Dec 14, 2013, 11:18 AM EDT
GAME OF THE DAY: No. 1 Arizona at Michigan (12 p.m., CBS)
The game of the day features the No. 1 team in the country, the Arizona Wildcats, traveling to Ann Arbor for a true road test against the Wolverines. Michigan has more size than many with Mitch McGary, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford to give Arizona problems on the interior, but how will with length and athleticism of Arizona bother Michigan? Glenn Robinson III needs to get going this season and a big game against Arizona’s athletic and talented front court could go a long way in getting the sophomore going in Big Ten play.
THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: No. 11 Kentucky at No. 18 North Carolina (5:15 p.m., ESPN)
The Wildcats finally get a true road game this season as young-and-talented Kentucky go to Chapel Hill for a matchup with North Carolina. We have no clue which North Carolina team will show up, but with Kentucky, their key will be stabilizing their young guards and taking quality shots early in their first road test for many of these true freshmen. How will North Carolina slow down Julius Randle? Who on Kentucky defends Marcus Paige? This should be a tremendous matchup with a ton of talent on the floor.
WHO’S GETTING UPSET? Princeton at Penn State (2 p.m., BTN)
If Princeton can slow down the Penn State backcourt of Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill and play more to their pace, they could make this a game this afternoon. The Tigers are off to a 7-1 start and guard T.J. Bray returned against Rutgers on Wednesday, as he scored 23 points and tossed out eight assists in the road win over the Scarlet Knights. This is Penn State’s only game in an 11-day stretch and poses as a potential trap game for them at home if they don’t come prepared.
MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: VCU at Northern Iowa (12 p.m., ESPNU)
Shaka Smart and the Rams get to test out their press on the road against a good Missouri Valley program in what should be an interesting clash of styles. Northern Iowa is currently 4-5 on the season, but has an overtime loss to Iowa State last week, and is never an easy out as Deon Mitchell, Seth Tuttle and Nate Buss are all juniors averaging double-figures this season for the Panthers. VCU has already faced a tough road test this season, winning at Virginia, and should be prepared to travel to the Midwest.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
1) The No. 12 Shockers should have their hands full when they host Tennessee today and they could be without the services of sophomore guard Ron Baker, as he’ll be a game-time decision with a sprained ankle according to ESPN’s Jimmy Dykes.
2) North Dakota State should be an interesting test for No. 3 Ohio State. The Bison are coming off a road win at Notre Dame on Wednesday and they are winners of five straight games coming into Saturday’s game at Columbus. The Buckeyes are playing very well early in the season, but North Dakota State is experienced enough to make this a tough game.
3) We should quickly see how good 9-1 Illinois really is tonight as they travel west to face No. 15 Oregon. The Illini haven’t faced many early-season tests this season, as they beat Auburn and UNLV but lost on the road at Georgia Tech. Oregon is probably just happy they don’t have to guard Marshall Henderson for the foreseeable future and the Ducks can put up points in a hurry.
4) Can the No. 13 Jayhawks bounce back with a win over New Mexico in Kansas City after losing three of their last four games? That is what Kansas is hoping, but they’ll face a tough “neutral-court” test with the Lobos. Cameron Bairstow, Kendall Williams and Alex Kirk are all averaging at least 18.6 points per game this season and those three upperclassmen shouldn’t feel intimidated by the pro-Kansas crowd at the Sprint Center.
5) Rivalry games to watch today include Cincinnati at Xavier and the state of Indiana has some great in-state rivalries going today as Notre Dame faces Indiana at 3:15 and Butler facing Purdue at 6 p.m. While none of the four Indiana schools are currently ranked, all four programs are off to solid starts on the season and these games are usually close and full of local intrigue. Cincinnati and Xavier is always a tremendous yearly matchup and is one of the most intense rivalries in college basketball.
THE TOP 25:
- No. 1 Arizona at Michigan, 12 p.m., CBS
- North Dakota State at No. 3 Ohio State, 8:15 p.m., BTN
- Eastern Kentucky at No. 4 Wisconsin, 1 p.m., ESPN3
- No. 5 Michigan State at Oakland, 4 p.m., ESPN2
- Western Kentucky at No. 6 Louisville, 12 p.m., ESPN2
- No. 7 Oklahoma State at Louisiana Tech, 2 p.m., ESPNU
- No. 11 Kentucky at No. 18 North Carolina, 5:15 p.m., ESPN
- Tennessee at No. 12 Wichita State, 2 p.m., ESPN2
- New Mexico vs. No. 13 Kansas, 7 p.m., ESPN2
- Illinois at No. 15 Oregon, 9 p.m., ESPN2
- South Alabama at No. 20 Gonzaga, 10 p.m., Root Sports
- Northern Illinois at No. 22 UMass, 3 p.m., NBCSN
- VCU at Northern Iowa, 12 p.m., ESPNU
- Youngstown State at Pittsburg, 12 p.m., ESPN3
- Princeton at Penn State, 2 p.m., BTN
- Notre Dame vs. Indiana, 3:15 p.m., ESPN
- Middle Tennessee at Ole Miss, 5 p.m., ESPN3
- Butler vs. Purdue, 6 p.m., BTN
- Fresno State at California, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network
- Saint Mary’s at Boise State, 6:05 p.m., Root Sports
- West Virginia at Marshall, 7:30 p.m., Root Sports
- Cincinnati at Xavier, 8 p.m., Fox Sports 1
- Louisiana-Monroe at LSU, 8 p.m., ESPN3
- Prairie View A&M at UCLA, 8 p.m., Pac-12 Network
- BYU at Utah, 10 p.m., Pac-12 Network
- Joel Embiid out for Big 12 tournament, ‘longshot’ for NCAA tournament first weekend 0
- 2014 Big 12 Tournament Preview: This is going to be good 1
- 2014 Big East Tournament Preview: Can Villanova finally beat Creighton? 0
- College Basketball Talk’s Latest Top 25 4
- Bracketology: Florida in driver’s seat for overall No. 1 seed 4
- NBCSports.com’s 2014 College Basketball All-Americans 8
- Bubble Banter: Nebraska’s marquee win, St. Joseph’s problematic loss 0
- Wichita State will head into the NCAA tournament 34-0 as a No. 1 seed (11)
- No. 7 Syracuse falls to Georgia Tech in a shocking home loss (9)
- NBCSports.com’s 2014 College Basketball All-Americans (8)
- Assigned Reading: Dean Smith’s health continues to deteriorate (6)
- No. 1 Florida’s undefeated SEC season not just a by-product of their league (6)