A battle for Big 12 supremacy is the showcase game of a stacked college basketball schedule on Martin Luther King Day.
Martin Luther King Day, best known for being the "we know it sucks getting back into the flow of things after Christmas and New Year's, so here's a Monday in the middle of January off" holiday, is also becoming a pretty solid annual event for college hoops fan. This year's ESPN schedule is especially enticing, with five ranked teams - including two of the nation's three remaining unbeatens - taking the floor.
Here's what we're working with today.
Louisville at Marquette (3:30/ESPN)
It was only four weeks ago when this game looked like it could be a battle between two top ten teams. Marquette started the season 10-0 while Louisville was 12-0 before a Dec. 28 loss to Georgetown. Both teams now enter today's meeting with identical 14-4 records. Still, this is a series that has produced some of college basketball's most memorable finishes in recent years, which means it's absolutely worth neglecting work, school or family for.
Texas A&M at Missouri (5:30/ESPN)
It's difficult to believe that Missouri hasn't beaten Texas A&M in almost eight years. Check that, it's almost impossible to believe. The Tigers have lost eight straight to the Aggies, a streak that began after a six-point Mizzou win in the 2004 Big 12 Tournament. Missouri (16-1, 3-1) appears poised to change all that against an A&M team that has gone 2-5 after an 8-1 start.
Hampton at Morgan State (7:00/ESPNU)
Morgan State has lost back-to-back games since the indefinite suspension of head coach Todd Bozeman following an incident with one of his own players two Saturdays ago.
Albany at Boston (7:00/CBS Sports Network)
It's an early battle for America East supremacy between a pair of teams with just one league loss. Classic New York vs. Boston. Can't wait for coverage of this to take up 35% of SportsCenter tonight.
Pittsburgh at Syracuse (7:30/ESPN)
Not one single player on the Syracuse roster has experienced a victory over Pittsburgh. The Panthers have won the last five meetings with the Orange, beating SU by an average of 78-68. That should be more than enough motivation for the top-ranked 'Cuse (19-0, 6-0) to not overlook a Pitt squad that is 0-5 in the Big East and widely thought to be the biggest disappointment in college basketball this season.
Monday night's bout marks the 100th meeting between Syracuse and Pittsburgh, with the Orange laying claim to a 61-38 series advantage.
Notre Dame At Rutgers (9:00/ESPNU)
A pair of Big East teams looking to bounce back after both began surprisingly strong in conference play before suffering double-digit losses over the weekend. The Irish let a halftime lead slip away against Connecticut and ultimately saw their 29-game home-wining streak snapped by virtue of a 67-53 defeat. The Scarlet Knights were coming off a blowout victory over Pittsburgh but never looked competitive against West Virginia, falling 84-60 in Morgantown. Both teams struggle to put up points, with Rutgers ranking 180th nationally in scoring and Notre Dame 149th. That's probably going to make it difficult for ESPNU to draw viewers away from the next game on the list.
Baylor at Kansas (9:30/ESPN)
Sole possession of first place in the Big 12 is on the line tonight in Lawrence as unbeaten and third-ranked Baylor faces a Kansas team that has won at least a share of the league's regular season title in each of the past 73 seasons...or something like that (it's actually the last seven). The game will have no shortage of star power with national player of the year candidate Thomas Robinson (17.2 ppg/12.2 rpg) serving as the headliner for the Jayhawks and likely lottery pick Perry Jones III (13.8 ppg./7.7 rpg) leading the way for the Bears. Baylor is 0-9 all-time against Kansas in Lawrence.