Tomorrow could be a real treat for fans of games that involve the Top 25, here are just five games that should pique your interest on a Saturday in late January:
#13 Florida(16-4,4-1) vs. #16 Mississippi State (17-4,4-2) 1:30pm: In the lone game of the day that pits two top-25 teams against each other, this key SEC showdown in Gainesville features Arnett-Moultrie averaging a double-double 17 pts 11 rebs against Florida’s two-headed monster inside of Patric Young and Will Yeguete.
The Bulldogs have won five of their last seven including an overtime victory at Vanderbilt. The Gators have won six of seven in their own right and are 11-0 this season at the friendly confines of the O’Connell Center.
#5 Kansas (17-3, 7-0) at Iowa State(14-6, 4-3) 2:00pm: This is a match up that some experts have been touting as a possible upset on Saturday. Traveling to Ames has not been as easy as in years past, this season only #2 Missouri and Northern Iowa have escaped with victories. One of the reasons has been the emergence of Sophomore forward Royce White who averages nearly a double-double; 13.4 points and 9.6 rebs.
Many people want to see how White stacks up against the leading candidate for National Player of the Year, Kansas forward Thomas Robinson (17.8pts, 12 rebs)
It won’t be easy, but a win for the Cyclones would give them the marquee win they need to join the at-large conversation for the NCAA Tournament, while for the Jayhawks a win would further cushion their lead over Missouri and Baylor in the Big 12.
West Virginia (15-6, 5-3) at #4 Syracuse (21-1, 8-1) 1:00pm: After losing to Notre Dame and struggling early at Cincinnati the Orange return home to face West Virginia. The Mountaineers are coming off a 78-62 defeat at the hands of St. John’s, you can beat Bob Huggins will have his team more than ready to face the Orange.
With the news that Fab Melo could be out a while, Kevin Jones and the rest of the Mountaineers will look to take advantage of a possibly vulnerable Syracuse squad and remain in the upper echelon of the Big East (if there is such a thing).
#20 St. Mary’s(20-2, 9-0) at Brigham Young(18-5, 6-2) 9:00pm: Well St. Mary’s went to Los Angeles and announced to Loyola Marymount (and the rest of the West Coast Conference) that they are still the class of the league (along with Gonzaga) by beating the Lions 71-64. In doing so pushing LMU 3 games back and forcing Gonzaga to keep pace by beating Portland, which they did.
The winners of 11 straight, the Gaels now travel to Provo for a battle with another team hoping to make the WCC a 3-team race, conference newcomer BYU.
The key to this game may come in the paint as St. Mary’s Rob Jones (14pts 11 rebs) battles the Cougar duo of Noah Hartsock and Brandon Davies who combine to average 32 points and 13.5 rebounds a game.
#21 Virginia(16-3, 3-2) at North Carolina State(15-6, 4-2) 8:0opm: After getting an ACC wake up call at the hands of in-state rival North Carolina 74-55 on Thrursday night, the Wolf Pack welcome Virginia to Raliegh on Saturday. Mark Gottfried’s team, while having four conference wins, all of them have come against teams behind them in the standings (BC,Miami, Wake Forest and Maryland) they also have lost to conference cellar dweller Georgia Tech. Needless to say they could use a win to hang their hat on.
Despite being ranked nationally, Virginia is in the same boat. Besides a home win over #15 Michigan in the non-conference, their 3 ACC wins are over BC, Georgia Tech and Miami. While their 2 losses have been close (by 3 at Duke and by 2 to Virginia Tech) the Hoos could use as many good wins as possible and Saturday holds that chance.
#25 Louisville (16-5, 4-4) at Seton Hall (15-5, 4-4) 8:00pm: A key battle in the muddled middle of the Big East.
#24 Kansas State (15-4, 4-3) vs Oklahoma (12-7, 2-5) 7:00pm: The Wildcats can’t afford to be caught looking ahead to a trip to Iowa State in this one.
#1 Kentucky (20-1, 6-0) at LSU (12-8, 2-4) 4:00pm: Kentucky should win this one, but I bet Maqruette and Mississippi thought the same when they stepped foot into Pete Maravich’s place earlier this year.