College basketball today: North Carolina at Virginia, Oklahoma at West Virginia could help decide conference titles
Here's what you need to know for Saturday, January. 6:
Games of the day
No. 12 North Carolina at No. 8 Virginia, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Cavaliers can put some distance between themselves and the Tar Heels with a win, putting UNC two games behind them in the chase for the ACC title. A 3-0 start by Virginia doesn’t cement anything but it would make UVA a real threat to win the league, along with Duke. North Carolina can be excused if it loses two in a row on the road at Florida State and Virginia but it would be a major statement if it were to get a road win in Charlottesville and a split on one of the toughest two-game swings in the league.
No. 7 Oklahoma at No. 6 West Virginia, 7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Sooners have the best player in the country in Trae Young. West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said on March Madness 365 last week that Oklahoma should be picked to win the league. So, if that’s the case, this would be a major coup for the Mountaineers in trying to win the Big 12. If Oklahoma were to win at West Virginia after already winning at TCU then the Sooners would be in the pole position to win the conference.
No. 14 Arizona at Colorado, 2 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
The Wildcats can take a major step forward in the Pac-12 title race if they were to sweep the mountain trip at Utah and Colorado. The Buffs are feeling rebooted after knocking off Arizona State. Sweep the Arizona schools and the season has officially turned for Colorado.
Nebraska at No. 13 Purdue, 2:15 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
Purdue should win big. Should. Right? Well, the Huskers are playing their best basketball of the season, making this game a potential NCAA tournament type matchup. Win and the narrative changes dramatically for Nebraska.
Notre Dame at Syracuse, 3:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
No Bonzie Colson for this game means the Irish will need to find another way to get inside the Orange's zone. This is probably one of the worst games for the Irish not to have Colson. But Mike Brey has found a way before to be inventive.
Indiana at Minnesota, 5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
This should have been a given for the Gophers. But now Reggie Lynch is done playing for the foreseeable future and Minnesota could be off. How the Gophers respond to yet to another obstacle could go a long way toward determining their season fate.
No. 22 Arkansas at Auburn, 6 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Arkansas has been hot at home but not on the road. Auburn is rolling now after winning at Tennessee. A win over the Hogs would catapult the Tigers into rare air of being a top-three SEC contender.
Marquette at No. 3 Villanova, 8 p.m. ET, FS1
Markus Howard went for 52 against Providence. How the Wildcats defend him will be an interesting watch. The Wildcats shouldn’t lose this game and no one expects Marquette to win. But the Golden Eagles are trending in the right direction.
Now this family can BALL!— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) January 4, 2018
DYK that Markus Howard’s brother Jordan, is No. 7 in the country in shooting? @theAndyKatz caught up with the UCA star and asked him about his little brother... pic.twitter.com/Oqh76Is02F
San Diego at Saint Mary’s, 11 p.m., ET
The Toreros are 3-0. Repeat, they are 3-0. Beat Saint Mary’s in McKeon Pavilion and suddenly USD has to be taken seriously in the WCC. Saint Mary’s has little room for error in its chase to beat out Gonzaga and the Gaels cannot lose at home.
No. 5 Xavier at Providence, 12 p.m. ET, FOX
The Friars sit at 1-2 after losing to Marquette at home. Fall to Xavier and the Friars would need quite a run to still make the NCAA tournament. Beat Xavier and the Friars will start to give themselves a chance.
Illinois at Michigan, 12 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
The Illini couldn’t finish at Minnesota. They are much better than 0-3, which is their record in the Big Ten. And even if they were to fall to 0-4, they could still be a spoiler in the Big Ten.
Texas at Baylor, 2 p.m. ET, ESPNU
The Bears lost at home to TCU. Fall to Texas at home and drop to 0-3 and then suddenly Baylor can forget about being in the Big 12 title chase.
LSU at No. 11 Texas A&M, 2:15 p.m., ET, SEC Network
DJ Hogg is back after a three-game suspension. The Aggies are 0-2 in the SEC. They cannot drop to 0-3 and expect to challenge Kentucky or anyone else for the SEC title.
UCLA at Cal, 6:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
The Bruins were soaring after winning two at home, but then they lost at Stanford. Lose to Cal and UCLA could create a tough hole to climb out of in the Pac-12 title chase. Arizona is unlikely to lose both games in the Bay Area.
No. 17 Kentucky at No. 23 Tennessee, 9 p.m. ET, SEC Network
The Vols have shown well a number of times. But they have missed out on golden chances to win big games lately. This is an opportunity they can’t afford to let go.
No. 10 Kansas at No. 16 TCU, 9:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2
TCU showed that it has championship pedigree by turning an Oklahoma home loss into a Baylor road win. But Kansas? Can you imagine if Kansas loses to TCU and has two Big 12 losses before Jan. 8?
Louisville at No. 25 Clemson, 12 p.m. ET, ACC Network
The Tigers are feeling and looking like a possible NCAA tournament team, but this game just has a look of being lower scoring and competitive down to the final possessions.
Alabama at Georgia, 12 p.m. ET, SEC Network
These are two similar teams with a stud on each roster. Alabama and Georgia tend to play late-possession games. I’m sticking with that prediction here.
"When you care about your team more than you care about yourself, then you have a chance to have a great team. That, men, is the Georgia Way." Chapter 2: The SEC Home Opener.— Georgia Basketball (@UGABasketball) January 3, 2018
Full video available at: https://t.co/CNU39on65R#CommitToTheG | #RaiseTheFlag pic.twitter.com/eY68ULmCB8
No. 21 Seton Hall at Butler, 2:30 p.m. ET, FS1
This might be one of the best games of the day. Why? They both play physical and value every possession. Expect a rocking crowd at Hinkle for what should be a tight defensive game, where getting to the basket won’t be a walk.
Boise State at Wyoming, 8 p.m. ET
The Broncos are 3-0 in the league. Wyoming is 1-1. But the Cowboys are a tough out at the Arena-Auditorium. Boise State has been in tight games this season, beating Oregon at the buzzer. If it comes down to the final possession, Boise could be poised for another W.