College hoops schedule: Duke, Syracuse headline this week's slate of games

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Devils and Orangemen meet Saturday for the first time as conference foes and there are a bunch of other games to look out for throughout the week.

We're in the middle of conference play, which means things are heating up on the college hoops circuit. Let's take a look at some games to keep an eye on this week.

Monday, Jan. 27

(18) Duke at (20) Pittsburgh

ESPN; 7 p.m. ET

Everyone knows about Jabari Parker: he's a stud worthy of a top pick in this summer's NBA Draft. But not everyone knows how well Rodney Hood has played. He's averaging nearly 18 points on 51 percent from the floor and 45 percent from behind the arc. Pittsburgh is second in the new-look ACC and barely lost to Syracuse on Jan. 18. The Panthers move the ball well and shoot smart, efficient shots. Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna have been fantastic so far this season.

(11) Oklahoma State at (25) Oklahoma

ESPN; 9 p.m. ET

The Cowboys are only a few possessions away from being undefeated. Their three losses have come by a combined 10 points and each has come against good teams (Memphis, Kansas State and Kansas). Marcus Smart had one of his worst collegiate games against West Virginia, but Oklahoma State is so loaded that it didn't matter. Baylor's recent four-game skid shouldn't deter from Oklahoma's win over it. The Sooners are balanced and can get scoring production from a handful of players. The Oklahoma State-Oklahoma rivalry will be well served in this bout.

Tuesday, Jan. 28

(3) Michigan State vs. (10) Iowa

ESPN; 7 p.m. ET

A home loss against Michigan might be tough to swallow for the Spartans, but they'll get a chance to bounce back against a very good Iowa team. Gary Harris is one of the most exciting players at this level and State is still a top team, even with that loss against the Wolverines. Iowa rebounds the ball at an incredible rate and scores points in bunches. It is spearheaded by Roy Devyn Marble, who is one of the best players in the country.

(14) Kentucky at LSU

ESPN; 9 p.m. ET

The young Wildcats have struggled a little away from Rupp Arena: two of their four losses have been on the road and the other two (vs. Michigan State and vs. Baylor) were on a neutral floor. They will be greeted by LSU and Johnny O'Bryant III, the scrappy Tiger who leads the team in scoring and rebounding. He, however, might be a little overwhelmed by the Wildcats' sheer size down low.

Wednesday, Jan. 29

(16) Iowa State at (8) Kansas

ESPN; 9 p.m. ET

These two teams met two weeks ago and the Jayhawks pulled out a win on ISU's home floor. Kansas' freshman duo of Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid had their way with the Cyclones, combining for 33 points and 28 rebounds. Can Iowa State get some revenge? It's led by its tow truck masquerading as a point guard, DeAndre Kane, and the team can score from anywhere on the floor. It's the defensive end that has given it trouble.

Thursday, Jan. 30

(15) Cincinnati vs. (12) Louisville

ESPN; 7 p.m. ET

Louisville has pulverized its last four opponents, but it has yet to beat a ranked team. Its three losses came against Top 25 opponents. It'll get a chance to beat a ranked opponent when the Bearcats come into the Yum! Center. Cincinnati is led by Sean Kilpatrick -- one of the AAC's best scorers -- and has won 12 straight games.

Saturday, Feb. 1

(17) Ohio State at Wisconsin (9)

ESPN; Noon ET

The Buckeyes have hit a bit of a funk -- they lost four games in a row before picking up a home win against Illinois -- but they always seem to hit a stride somewhere around this time. A big game against Wisconsin provides an opportunity for a kick-start. The Badgers are in the same boat, losing three straight before beating Purdue on the road. They have, however, beaten three ranked teams and at one point were considered a top team in the country.

(24) Baylor at (11) Oklahoma State

ESPN; 2 p.m. ET

After playing Oklahoma earlier in the week, the Cowboys will play the Bears again before hosting Iowa State on Feb. 3. This is, without a doubt, one of the toughest stretches in their schedule and it'll be interesting to see how they handle the challenge. Baylor has hit a wall in conference play and needs something to get back on track or it will be sitting on the bubble come tourney time.

(18) Duke at Syracuse (2)

ESPN; 6:30 p.m. ET

The Worldwide Leader's prime-time game is one that everyone in college hoops has been looking forward to. It's the first ACC contest between two of college basketball's most storied programs, but what makes it even better is that both teams are good. The Orangemen are better: their length in the extended 2-3 zone is tough to get around and they are led by a confident freshman, Tyler Ennis, on the other end. Duke doesn't really have the size to match up, but it has talent and depth on the wings.

Sunday, Feb. 2

(21) Michigan at Indiana

CBS; 1 p.m. ET

The Wolverines have a rather easy game in the middle of the week against Purdue before turning around and playing at the always loud, always tricky Assembly Hall. Indiana isn't nearly as good as it was last year, after losing Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller to the draft, but it still has decent pieces -- enough, at least, to beat Wisconsin and legitimately challenge Michigan State.

More from SB Nation College Basketball

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Bubble Watch: BYU could be a terrifying tournament team

NBA draft: Joel Embiid leads SB Nation's big board

Bracketology: Wisconsin's stumble aids Kansas' rise

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