Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: Top 5 must-watch matchups in this weekend's slate

March Madness is right around the corner but the final regular-season weekend slate is set to deliver.

Virginia v Duke
Virginia v Duke / Lance King/GettyImages
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2. Kansas at Houston

The job Kelvin Sampson has done with this group has been exceptional. Entering the preseason, many thought the Cougars would succumb to a few more losses than their previous years due to the rigorous nature of the Big 12. It almost seemed as if that was a given.

Flash forward four months later, In their first year in the most rigorous conference in college basketball, the Cougars have shown no signs of slowing down, standing at 27-3 (14-3) on the year, clinching at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season title in their first year in their new conference.

Led by the elite guard play of Jamal Shead, LJ Cryer and Emanuel Sharp alongside the nation’s most suffocating and talented defense in the country, the Cougars have the formula to reach Phoenix and cut down the nets in April.

As the Cougars have their sights set on the weeks ahead, so do the Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas may not have the formula for winning six straight in the NCAA Tournament but given the fact that they are in line for a two or three-seed come Selection Sunday, according to most bracketologists, anything can happen and doubting Bill Self is never a great idea.

The depth may be thin and the Jayhawks are only 10-7 in Big 12 play -- far from their usual dominance -- but there is reason for optimism in Lawrence. Kevin McCullar has returned from injury and Nick Timberlake recently erupted for 18 points on 6 of 7 shooting in their most recent 90-68 win over Kansas State.

It’s been a rough year for Timberlake but seeing the basket open up at the right time just might be what the doctor ordered for the Jayhawks.

Nonetheless, Kansas’ road struggles have been well-documented this year, and walking into the not-so-friendly confines of the Fertitta Center might be a tall task for a group that is looking to change its narrative to get momentum going come the NCAA Tournament.

1. North Carolina at Duke

North Carolina. Duke. Rivalry. College Basketball. Is there anything better?

Saving the best for last, it's the North Carolina Tar Heels who will travel to Cameron Indoor as the Duke eyes a share of the ACC regular-season crown.

Ever-so-quietly, it seems that the Blue Devils’ strong play of late has been swept under the rug. Aside from the hiccup in Winston Salem, John Scheyer’s group has gone 11-2 since their home loss to Pittsburgh in late January. 

Is it possible that Duke -- yes, Duke -- is falling under the radar?

Although both teams seem to be pretty much set-and-stone seed-wise with the potential to move up a seed given how other matchups shake out and how they perform in the conference tournament, this matchup is imperative for boosting momentum when postseason play begins next week.

Interestingly enough, both teams boast a similar mold with strong guard play at the top -- RJ Davis and Elliot Cadaeu versus Jeremy Roach and Jared McCain -- with a dominant force in the paint -- Armando Bacot versus Kyle Filipowski.

Despite constructing a similar mold, Duke boasts a more efficient offense whereas North Carolina boasts a more efficient defense. Something will have to give.

According to BartTorvik, Duke holds a 55.7 effective field goal percentage compared to North Carolina’s 51.3. Defensively, it’s the Tar Heels with a 45.9 effective defensive field goal percentage compared to Duke’s 48.7.

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As the ACC tournament approaches and the NCAA Tournament is on the horizon, there is no better regular-season finale to jumpstart a sure-to-be chaotic upcoming week. Consider this the prequel.