College basketball today: Big 12 title hopefuls West Virginia, Texas Tech clash; Xavier goes for bounce-back
Here's what to know about the busy college basketball slate for Saturday, Jan. 13:
Games of the day
West Virginia at Texas Tech, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN: The Mountaineers translate on the road as well as they do at home this season. West Virginia already has Big 12 road wins at Oklahoma State and Kansas State. This is the start of a monster weekend that could define West Virginia’s Big 12 title chances. The Mountaineers host Kansas Monday after going to Lubbock, and lately they've owned Kansas in Morgantown, winning four straight. Get this one in Lubbock and the Mountaineers, not the Jayhawks, could be the Big 12 favorite by the middle of next week. Oh, Texas Tech also has title hopes with a 3-1 start to conference play including a road win at Kansas.
Creighton at Xavier, 2 p.m. ET, FOX: The Bluejays technically sit in first in the Big East by a half game over Villanova and Seton Hall. And they are for real, with their exhilarating offensive abilities to drain 3s. Xavier usually locks in defensively but the Musketeers were missing on D against the vaunted Wildcats in Philadelphia. It’s hard to see X not being a defensive pest, challenging shooters and coming out of Cintas with a win. If the Musketeers don’t, then the Bluejays, not Xavier, could join Seton Hall as the teams to push Nova.
Furman at Wofford, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN3: Time to show the Southern Conference some love. Wofford coach Mike Young wanted to make sure the North Carolina road win had shelf life. Well, for that to happen, the Terriers need to win the Southern and be a factor in March. Beating 4-0 Furman would certainly help the cause. Wofford had a letdown following the UNC win by losing its SoCon opener at UNC Greensboro. Furman and East Tennessee State are the only two undefeated teams in the SoCon right now, and knocking off both at home will be imperative to getting a critical high seed in the quest for the automatic qualifier.
TCU at Oklahoma, 1 p.m. ET, ESPNU: Trae Young was spectacular in the first meeting two weeks ago when he scored 39 points and had 14 assists in a 90-89 win in Fort Worth. The beauty of the Big 12 is the true home-and-home schedule with everyone getting an equal shot. There are no unbalanced schedules in this league, and TCU has already shown it can handle itself on the road in tough environments with a win at Baylor. But if TCU loses this game then the Horned Frogs drop to 1-4 and likely out of the Big 12 title race, barring an unscathed run to the finish.
Michigan at Michigan State, 12 p.m. ET, FOX: The Wolverines got beat late by Purdue. Michigan State struggled to beat Rutgers in overtime. The Spartans were coming off a road loss at Ohio State. Somehow, someway, Tom Izzo will get Michigan State playing the way it did to start the Big Ten again. It may come against the rival Wolverines. But Michigan won’t go quietly. This should be a tough, intense affair.
St. Bonaventure at Rhode Island, 11 a.m. ET, ESPNU: The Bonnies are already two games behind the Rams in the standings after dropping road games at Dayton and Saint Joseph’s. Lose and it’s three with only one more shot at URI in Olean on Feb. 13. The Rams are rolling and it’s hard to see them losing three other games to teams in the A-10. The Bonnies have the experience and talent on the perimeter to get this done. But the pressure is on.
Purdue at Minnesota, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN: The Boilermakers are playing the best basketball in the Big Ten and have the look of a champion. The Gophers are reeling. They are searching for answers without Amir Coffey and Reggie Lynch and the opportunities for big wins are diminishing. The Gophers do still get Michigan State and Ohio State at home and road games at Michigan, Maryland and Purdue. But they need to get this one first.
Texas A&M at Tennessee, 6 p.m. ET, SEC Network: The Aggies are 0-4 in the SEC and are toast for the title if they fall to 0-5. They can still earn an NCAA tournament berth, but it’s hard to see them making up this big a hole in the title race if they lose in Knoxville. A Vols win will keep them right in the thick of the race.
Oregon State at Arizona State, 6 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network: ASU is losing some of the good will from its sensational non-conference start after falling to 1-3 in the Pac-12, following theahome loss to Oregon Thursday. ASU cannot get swept at home. Repeat, the Sun Devils cannot get swept at home by the Oregon schools. But OSU is no joke with Tres Tinkle leading the Beavers.
Colorado at UCLA, 10:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network: The Buffaloes were the NCAA.com team of the week after a home sweep of Arizona State and Arizona. It might have been asking a lot of the Buffs to sweep the LA schools but they don’t have a lot of room for error. Getting a split, after losing at USC, would help a ton in a fleeting quest for a bid.
Miami at Clemson, 3 p.m. ET, ESPNU: Both ACC squads both lost to teams on the road that they were projected ahead of in Georgia Tech and NC State, respectively. Miami was a preseason contender for the ACC title; Clemson was not. But both have the goods to stay in the race. This game could be an indicator about which one will.
North Carolina at Notre Dame, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN: The Irish are just trying to hold on without the injured Bonzie Colson and suffered their first post-Colson loss at Georgia Tech (guard Matt Farrell didn’t play either due to an ankle injury). North Carolina dropped its first two ACC road games, albeit at Florida State and Virginia. This would be a good time to win one if the Tar Heels want to finish first with plenty of possible bumps to come away from Chapel Hill.
Alabama at LSU, 8:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network: LSU is a surprising 2-1 in the SEC, while the depleted Tide are 2-2. But the main reason to watch this game is the matchup of two of the best freshmen in the country in LSU’s Tremont Waters and Alabama’s Collin Sexton. Studs. Both of them.
San Diego State at Boise State, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN2: The chase to keep pace with Nevada will be intense over the next seven weeks. The Aztecs and Broncos both have one loss. Nevada has none. Loser is down two possibly, if Nevada beats Utah State in Reno.