Louisville-Kentucky and Kansas-Temple are clearly Saturday's two biggest games, and both were previewed earlier in this blog. I'll be in Lexington and my colleague Dana O'Neil will be in Philly and we'll have plenty of coverage on those games. But here are eight more games to keep an eye on Saturday ...
Notre Dame at Connecticut, noon, ESPNU: The Irish have the Big East’s most proficient scorer in Luke Harangody but if they can steal a road win at Connecticut then they’ll be even more of a contender than projected. UConn must ease the pain of a last-second loss at Cincinnati and hold its own at home. The Huskies don’t have the interior to defend Harangody, but the backcourt is clearly in UConn’s favor.
UAB at Arkansas, noon: I know this doesn’t sound like much but the Blazers lost at Virginia after home wins over Cincinnati and Butler. Arkansas has already lost home games to Morgan State, East Tennessee State and South Alabama. If we are to take the Blazers more seriously, they need to find a way to win this game.
Gonzaga vs. Illinois (Chicago’s United Center), 1 p.m., CBS: The Bulldogs certainly didn't perform well in the last NBA arena they played in, a 76-41 drubbing by Duke at MSG that was the program's most lopsided loss in years. Earlier this week, Illinois survived a tough game against Northwestern at home in overtime. After plenty of early-season struggles, the Illini could get back on track with a win here.
Oklahoma State vs. Rhode Island (Uncasville, Conn.), 2 p.m., ESPNU: This should be quite an entertaining watch at Mohegan Sun Arena. Both teams will want to push the basketball. OSU’s James Anderson will be hard to guard for Rhode Island. The Rams won at Boston College and desperately want to be taken seriously as a threat to win the A-10. Beating the Cowboys would help.
Villanova at Marquette, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2: A week ago I wouldn’t have selected this game. But Buzz Williams has Marquette's defense playing well. The Golden Eagles should have beaten West Virginia in Morgantown. Missed MU free throws and a money play by West Virginia’s Da'Sean Butler cost the Golden Eagles the game. They shouldn’t beat one of the Big East favorites, but they clearly have enough confidence to be quite a pest this season.
Michigan State at Northwestern, 6:30 p.m.: The Wildcats couldn’t get out of Champaign with a win in overtime Wednesday night. That puts more pressure on Northwestern to beat the favored Spartans. Northwestern can’t go into a slide to start the Big Ten. The schedule is daunting enough, so the Wildcats have to find a way to hold serve.
Georgia Tech at Charlotte, 7 p.m.: The 49ers’ rout at Louisville makes this game relevant. If Charlotte can pull off another power-six win like this one, they will be even more relevant come March. On the other hand, Georgia Tech could use a quality true road win prior to the heart of the ACC schedule.
Seton Hall vs. Virginia Tech (Cancun, Mexico), 8:30 p.m., ESPN2: The Pirates lost home games against West Virginia and Syracuse to start off the Big East season. The next league game is at Connecticut. So lose to the Hokies and the Pirates could be looking at a four-game slide. This game matters a lot more to Seton Hall at this juncture in the season.