What to observe for in Michigan State-Michigan, Seton Hall-UConn, extra on FOX

With simply three weekends of convention play left, faculty basketball has hit an important time of 12 months. 

From bubble watch to groups making an attempt to bolster their résumé and others seeking to put one final run collectively, this weekend will convey a variety of storylines throughout the nation.

A four-game slate airs Saturday on FOX, highlighted by a rematch of a Big East thriller, the ladies’s faculty basketball nationwide main scorer, some excellent home-court benefits and an emotional renewal of a rivalry.

Here’s a breakdown of Saturday’s slate and what to observe for.

Seton Hall at No. 20 UConnNoon ET, Gampel Pavilion

This is a rematch of an epic sport performed 31 days in the past, when the Pirates rallied from 17 factors all the way down to stun the Huskies, 67-66, on a KC Ndefo game-winner.

KC Nedfo makes UNBELIEVABLE and-1 layup for a Seton Hall comeback

KC Nedfo makes UNBELIEVABLE and-1 layup for a Seton Hall comeback

Seton Hall’s KC Ndefo made an and-1 layup throughout the closing seconds the sport to defeat UConn, 67-66.

The circumstances of the rematch can be very completely different because the Huskies search revenge inside Gampel Pavilion, the place they’ve misplaced simply as soon as all 12 months. Additionally, Dan Hurley and Kimani Young, who missed the primary assembly between the 2 groups resulting from COVID-19, can be again on the sidelines for this one. 

This is an important sport within the Big East standings, with the top-five groups receiving a first-round bye within the convention event. Seton Hall is 9-7 within the league, whereas UConn sits in sixth place at 8-7.

For Connecticut, which owns six Quad 1 wins on the season and holds a NET rating of 8, the house stretch is about regaining the momentum and rhythm that led to a 14-0 begin this season. Last week, the Huskies regarded nice in a win over Marquette earlier than falling simply wanting Creighton in Omaha, 56-53. Hurley’s staff has gained three of 4 and is taking part in higher behind Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins. 

On the opposite facet, Seton Hall is squarely on the bubble and sitting in Mike Decourcy’s “Next Four Out” of his NCAA Tournament projections. While a visit to Gampel is a frightening activity, it does current the Pirates with an enormous alternative to make a press release to the choice committee and get on the proper facet of the bubble. 

Shaheen Holloway’s staff has the Huskies adopted by a house sport in opposition to Xavier on Friday. It is a should for Seton Hall to get one of many subsequent two video games to remain within the NCAA Tournament dialog. That gained’t be straightforward, however Holloway’s gotten extra out of this staff than one would have initially thought.

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No. 6 UConn at No. 14 Villanova (W) – 2:30 p.m. ET, Finneran Pavilion 

This has the potential to be an impressive showdown between the highest two groups within the Big East standings. Additionally, each of those packages had been included within the NCAA choice committee’s Top 16 reveal final week. 

Connecticut holds a one-game lead within the convention at 15-1 after rallying from an 11-point deficit within the fourth quarter to beat Creighton on Wednesday night time. 

While UConn was doing that, Villanova was busy incomes its 14th win within the final 15 video games, a price that’s second solely to South Carolina nationally. How have the Wildcats gained 23 of 27 video games this season? With one of the best scorer within the nation, and the highest scorer within the historical past of the Big East Conference: Maddy Siegrist. The senior from Poughkeepsie, New York is averaging 29.4 factors per sport, which ranks first within the nation. She scored a Big East single-game report 50 factors in opposition to Seton Hall final Saturday, after which adopted that up with 39 in a win at St. John’s on Wednesday. 

Not solely is Siegrist having an All-American season, however the senior can also be one of many extra down-to-earth personalities you will see that. Her recognition has adopted, as evidenced by Wednesday’s scene at Carnesecca Arena after her homecoming to New York. 

Last 12 months, Villanova went into Hartford and beat the Huskies on the XL Center with Siegrist going for 17 factors and 12 rebounds. 

This is among the only a few instances within the Geno Auriemma period the place UConn will present up for a sport and never have one of the best participant on the ground. That’s as a result of Azzi Fudd continues to be coping with a knee harm, and with Paige Bueckers and Ice Brady out for the 12 months, Connecticut has needed to piece collectively a brief rotation. It’s on Lou Lopez Senechal, who had 17 factors within the win over the Jays, to maintain driving the backcourt, whereas Aliyah Edwards has to dictate the frontcourt play if the Huskies are going to win. Don’t be shocked if Villanova pulls this off, nevertheless it must be a extremely aggressive sport with the Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament simply two weeks away.

Villanova at No. 24 Providence4:30 p.m. ET, Amica Mutual Pavilion 

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The Friars have gained 35 of their final 36 video games inside their residence constructing and 16 in a row after a double-overtime victory over Creighton on Tuesday. The final staff to beat Providence on its residence ground? Villanova.

It was Feb. 15 of final 12 months when Collin Gillespie had 33 factors and Justin Moore poured in 19 factors and added 10 rebounds as Jay Wright’s Wildcats topped the Friars, 89-84. Oh, how instances have modified for Villanova with Wright gone and no agency level guard to take over for Gillespie. 

That stated, Kyle Neptune’s staff has performed higher as of late, successful three straight to get to 7-8 within the Big East and looking out like a possible darkish horse within the upcoming Big East Tournament. Caleb Daniels has mixed for 31 factors during the last two video games, whereas Moore is coming off a 15-and-6 sport in opposition to Butler.

Meanwhile, the Friars are nonetheless within the struggle for a Big East title, at present in a tie for second place with Creighton and Xavier at 11-4. If Providence goes to take care of hopes of repeating as convention champions, they have to win this sport. Ed Cooley’s staff began the week as an 8-seed based on Mike Decourcy, however a win over Creighton ought to assist elevate their seed, so long as they deal with enterprise at residence on Saturday.

Providence’s Devin Carter is among the greatest defenders in America and is coming off a 25-point, eight-rebound efficiency in Tuesday’s win over Creighton. Additionally, Bryce Hopkins performed all 50 minutes in that sport for the Friars and is within the combine for Big East Player of the Year. The Kentucky switch is a must-watch and has led Providence in factors (16.8) and rebounds (9.2) per sport this season.

Providence’s Bryce Hopkins throws down an alley-oop dunk

Providence's Bryce Hopkins throws down an alley-oop dunk

Bryce Hopkins’ enormous alley-oop dunk will increase the Friars’ lead over DePaul.

Michigan State at Michigan8 p.m. ET, Crisler Center 

While Michigan State and Michigan have met numerous instances in basketball and past, the circumstances for this explicit assembly are unprecedented because the Spartans take the courtroom for the primary time because the mass taking pictures on MSU’s campus Monday, which killed three and injured 5 extra.

The Wolverines introduced Thursday that they may have a series of tributes for the victims, from specifically made shirts to a pregame second of silence to the coed part holding a “Spartan Strong” flag. 

Saturday night time is one the place basketball is solely secondary, and the way in which that these two colleges come collectively to honor the lives misplaced earlier this week can be a strong scene.

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In phrases of the place these groups stand, Michigan State is projected as a 7-seed in Decourcy’s newest bracket forecast. The Spartans (16-9) have been nice defensively, sometimes a staple of Tom Izzo’s groups, however they’ve struggled to generate consistency on the offensive finish. There’s not an even bigger key to that equation than Tyson Walker, who switches the Spartans into a unique gear when he’s hitting pictures.

It has been a disappointing 12 months for Juwan Howard’s staff. Picked to complete third within the Big Ten preseason ballot, Michigan sits within the again half of the convention at 8-7. While Jaelin Llewellyn’s season-ending harm actually damage, the supporting forged simply has not been robust sufficient, notably past Jett Howard and Kobe Bufkin. While each of them have made strides because the 12 months has gone on, Michigan has struggled to muster up sufficient huge buckets in tight conditions to interrupt by means of. It’s what has led the Wolverines to a 3-9 report in opposition to Quad 1 groups and proudly owning a Quad 4 loss to Central Michigan. They are off the map for the NCAA Tournament at present, however have the Spartans, Rutgers, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana nonetheless left on the schedule. If the Wolverines can win three of these 5, they might enter Big Ten Tournament week hanging round what’s a really gentle bubble. 

In the primary assembly this season, a 59-53 Michigan State win, the Spartans held the Wolverines to three of 20 from 3-point vary and the duo of Walker and A.J. Hoggard mixed for 29 factors. 

A.J. Hoggard carries Michigan State previous Michigan

A.J. Hoggard carries Michigan State past Michigan

A.J. Hoggard scored 15 factors, grabbed 4 rebounds, and dished out six assists to guide Michigan State to a 59-53 victory over Michigan.

John Fanta is a nationwide faculty basketball broadcaster and author for FOX Sports. He covers the game in quite a lot of capacities, from calling video games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to offering commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter at @John_Fanta.

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