Dec 20, 2013, 10:00 AM EDT
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 7 Oklahoma State vs. No. 20 Colorado, 11:30 p.m. Sat. (all times eastern)
A pair of former Big 12 rivals square off out in Las Vegas as Marcus Smart will lead his Cowboys into battle with Tad Boyle’s impressive Colorado squad. The Buffaloes have already split with the other two Big 12 favorites, beating Kansas at the buzzer at home and losing to Colorado on the season’s opening night. The key for them will be slowing down Marcus Smart, who will likely match up against Spencer Dinwiddie as the nation’s two biggest point guards will square off.
That’s not the only game of the night in Sin City, however. The undercard pits Marquette and New Mexico, two teams that have been a bit disappointing early on this season and that desperately need a win with league play right around the corner. The Lobos will reportedly be without starting guard Hugh Greenwood, and the Golden Eagles have the size up front with Chris Otule and Davante Gardner to matchup with Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow.
THE OTHER GAME OF THE WEEKEND: BYU at No. 13 Oregon, 10:30 p.m. Sat.
I’m not quite sure just how good either of these teams are yet. With BYU, I tend to lean towards the negative. They can’t defend well enough and Matt Carlino is not Jimmer Fredette no matter how badly he wants to be him. It’s the opposite with Oregon, who is undefeated on the season despite playing the first nine games without Dominic Artis and Ben Carter. They’re getting better.
So why is this a game of the weekend? Because there are going to be a ton of points scored as both teams love to get up and down the floor and shoot plenty of three-balls.
FIVE MORE TO KEEP AN EYE ON:
- Georgetown at No. 18 Kansas, 12:00 p.m. Sat.: The Hoyas head to Lawrence where they will get a first-hand look at Bill Self’s star duo of Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins. It will be interesting to see how Embiid functions getting bodied by Georgetown’s Joshua Smith. The Hoyas have not yet played their best basketball this season.
- Belmont at No. 19 Kentucky, 12:00 p.m. Sat.: When North Carolina was going through some things, Belmont was the team that made it cool for people to beat them. Right now Kentucky is going through some things. Will Belmont be the trend setters again?
- Illinois vs. No. 23 Missouri, 5:30 p.m. Sat.: One of the best non-conference rivalries in the country, and it just so happens that both teams really, really need the win. Should I mention both teams have a strong perimeter attack? This should be fun.
- Notre Dame vs. No. 3 Ohio State, 7:30 p.m. Sat.: Notre Dame’s got a really strong perimeter, even if they haven’t exactly played that way yet this season. But Ohio State’s perimeter is simply tenacious defensively. Not even the Irish are good enough to break that down.
- Stanford vs. Michigan, 8:30 p.m. Sat.:
WHO’S ON UPSET ALERT?
- No. 22 UMass vs. Florida State, 2:00 p.m. Sat.: Florida State, when they want to, can really defend. They’re playing at home. They’ve beaten VCU and Georgetown this season. The Seminoles aren’t bad, and this will be a road test (it’s a “neutral site” game in Florida) for UMass.
- No. 21 Gonzaga at Kansas State, 3:30 p.m. Sat.: I honestly don’t think Kansas State is all that good this season, but Gonzaga can be beaten by teams with tough defenders in the back court if Sam Dower and Przemerk Karnowski get into foul trouble.
- No. 5 Michigan State at Texas, 4:00 p.m. Sat.: Is Texas for real? They are 10-1 on the season and coming off of a win at North Carolina this week. The real test, however, will be taking on this Michigan State team at home. The Spartans are banged up right now. These are the games that Big 12 contenders win.
- Davidson at No. 14 North Carolina, 4:30 p.m. Sat.: North Carolina playing another unranked team? Gotta be a loss, right?
- No. 10 UConn at Washington, 3:30 p.m. Sun.: Washington will actually matchup well with UConn. Washington doesn’t have any size up front, and neither does UConn. If they can stop Shabazz, UConn is very beatable.
FIVE MORE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:
1) The Gorverner’s Cup, which features Hampton and James Madison in the opening game and Virginia Tech taking on VCU in the nightcap, will be aired on NBC Sports Network and the NBC Sports Live Extra App on Saturday. Festivities kick off at 3:00 p.m.
2) The Diamond Head Classic launches on Sunday night out in Hawaii. The most interesting first round matchup is the first game of the day: No. 17 Iowa State vs. George Mason at 5:30 p.m.
3) UAB heads to Baton Rouge to take on LSU on Saturday afternoon. This will be a good gauge game for both teams, as the Blazers are looking to build on the North Carolina win while LSU is a sleeper in the SEC.
4) Cal heads to Omaha to take on Creighton at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. Both teams really need the win.
5) Two good under-the-radar games: Utah State hosts UC-Santa Barbara at 10:30 Friday, while Buffalo heads to Manhattan for a 3:00 p.m. tip Saturday.
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