Pregame Shootaround: The best Saturday of college basketball to date

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 8 Utah at No. 10 Arizona, 7:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s weekend preview:

The title of Pac-12 favorite will be on the line on Saturday evening in Tucson as the upstart Utes make their trip to the McKale Center to take on Arizona. Utah has been one of the most pleasantly surprising teams in the country this season, having steamrolled through the first three games in league play after putting together an impressive showing in the non-conference. And Arizona? They’re coming off of a loss at Oregon State on Sunday, putting a seed of doubt in the minds of people trying to figure out just how the power structure of the Pac-12 shakes out.

Everything about this matchup is tantalizing, from watching all-american candidate Delon Wright square off with the more highly-touted Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson to the battle between the two big, physical front lines. Winning in Arizona is not an easy thing to do, which is why it will be quite a statement by the Utes if they’re able to pull it off.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: No. 4 Duke at No. 6 Louisville, Sat. 12:00 p.m.

Also from Rob’s preview:

Duke is reeling right now. The Blue Devils are coming off of back-to-back poor performances on the defensive end in losses to N.C. State and Miami, and the way that Louisville plays — pick-and-roll heavy offensive schemes — matches up perfectly with the weaknesses in the Blue Devil defense. That said, Duke still has nine McDonald’s All-Americans on their roster and one of the best coaches in the history of the game, not to mention Jahlil Okafor, which means that a third straight Duke loss here is anything but a given.

UPSET WATCH: Miami at No. 12 Notre Dame, 2:00 p.m.

Miami is coming off of an upset win at Duke on Tuesday night. Notre Dame beat Georgia Tech on Wednesday, but they barely hung on while playing undermanned and undersized. Jerian Grant and Demetrius Jackson vs. Angel Rodriguez and Manu Lecomte will be fun. UPDATE (12:45 p.m.) Zach Auguste has been ruled eligible and will play in this game, which should give the Irish a major boost inside.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: No. 13 Wichita State at Evansville, 2:00 p.m.

The Shockers still appear to be the class of the Missouri Valley, but Evansville has already beaten Northern Iowa at home this season and has one of the nation’s best mid-major scorers in D.J. Balentine. If Balentine gets rolling, he can be tough to match and it’s always tough to win on the road in the Valley. This should be a good one.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR: 

  • The Big 12 is insane again on Saturday. Four great games are going on as No. 9 Kansas is at No. 11 Iowa State (9 p.m.), No. 16 West Virginia treks to No. 20 Texas (6:15 p.m.) and No. 24 Oklahoma State travels to No. 18 Oklahoma (7 p.m.). No. 22 Baylor also plays at a rejuvenated Kansas State team.
  • The last time Michigan State and No. 14 Maryland played, they went to double overtime to open Big Ten play. Let’s see if the rematch is a little bit cleaner on the offensive end.
  • The two unbeatens each have conference road games on Saturday. We’ve seen No. 1 Kentucky have some issues in SEC play. How will the Wildcats fare on the road at Alabama? No. 2 Virginia travels to Boston College in a game in which they are favored by double digits.
  • How does No. 25 Wyoming look on the road against a tough Fresno State team? The Bulldogs are tied with the Cowboys atop the Mountain West with identical 4-1 records. Wyoming is looking to avoid going 0-10 all time at Fresno State.
  • NBCSN will have three Atlantic 10 showdowns on Saturday. All three games feature teams fighting for wins to look good for the NCAA Tournament:
    • Saint Louis at Dayton, 12:30 p.m.
    • Rhode Island at UMass, 2:30 p.m.
    • George Mason at George Washington, 4:30 p.m.

THE TOP 25

  • No. 3 Gonzaga at Loyola Marymount, 4:00 p.m.
  • No. 5 Villanova at Penn, 7:00 p.m.
  • No. 17 VCU at Duquesne 2:00 p.m.
  • Ole Miss at No. 19 Arkansas, 9:30 p.m.

OTHER GAMES TO WATCH

  • Tulsa at South Florida, 11:00 a.m.
  • Marquette at Xavier, 12:00 p.m.
  • Rutgers at Minnesota, 12:00 p.m.
  • Texas A&M at LSU, 12:00 p.m.
  • Tulane at Houston, 12:00 p.m.
  • Purdue at Penn State, 1:00 p.m.
  • N.C. State at Florida State, 1:30 p.m.
  • UCF at Memphis, 2:00 p.m.
  • Ohio State at Iowa, 2:00 p.m.
  • Florida at Georgia, 2:00 p.m.
  • TCU at Texas Tech, 4:00 p.m.
  • East Carolina at SMU, 4:00 p.m.
  • Georgia Tech at Pitt, 4:00 p.m.
  • Syracuse at Clemson, 4:00 p.m.
  • Vanderbilt at Mississippi State, 4:00 p.m.
  • Colorado at Arizona State, 4:30 p.m.
  • Butler at Georgetown, 5:00 p.m.
  • UNLV at San Diego State, 6:00 p.m.
  • Tennessee at Missouri, 6:00 p.m.
  • Temple at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.
  • Providence at Creighton, 7:30 p.m.
  • Northwestern at Michigan, 8:15 p.m.
  • South Carolina at Auburn, 8:30 p.m.
  • Connecticut at Stanford, 9:00 p.m.
  • Oregon State at Washington State, 9:00 p.m.
  • BYU at Saint Mary’s, 11:00 p.m.