By Bill Trocchi
January 04, 2010

Giving you a rundown on the top three games on tonight's college basketball slate:

1. Pittsburgh (12-2, 2-0) at Cincinnati (10-3, 2-0), 7 p.m., ESPN

Pitt pulled off an upset over No. 5 Syracuse on Saturday, handing the Orange their first loss of the season with a 72-62 result at the Carrier Dome. The Panthers, the Big East's top defensive team that returns just one starter from last year's Elite Eight team, will try to keep things going just two days later in another difficult environment. The Bearcats are 7-0 at home, including a dramatic win over No. 10 UConn to open Big East play. Freshman Lance Stephenson leads three Bearcats who average double digits in scoring with 13 points per game. The winner of this one will be a surprising 3-0 in the Big East.

2. No. 9 North Carolina (11-3) at College of Charleston (7-6), 7 p.m., ESPNU

Yes, you read that correctly. North Carolina is playing a road game in a Southern Conference arena. Roy Williams and Charleston coach Bobby Cremins are old friends from their days in the ACC when Williams was an assistant at UNC and Cremins was coaching Georgia Tech. UNC tried to open Carolina First Arena last year, but the scheduling did not work out, so the Tar Heels are coming in Year 2 of the $45 million facility that seats 5,100. The Cougars are 5-0 at home this season and 2-3 against North Carolina all time, defeating the Heels during the 1999 and 2001 seasons, with all five games held in Chapel Hill. Charleston is led by Andrew Goudelock (17.9 ppg). This is the final nonconference game of the season for UNC, which opens ACC play by hosting Virginia Tech on Sunday.

3. Mississippi State (12-2) at Western Kentucky (7-4), 9 p.m.

Another power conference team is visiting a non-BCS conference foe, as the Bulldogs look for their 10th straight win. Even with stud Renardo Sidney ineligible, Mississippi State is off to a fast start thanks to sharpshooting junior Ravern Johnson (15 ppg, 49.5 percent from three-point range) and big man Jarvis Varnado, who is among the nation's leaders in field goal percentage, rebounds and blocked shots. Western Kentucky is hoping to play its way to a third straight trip to the NCAA tournament and has just one questionable loss on its resume (Indiana State). WKU is 1-2 against the SEC, beating Vanderbilt and losing to LSU and South Carolina.

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