Each weekday, our college hoops experts discuss the biggest issues, trends and themes in college basketball.
1. Duke has won five straight heading into Saturday's game at Louisville. Is playing the role of spoiler to Duke's hot streak enough motivation for the Cardinals to get a win?
Andy Katz: Louisville has proven it's not just a spoiler. The Cardinals are playing with a purpose down the stretch. The Cardinals will be well primed for the return game against Duke after losing in Durham. Expect the Yum! Center to possibly eat up the depleted Blue Devils.
C.L. Brown: There are plenty of reasons why Louisville will want to play well, and stopping Duke's streak isn't remotely close to being one of them. The Cardinals still have a shot at winning the ACC regular-season title, sitting just one game out of first place. That would be a nice consolation prize given their self-imposed postseason ban.
Myron Medcalf: It doesn't hurt. Beyond that, I think the Cards are treating every game like a chance to release whatever frustrations linger from the postseason ban announcement. If you're Damion Lee, this is your last chance to beat Duke, to tell your grandchildren that you beat Duke. That might be the motivation for the most important player on the floor. He finished 3-for-15 from the field and 0-for-5 from the 3-point line in the first meeting. The Cards need more from him this time.
2. Texas and Baylor are both 8-5 in the Big 12. Which team is better equipped to finish near the top of the league standings?
Katz: Probably Texas because it swept West Virginia. That could be a decisive tiebreaker. The Longhorns also seem to have more room to grow.
Brown: The Longhorns, simply by way of a slightly more manageable schedule. Baylor's last five games include Kansas, Oklahoma and West Virginia. Texas gets lower-tier teams Kansas State and Oklahoma State sprinkled in with the Jayhawks and Sooners in its final five games.
Medcalf: As Andy said, the West Virginia sweep is huge. Plus, Kansas, Oklahoma and Baylor will all see Texas in Austin, where the Longhorns have not lost a Big 12 game this season. The Longhorns have the momentum they need down the stretch. I watched the Longhorns practice in their final weeks with Rick Barnes. Lifeless. Limited energy. That's not all on Barnes. But you could see that everyone on that roster knew what was coming. Then, I watched them practice with Shaka Smart over the summer. The entire vibe had changed. Smart's young guards are perfect for his scheme, and he's convinced this squad that the world is against it. So every game is a chance to prove everyone wrong. If they maintain that edge and continue to limit turnovers, they'll finish higher than a Baylor squad that will end the year with three of its last five games on the road and two home matchups against Kansas and West Virginia.
3. Who do you have on upset watch this weekend?
Katz: North Carolina. Miami matches up very well with the Tar Heels. Miami has experience and depth; quick, penetrating guard play and an imposing big.
Brown: Oklahoma. The Sooners needed Khadeem Lattin's last second tip-in to win their first meeting. So far, every team they've beaten at home in their first meetings, they've lost on the road (Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas Tech.) OU is stumbling down the stretch, entering Morgantown having lost three of their past four games.
Medcalf: Kansas State is still mad about Brannen Greene's dunk in the final seconds in the first game, and the Wildcats, who beat Oklahoma in Manhattan this season, have defeated Kansas at Bramlage Coliseum the past two seasons. Weird stuff happens in this rivalry.