The Dagger

What to watch this weekend: Marquee rematches highlight the slate

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Miami's Reggie Johnson celebrates with fans after a victory over Duke earlier this season (AP)

Thanks to a handful of key conference rematches, this weekend's slate is as good as any we've seen this season. Here's a look at the can't-miss games:

1. Miami (23-4, 14-1) at Duke (24-4, 11-4), Saturday 6 p.m. EST

Storyline: Even though Duke's loss to Virginia on Thursday night guaranteed Miami a share of the ACC title and all but eliminated the Blue Devils from contention, that doesn't mean Saturday's showdown between the ACC's two best teams has lost all its luster. Duke still has plenty to play for after the beatdown Miami delivered the last time the two teams met. Not only did the Hurricanes roll to a 90-63 rout, they also mocked a Duke tradition by slapping the floor on defense late in the second half. Predicted winner: Duke

2. Michigan State (22-6, 11-4) at Michigan (23-5, 10-5), Sunday 4 p.m. EST

Storyline: Just when it seemed either Michigan or Michigan State might eclipse Indiana in the Big Ten and secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, both have gone into mini-tailspins. The Wolverines have struggled defensively during a stretch in which they've lost three of six, most notably Wednesday's 84-78 shocker at last-place Penn State. The Spartans have dropped two in a row against Indiana and Ohio State, respectable losses made slightly more alarming by the poor play of point guard Keith Appling. Sunday's winner begins building momentum for the NCAA tournament, while the loser falls deeper into an ill-timed slump. Predicted winner: Michigan State

[Related: Kentucky, Baylor should be Gonzaga's biggest fans]

3. Butler (22-6, 9-4) at VCU (22-6, 10-3), Saturday, 12 p.m. EST

Storyline: The first-ever Atlantic 10 meeting between VCU and Butler will probably be the last-ever Atlantic 10 matchup between the two schools. Butler appears to be bound for the new Big East next season, while VCU is more likely to stay put. It dulled the hype for this game that Saint Louis beat both these teams to move into first place, but there's still plenty of reason to watch. The big question will be whether the Bulldogs can handle the Rams' trademark Havoc defense without turning the ball over too many times. If so, there could be a second-place tie in the jumbled Atlantic 10. Predicted winner: VCU

Other games to watch:

Louisville at Syracuse (Saturday, 12 p.m. EST): This once was expected to decide the Big East title. Now Syracuse is just trying to get its guards back on track and avoid a three-game losing streak.

Arizona at UCLA (Saturday, 9 p.m. EST): Unless the Wildcats avenge a previous loss in the desert, they'll fall two games behind the Bruins and potentially Oregon in the Pac-12 title race.

Notre Dame at Marquette (Saturday, 1:30 EST): To stay in contention for the Big East title, Marquette probably needs to win Saturday. That won't be easy even at home since the Irish have won seven of nine.

Wichita State at Creighton (Saturday, 2 p.m.): Nice work, schedule makers! The winner of this matchup between the co-Valley leaders wins the league championship outright. The loser may have to win a game in Arch Madness to feel entirely safe on Selection Sunday.

Kentucky at Arkansas (Saturday, 4 p.m. EST): Tricky game for the Wildcats. A win is important to their quest to sneak into the NCAA tournament, but Arkansas hasn't lost at home in league play.

Portland at Gonzaga (Saturday, 5 p.m. EST): This only makes the list for one reason: A win almost certainly earns the Zags their first-ever No. 1 ranking.

Colorado at Cal (Saturday, 5 p.m. EST): The winner of this game is a near lock for the NCAA tournament. The surging Bears have won six straight and eight of nine to move within a game of first place, while the Buffs have reeled off eight wins in 10 games since a 1-4 league start.

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