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Jacob Myers and Shannon Scovel | | January 12, 2019

College basketball games: Preview, how-to-watch guide to Saturday's top matchups

Watch Bruce Pearl tell two Auburn walk-ons they were put on scholarship

It’s the first Saturday in the men’s college basketball season since the college football season ended, so there’s just one question worth asking: Are you ready for the madness?

College basketball is heating up at a rapid pace, and Saturday has a slate of games that will tempt you not to leave your couch. Six top-20 teams have already lost this week, and there is plenty of upset potential with 21 ranked teams in action on Saturday, highlighted by No. 1 Duke playing in a hostile environment at Florida State.

MORE: These are the can't-miss college basketball games in January

We have you covered here with a chronological schedule of the college basketball games you have to watch and a brief preview on each of the matchups.

Noon games to watch:

No. 4 Virginia at Clemson, ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN: The undefeated Cavaliers (14-0) enter their third conference matchup of the year riding an 11-game ACC road winning streak, and as clearly one of the best teams in college basketball. If need more evidence, they obliterated Boston College by 27 and shut down a top-15 Florida State team in a 13-point win. The Cavalier offense is led by the dynamic trio of Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy, De'Andre Hunter, who are all averaging more than 13 points per game. As a team, Virginia leads the country in defensive scoring at 51.8 points per game, and they also top the nation in fewest turnovers. 

Clemson (10-5) comes into the game fresh off a 61-53 loss to Syracuse. It’s always an uphill fight when facing Virginia, but Clemson guard Marcquise Reed has been difficult to stop this season, averaging 19.3 points per game.

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No. 12 North Carolina vs. Louisville, ESPN: The Heels are on a hot streak having won four straight games, the latest against the 15th-ranked Wolfpack. Veterans Luke Maye and Cameron Johnson have proven to be a powerful duo for North Carolina (12-3), leading the team in scoring with 16.2 and 14.8 points per game, respectively. Louisville (10-5) will need to find its momentum again after an overtime loss to Pittsburgh. 

No. 15 N.C. State vs. Pittsburgh, ACC Network Extra: Coming off a loss to the No. 12 Tar Heels, the Wolfpack (13-2) is seeking a much-needed conference win. The Panthers (11-4), on the other hand, come into the game off that huge overtime win against Louisville — though their loss to North Carolina just one game prior isn’t too far in the rearview mirror. Look for this game to be back-and-forth offensive basketball as two teams fight for early conference positioning. 

MORE: 27 reasons why the ACC is so good as conference play begins

No. 19 Buffalo vs. Miami (Ohio), CBSSN: Buffalo’s undefeated streak ended on Dec. 31 against Marquette, but the Bulls (14-1) are still playing top-notch basketball and taking down opponents with gusto. They’re coming off a 110-point performance against Toledo. Miami (8-7) enters its first ranked game in three years against the Bulls, and the Redhawks are aiming for a better finish than the 93-55 loss to Ohio State that they suffered in 2014.

No. 20 Iowa State vs. Kansas State, ESPN2: Iowa State maintain an undefeated record at home, but its most recent game, a 73-70 loss against Baylor, proves the Cyclones (12-3) still have some weaknesses to take care of before March. Kansas State (11-4) is searching for its first road win and also looking for a chance to make a mark against a ranked opponent. Watch for this game to be closer than expected as these two teams work to find their rhythm at a pivotal moment this season. 

1 p.m.: No. 14 Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss, CBS: Mississippi State (12-2) may have the national ranking, but Ole Miss (12-2) has the momentum, setting the stage for what is likely to be a competitive, tightly-fought game against two in-state opponents. The Rebels carry a nine-game winning streak to Starkville, Mississippi and they will look to claim back-to-back victories against Top 15 ranked teams for the first time in more than 12 years. This is a high-stakes game for the Bulldogs not only for bragging rights, but also to avoid two losses to unranked opponents this week, after losing to South Carolina on Tuesday.

Andy Katz talks with Ole Miss Guard Terence Davis

2 p.m.

No. 1 Duke at No. 13 Florida State, ESPN: If there’s one game to watch, it has to be this one. Since losing to Gonzaga in the Maui Invitational final back in November, the Blue Devils (13-1) have won every game by double-digits and have claimed the No. 1 ranking again.

Freshmen Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones lead the Duke offense averaging more than 90 points per game while its defense allows less than 65 points per game. Florida State (13-2) is coming off an uninspiring performance at Virginia, but a home game against the Blue Devils could be the launching pad Terance Mann and Co. are searching for. The Seminoles own the 17th-most efficient defense according to

RELATED: No. 1 Duke visits No. 13 FSU to headline ACC weekend slate

No. 8 Texas Tech at Texas, Longhorn Network: Chris Beard has earned the right to be called one of the best coaches in college basketball. The Red Raiders (14-1) have the nation’s best defense, according to KenPom, and Jarrett Culver is a legit star at 19 points per game. After a disappointing loss at Oklahoma State, this is the game Texas (10-5) needs to win to get back in the NCAA tournament picture.

No. 21 Marquette vs. Seton Hall, FS1: Markus Howard and his 53 points versus a Seton Hall team that took down Kentucky, what could make a basketball game more exciting? The Marquette Golden Eagles (13-3) enter Saturday’s game against Seton Hall with a No. 21 ranking, but a loss to the Pirates could knock them out of the Top 25. Watch for Howard to light up the floor, scoring from all angles, but expect Seton Hall (12-4) to put up a fight as it battles for recognition in the national rankings. 

MORE: Everything you may have missed from Howard's big night

No. 25 TCU at No. 23 Oklahoma, Fox Sports Southwest: Oklahoma (12-3) brings the experience of playing against Big-12 title chasers Kansas and Texas Tech, but the Sooners need to pull out a win if they expect to stay in the top-25 conversation. A win against TCU (12-2) would help Oklahoma build a resume for March, but the Horned Frogs need the win just as much. 

2:30 p.m.: No. 16 Ohio State at Iowa, Big Ten Network: There’s no rest in the Big Ten this year. After the Buckeyes (12-3) dropped a game against Rutgers this week, they have a challenge just three days later against the Hawkeyes (13-3). Iowa forward Tyler Cook has been a matchup nightmare for most teams this year, as has Ohio State forward Kaleb Wesson. This game isn’t getting much national attention, but it could be one of the best on Saturday. Iowa has the 11th-best offense per KenPom, and the Buckeyes have been tremendous on defense most of the season.

4 p.m.

No. 7 Kansas at Baylor, ESPN: Kansas isn’t the same team without Udoka Azubuike, but the Jayhawks (13-2) at least showed they can beat NCAA tournament-caliber competition in their win against TCU on Wednesday. Dedric Lawson’s role will be that much greater for Kansas. He has stepped up in big moments already, but there will be more moments in Big-12 play when he’ll be needed. Baylor (9-5) is led by Yale transfer Makai Mason, who can score in a variety of ways. He had 25 points in the win over No. 20 Iowa State this week.

Michigan is No. 1, Kansas falls in Andy Katz's Power 36

No. 11 Auburn vs. Georgia, ESPN2: Auburn (11-3) was upset by 15 at Ole Miss and Georgia (9-5) torched Vanderbilt by 19 this week. The Tigers shot just 32.8 percent from the floor and allowed 45.3 percent shooting from the Rebels. The matchup to watch here will be the scoring battle between Auburn guard Bryce Brown vs. Georgia forward Rayshaun Hammonds.

6 p.m.

No. 3 Tennessee at Florida, ESPN: Just once this year have the Volunteers (13-1) won by less than 10 points. That was against then-No. 1 Gonzaga. Tennessee has emerged as the team to beat in the SEC, but this is going to be one of its toughest games in conference. Florida (9-5) is ranked 21st by KenPom with the 5th-best defense.

No. 24 St. John's vs. DePaul, CBSSN: St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds is must-watch TV. He’s averaging 20.6 points per game and is one reason the Red Storm (14-2) had its best start in 36 years. St. John’s is coming off a difficult loss to Villanova while DePaul (9-5) should have great confidence after its win against Seton Hall. Max Strus is the player to watch for the Blue Demons.

8 p.m.

No. 10 Nevada at Fresno State, ESPNU: Nevada (15-1) is still a Final Four contender, despite being blown out by New Mexico last week. The Wolf Pack gets a sneaky good Fresno State team (12-3) ranked 57th by KenPom. This game should be a bellwether for where Nevada is since its first loss. 

Nevada's Caroline has sights set high for the Wolf Pack

No. 17 Houston vs. Wichita State, CBSSN: Well, Houston (15-1) isn’t undefeated anymore, thanks to Temple. The Cougars are still one of the better teams in the country and should be at least somewhat challenged by the Shockers (7-7). They might not be having the season they typically have, but Gregg Marshall could still teach Houston a thing or two about success in March.

No. 18 Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt, SEC Network: One week removed from a loss to Alabama, Kentucky (11-3) should have a chance to work out some kinks against the struggling Commodores (9-5). After all, the Wildcats are just one week away before a showdown at Auburn.

10 p.m. 

No. 5 Gonzaga at San Francisco, ESPN2: Alright, now it’s time to see what San Francisco (14-2) is made of. Normally the highlight game of the year in the West Coast Conference is Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary’s. This year, the Dons could be the second team in the NCAA tournament from the WCC. This could be the Zags (15-2) greatest test in conference play.

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