Here is what you need to know in college basketball for Wednesday, Jan. 24:
Game of the night
Marquette at Xavier, 6:30 p.m., ET, FS1: The Golden Eagles have one of the best scorers in the country in Markus Howard. The last time these two teams played it was 91-87 in Milwaukee and Howard was just 1 of 8 on 3s. If he can find his stroke against Xavier’s physical defense this could be a deceptively good game. The Musketeers have their mojo back, but the Golden Eagles are sneaky good, with a potent offense and a team that needs a quality road win for their resume. The Big East usually delivers on a nightly basis.
Now or never
South Carolina at Florida, 7 p.m, ET, SEC Network: The Gamecocks failed to get the momentum needed after the home win over Kentucky, losing at home in their next game to Tennessee. This is the make or break week for the Gamecocks with a road game against the SEC’s top team in Florida before playing host to Texas Tech Saturday in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The Gamecocks have a flawed resume — now. But there are opportunities in front of them this week to get it done. The Gators have taken no game for granted and have closed well lately.
Needing a road win
Nebraska at Rutgers, 7 p.m., ET, BTN: The Huskers are my pick to come out of the muddled middle of the Big Ten and make the NCAA tournament — if the league is going to get a fifth bid. But Nebraska must get another road win the conference. Sure, they’ve got one at Northwestern, and beating Rutgers in New Jersey isn’t a deciding factor, but they’ve got to get one more, at least. The good news is the last three road games are also winnable at Wisconsin (this season), Minnesota and Illinois. Outside of the Ohio State game, Rutgers has been an incredibly tough out at the RAC. Nebraska needs to bring it, similar to the game against the Buckeyes but this time, for the full 40.
Loyola-Chicago at Drake, 8 p.m., ET, ESPN3: The Missouri Valley lead is on the line in Des Moines. Both teams are 6-2 and if the season ended today — and you put both in the field — they would have a legit chance to win a game. Now, that’s not going to happen based on overall resume -- this is a one-bid league this season. But Drake and Loyola have shown well and have the chops to stand with a high major on a neutral court. This is going to be a grinder.
Five more to watch:
Louisville at Miami, 8 p.m., ET, ESPN2: Virginia’s Tony Bennett should be ACC coach of the year — now (and will probably hold the title). But second place could go to Louisville’s David Padgett if he keeps up this pace. The Cardinals are 5-1, but are now heading into a meat grinder of the schedule with Virginia on the road next week. February will be brutal with North Carolina and Duke back-to-back. The ‘Canes desperately need to find some conference consistency.
South Dakota State at South Dakota, 8 p.m., ET, ESPN3: Love the conferences coming down to in-state rivalries. The Jackrabbits and Coyotes are the top two teams in the Summit. The Jackrabbits (my favorite nickname) are undefeated, the Coyotes have one loss. These two schools have ballers with Mike Daum (22.9 ppg) for the Jackrabbits and Matt Mooney (17.3) for the Coyotes.
Stanford at USC, 9 p.m., ET ESPNU: Who wants to stay with Arizona in the Pac-12 title race? Please stand up. Or better yet, win this game. The Cardinal lost to Arizona last week to drop to 5-2 while USC is tied with the Cardinal in the loss column at 6-2. The last time these two teams met, Stanford’s Deajon Davis hit a 50-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer for the win.
Air Force at Utah State, 9 p.m. ET: The government shutdown is over and that means the Falcons can get back on the court. Air Force had to reschedule its game against Fresno State last week due to the shutdown. Air Force has won two in a row — both on the road at San Jose State and Colorado State.
Nevada at Wyoming, 11 p.m., ET, ESPNU: The Wolf Pack beat back challenger Boise State to remain undefeated in the Mountain West. The next challenger? Wyoming, who are always a tough out at the AA.