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Men's College Basketball: Games to watch this week

Two ranked matchups - #18 BYU vs. #14 Baylor and #9 Oklahoma vs. #3 Kansas - highlight this week's men's NCAAB action.

There are plenty of exciting games worth tuning into in the coming week, so here are five of the best college basketball matchups to watch.

No. 18 BYU vs. No. 14 Baylor

WhereFoster Pavilion, Waco, TX
When9 PM ET, Tuesday, January 9
How to watchESPN+

Tuesday is an important day in college basketball with nine ranked teams taking the court, but there is only one matchup that involves two top 25 teams facing off. 

That matchup features No. 12 BYU and No. 18 Baylor in Texas, and is set to be an exciting and fast-paced matchup. 

Baylor began the season as one of the best programs in the nation, but a poor showing before Christmas lowered the Bears in the rankings. A pair of losses to Michigan State and Duke have the Bears searching for answers, and it might be hard to find them against a high-powered BYU offense that scored at least 86 points in their last four matchups of 2023. 

BYU ranks in the top 10 in the nation in assists per game (first), points per game (sixth), and rebounds per game (sixth). Baylor is in the top 10 in points per game (seventh) and three-point percentage (first).

However, BYU hasn't had the hardest of schedules, so this could be a great bounce-back spot for Baylor.

No. 1 Purdue vs. Nebraska

WherePinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, NE
When9 PM ET, Tuesday, January 9
How to watchPeacock

Zach Edey decided to return to college basketball after last season's disappointing end, and it's looking like a fantastic decision. Edey is currently averaging over 23 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game as Purdue has lost just one of their first 13 games. 

Teams have struggled to defend Edey because when they double-team him, the forward kicks it out to the perimeter to Braden Smith or Fletcher Loyer. 

Purdue's improved 3-point shooting (39.4 percent, 11th in the nation) has been a big reason for their early season success. 

Nebraska isn't one of the premier basketball programs in the country, but it has been incredibly solid through the first few weeks in coach Fred Hoiberg's fifth season at the helm. In their first 13 games, the Cornhuskers were 11-2 and 9-1 at home. 

The Nebraska offense is centered around four scorers averaging 12 points or more: Brice Williams, Juwan Gary, Rienk Mast, and Keisei Tominaga. If all four can get going from the perimeter against Purdue, they can keep the game competitive from start to finish.

No. 7 UNC vs. NC State

WherePNC Arena, Raleigh, NC
When8 PM ET, Wednesday, January 10
How to watchESPN

It's a battle of in-state rivals on Wednesday as UNC and NC State face off in Raleigh. 

UNC won 9 of their first 12 games of the season, but their three losses weren't bad losses. Only blue-blood programs in Kentucky, UConn, and Villanova have been able to defeat UNC this season. 

UNC is a perfect 6-0 at home and just 3-3 on the road. Wednesday's game will be at NC State, so it will be another road test for the Tar Heels. 

The Wolfpack had a stellar start to the season in 2023 as they lost only three games to Tennessee, Ole Miss, and BYU. All three of those teams are ranked in the top 25, and NC State was competitive in each loss. Their record sits at 9-3. 

NC State was also 7-1 at home through the first 12 games, so playing at home could be the difference against a UNC squad that struggles on the road.

No. 9 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Kansas

WhereAllen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS
When2 PM, Saturday, January 13
How to watchESPN+

Kansas has been in a tight race with Purdue for the No. 1 spot for most of the season. 

Heading into 2024, the Jayhawks were 12-1 with their only loss coming against Marquette in November. Since that loss, Kansas ended 2023 by going 8-0 and averaging over 75 points per game. 

The Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson has been phenomenal for the Jayhawks and has been one of the most dominant centers in the nation. 

Similar to Kansas, the Oklahoma Sooners were 12-1 through their first 13 games. Their only loss came from No. 8 UNC, and that has been one of the only ranked teams that the Sooners have played. 

Oklahoma has been able to rely on its fast-paced offense to win games, but its defense has been inconsistent at times. If the Sooners want a chance to win this game, they will need to create a plan to limit Dickinson on the inside and Kevin McCullar Jr. on the perimeter.

No. 5 Tennessee vs. Georgia

WhereStegeman Coliseum, Athens, GA
When12 PM ET, Saturday, January 13
How to watchESPN2

The rivalry doesn't just stop on the football field. SEC schools Tennessee and Georgia are two of the biggest rivals in college sports. 

Georgia got the better of Tennessee on the football field this season, but the Volunteers are primed to get their revenge on the basketball court. The Vols ended 2023 winning five in a row to improve their record to 9-3. 

Also, Tennessee has had an incredibly difficult schedule to this point. Some of their opponents include Purdue, UNC, Illinois, and NC State, so the Vols have been battle tested plenty heading into this rivalry matchup. 

Unlike Tennessee, the Bulldogs have had a very easy start to their season. The only top 25 team Georgia has played this season was Providence, and the Bulldogs lost that matchup. Georgia sits at 11-3, with their other two losses to Miami and Oregon.

However, this matchup starts a string of difficult weeks for the Bulldogs. Besides Tennessee, the Bulldogs have to face Kentucky, LSU, and Florida in the coming weeks. Tennessee is expected to be large favorites, and deservedly so as they are one of the country's top defensive teams.

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