It’s been an interesting week in the college basketball world. The Big East had their showcase on Monday, with Villanova blowing out Seton Hall, Creighton securing a huge road win over Xavier but losing star Maurice Watson to a season-ending knee injury and Butler coming back from a 16-point halftime deficit to defeat Marquette.
In addition to the Watson injury, Indiana also suffered a huge loss, with the news coming out today that OG Anunoby will have season-ending knee surgery, and Oregon superstar Dillon Brooks left the game Thursday with a left leg injury. No more specifics have come out in regards to his injury, but he missed the beginning of the season with a left foot injury, so there is concern that he may have re-injured the foot.
This is an extremely important point in the season for just about every team, and there are a number of marquee matchups that you should definitely tune in to, and I am here to tell you a little bit about them!
Providence (13-7, 3-4 BE) @ #1 Villanova (18-1, 6-1 BE)
Saturday 1/21, 12:00 noon, FOX
They were knocked off of the perch at the top of the rankings for one week, but Villanova is right back there this week, and after a dominating win over Seton Hall on Monday, they will host the Providence Friars tomorrow at Noon. Providence always seems to give Nova a challenge, but the Friars are a little down this season. A home loss to them would be quite damaging to the Wildcats’ resume.
Syracuse (11-8, 3-3 ACC) @ #15 Notre Dame (16-3, 5-1 ACC)
Saturday 1/21, 12:00 noon, ESPN
Wednesday night in Tallahassee, the Fighting Irish were 15 for 21 from three-point range against Florida State. That is an astonishing stat, especially when you find out that they lost the game. It’s kind of baffling, but that just shows how good Florida State is. The Irish will be fine, and they will host a struggling Syracuse team tomorrow afternoon, the perfect bounce-back opponent.
#12 Louisville (16-3, 4-2 ACC) @ #10 Florida State (17-2, 5-1 ACC)
Saturday 1/21, 2:00 pm, ESPN
Speaking of that really good Florida State team, their brutal opening to the ACC slate will finally come to an end Saturday when they host the Louisville Cardinals. Louisville smoked Clemson on Thursday night, and come in with just as much momentum as the Seminoles. Jonathan Isaac, Florida State’s star freshman big man, had an incredible game against ND, going for 23 points, 10 rebounds and 7 blocks, and he’ll look to lead the way again tomorrow.
Marquette (12-7, 3-3 BE) @ #7 Creighton (18-1, 5-1 BE)
Saturday 1/21, 2:30 pm, FS1
What a brutal blow to the Bluejays. Creighton lost star point guard Maurice Watson Jr. to a torn ACL in their victory over Xavier on Monday. He’ll miss the rest of the season, severely affecting Creighton’s chances at Final Four run. Watson was leading the nation with 8.5 assists per game, and Coach Greg McDermott has already said that they will now go point guard-by-committee. They have no time to sulk though, as they host a Marquette team looking for a big win to add to their Tourney resume.
#14 Arizona (17-2, 6-0 P12) @ #3 UCLA (19-1, 6-1 P12)
Saturday 1/21, 4:00 pm, CBS
This will be the biggest game in the Pac-12 so far this season. UCLA is solidifying themselves as a legitimate National Championship contender, but they need all of the massive wins they can get to improve their chances at getting a #1 seed. They will take on the current Pac-12 leaders in the Arizona Wildcats. Sean Miller has done an incredible job leading this team without star Allonzo Trier. Freshman big man Lauri Markkanen is a matchup problem for the Bruins, and could be the X-factor towards a huge road win.
#17 Wisconsin (15-3, 4-1 B10) @ Minnesota (15-4, 3-3 B10)
Saturday 1/21, 4:30 pm, BTN
Minnesota has very quietly built an early resume that would likely have them among the top 24 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. They have road wins over Purdue and Northwestern, but they have also lost to Michigan State twice and to Penn State. They have a massive chance to add another feather to their cap when they host the new favorites to win the Big Ten, Wisconsin. They Badgers have the perfect blend of experience and talent, and a win over them would go leaps and bounds for the Golden Gophers.
#24 South Carolina (15-3, 5-0 SEC) @ #5 Kentucky (16-2, 6-0 SEC)
Saturday 1/21, 6:00 pm, ESPN
The SEC schedule will not provide many challenges for John Calipari’s Wildcats, but they’ll get one of those challenges tomorrow when they host South Carolina, who just knocked off Florida on Wednesday night to remain unbeaten in conference play. With star guard Sindarius Thornwell in the lineup, the Gamecocks have not lost. I don’t know if they have the firepower to go into Rupp Arena and get the win, but I think they’ll definitely give Kentucky a test.
#7 West Virginia (15-3, 4-2 B12) @ Kansas State (14-4, 3-3 B12)
Saturday 1/21, 6:00 pm, ESPN2
Thanks a lot West Virginia. I’ve done nothing but hype you up as one of the best teams in the country over the last week, so what do you do to repay me? You go and lose at home to 8-9 Oklahoma. Really? REALLY?! Ugh, I really hope Huggy Bear uses that loss to light a fire under their rear ends. They’ll have another tough one tomorrow though, as they travel to Manhattan to take on a Kansas State team that is desperate for a huge victory.
Miami FL (12-5, 2-3 ACC) @ #18 Duke (14-4, 2-3 ACC)
Saturday 1/21, 8:15 pm, ESPN
The primetime showcase game on Saturday will pit two teams who are off to rough starts in ACC play, but both have much loftier goals. Duke has had a week off since losing to Louisville, and will return home looking to snap a two-game losing streak. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes have lost three of their last four, and are looking for a huge resume-building victory at Cameron Indoor. Miami has won their last two games against Duke, including a win in Durham in 2015.
La Salle (11-5, 5-1 A10) @ VCU (14-5, 4-2 A10)
Sunday 1/22, 2:00 pm, NBCSN
Yet again there are no huge games on Sunday (mostly due to the NFL Playoffs), but before the NFC Championship starts, tune into NBC Sports Network to see two of the top teams in the Atlantic 10 do battle. La Salle has been the surprise of the league so far. After losing their conference opener to Dayton, they have rattled off five wins in a row, including a road win against Rhode Island. They’ll look to make it six in a row when they travel to take on VCU, who has lost two in a row, including a stunner in overtime to Fordham on Wednesday. La Salle will hope to catch VCU looking ahead to a matchup with Dayton next Friday.