The No. 3 Florida Gators have thrived during their 13-game winning streak, winning their last three by an average margin of 23.3 points. But Florida should be challenged Tuesday, facing perhaps its toughest foe in SEC play to date when it hosts the Missouri Tigers at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN and WatchESPN.
Florida freshman Chris Walker will be eligible to play in his first game of the season Tuesday after academic issues and after serving a suspension for receiving impermissible benefits. One of Florida's biggest weaknesses all season has been shot blocking, and even if Walker doesn't play a huge role immediately in Billy Donovan's rotation, Walker could help out protecting the rim right away.
That said, that particular skill may not come in handy against a Tigers team that thrives because of the excellent perimeter play from its two guards, Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson had 28 points in Missouri's 84-79 home loss to Kentucky on Saturday, outmatched only by Brown's staggering 33-point performance in the loss. Brown is 28 of 49 on 3-point attempts in SEC play, and his 54.8 percent overall shooting nearly halfway into the league schedule has him among favorites to earn SEC Player of the Year by season's end.
Plenty of other nationally televised games should be of interest to the general hoops fan Tuesday:
Ohio State Buckeyes at No. 17 Iowa Hawkeyes, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN: Ohio State is out of the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time this season, which should surprise you, but it also shouldn't surprise you considering the Buckeyes are 4-5 in Big Ten play with losses to Nebraska (road) and Penn State (home). KenPom's computers still rank Ohio State No. 16 in the country, but that hardly provides a consolation to a team that's lost five of its last seven heading into a road game against Iowa, one of the best teams in the conference.
Iowa dropped a 71-69 overtime game last Tuesday to Michigan State, a riveting game only made riveting because one of the best offenses in the country, at home, didn't make a single field goal for 15 minutes of game time, from 9:56 left in regulation to six seconds left in overtime when the game was already decided.
The Buckeyes held a nine-point lead in the second half and led Iowa 65-62 with about six minutes to play on Jan. 12, but the Hawkeyes pulled away for a decisive 84-74 win. Roy Devyn Marble had 22 points for Iowa.
No. 8 Kansas Jayhawks at Baylor Bears, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2/WatchESPN: Entering conference play, Baylor's only loss was a seven-point loss to Syracuse in the Maui Invitational, a defeat in which there isn't much shame. But Baylor's collapse in the time since has been steep: The Bears are 2-6 in the Big 12, and their outlook is only as relatively bright as it is because of a desperate 76-70 road win Saturday over Oklahoma State.
Kansas, meanwhile, had its seven-game win streak snapped Saturday with an 81-69 loss to a quickly emerging Texas Longhorns team. Baylor was awfully close to playing its way out of the NCAA Tournament, and a second win in a row against a top-20 opponent would go a long way to redeeming an awful scar on Baylor's season.
Ole Miss Rebels at No. 18 Kentucky Wildcats, 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU/WatchESPN: Kentucky's week last week seemed to embody its entire season to date, its euphoric highs on display Saturday in an 84-79 win over Missouri balanced out with youth and inexperience taking over in an ugly 87-82 loss to LSU early in the week on Tuesday. The Wildcats haven't really shown much of a middle between the two poles, which probably isn't great.
Marshall Henderson comes to town against a team that has struggled defensively in transition and hasn't been great, either, guarding the perimeter in the half-court. It's not a good thing for Kentucky, then, that Henderson can get hot at any minute and sure doesn't shy away from shooting whether he's feeling it or not. Henderson's nine 3-point attempts Saturday against South Carolina was his fewest in conference play so far. Henderson is averaging 12.3 3-point attempts per game in league play, shooting 32.4 percent in those games.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights at No. 24 Memphis Tigers, 7 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network: Memphis fell into a tie for third in the American standings following an 87-72 loss at SMU on Saturday, thus making Tuesday's home game against Rutgers something akin to perfect timing. The Scarlet Knights' defense ranks 231st in Division I in adjusted defensive efficiency.
If nothing else, a viewer on CBS Sports Network should see plenty of up-and-down action. Both teams rank in the top 100 in average offensive length of possession; Memphis' average possession of 15.6 seconds is 16th in Division I.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons at No. 11 Duke Blue Devils, 9 p.m. ET, ESPNU/WatchESPN: Duke's 91-89 overtime loss to Syracuse is hardly a mar on its resume, and that Duke's first loss in its last six games came in such a high-profile setting and such an impressive showing benefits the Blue Devils' outward reputation. That wouldn't mean much, though, unless Duke avoids a letdown Tuesday against Wake Forest.
Duke stayed in the Syracuse game Saturday in large part because of 15-of-36 3-point shooting, but perimeter defense is one of Wake Forest's relatively few number of strengths. The Demon Deacons are No. 9 in Division I with a 28.5 3-point percentage allowed.