: Purdue 78, Indiana 72
Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN
Saint Mary’s forces overtime with late basket
Saint Mary’s sends the game to overtime as Aidan Mahaney finds Mitchell Saxen for the layup.
The last time Gonzaga failed to win at least a share of the West Coast Conference championship (2011-12), “Call Me Maybe” was the top song on the Billboard charts. A win for the Gaels, led by Aidan Mahaney (15.1 PPG, 41% from beyond the arc), would seal the outright WCC regular-season title for Randy Bennett’s squad.
Score prediction: Gonzaga 78, Saint Mary’s 75
Friday, 7 p.m. ET, FS1
Both have lost three of their past four games. For Xavier, the Zach Freemantle (15.2 PPG, 8.1 RPG) injury has soured the vibe for the program, while Shaheen Holloway needs a late rally to get his team back into the NCAA tournament conversation.
Score prediction: Xavier 75, Seton Hall 70
Saturday, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN2
From an eight-game losing streak to being “Next Four Out,” Texas Tech’s roller-coaster season has taken a positive turn and put it on the bubble. For De’Vion Harmon (13.5 PPG) & Co., a win over TCU, which is still waiting on Mike Miles Jr. to return to form after suffering a knee injury, would boost their NCAA tournament hopes.
Score prediction: Texas Tech 71, TCU 68
Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Back-to-back home wins over Iowa State and Baylor helped Kansas State escape a 1-4 stretch that threatened to jeopardize its shot at a top-four seed. Meanwhile, a win would help Mike Boynton’s team as it continues to play its way into a safe spot for Selection Sunday.
Score prediction: Oklahoma State 74, Kansas State 70
Sunday, 12 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
The story of the Wildcats, who are searching for their second NCAA tournament appearance in school history after five consecutive losing seasons, has been fascinating. Boo Buie (17.0 PPG) and team will travel, however, to face a Maryland team that already has defeated Indiana and Purdue at home.
Score prediction: Maryland 75, Northwestern 71