With the college football regular season having come to an end, college basketball is very much taking center stage.
With finals being taken on campuses across the country, however, the midweek slate of games is relatively small. Fear not, though; the weekend on the hardwood will be huge.
Here are five games worth watching this coming week.
This is a showdown between the defending national champion (UConn) and a program that is still seeking its first title (Gonzaga). Friday’s Centennial Tire Seattle Tip-Off promises to be a good one, as both teams have realistic championship aspirations this season.
UConn’s title defense is off to a 9-1 start, with a solitary loss coming at Kansas (69-65). Tristen Newton leads five Huskies in double-figures at 17.1 points per game.
Gonzaga is 7-1, with wins over Syracuse and UCLA to go along with a neutral site-loss at the hands of Purdue (73-63). Both Anton Watson and Graham Ike are averaging more than 13 points and eight rebounds per contest for the Bulldogs.
Indiana may be unranked, but it is 7-1 (one of its losses is to UConn) and this team can never be discounted inside the friendly confines of Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers, who are led by Kel’el Ware (17.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg), boast a 4-0 home record so far this season.
Kansas (9-1) is ranked second in the nation behind only Arizona. Since falling to Marquette on November 21, the Jayhawks have defeated both Tennessee and UConn to build on their early-season win over Kentucky. Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson has made an instant impact with 20.1 ppg.
Baylor is paying a visit to Michigan on Saturday, but the good news for the Bears is that they won’t be inside the Breslin Center on Michigan State’s campus. Instead, this is somewhat of a neutral-site contest at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. That gives Baylor (9-0) a better chance of staying undefeated.
The early stages of the 2023/24 campaign have been a different story for the Spartans, who are 4-4 with three losses to ranked opponents, plus an overtime setback against James Madison. Still, any Tom Izzo-coached team is a formidable foe.
Players to watch are Baylor’s RayJ Dennis (14.2 ppg, 6.6 apg, 4.0 rpg) and Michigan State’s Tyson Walker (20.7 ppg).
As mouth-watering as Saturday’s lineup is from top to bottom, the biggest one of all – at least according to the rankings – is without question Arizona vs. Purdue.
Arizona’s No. 1 ranking and perfect record (8-0) will be put to the test, while fourth-ranked Purdue is 9-1 with just an overtime loss at Northwestern.
The star power in this matchup is predictably immense. Arizona has five guys scoring in double-figures, led by North Carolina transfer Caleb Love (13.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.4 apg). Purdue center Zach Edey (23.7 ppg, 11.2 rpg) is a massive favorite to once again win Wooden Award honors as the best player in college hoops.
What better way to wrap up Saturday’s schedule than with a battle between college basketball blue bloods? North Carolina and Kentucky are taking their talents to Atlanta for a showdown inside State Farm Arena as part of the CBS Sports Classic.
This has all the makings of a good one, too. UNC is 7-2 and boasts a veteran lineup led by RJ Davis (21.0 ppg) and Armando Bacot (15.9 ppg, 11.9 rpg).
UK, which is also 7-2, has poured in a ridiculous 91.8 ppg so far this season. The Tar Heels also don’t mind playing fast and scoring in bunches, so you can expect nonstop fireworks.