If you haven’t caught the college hoops fever yet, now’s a great time to get into the action. The NCAA Tournament field is really taking shape as we barrel towards Selection Sunday in just a few weeks.
On tap for this weekend is a top-ranked showdown between Big Ten Rivals, as No. 9 Iowa takes on No. 4 Ohio State. Elsewhere in the sports world, we also have a star-studded NBA game with the Clippers and Bucks, and a key NHL divisional matchup between the high-scoring Maple Leafs and Oilers.
Get your edge for this weekend’s top bets with the Showstopper!
No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes @ No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes
Sunday, February 28 | TV: CBS
Not many teams have figured out how to stop Luka Garza, and for good reason. The Iowa center has been an absolute beast in the low post and has expanded his shooting range in his senior year. He’s a heavy favorite for National Player of the Year. The Buckeyes’ defense won't have an answer for the big man, either, but they should benefit from Iowa having to play back-to-back road outings, the first of which was a crushing defeat to powerhouse No. 3 Michigan.
When these two Big Ten squads first met in early February, it was a very close game that required a balanced attack from Ohio State to keep the Hawkeyes pinned in the second half. Expect more of the same, with star guards Joe Wieskamp and Duane Washington Jr. likely trading 3-point baskets down the stretch of this high-scoring affair.
In spite of last weekend’s heartbreaker to Michigan and Thursday’s loss to Michigan State, we’re still rolling with the Buckeyes in what will be another tough battle on the road to March Matchups. With their top-five seed hanging in the balance, the Buckeyes can’t afford to lose to a conference rival as the regular season winds down.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Milwaukee Bucks
Sunday, February 28 | TV: ABC
The Bucks have been looking pretty vulnerable as they head into a nationally televised showdown with the Clippers. Their prized offseason addition, point guard Jrue Holiday, has missed 10 straight games due to the league's COVID-19 protocol, which has thrust veteran D.J. Augustin into the starting lineup. Milwaukee lost five straight without Holiday before recently stringing together a few wins.
The Clippers, who own one of the NBA’s best road records at 11-5, lost twice to the Bucks last season as they struggled to stop Giannis Antetokounmpo in the paint. If Holiday is able to return, that will make a world of difference for Milwaukee to match the offensive firepower of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Without Jrue, however, the clear advantage goes to Los Angeles, so keep a close eye on the pre-game report.
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Edmonton Oilers
Saturday, February 27
Somewhat surprisingly, Toronto and Edmonton have two of the best records in the NHL over a month into the new season, with both teams also ranking atop the league in goals scored. Although the Maple Leafs have maintained a slight edge in the North Division, the Oilers are right on their skates, and currently are in second place. Edmonton has developed one of the league’s most efficient defenses, thanks in part to their improved goaltending duo.
Connor McDavid has been on fire for the Oilers, notching a natural hat trick against Calgary last week. It should be an offensive showcase as he takes on Toronto’s sharpshooter Auston Matthews. Edmonton and Toronto have split the season series thus far (2-2), with narrow margins of victory in all four games. It should be another tight contest, but we like Edmonton to deliver on home ice.