Feb 24, 2014; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys forward Leyton Hammonds (23), guard Marcus Smart (33) and forward Le

College Basketball Preview: 3 Games to Watch


Feb 23, 2014; Storrs, CT, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs guard Nic Moore (11) drives the ball against Connecticut Huskies guard Ryan Boatright (11) in the second half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. SMU defeated UConn 64-55. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The ” Better be a Gimme” Game: Central Florida (11-15, 3-12 AAC) at #23 SMU (22-6, 11-4 AAC)

Game Time: 3:00 PM on ESPN News

Analysis: SMU never loses at home and is undefeated at Moody Coliseum this season. Central Florida boasts the second-worst record in AAC play. The Ponies beat them by 12 in Orlando where the Knights only shot 31.3 percent from the field. This one could be a bloodbath. The Mustangs might be looking forward to their huge with matchup with Louisville next Wednesday, but I can’t imagine them laying this big of an egg in Dallas. Larry Brown is too good of a coach to allow it. Central Florida can give themselves a moral victory if they only lose by single digits. Don’t count on it, though.

Prediction: SMU 69, Central Florida 52

The “Revenge Rivalry” Game: #24 Texas (21-7, 10-5 Big 12) at Oklahoma (20-8, 9-6 Big 12)

Game Time: 3:00 PM CST on ESPN3

Analysis: These might be the most evenly matched teams in the Big 12. Their records are similar, but not their styles of play. The Longhorns dominate the paint with their rebounding and blocking. Via Statsheet.com,  they are fifth in the country with 41.8 rebounds per game and eighth in the nation with 174 blocks. Oklahoma wins with their scoring outside the paint, shooting nearly 38 percent from three-point range. Guards Cameron Clark and Buddy Hield are each averaging more than 15 points per game this season, too. Texas struggles on the road and I don’t expect that to change in Norman. The Sooners might be challenged inside early, but their offense will ultimately be too much for the Horns to handle.

Prediction: Oklahoma 81, Texas 72

The “Marcus Smart Redemption” Game: #5 Kansas (22-6, 13-2 Big 12) at Oklahoma State (18-10, 6-9 Big 12)

Game Time: 8:00 PM CST on ESPN

Analysis: College Gameday is in Stillwater this weekend for a game that means much more to the Pokes. After losing seven straight, Oklahoma State responded with victories over Texas Tech and TCU this past week. Marcus Smart is also back from his three-game Shovegate suspension. Looking refreshed and re-focused, the sophomore point guard played like the guy the Associated Press unanimously picked as a preseason All American. Even a jersey malfunction couldn’t stop Smart from going 5-9 from three-point range and adding five steals against the Horned Frogs. Kansas clinched their 10th consecutive Big 12 regular season title with a win over Oklahoma on Monday. The bubblicious Cowboys need a big win with only three games to go in conference play. Smart is ready to put the past behind him and show the nation why he was a projected lottery pick last year. Expect this motivated Oklahoma State team to play with extra passion in front of a packed house at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 78, Kansas 74

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Tags: Marcus Smart SMU Basketball