NCAA Basketball Schedule, Viewing Guide For January: Time To Get Serious

Connecticut will play in two marquee road games this week: on Tuesday at Notre Dame and on Saturday at Texas. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

January has arrived, which means college basketball conference play kicks into high gear. Chris Dobbertean provides a highlight (or more) of each night for the rest of the first month of 2011.

With football season wrapping up, the amount of televised college basketball expands significantly this month. With conference races kicking into full gear and March not all that far away, it's time to spread the love nationally, and not just among the Big Six conferences. That means on some days I skipped what could be considered a more obvious choice to suggest a game that looks to have significant bracket impact.

Since I want you to be a well-rounded fan, one who isn't too surprised by tournament upsets, I couldn't possibly list every viewing option in this post. So remember to bookmark Blogging the Bracket and visit each day (or follow @Dobber_BtB_SBN on Twitter) for a more complete rundown of each day's televised games. For now, here's my pick for the remaining nights in January.

Tuesday, Jan. 4: Connecticut at Notre Dame, Big East Network/ESPN3/Full Court (7 p.m. ET)
The loser of this one will fall to 1-2 in the conference. Such is life in the Big East.

Wednesday, Jan. 5: BYU at UNLV, CBS College Sports (10 p.m. ET)
As these two have a combined record of 26-3, you might say that the Mountain West doesn't ease into the conference season.

Thursday, Jan. 6: IUPUI at Oakland, FS Detroit/FCS Atlantic (7:30 p.m. ET)
In what's shaping up to be a fantastic Summit League race, the Jaguars are a game behind the Golden Grizzlies in the loss column early on.

Friday, Jan. 7: Cleveland State at Butler, ESPNU (7 p.m. ET)
The kings of the Horizon host the team that looks to dethrone them.

Saturday, Jan. 8: Connecticut at Texas, ESPN (3:30 p.m. ET)
On the first really busy Saturday of conference action this season, the pick is one of the last big non-conference games of the season. Based on last's season's contest in Storrs -- a UConn win when the Longhorns were ranked No. 1 -- both teams hope to keep the wheels on its conclusion.

Sunday, Jan. 9: Maryland at Duke, FSN (8 p.m. ET)
Cameron Indoor isn't the most ideal place for the Terrapins to pick up their first ACC win of the year.

Monday, Jan. 10: Notre Dame at Marquette, ESPN2 (7 p.m. ET)
The final Monday before Big Monday starts features a light schedule. The Golden Eagles will look to defend the Bradley Center court against a Fighting Irish team who's faced a daunting early league slate.

Tuesday, Jan. 11: Florida at Tennessee, ESPN (9 p.m. ET)
Even the Gators' 2006 and 2007 National Championship teams couldn't win in Knoxville. Florida will look to take advantage of Bruce Pearl's suspension and win there for the first time since Feb. 12, 2005.

Wednesday, Jan. 12: Oklahoma State at Texas A&M, Big 12 Network/ESPN3/Full Court (8 p.m. ET)
This is a crucial game for NCAA and conference tournament seeding for two teams who look to be just behind the Big 12 lead pack.

Thursday, Jan. 13: Old Dominion at Drexel, ESPNU (7 p.m. ET)
The Monarchs, preseason CAA favorites, look to knock off the Dragons, who are the early conference leaders heading into January.

Friday, Jan. 14: Butler at Detroit, ESPNU (7 p.m. ET)
The Bulldogs make the list for the second Friday in a row, thanks to a light slate. McDonald's All-American Ray McCallum Jr. and the Titans will look to pull the upset.

Saturday, Jan. 15: Illinois at Wisconsin, Big Ten Network (3 p.m. ET)
Had I published this post on Jan. 1, the Jan. 2 meeting in Champaign between these two Big Ten contenders would have been the pick for that day.

Sunday, Jan. 16: Purdue at West Virginia, CBS (4:30 p.m.)
The Boilermakers, with Robbie Hummel still healthy, routed the Mountaineers in West Lafayette on New Year's Day last year. They'll try to win without him -- but with a stronger overall roster than WVU -- in Morgantown this year.

Monday, Jan. 17: Villanova at Connecticut, Kansas State at Missouri, Syracuse at Pittsburgh, and Kansas at Baylor, ESPN (starting at 3:30 p.m. ET)
Why do I offer you four choices for today? Well, ESPN celebrates the return of Big Monday with a Martin Luther King Day quadruple-header, featuring eight of the best from the Big East and Big 12.

Tuesday, Jan. 18: Michigan State at Illinois, ESPN (7 p.m. ET)
Since you got a look at the bulk of the Big 12 and Big East favorites last night, on this evening you can watch two of the Big Ten's best take each other on.

Wednesday, Jan. 19: Memphis at Southern Miss, CSS (7 p.m. ET)
It's a pity that CBS College Sports has Tulsa at Houston on at the same time, meaning even fewer viewers will see this matchup of Conference USA favorites.

Thursday, Jan. 20: Arizona at Washington, FSN (10:30 p.m. ET)
Early on, it appears the Wildcats are one of the few obstacles the Huskies will face on a relatively unobstructed path to a Pac-10 title, other than themselves.

Friday, Jan. 21: Lipscomb at East Tennessee, CSS/ESPN3/Full Court (7 p.m. ET)
You were expecting to see Butler here again, right? (The Bulldogs face Green Bay this evening, if you're interested.) Instead, I offer you a matchup between the two-time defending A-Sun champion Buccaneers and Adnan Hodzic and the Bisons, who are looking for their first NCAA tournament appearance.

Saturday, Jan. 22: New Mexico State at Utah State, ESPNU (11 p.m. ET)
I'm going to make you stay up late on a busy Saturday, to watch a rematch of last season's WAC final. While the Red Aggies are struggling this year, they will still be a significant obstacle in the Blue Aggies' path to an unbeaten league season.

Sunday, Jan. 23: Wisconsin at Northwestern, Big Ten Network (1 p.m. ET)
See my comment for Jan. 3. A 10-point home loss to the Badgers last season was a small reason why the Wildcats went to the NIT.

Monday, Jan. 24: Notre Dame at Pittsburgh and Baylor at Kansas State, ESPN (7 and 9 p.m. ET)
After a four-game week, Big Monday is returns to its traditional doubleheader format. Both games are worth a look, but the second tilt between the Bears and Wildcats features two teams who have something to prove.

Tuesday, Jan. 25: Purdue at Ohio State, ESPN2 (9 p.m. ET)
The Boilermakers could improve their national stock dramatically if they upset Jared Sullinger and the Buckeyes.

Wednesday, Jan. 26: UCF at Memphis and San Diego State at BYU, CBS College Sports (8 and 10 p.m. ET)
The Conference USA and Mountain West favorites square off in an unexpectedly key doubleheader. The two teams who enter the month of January unbeaten hit the road for each of these contests.

Thursday, Jan. 27: St. Mary's at Gonzaga, ESPN2 (11 p.m. ET)
The Bulldogs will look to seize control of the WCC race from the Gaels with a win at the Kennel.

Friday, Jan. 28: Niagara at Canisius, ESPNU (7 p.m. ET)
Since this night is very light on games with national impact (read as "there aren't any"), I'm going to my Western New York roots with this selection. You're free to go see a movie or something.

Saturday, Jan. 29: Florida at Mississippi State, CBS Regional (1 p.m. ET)
It's Team Enigma vs. Team Turmoil in Starkville. Remember that the SEC West didn't win a single game against any of the East's NCAA qualifiers in 2010. ... until the Bulldogs knocked off Florida and Vanderbilt en route to the conference tournament final.

Sunday, Jan. 30: Northern Iowa at Missouri State, ESPNU (8 p.m. ET)
A win in this one will help the Panthers and Bears keep pace with Wichita State in the Missouri Valley race. Positioning for Arch Madness will be key, as it's likely the Valley will, again, be reduced to one bid.

Monday, Jan. 31: Louisville at Georgetown and Texas at Texas A&M, ESPN (7 and 9 p.m. ET)
The month closes with another key Big East/Big 12 doubleheader. The Cardinals may need a win in Washington to bolster their tournament resume, while the Longhorns and Aggies will look to move up in a tough Big 12 race.

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