SI.com's Seth Davis weighs in on the five hottest topics in college hoops.
Friday, Jan. 27
Harvard (16-2, 2-0 Ivy) at Yale (12-4, 2-0) Pocket protectors for everyone! This game has been sold out for months, and historic Payne Whitney will be rocking. Unfortunately, the Yale partisans are going to be disappointed. The Bulldogs are a fun team to watch -- 6-foot-10 senior forward Greg Mangano leads the Ivy in scoring and rebounds, and the Bulldogs are the highest-scoring team in the league - but Harvard has two really good forwards of its own in Keith Wright and Kyle Casey. The Crimson is battle-tested, whereas every time Yale has had the chance to play somebody good (Quinnipiac, Seton Hall, Wake Forest, Florida) the team has come up short. And no doubt Harvard remembers last season's visit to New Haven, when Yale clipped the Crimson by a point to drop Harvard into a tie for first with Princeton, which eventually cost the Crimson the league title and a trip to the NCAA tournament.
Saturday, Jan. 28
4 p.m. (SEC Network)
No. 1 Kentucky (20-1, 6-0 SEC) at LSU (12-8, 2-4) LSU is better than most people think. But since most people think LSU is absolutely horrible, that's not saying much. The Tigers are not horrible. Yes, they've lost four of their last five, but all four came on the road, and they did beat a pretty good Marquette team at home back on Dec. 19. Since I expect Kentucky to lose at least once between now and the end of the regular season, this might be a good place to predict a shocker. But I'm going to leave that arrow in my quiver for now, especially since freshman Marquis Teague seems to be getting savvier with every outing. Though Teague had just two points on 1-for-7 shooting in the win at Georgia, he did have seven assists to zero turnovers in 33 minutes.
2 p.m. (ESPN)
No. 5 Kansas (17-3, 7-0 Big 12) at Iowa State (14-6, 4-3) Let's face it. The Jayhawks are due. They got out of Austin by the skin of their teeth last weekend, and they looked totally uninspired at home against Texas A&M Tuesday night. Can you blame them? It's a long season, and the only thing Kansas is playing for right now is the chance to enter the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed as opposed to a two or three. Iowa State, on the other hand, is playing for its tournament life. The Cyclones' only win over a team in the top 100 of the RPI came at home against Texas, so this is a must. We all know Iowa State forward Royce White has been terrific, but Michigan State transfer Chris Allen (1-for-9 fg in the loss at Texas) has been a disappointment. I've got a feeling Allen is going to regain his shooting touch at just the right time.
1 p.m. (CBS)
Texas (13-7, 3-4 Big 12) at No. 6 Baylor (18-2, 5-2) It must be nice to be 18-2 and ranked sixth in the country, yet still have people squawking that you're a disappointment. Baylor has indeed come a long way under Scott Drew, but the Bears still have to tighten up their defense if they want to make a deep run in the tournament. Perry Jones looked awful against Missouri, but he has been nursing a tender ankle that he tweaked during the loss at Kansas. He looked much better in going for 21 points and 12 rebounds in Tuesday?s win over Oklahoma. Texas did well to beat Iowa State despite an off shooting night from junior guard J?Covan Brown, but the Longhorns are simply too young and too thin to win a road game against a good team that really needs to win.
1:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
No. 18 Mississippi State (17-4, 4-2 SEC) at No. 14 Florida (16-4, 4-1) The Gators have won four straight SEC games, including Thursday night's comeback win at Ole Miss, but those wins have come against the league's lesser teams. Mississippi State poses a far greater challenge, and if this game were in Starkville, I would go with the Bulldogs. Playing at home, however, I've got to figure the Gators will make their fair share of outside shots. I also like that Patric Young seems to be recovered from the ankle injury that limited his production the last couple of weeks.
9 p.m. (ESPNU)
No. 21 Saint Mary's (20-2, 9-0 WCC) at BYU (18-5, 6-2) This was the kind of marquee matchup the West Coast Conference envisioned when it invited BYU into the league. Saint Mary?s is off to its best league start in 50 years, and while the Cougars don?t have The Jimmer anymore, they do have two very good scoring forwards in Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies, who are both ranked in the top seven in the conference in scoring. BYU is also playing some pretty mean defense, ranking tops in the WCC in defensive field goal percentage. Though the Marriott Center is usually an impossible place to win, the Cougars have dropped two games there this season, to Baylor and Loyola Marymount. Still, BYU needs a statement win to bolster its NCAA tournament resume, and with Gonzaga also coming to town next Thursday, this is the decisive stretch this team has been waiting for all season.
8 p.m. (ESPN2)
No. 19 Virginia (16-3, 3-2 ACC) at N.C. State (15-6, 4-2) I'm sure it was a long ride down I-40 Thursday night for the Wolfpack after they got embarrassed by 19 points at North Carolina. And that may be the fun part as Tony Bennett's root canal parade rolls into town less than 48 hours later. Then again, Virginia lost at home last weekend to Virginia Tech, which demonstrates that the Cavaliers are not as formidable without 7-foot center Assane Sene, who is out for six weeks with an ankle injury. I like Virginia, and it's apparent N.C. State has a long way to go, but we've all seen how hard it is to win on the road in league play. If N.C. State is going to have any hope of making the NCAA tournament, this one is a must.
Sunday, Jan. 29
1 p.m. (CBS)
No. 20 Michigan (16-5, 6-2 Big Ten) at No. 4 Ohio State (18-3, 6-2) A basketball game will never quite evoke the ghosts of Woody and Bo, but this is the most significant hoops contest between these two great rivals in a long time. The last time they were both ranked when they played was six years ago, and even then Michigan and Ohio State were only 22nd and 19th, respectively. The Buckeyes have won their last three games by sizable margins, which has given Thad Matta the opportunity to develop his bench. Freshman forward Sam Thompson has seen more floor time, and he gives the Buckeyes another dynamic finisher on the break. Michigan is also getting deeper with the return of 6-10 sophomore Jon Horford from a foot injury, but even if he does play he won't be ready to overcome Big Sully and his friends.
6 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Iowa (11-10, 3-5 Big Ten) at No. 16 Indiana (16-5, 4-5) The Hoosiers were once the golden boys of college basketball, but there has been nothing shiny about them the last two weeks. Indiana has lost four of its last five games, including Thursday night's 57-50 decision at Wisconsin. The Hoosiers are still the best shooting team in the Big Ten, but they have a hard time grinding out a win when their shots aren't falling. They have also been overly sloppy with the ball. Iowa, on the other hand, has been even more inept of late, dropping four of their last five games, and the Hawkeyes are ranked last in the Big Ten in defensive field goal percentage. If Indiana can't get this win at home when it so desperately needs one, then the Hoosiers are worse than I think.
8:30 p.m. (Fox Sports Network)
Stanford (15-5, 5-3 Pac 12) at California (16-5, 6-2) Just when it seemed the Golden Bears were ready to establish themselves as the team to beat in the Pac 12, they announced that their starting power forward, sophomore Richard Solomon, will be academically ineligible for the rest of the season. Cal still has some pretty good pieces up front -- most notably 6-8 senior forward Harper Kamp, who is averaging nine points and five rebounds -- but the loss of Solomon gives them less margin for error. Still, the biggest threat to Cal is Oregon, not Stanford. The Cardinal have showed their youth while dropping their last two road games at Washington and Washington State. Senior forward Josh Owens can hold his own with anyone in the paint, but the Cardinal just doesn't have enough weapons in this one.
Last Pickoff: 6-4 Overall: 56-24
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