College basketball games to watch: Top matchups on a loaded Saturday
Whether you're keeping your remote active, utilizing the picture-in-picture setting on your TV or just waiting until the meatier part of the college football bowl season, there is lots of college basketball to check out on Saturday.
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Read on below for the games that you will want to make sure you find some time in the loaded Saturday schedule for.
No. 21 Notre Dame vs. No. 15 Purdue — GameCenter
2 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Four Indiana schools will gather in the state's capital, Indianapolis, for a pair of top-25 matchups, as this game will be followed by Butler and Indiana. These teams have each shown they can hang around with the best, as two of the three losses between them were to No. 1 Villanova by a combined 11 points. The Fighting Irish's loss to the Wildcats came in their previous game last Saturday in a contest that they led at the half, while Purdue had a shot to force overtime on Nov. 14
Regardless, each team lost and as such is still seeking its first signature win. Purdue had a shot for one at Louisville but lost, while Notre Dame has had a relatively soft schedule, with its best win likely being over Northwestern.
As such, each team will be hungry for a win to try to make a move toward the top 10. This game should feature a fun battle between leading scorers, with Notre Dame's 6-foot-5 Bonzie Colson and 6-foot-6 Steve Vasturia battling for points with Purdue's 6-foot-9 Caleb Swanigan and 7-foot-2 Isaac Haas. Purdue's size versus Notre Dame's quickness and shooting should go a long way to deciding the winner of this one.
Ohio State vs. No. 2 UCLA — GameCenter
3 p.m. ET on CBS
The Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis isn't the only big-time doubleheader on Saturday, as Ohio State, UCLA, Kentucky and North Carolina will gather in Las Vegas for the CBS Sports Classic. The first game features the unranked Buckeyes looking to topple a Bruins team that has looked indestructable at times.
This foursome is now an annual event, with the matchups cycling through. While Ohio State has been far from special this season, with a home loss to Florida Atlantic under its belt, last year's team made a splash by upsetting Kentucky at Madison Square Garden. Now the Buckeyes will look to bring their best ball to T-Mobile Arena to vault themselves back into the early NCAA tournament picture. And remember, they took Virginia down to the wire on the road, so this is a team that can show flashes of brilliance.
UCLA, on the other hand, has shown more than just flashes, rather brilliance has been the norm. Freshmen TJ Leaf and Lonzo Ball have combined for one of the best duos in the country, but it's been far from just them running the show. Six Bruins are averaging over 11 points per game, with five of those six shooting over 50 percent from the field.
At 56 percent, UCLA is the top field-goal shooting team in the country, but Ohio State's saving grace has been its defense. The Buckeyes rank 27th in the country by forcing opponents to shoot just under 38 percent. A little luck might have to be involved, but if the Buckeyes bring their A-game this one could get very interesting.
No. 18 Butler vs. No. 9 Indiana — GameCenter
5 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network
The doubleheader at Bankers Life Fieldhouse concludes with the fourth matchup in six years between the in-state rivals. Yes, that overtime loss at Fort Wayne is still the elephant in the room when it comes to the Hoosiers, but they would probably be No. 1 if not for the slip-up. And based on their résumé outside of that night, it's probably fair to chalk it up as a fluke.
Indiana handed both Kansas and North Carolina their only losses, while dominating an easy schedule otherwise — with the exception of the Mastodons. The Hoosiers are doing it with an average rebound margin of plus-14.8, tied with North Carolina for the best in the country.
Meanwhile, Butler ranks just 194th with a plus-1.1 rebounding margin, so the Bulldogs will have to find a way to keep Indiana off the glass. The Bulldogs don't particularly stand out in any category, but they are a solid, veteran team that can put on consistently good performances. Like the Hoosiers, Butler had a major blunder by losing at Indiana State earlier in the month, but against ranked teams Arizona and Cincinnati, the Bulldogs looked great. Expect more of the same as they aim for the upset in Indianapolis.
No. 7 North Carolina vs. No. 6 Kentucky — GameCenter
5:45 p.m. ET on CBS
In the second half of the Las Vegas doubleheader and the crown jewel of Saturday's action, two of the most storied programs will go at it in a game that could have major seeding ramifications come Selection Sunday, or perhaps set up a Final Four rematch.
The CBS Sports Classic has been very kind to North Carolina, with the Tar Heels knocking off Ohio State in 2014 and UCLA a season ago. They have also been very successful historically against Kentucky, holding a 23-14 advantage. However, the Wildcats dominated the last time the two faced off, winning 84-70 in 2014-15.
But of course, none of that has any bearing on who avoids their second loss on Saturday. Kentucky's Malik Monk will hopefully get a lot of time matched up with UNC's Joel Berry II in what could be one of the most exciting one-on-one battles this season. That is, of course, assuming Berry plays, as he missed the last two with a sprained ankle. The Tar Heels could be in trouble if he can't go, as they struggled through single-digit wins over Davidson and Tennessee in the games that Berry missed.
This game could be a shootout, with Kentucky ranking third and North Carolina 11th in the nation in points per game. If UNC wins, it will likely have something to do with its 8.1 difference in rebounding margin over the Wildcats, while John Calipari will look to his team's athleticism and deep roster to avoid a second loss on national TV in three weekends.
Georgetown at Syracuse — GameCenter
Noon ET on ESPN
These teams have both been fairly disappointing this year, as they haven't been awful but clearly have work to do to get anywhere near the level they are accustomed to. Still, this is one of college basketball's finest rivalries, with the Orange leading the all-time series 49-42. Great rivalries are enticing, no matter the present quality of competition.
Memphis at Oklahoma — GameCenter
12:30 p.m. ET on CBS
Similarly, these two programs are accustomed to seeing better days but can still put on an entertaining basketball game. At the very least, it's on national TV and Memphis' Dedric Lawson and Oklahoma's Jordan Woodard could put on a show.
Kansas State vs. Colorado State — GameCenter
3 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network
Watchers of the bubble rejoice, as these should be two programs that will covet every solid win they can get. As such, we could get a very intense, under-the-radar Saturday afternoon matchup at the Pepsi Center in Denver between two chippy teams.