By Seth Davis
January 03, 2014
The Weekend Forecast
Saturday, Jan. 4
2 p.m., Pac 12 Network Washington at No. 1 Arizona
Nobody in college basketball is going undefeated this season, so the question is when -- not if -- Arizona will lose. Hard to say for sure, but it's not likely to come at home against a Washington team that is ranked 319th in the country in scoring defense (79.2) and 335th in field goal percentage defense (49.6). The good news for Arizona is that 7-foot sophomore Kaleb Tarczewski is back in the lineup after missing two games with an ankle injury.
2 p.m., CBS No. 5 Michigan State at Indiana
Indiana coach Tom Crean spent four years as an assistant in East Lansing under Tom Izzo, but this is not a warm occasion to renew friendships. Rather, it is an opportunity for the Hoosiers to get a resume-boosting win at home over a top 10 team. Unfortunately, Indiana is still a young squad that is relying too much on scoring from sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell, who put up 30 in Tuesday's overtime loss at Illinois.
4 p.m., ESPNU No. 6 Oklahoma State at Kansas State
Looks like Travis Ford picked the wrong week to quit smoking. On Monday, the Cowboys lost their all-important glue guy, 6-8 junior forward Michael Cobbins, to a season-ending Achilles injury. Then on Wednesday, freshman point guard Stevie Clark was arrested for marijuana possession. Now Oklahoma State has to play a conference road game against a Kansas State squad that is riding an eight-game win streak, including recent wins over quality opponents Gonzaga and George Washington.
4 p.m., CBS No. 7 Duke at Notre Dame
Here's another matchup between a head coach and his former assistant -- and as is the case with Indiana-Michigan State, Notre Dame's Mike Brey has much bigger things on his mind than a reunion with an old pal. The Irish recently lost their leading scorer and assist maker, point guard Jerian Grant, to an academic suspension, and this week sophomore guard Cameron Biedscheid, who had been redshirting, announced his intentions to transfer. Hardly the momentum you want heading into your ACC debut.
Noon, ESPN2 Cincinnati at No. 18 Memphis
Memphis has quietly been playing some very good basketball. This game tips off a challenging four-game stretch that includes a road date at Louisville and a home game against UConn. While Cincinnati has been able to cobble together a decent record, it has really struggled on offense. The last thing the Bearcats need is for Sean Kilpatrick to go into a shooting slump. The 6-4 senior point guard has made just 5-of-25 during his last two games.
Noon, ACC Network Pittsburgh at North Carolina State
Thinking about this as an ACC matchup will take some getting used to, but it is an intriguing meeting between two teams vying for respectability. The Wolfpack have been getting zero production from their backcourt, but they have been kept afloat by the scoring prowess of sophomore forward T.J. Warren, who ranks fourth in the country in scoring at 23.9 per game. Pitt has also struggled to score from the perimeter, but the Panthers lead the ACC in rebound margin at +10.4. How about first one to 50 wins?
1 p.m., Fox Sports 1 St. John's at Georgetown
It's a little early to be talking bids and bubbles, but St. John's is looking like a team that could suffer from a lack of signature wins come March. The Red Storm had a chance to earn one at Xavier on Tuesday, but they shot just 31 percent and lost by 10. The Hoyas haven't exactly lit the world on fire, either, but they do have a talented, experienced backcourt duo of 6-2 senior Markel Starks and 6-3 sophomore D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. That should be enough to carry them to victory at home.
Sunday, Jan. 5
8 p.m., BTN No. 22 Iowa at No. 4 Wisconsin
If you like sharp and efficient halfcourt offense, then this game should be a delight. The Badgers have topped the 70-point in each of their last five games, and twice in that span scored more than 80. And they're getting better -- freshman forward Nigel Hayes scored a career-high 19 points in Thursday's win at Northwestern. It is rare for me to pick against Wisconsin at the Kohl Center, so I won't do it here, but the Badgers are going up against an experienced, deep and highly skilled Hawkeyes team that has been toughened by a rigorous nonconference schedule. The Badgers better be ready.
5 p.m., Fox Sports 1 No. 10 Oregon at No. 20 Colorado
Oregon has done well to go undefeated to this point, but if you look at its best wins (overtime road wins over Ole Miss and Utah; neutral court win over Georgetown; home overtime win over BYU), you can't help but wonder if the record is a mirage. We'll find out in this game, because the Buffaloes are playing at home and feature one of the nation's top inside-outside tandems in 6-10 sophomore Josh Scott and 6-6 junior Spencer Dinwiddie.
4:30 p.m., CBS No. 21 San Diego State at No. 16 Kansas
What Steve Fisher is doing at SDSU is truly remarkable. The Aztecs had to replace three starters from last season, yet they haven't missed a beat, thanks largely to the sublime talents of 6-3 senior point guard Xavier Thames, who had 23 points in SDSU's win at Colorado State Wednesday night. If this game were at Viejas Center, I would go with the Aztecs, but it's hard to imagine the Jayhawks losing in Allen Fieldhouse. KU is getting better production from junior point guard Naadir Tharpe, who scored 30 points on 11-for-14 shooting in his last two games.
Last Week: 9-1
Season Record: 36-14

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