College basketball takes a breather from its huge Saturday card with just 28 games combined on Sunday and Monday. Perhaps the schedule was manipulated to give everyone time to properly honor US Presidents on the Monday holiday in order to reflect on the men who've had extra-marital affairs with White House interns, resorted to break-ins of the opposing party's headquarters, waged wars on invisible weapons of mass destruction, and done their best to generally drive this great country down the drain in debt.
Speaking of character issues, one of Sunday's top matchups involves a team currently experiencing a bit of a roster crisis. The Big Ten clash between the Michigan State Spartans and Purdue Boilermakers will get underway from Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, IN at 1:00 p.m. (ET).
Purdue's task of upsetting No. 7 Michigan State will be made even more difficult after two key contributors to Matt Painter's team were suspended on Friday. Starting guard Kelsey Barlow has been dismissed from the team for the remainder of the season after he and teammate DJ Byrd were involved in an incident at a local bar. Byrd was arrested for public intoxication and suspended for Sunday's game.
The duo has combined to fill a little more than 40 minutes of court time per game for Painter to date, scoring over 16 points and grabbing 5.6 rebounds between them. Redshirt freshman Anthony Johnson (5.1 PPG) and true freshman Jacob Lawson (2.9 PPG) could see more time on the floor Sunday as a result.
Tom Izzo's Spartans enter the game playing about as well as any team in the country the past month. Michigan State has won six of its last seven, covering each of those victories, and taken out three ranked schools during the past four games (Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin).
The squads met in East Lansing about a month ago, and it was all MSU who rolled to an 83-58 rout as 8-point home favorites. Thanks to the Spartans' effort, the 'over' cashed for just the third time in the last nine meetings. Purdue has won and covered four of the last five played in West Lafayette, State's only victory in that span a 53-44 upset as 4-point 'dogs in Feb. 2010.
Sunday evening (6:00 p.m. ET) finds the No. 5 Duke Blue Devils up on Chestnut Hill for an ACC collision with the Boston College Eagles. The game pits teams heading in the opposite direction with Duke coming out on top in 10 of its last 12 while BC has dropped seven of eight.
Duke is flying high after yet another late rally this past Thursday. Trailing North Carolina State by 20 at home nearly midway through the second half, the Blue Devils stormed back for a 78-73 win as 10-point favorites. Sunday's challenge at Boston College is to avoid looking ahead to Thursday's battle down in Tallahassee vs. the Florida State Seminoles. Duke, FSU and North Carolina entered the weekend at the top of the ACC standings with 9-2 league records.
What hasn't been a challenge for the Blue Devils so far is playing on the road. Duke has won all five ACC games away from Durham this season, going 4-1 against the spread, and leads this series with a 13-2 all-time record. Boston College has covered four of the last five played at Conte Forum, including an 80-74 outright win as a 7½-point underdog in Feb. 2009.
Looking ahead to Monday, ESPN will broadcast a doubleheader that tips with a pair of struggling Big East teams at 7:00 p.m. (ET) when the Connecticut Huskies visit the Villanova Wildcats. Both teams were at home for Saturday tilts that were still pending at press. The Huskies were laying 2½-3 points against Marquette and the Wildcats were 2-point underdogs vs. Notre Dame.
It's been a trying season for both UConn and 'Nova who started the weekend in the bottom half of the conference standings. Connecticut (16-9 overall) stood just 6-7 in Big East action and had dropped six of its last eight before the battle with Marquette. Betting the Huskies has been a losing proposition with the defending national champs just 7-13-1 ATS.
Villanova's results have been even worse. The Wildcats were 11-14 for the campaign entering Saturday, 4-9 in conference contests and 5-16-1 ATS.
It's the only scheduled skirmish between the two this season. Last year's meeting in Connecticut saw the Huskies eke out a 61-59 triumph to just miss the cover as 2½-point favorites. The spread victory for the Wildcats was their fifth in the last seven meetings.
That game is followed by a Big 12 battle in Austin between the Texas Longhorns and No. 9 Baylor Bears (9:00 p.m. ET). Each team will have short rest from their matchups on Saturday when Texas was 3-point chalk at Oklahoma State and Baylor was giving up seven at home to Kansas State.
The 'Horns and Bears met in Waco on Jan. 28, a 76-71 win for Baylor who fell a bucket shy of getting the cover as a 7-point favorite. The game did skip past the 140-point scoreboard hurdle, the eighth time in the last 11 meetings for 'over' bettors to cash their tickets.