Here is a conference by conference summary of what’s going down in college basketball this weekend…
BIG 12: Missouri-Baylor (2 PM ET, ESPN) is the best game of the weekend, a great contrast in styles, as Mizzou’s deep backcourt takes on Baylor’s deep frontline. Kansas got a big win over Baylor on Monday and now goes into Texas (4 PM ET, CBS). The Longhorns are rebuilding and this would certainly be a game Rick Barnes would have circled as a breakout moment. Overall, great day for the Big 12.
BIG EAST: Syracuse faces a tough test early this evening in South Bend, when they visit Notre Dame for a 6 PM ET tip on ESPN. The Irish have been up-and-down this year, and you get the strong feeling that a nationally televised home date with the unbeaten #1 team in the country will get them up. Cincinnati is quietly just one game back after a big road win over UConn earlier this week, and the Bearcats again take to the road against a good West Virginia team (3 PM ET, ESPNU). Louisville-Pitt goes in prime-time at 9 PM ET, a game ESPN doubtless thought would be better than it is, as the Panthers have yet to win a game in league play, while the Cards have struggled since Big East games began.
ATLANTIC 10: Xavier-Dayton (1 PM ET, ESPN2) is the battle for the soul of western Ohio, as these two Catholic universities square off, and it’s also an important game in the A-10 race. If Dayton wins this game at home, it signals that it’s “Game On”, lest I sound like Rick Santorum. If Xavier goes in and wins on the road, the Musketeers still hold the status of top-heavy favorite.
ACC: Florida State’s been playing good basketball since ACC play started and last week they hammered North Carolina by 33 points. Now, at 3-1 in the league, they visit 4-0 Duke for a 4 PM EST game on ESPN. On Sunday, N.C. State, a team looking like a live darkhorse, goes to Miami, whose talented backcourt has yet to produce consistency.
BIG TEN: Michigan State hosts Purdue this afternoon for an early tip (Noon ET, ESPN). Three conference games go Sunday in a Big Ten Network tripleheader, apparently designed for people who like sports, but really hate the NFL playoffs. Improving Penn State goes to slumping Indiana, and Illinois hosts Wisconsin.
SEC: The Alabama-Kentucky game today (Noon ET, CBS) loses some of its luster, with the injury to ‘Bama’s power forward JaMychal Green. The Crimson Tide would have been a longshot in Rupp Arena away, but with their best player hobbled, it’s truly a hopeless cause. Mississippi State and Vanderbilt go tonight (7 PM ET, ESPN2) in a matchup of teams with hopes of challenging the Wildcats for the conference title.
MOUNTAIN WEST: San Diego State is off to a 2-0 start in league play after losing most of last year’s championship team to graduation and the NBA draft. The Aztecs host Air Force today, while New Mexico and UNLV meet in a key matchup of contenders in Las Vegas.
PAC-12: Cal is playing good basketball, at 6-1 in conference play and leading the way. They visit Washington State. Stanford and Washington are each a game back and go head-to-head in the league’s best game.
I have a hard time taking non-conference games seriously at this point in the schedule, but CBS will foist a couple on us. The network that televises the SEC will follow Kentucky-Alabama by showing UConn-Tennessee and Arkansas-Michigan. The one non-league game that would intrigue me is St. Joe’s-Penn, if only because of the rivalry implications in the city of Philadelphia. And another Philly team, Temple, takes on Maryland at 11 AM ET today on ESPNU.