"I Know the Game Like I'm Reffing It"

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saturday's Games To Watch

Well, it's the middle of January and it's, shall we say, brick outside, but it's about to get hot as far as college basketball is concerned.

Conference play is heating up, the term "bubble" is about to become a part of your vocabulary very shortly, and any minute now, Coach Calipari will start proclaiming that Kentucky is the underdog again.

Today is the season's most anticipated day of games to date, so if you haven't started paying attention, yet, this is the day to do so.

Here's a quick look at what you should be watching.

#4 Duke (14-2) at #5 Louisville (15-2) 12PM, Louisville, KY, ESPN

The day gets started with a doozy, as two of the ACC heavyweights bang heads. The Dukies are coming into the Yum Center on suddenly shaky ground, having lost two straight, at NC State and at home to Miami by a combined 28 points. The Cardinals won't make things any easier for the Blue Devils, as they boast one of the nation's best defenses and have lost only to Kentucky and North Carolina so far this season. Prediction: Louisville 77, Duke 72.

Miami (12-4) at #9 Notre Dame (16-2) 2PM, South Bend, IN, ESPN2

More ACC action here, as the Hurricanes try to make it two in a row on the road. Their confidence should not be lacking, after handing Duke a beat down in Cameron. The Irish lost a huge piece of their early season puzzle, Zach Auguste, to a season ending academic suspension.* They were able to hold off Georgia Tech on the road Wednesday, but the talented Miami squad is a different beast. Prediction: Notre Dame 81, Miami 79.

* Zach Auguste is back in the lineup today and has not been suspended as previously reported.

#1 Kentucky (16-0) at Alabama (11-4) 4PM, Tuscaloosa, AL, ESPN

The Wildcats took a break from overtime victories and smacked poor Missouri around Tuesday. That's probably good news for Bama, since the Cats are unlikely to be so angry today. The Tide is coming off a loss at South Carolina, but has been solid this season and is undefeated at home, albeit against light competition. Prediction: Alabama 67, Kentucky 66.

#25 Michigan State (12-5) at #15 Maryland (16-2) 4PM, College Park, MD, CBS

The Big Ten has been a bit disappointing so far, but they provide us with one of the day's best match-ups. This one is a quick turnaround rematch of Maryland's double overtime victory in Lansing two and a half weeks ago. Michigan State has won three straight since then, so expect the Spartans to have revenge on their minds. Prediction: Michigan State 69, Maryland 65.

#20 West Virginia (15-2) at #18 Texas (12-4) 6:15PM, Austin, TX, ESPN

The Big 12 has been anything but disappointing this year, arguably the best conference in America. The Mountaineers are coming off their best win of the season on the form of a 21-point blow out of Oklahoma. Texas has been struggle-city of late, having lost back-to-back games to the Oklahoma schools by double digits. Prediction: West Virginia 68, Texas 64.

 #6 Utah (13-2) at #12 Arizona (15-2) 7PM, Tucson, AZ, P12N

Pac 12 supremacy is on the line tonight in Tucson. We're used to seeing Arizona in this position, but the Utes? Not so much. Right now, however, you'd be hard pressed to find a team playing better than Utah. They have won their first four league games by an average of 24.5 points. Arizona hasn't been quite as sharp, having lost two of their last five to subpar competition. Prediction: Utah 61, Arizona 59. 

Oklahoma State (11-4) at #16 Oklahoma (11-5) 7PM, Norman, OK, ESPN2

Back to the Big 12 for this in-state rivalry. After starting off impressively, the Sooners have lost two straight league games, including a home loss to Kansas State. Oklahoma State has won their two home league games, while losing their two road contests. Prediction: Oklahoma 68, Ok St 61.

#11 Kansas (14-2) at #13 Iowa State (12-3) 9PM, Ames, IA, ESPN

What look like the top two teams in the Big 12 meet in what will be a raucous environment in Ames. Kansas is 3-0 in league play (what else is new?) and have been as solid as they come, minus two blowout losses. The Cyclones followed a big time road win at West Virginia with a tough 1-point loss at Baylor. Prediction: Iowa State 72, Kansas 68.

Other games of note:

#17 Wichita State (14-2) at Evansville (12-4) 2PM, Evansville, IN, ESPN3
Florida (10-6) at Georgia (10-5) 2PM, Athens, GA, CBS
Ohio State (14-4) at Iowa (12-5) 2PM, Iowa City, IA, ESPN
Baylor (13-3) at Kansas State (10-7) 3PM, Manhattan, KS, ESPNU
Butler (13-5) at Georgetown (11-5) 5PM, Washington, DC, FS1
UNLV (9-7) at San Diego State (12-4) 6PM, San Diego, CA, CBSS
Temple (12-6) at Cincinnati (11-5) 7:30PM, Cincinnati, OH, ESPNU
#24 Providence (13-5) at Creighton (9-9) 7:30PM, Omaha, NE, FS1
Connecticut (9-6) at Stanford (12-4) 9PM, Stanford, CA, ESPN2
Mississippi (10-6) at #22 Arkansas (13-3) 9:30PM, Fayetteville, AR, ESPNU

Other Top 25 games:

#2 Virginia (16-0) at Boston College (8-7) 2PM, Chestnut Hill, MA, ESPN3
#14 VCU (14-3) at Duquesne (5-9) 2PM, Pittsburgh, PA, CBSS
#3 Gonzaga (16-1) at Loyola Marymount (4-13) 4PM, Los Angeles, CA
#7 Villanova (16-1) at Pennsylvania (4-8) 7PM, Philadelphia, PA

Vegas Pick (5-3):

Davidson (11-3) pk at Richmond (9-8) 6PM, Richmond, VA

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