A pair of top five teams will face stiff tests on Saturday afternoon, as Duke travels to face NC State and Indiana hosts red hot Minnesota. We detail all of the day's action in this week's viewer's guide.
For the second straight Saturday it seems like the best games of the day will all be taking place at the same time during the early part of the afternoon. I can't wait for the NFL to end so we can space out some of these bad boys.
The following will be your Saturday.
No. 19 Georgetown at St. John's (11 a.m./ESPN2)
It's become pretty clear in recent weeks that everyone jumped the gun a little bit with the Georgetown love after they took then No. 1 Indiana to overtime back in November. Now the Hoyas just need to get their heads back above water. Winning a Big East game would be a solid start.
No. 1 Duke at No. 20 NC State (Noon/ESPN)
There's a pretty easily ascertainable recipe for an upset in play here: NC State is a top 20 team with top 10 talent, the Pack are eager for a big-time win to vault them back into the national conversation, and Duke will be playing without Ryan Kelly for the first time. Then again, the Blue Devils weren't supposed to be in this position in the first place. People have been expecting them to slip in games like this all year, and they haven't yet. This might not be the best tilt of the day, but I think it's probably the most intriguing.
Marquette at Pittsburgh (Noon/ESPNU)
Marquette has lost both of its road games to date, falling by 33 to Florida and suffering an equally embarrassing 49-47 loss at Green Bay. To make matters worse, the Golden Eagles have not had much success against Pitt in recent years, winning just once at the Petersen Events Center since joining the Big East in 2005-06.
No. 8 Minnesota at No. 5 Indiana (Noon/Big Ten Network)
Minnesota's 17-point drubbing of Illinois in Champaign earlier this week proved it was for real in terms of being able to challenge for the Big Ten title. Now they have the opportunity to get people discussing their merits as a legitimate national title contender with a win at Indiana.
I think the guy to watch in this game is Trevor Mbakwe. The Golden Gophers are going to need second chance opportunities to knock off Cody Zeller and company, and when he's healthy, there's no one in the country who's better at creating those than Mbakwe. The senior, who missed nearly all of last season with an ACL tear, played more than 30 minutes for the first time since suffering the injury against the Illini, and responded with a 19-point, 11-rebound showing.
Villanova at No. 7 Syracuse (Noon/MASN/SNY)
It's crazy to think that with everything else happening at noon, this game is going to wind up being sort of an afterthought. 'Nova has suddenly won seven straight and is capable of upsetting a Syracuse team that has looked relatively sluggish its last two times out. The Orange shot worse than 42 percent from the field against both South Florida and Providence, but a return to the Carrier Dome figures to help that.
Tennessee at Alabama (1 p.m./ESPN2)
Both teams are 8-6 and about as desperate for a win as one can be in mid-January. Also, check out the picture attached to Google News' top story on the game:
Any excuse. Doesn't have to be a good one.
No. 18 Kansas State at West Virginia (1:30 p.m./Altitude/YES)
This is exactly the type of game that good K-State teams have lost over the past decade or so. If they're serious about contending for the Big 12 crown, then they have to be able to leave Morgantown with all their positive mojo still in tact.
North Carolina at Florida State (2 p.m./ESPN)
What a difference a month makes. Florida State is 2-0 in ACC play for just the second time ever, while Carolina is looking to avoid starting 0-3 in the conference for just the second time ever.
On a related note, I couldn't love this Roy Williams quote more:
"I'm stressed. There's no question about that. I'm not a guy to panic. I'm not a guy to give up or anything like that. I'm going to come in (Friday) and coach the crap out of them."
When I get stressed, I like to take an unnecessary drive or watch an episode of a mindless television show. Roy Williams, conversely, copes by coaching the crap out of people.
No. 14 Butler at Dayton (2 p.m./NBC Sports Network)
The A-10 schedule makers certainly didn't feel like welcoming Brad Stevens with open arms (no idea why, he's adorable). Butler made its league debut at preseason favorite Saint Joseph's on Wednesday, and now heads to one of the conference's toughest places to play in UD Arena. This should be an agreeable pace for Kevin Dillard and the turnover prone Flyers, and I wouldn't be surprised if they sprung an upset.
Holy Cross at Lehigh (2 p.m./CBS Sports Network)
Patriot League play opens without C.J. McCollum, which, for lack of trying to think of a better term, sucks.
Texas at Iowa State (2 p.m./ESPNU)
A pair of teams looking to bounce back from gut-wrenching overtime losses earlier in the week and notch their first Big 12 win.
Bradley at Northern Iowa (2 p.m./Fox Sports Midwest)
Much like last year, the Valley is shaping up to be a two-horse race with Creighton and Wichita State appearing to be the clear class of the conference. Battle-tested Northern Iowa is off to a disappointing 1-3 start in league play.
Connecticut at No. 17 Notre Dame (2 p.m./MASN/SNY/Fox Sports Ohio)
The Fighting Irish are one win away from their first 13-game winning streak in 59 years. The team standing in its way is also the only one to beat Notre Dame in its last 47 games at the Joyce Center.
No. 12 Illinois at Wisconsin (2:15 p.m./Big Ten Network)
Illinois is facing adversity for the first time in the John Groce era...which is all of two months old. The Illini have dropped three of five and were hammered at home by Minnesota on Wednesday. Playing at Wisconsin isn't exactly the ideal scenario for a team looking to get right.
Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (3 p.m./ESPN2)
I like that the basketball version of this rivalry series uses "Bedlam I" and "Bedlam II" to refer to the pair of annual regular season showdowns. The rivals have split the series in each of the past three seasons, with the home team winning all six of those games.
Drexel at James Madison (4 p.m./NBC Sports Network)
Talking about the CAA in any capacity just makes me sad. The conference has gone from mid-major king to a league where only two teams have records above .500 in less time than it used to take J.J. Barea to go coast-to-coast. The preseason favorite Dragons, who head into today's game at 5-10 and 1-2 in conference play, are the most depressing case of all.
No. 11 Florida at LSU (4 p.m./ESPNU)
This is the day Mettenberger finally steps up in a showcase game.
George Washington at Xavier (4 p.m./CBS Sports Network)
The Musketeers will take the court less than 43 hours after scoring an emotional win over Temple in their A-10 opener. That win snapped the program's first four game losing streak in 31 years.
Boston College at Wake Forest (4 p.m./Fox Sports regional)
Wake will look to ride the momentum of its 55-52 toppling of Virginia into three winnable games against the Eagles, Virginia Tech and Clemson. BC accounted for half of the Demon Deacons' four ACC wins last season.
Texas A&M at Kentucky (4 p.m./Fox Sports Southwest)
The last time the Aggies played in Rupp Arena, it was eventual Kentucky head coach Billy Gillispie leading the Aggies to a second round NCAA Tournament win over Louisville. Now they're playing an SEC road game against the Wildcats. There's a lot going on in those last two sentences.
No. 6 Kansas at Texas Tech (4 p.m./Altitude/YES)
Keeping with the spirit of Billy Gillispie, interim head coach Chris Walker has continued to bring leading scorer Jaye Crockett (14.8 ppg) off the bench. Also, Kansas is a lot better than Texas Tech. I'm not available for hire, Topeka Capital-Journal.
South Florida at Louisville (4 p.m./MASN/MSG)
The Cardinals will be out for a little bit of revenge after South Florida ruined their senior day festivities with a 58-51 upset inside the KFC Yum Center last season. It was Louisville's first loss in a home finale in 10 years. U of L is expected to have sophomore forward Chane Behanan back on the floor. Behanan missed Wednesday's win over Seton Hall because of an ankle sprain.
Pennsylvania at Princeton (6 p.m./NBC Sports Network)
The 14-game tournament begins anew.
Saint Louis at Temple (6 p.m./ESPNU)
Saint Louis not losing since the death of Rick Majerus might be the best story in college basketball right now. They've won nine in a row since Majerus passed, but today's game will be their first on the road.
TCU at Baylor (6 p.m./Fox Sports Southwest)
Baylor leads the all-time series with TCU 89-81, but this will be the first meeting between the two in-state foes in 10 years. The Bears will win it.
Coastal Carolina at Liberty (6 p.m./MASN)
I like to picture Liberty higher-ups either taking a sip of scotch alone in a dark room or angrily clenching their right first every time they see Seth Curry knock down a jump shot.
Colorado State at No. 16 San Diego State (8 p.m./NBC Sports Network)
It's a shame that this game isn't more readily viewable, because there's not going to be anything better happening (in college basketball) during this time slot. Colorado State (13-2) is a win away from the best 16-game start in program history, but SDSU hasn't lost at home to the Rams since 2003.
The Mountain West is just so fun. It's like The Princess Bride of college hoops.
No. 10 Missouri at Ole Miss (8 p.m./Fox Sports)
Another solid viewing option for your Saturday evening. The Rebels are 8-0 at home this year, where they're averaging a 28.5 ppg margin of victory. They staked their claim as the SEC's fourth best team by blowing out Tennessee in Knoxville earlier this week, but their overall resume is still in need of some serious sprucing up. This is the type of win that always seems to escape Andy Kennedy teams.
No. 4 Arizona at Oregon State (8 p.m./ESPNU)
This should be a solid bounce back opportunity for Arizona against an Oregon State team that's really hurt right now by the suspension of star forward Eric Moreland.
No. 21 Cincinnati at Rutgers (8 p.m./SNY/MASN/Fox Sports Ohio)
In just a couple of weeks, Cincinnati has gone from unbeaten and creeping just outside the top ten to hoping to avoid a third straight loss. It won't be an easy task, as Rutgers is playing its best basketball of the season and looking to extend its home winning streak to eight games for the first time in nine seasons. A victory would have the Scarlet Knights off to a 3-1 start in conference play for the first time since they joined the Big East in 1995-96.
Washington at Stanford (11 p.m./Fox Sports)
Apparently someone wasn't happy that Washington won the Pac-12 regular season title last season. The Huskies will be playing their third straight road game to open conference play on Saturday night. They won their first two, including an impressive thrashing of Cal earlier this week.