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Weekend preview: Huskies need to hurry

Each passing game the whispers grew.

It started as "When is he coming back?"

Then it turned into "Is he coming back?"

Well, Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun returned to the UConn Huskies on Thursday and, after a seven-game medical leave, will be on the sidelines Saturday afternoon against Cincinnati.

It'll be nice to see Calhoun, who has battled numerous health issues, back on the court.

But the 67-year-old will return to a difficult situation.

The Huskies did manage a home win against Texas, but that doesn't look quite so impressive with the Longhorns' recent slide of five losses in seven games.

UConn is 14-10 overall and 4-7 in Big East play – which puts them tied for 11th in the league.

The Huskies have seven regular-season games remaining, but just two against the elite Big East teams: at Villanova and home against West Virginia.

Here's a preview of this weekend's action:

CAN'T MISS: Tennessee at Kentucky, Saturday at 9 p.m. ET – This is a big-time game for a couple of reasons. First of all, there is no love lost between the coaches – Bruce Pearl and John Calipari – and that's a major understatement. It's also a pair of Top 25 teams and arguably the top two teams in the SEC going up against one another.

UNDERCARD: Maryland at Duke, Saturday at 1 p.m. ET – It's a battle of the two top teams in the ACC. The Terps will be a legit Top 25 team if they can pull off the upset at Cameron. Gary Williams has a backcourt that should be able to hang with Duke, but the key will be whether Maryland's wings, guys like Sean Mosley and Adrian Bowie, come to play.

MUST SEE: Ohio State at Illinois, Sunday at 1 p.m. ET – Who would have thought both of these teams would be competing for the Big Ten title a month or so ago. However, the Buckeyes naturally look like a different team with Evan Turner back in the lineup while the Illini have had a resurgence due to the play of junior guard Demetri McCamey.

REAL DEAL? Louisville at Syracuse, Sunday at noon ET – Are the Cardinals a true NCAA tournament team? Not after the loss to St. John's. However, if they can go to the Carrier Dome and pull out the victory, it's harder to dispute that fact. Rick Pitino & Co. desperately need a resume win.

FRIDAY RARITY: There's a rare Big East tilt on Friday night when West Virginia travels to Pittsburgh. The Panthers have lost four of their past six Big East games while West Virginia is coming off a home setback to Villanova.

UPSET SPECIAL: I'm going with Illinois to knock off Ohio State. Both teams have been playing well, but the Illini are at home and have more quality depth than the Buckeyes.

NON-BCS MATCHUP: Rhode Island at Temple, Saturday at 4 p.m. ET – If Jim Baron's Rams can go on the road and knock off Temple, they are in good shape. URI lost at Richmond earlier in the week, but this one would make the loss to the Spiders a distant memory.

CELLAR DWELLING: This is how bad it has gotten for North Carolina. When the Tar Heels host N.C. State on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET, it'll be a matchup for last place in the ACC.

MUST-WIN ON BOTH SIDES: Georgia Tech at Wake Forest, Saturday at 8 p.m. ET – Neither of these teams can afford a loss here – and not just to stay in the race for the ACC title. Things can change quickly and the loser could go into a swoon down the stretch.

IMPORTANT: Xavier at Florida, Saturday at 6 p.m. ET – This is a key non-conference matchup between two teams that need this one for their resume next month. Both teams are likely in the Big Dance if the season ended today, but a loss won't help their cause.

UNDER-THE-RADAR: Arkansas – The Razorbacks have been on a roll ever since getting mauled in Lexington by Kentucky. Can John Pelphrey make it six straight against his former colleague, Anthony Grant, when Arkansas travels to Alabama on Saturday afternoon?

STILL SEARCHING: It's a two-team race between Bryant and Alcorn State to see who can win first. Bryant University fell to 0-25 overall and 0-13 in Northeast Conference action after a loss to St. Francis (N.Y.). Tim O'Shea has just five more regular-season games to earn a victory. Alcorn is 0-24 overall and 0-11 in SWAC play with a game Saturday against Mississippi Valley State.

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