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Who is Kentucky's biggest challenge?
2:40 | College Basketball
Who is Kentucky's biggest challenge?
Friday January 9th, 2015

Last weekend the number of unbeaten teams still remaining was cut in half, with Colorado State, TCU and Villanova each suffering their first loss. Only three teams have yet to lose this season -- Duke, Kentucky and Virginia -- and that number will drop by one before this weekend is over. Games below are presented in chronological order.

Cincinnati at Connecticut

Saturday, 11 a.m., ESPN2

Neither of these teams are ranked, but both are worthy of it, so this game will serve as a helpful differentiator. UConn has won four of its last five games, and in that overtime loss to Temple it played the second half and overtime without star guard Ryan Boatright. Cincinnati has won four straight, but I still think the Bearcats are too offensively challenged to pull off this road victory.

UConn 67, Cincinnati 61

No. 22 Ohio State at Indiana, Saturday

Noon, ESPN

As I wrote in my mailbag column this week, my concern with Indiana is not talent, it’s confidence. The Hoosiers were embarrassed at Michigan State on Monday, losing by 20, but I think they will benefit from coming back home. It will be interesting to see how much zone Ohio State plays. Thad Matta has been moving away from it of late, and Indiana has a lot of jump shooters who could exploit it.

Indiana 75, Ohio State 70

No. 1 Kentucky at Texas A&M

Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS

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Normally, I wouldn’t bother picking this game, given that the Aggies have lost the only four tough games they played -- including a 21-point drubbing at Alabama on Tuesday. But the Wildcats have shown a maddening tendency to play to the level of their competition, up or down. Having survived a scare at home against Ole Miss on Tuesday, I’m guessing Kentucky better understands the peril of the light switch.

Kentucky 75, Texas A&M 55

No. 5 Louisville at No. 18 North Carolina

Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN

North Carolina has been beatable at home this season (Iowa and Notre Dame both clipped the Heels in the Dean Dome), but Louisville has not looked invincible lately, either. The Cardinals nearly lost at Wake Forest on Sunday and then only beat Clemson at home by six on Wednesday. I spy a team ready to be plucked.

North Carolina 74, Louisville 70

No. 19 Seton Hall at Creighton

Saturday, 2 p.m., FS1

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The Bluejays had a nice win over Oklahoma back on Nov. 19, but that turned out to be a false positive. They have lost four in a row, including a road game at North Texas and a home game against DePaul, largely because their defense is soft. That’s not a good problem to have against a Seton Hall squad that will be itching to bounce back from Wednesday’s 11-point loss at Xavier.

Seton Hall 74, Creighton 63

No. 11 Maryland at Purdue

Saturday, 2:30 p.m., BTN

Maryland's seven-game winning streak figured to continue on Tuesday night against an Illinois squad that had just lost its leading scorer. So naturally the Terrapins lost, 64-57. Purdue, meanwhile, opened Big Ten play by winning home games over Minnesota and Michigan and then gave Wisconsin all it wanted in Madison on Wednesday before falling by seven. The Boilermakers are comfortable playing at a slow pace and using their two-headed big man, freshman Isaac Haas and junior A.J. Hammons, to maximum effect. That should be just enough.

Purdue 64, Maryland 63

Tony Bennett's Cavaliers are off to a 14-0 start but have a major test in South Bend on Saturday.
Tony Bennett's Cavaliers are off to a 14-0 start but have a major test in South Bend on Saturday.
Steve Helber/AP

DePaul at No. 8 Villanova

Saturday, 4 p.m., CBS Sports Network

DePaul has been a surprise, starting 3-0 in the Big East (after losing six in a row), but it is still ranked last in the Big East in turnovers (14.4), rebound margin (-4.1) and field goal defense (45.5). That’s bad news against a Villanova team whose identity is built around defensive pressure, speed and toughness.

Villanova 80, DePaul 60

No. 10 Texas at Oklahoma State

Saturday, 5 p.m., ESPNU

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By the time this tips off, the Longhorns will have had six days to contemplate their pratfall against Oklahoma. The Cowboys, meanwhile, darn near knocked off Iowa State in Hilton Coliseum on Monday night. The Pokes have the top two scorers in the Big 12 in Phil Forte and Le’Bryan Nash, but Texas is the better team, and it’s coming in angry.

Texas 75, Oklahoma State 70

No. 3 Virginia at No. 13 Notre Dame

Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN2

Virginia’s Pack Line defense is efficient, but it is not disruptive. The Cavaliers are 204th in the country in steals percentage and 318th in defensive turnover percentage. They haven't lost yet this season, but if a team can care of the ball and make jump shots, it can beat them. Notre Dame does both, plus it’s playing at home.

Notre Dame 70, Virginia 67

No. 17 Iowa State at No. 14 West Virginia

Saturday, 8 p.m., ESPN2

This is the best team Bob Huggins has had in Morgantown since the 2010 squad that reached the Final Four. The Mountaineers are tough: They lead the nation in defensive steals percentage and rank fifth in offensive rebound percentage. The Cyclones, on the other hand, are a highly-skilled group that has nowhere to go if they’re not making threes. That’s not a good formula for this road game.

West Virginia 71, Iowa State 64

 

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