GAME OF THE DAY: No. 18 UCLA at Missouri (12:30 p.m., CBS)
A matchup of 8-0 teams headlines Saturday’s improved slate of college basketball games thanks to the end of the college football regular season. The Bruins are 8-0 under new coach Steve Alford and have yet to face an opponent the caliber of Mizzou as the Bruins own early-season wins over Drexel (when fully healthy), Nevada and Northwestern. Missouri will welcome the Bruins after a win over West Virginia in the Big 12/SEC Challenge earlier this week. Both of these teams can really score at times, so this one could turn into a shootout if both teams elect to play fast.
THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: Kansas at Colorado (3:15 p.m., ESPN2)
Kansas faces another nonconference test as they travel to former Big 12 conference opponent Colorado for a game with the 8-1 Buffaloes. Colorado has won eight straight games after losing its opener against Baylor and hasn’t faced a truly quality opponent since then, except for some decent wins over Harvard and on the road at a new-look Colorado State. But while the Buffaloes haven’t faced great competition lately, they have the talent to run with the Jayhawks. Spencer Dinwiddie is averaging 15.3 points per game and shooting at very good percentages (45%, 87% FT, 40% 3PT), and Josh Scott averages 12.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game as well.
WHO’S GETTING UPSET? BYU at No. 21 UMass (1:30 p.m. CBSSN
This wouldn’t be a major upset as UMass is just appearing in the top 25 and BYU is a very strong opponent. This is another game that could quickly accelerate into triple digits, although UMass has slowed it down and kept it in the 60s in their last two wins over Clemson and Eastern Michigan. BYU, however, has a prolific offense at times and has the shooters to space the floor around their bigs like freshman Erik Mika. This will be an interesting matchup for both teams, especially if it gets really uptempo.
MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: New Mexico State at No. 19 Gonzaga, 11:00 p.m., ESPNU
I’m not sure which New Mexico State team to expect against their biggest test of the season at Gonzaga. Will we see the Aggies that beat UTEP twice or the team that has dropped two straight to Colorado State and New Mexico? Again, New Mexico State doesn’t have many chances to face competition like Gonzaga heading into the WAC and these next two games for them — Arizona follows — could determine how good they can be come March.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
1) UNLV is off to a sluggish start at 3-3, but they have enough talent to scare No. 2 Arizona if they so desire. Or this game could get ugly if UNLV doesn’t show up. Can this Runnin’ Rebel team figure things out?
2) The Marquette and Wisconsin rivalry is one of the most underrated rivalries in the country and although the Golden Eagles struggle for points, if they can slow down Wisconsin’s potentially potent offense then they’ll make this a game.
3) An interesting slate of games in the Hy-Vee Big Four Classic as No. 17 Iowa State takes on Northern Iowa and No. 23 Iowa takes on Drake in a doubleheader in Des Moines. The Iowa in-state rivalries on neutral courts between high-major and mid-major programs is great for the fans and should make for some good games.
4) It was awfully tempting to put North Carolina’s home game against UNC Greensboro in the “Who’s getting upset?” column, after the Tar Heels bookended losses to Belmont and UAB following their upset of Louisville. Now that North Carolina knocked off No. 1 Michigan State at home, will they overlook another mid-major opponent?
5) Texas is off to a solid 7-1 start in a year where many media members — myself included — listed Rick Barnes on the hot seat. The Longhorns and their young nucleus will face a tough road test today at Temple for a chance at an 8-1 start.
THE TOP 25:
- UNLV at No. 2 Arizona, 5:15 p.m., ESPN2
- Binghamton at No. 4 Syracuse, 7:00 p.m., ESPN3
- Central Connecticut State at No. 5 Ohio State, 4:30 p.m., BTN
- No. 6 Kansas at Colorado, 3:15 p.m., ESPN2
- LA-Lafayette at No. 7 Louisville, 1:00 p.m., ESPN3
- Marquette at No. 8 Wisconsin, 2:15 p.m., BTN
- Oral Roberts at No. 11 Wichita State, 8:00 p.m.
- No. 14 Villanova at St. Joseph, 6:00 p.m., CBSSN
- Northwestern State at No. 16 Memphis, 1:00 p.m., ESPN3
- No. 17 Iowa State vs. Northern Iowa, 6:00 p.m.
- No. 18 UCLA at Missouri, 12:30 p.m., CBS
- New Mexico State at No. 19 Gonzaga, 11:00 p.m., ESPNU
- BYU at No. 21 UMass, 1:30 p.m., CBSSN
- Houston Baptist at No. 22 Michigan 12:00 p.m., BTN
- No. 23 Iowa vs. Drake, 8:30 pm, BTN2
- No. 25 Dayton at Illinois State, 8:05 p.m., ESPN3
- Texas at Temple, 12:00 p.m., ESPNU
- Tennessee Tech at Tennessee, 12:00 p.m., ESPN3
- Richmond at Wake Forest, 2:00 p.m., ESPN3
- Eastern Michigan at Purdue, 2:00 p.m., ESPN3
- New Orleans at Minnesota, 3:00 p.m., ESPN3
- Marshall at Penn State, 4:00 p.m., ESPN3
- Virginia at Green Bay, 5:00 p.m., ESPNU
- UNC Greensboro at North Carolina, 7:00 p.m., ESPNU
- Alabama at South Florida, 9:00 p.m., ESPNU