Inside College Hoops: Will UK extend winning streak at Rupp this weekend?

It was Feb. 27, 2014 the last time Kentucky lost a game inside Rupp Arena.

It was an overtime loss to Mike Anderson’s Arkansas Razorbacks.

The Harrison twins had seven turnovers.

Since that night, UK has won 32 straight at home, made two Final Fours and had eight NBA Draft picks. So a lot of good has happened since that night. But the Wildcats will have to play well Saturday to extend their winning streak at Rupp to 33, because their opponent is a Florida team that just beat No. 14 West Virginia, and that has already played No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 10 Michigan State to single-digit games on the road.

In other words, this likely won’t be an easy task for John Calipari’s unpredictable team.

They’ll be favored … but not by much.

Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. ET on CBS and CBSSports.com.

Kentucky lost to Tennessee this week and now faces Florida on Saturday. (USATSI)
Kentucky lost to Tennessee this week and now faces Florida on Saturday. (USATSI)

ONE GAME I CAN’T WAIT TO WATCH: I think everybody believes Maryland is really good — like good enough to win a national championship. But the Terrapins’ resume is still lacking relative to most of the nation’s other elite teams, if only because they have just two top-50 RPI wins. That’s fewer than every other team currently ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll, which is the bad news. But the good news is that No. 4 Maryland will add a top-25 RPI win Saturday if it handles No. 18 Purdue inside the Xfinity Center.

ANOTHER GAME I CAN’T WAIT TO WATCH: No. 2 North Carolina had its 12-game winning streak snapped earlier this week at No. 19 Louisville, and now the Tar Heels are back on the road for a Saturday game against an unranked-but-still-good Notre Dame team. The Irish are 11-1 at the Joyce Center this season with the lone loss coming to Pittsburgh.

AND YET ANOTHER GAME I CAN’T WAIT TO WATCH: Providence has lost four of its past eight, two of its past three, and the 11th-ranked Friars are coming off of a loss to DePaul, which is something no team ranked 11th should ever be doing. And things aren’t getting any easier. Because next up is Saturday’s rematch with No. 3 Villanova. And, yes, the Friars will be underdogs at home even though A) they’ve already beaten Jay Wright’s team on the road, and B) it’s unclear if Villanova’s Daniel Ochefu will be in uniform.

FUN GAME BETWEEN UNRANKED TEAMS: It’s not often Duke can be identified as an unranked team and thus used in this spot. So there’s no sense in passing on this rare opportunity, i.e., Saturday’s game between unranked North Carolina State and unranked Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils are out of the AP poll this week for the first time since 2007. Mike Krzyzewski is expected to coach Saturday after missing Tuesday’s win at Georgia Tech for medical reasons.

THE PLAYER TO KEEP AN EYE ON: It has to be Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, right? The senior leader of the top-ranked Sooners is averaging 25.8 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 52.8 percent from the field, 51.7 percent from 3-point range and 89.6 percent from the free throw line. On Saturday he’ll face Kansas State for the second time. Hield got 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists in an 86-76 win over the Wildcats last month.

LOCK OF THE WEEKEND: No. 13 Iowa State is desperate for a win after losing two straight to Texas A&M and West Virginia. And Oklahoma State is 1-9 against top-75 RPI teams. So let’s lay the points with the Cyclones on the road and stack cash. #GetPaper

FIVE THINGS WORTH NOTING

1. No. 9 Virginia has won five straight and put itself at least within striking distance to maybe win a third consecutive ACC title. The ninth-ranked Cavaliers need to win Saturday at Pitt, though, or else they’ll likely fall three games back in the loss column of North Carolina.

2. No. 10 Michigan State and Michigan have combined to win seven of their past eight games heading into Saturday’s showdown in Ann Arbor. If the Wolverines win, they’ll probably find themselves in Monday’s AP poll. They’re already in the Top 25 (and one).

3. No. 7 Kansas is at TCU on Saturday. So the Jayhawks will likely be up comfortably in the final seconds. If so, will Brannen Greene be on the court? And, if so, will he pull another “d-ck move,” according to KU coach Bill Self? That’s something worth monitoring, for certain.

4. No. 16 Oregon is alone atop the Pac-12 standings heading into Sunday’s game with Utah. The Ducks have won five straight and now have the third best RPI in the country.

5. Meantime, No. 5 Iowa has moved to No. 1 at KenPom thanks to a resume featuring seven top-50 KenPom wins. The Hawkeyes play at Illinois on Sunday.

FINAL THOUGHT: My 20-player Wooden Award ballot is due Friday afternoon. For those interested, here’s the list of names I plan to submit …

(Players listed in alphabetical order.)

  • Grayson Allen (Duke)
  • Ben Bentil (Providence)
  • Trevon Bluiett (Xavier)
  • Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia)
  • Kris Dunn (Providence)
  • Perry Ellis (Kansas)
  • Yogi Ferrell (Indiana)
  • A.J. Hammons (Purdue)
  • Josh Hart (Villanova)
  • Buddy Hield (Oklahoma)
  • Brice Johnson (North Carolina)
  • Damion Lee (Louisville)
  • Monte Morris (Iowa State)
  • Georges Niang (Iowa State)
  • Jakob Poeltl (Utah)
  • Ben Simmons (LSU)
  • Melo Trimble (Maryland)
  • Jarrod Uthoff (Iowa)
  • Denzel Valentine (Michigan State)
  • Fred VanVleet (Wichita State)

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