By Kyle Beery
We had quite the wild ride last week in college basketball as we saw 12 upsets inside the AP Top 25, with seven top 10 teams going down.
Here is a viewing guide for the best games to watch in college basketball for the rest of this week. Not a whole lot of mid-week action going on, as most schools have final exams this week. But Saturday has a handful of good games to watch from noon all the way through midnight.
Tuesday, Dec. 12
Mississippi State (8-0) @ No. 25 Cincinnati (7-2) — 7:00, ESPN2
Cincinnati has lost each of its last two games against crosstown rival Xavier and a close one against Florida on a neutral court Saturday after a 7-0 start. Mississippi State is one of only two remaining undefeated team not ranked in the Top 25. The Bulldogs rank in the top 40 of kenpom.com’s adjusted defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions), while Cincy is in the top 40 of adjusted offensive efficiency. Should be a fun game.
Michigan (8-3) @ Texas (6-2) — 9:00, ESPN2
Following that game is a matchup between a pair of teams that have each gotten out to decent starts in a year where expectations were really a bit unknown. Michigan is coming off an impressive come-from-behind overtime win over UCLA. The Longhorns’ two losses have come against two really good teams in Duke and Gonzaga.
If for no other reason, tune into this one to check out Texas’s freshman phenom Mo Bamba. The athletic 7-footer is averaging a double-double (10.7 points, 10.1 rebounds). He’s a lot of fun to watch and it will be interesting to see if Michigan has an answer for him.
Wednesday, Dec. 13
No. 1 Villanova (10-0) @ Temple (6-2) — 7:00, ESPN2
Thanks to a handful of top-five upsets over the last two weeks, the Wildcats rose to No. 1 after rolling over Gonzaga in the Jimmy V Classic and a win over Big 5 rival LaSalle. With a win over Temple, Villanova would complete a fifth-straight sweep of the Big 5, further solidifying its dominance in the city of Philadelphia.
The Owls have a few wins over some mid-tier power conference teams this year (Auburn, Clemson, South Carolina, Wisconsin), but taking down a top-tier power conference team Wednesday in Villanova will be an entirely different story. Playing at home will certainly help, but Villanova is a deep, experienced team led by the likes of Jalen Brunson, Ryan Arcidiacono, Donte DiVincenzo and Phil Booth.
Thursday, Dec. 14
Valparaiso (8-2) @ Northwestern (6-4) — 8:00, Big Ten Network
Northwestern came into this season with high expectations after making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history last spring. But the Wildcats haven’t lived up to the hype, even with an experienced roster.
Valparaiso is hurting without Alec Peters this year, despite an 8-0 start. We were reminded of that by the Crusaders’ 30-point loss to Purdue last week. They couldn’t get back on track on Saturday when they fell victim to in-state foe Ball State and another Tayler Persons buzzer beater.
Friday, Dec. 15
Maryland-Eastern Shore (3-8) @ Creighton (7-2) — 8:00, FS1
Not a lot of enticing basketball being played on Friday night. This one should be a laugher, but this is a good opportunity to get a glimpse of the Bluejays. Creighton couldn’t come up with a signature win at Gonzaga two weeks ago on Friday night and dropped out of the Top 25. But this is still a talented team, and we might get to see them get out and run a lot against a lowly opponent in UMES. The Jays are averaging 90.6 points per game, so if you’ve got an itch to see a lot of scoring on Friday night, check out this high-octane offense.
Saturday, Dec. 16
Crossroads Classic @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Butler (8-2) vs. No. 17 Purdue (10-2) — 12:00, FOX
The Bulldogs and Boilermakers tip off the seventh annual Crossroads Classic in what will probably be the better of the two games. Purdue had a couple disappointing losses to Tennessee and Western Kentucky in the Battle 4 Atlantis, but this is still a top-three team in the Big Ten.
Butler, meanwhile, has won six straight after a 2-2 start. This is the Bulldogs’ first chance at a real signature type win since playing in the PK80 tournament over Thanksgiving. The Dawgs have really started to gel under new coach LaVall Jordan since coming back to beat Ohio State and if they can find a way to bang down low with Purdue’s bigs, they have a real shot at winning with Kelan Martin (17.6 PPG, 7.7 RPG) and Kamar Baldwin (13.4 PPG).
Indiana (5-5) vs. No. 18 Notre Dame (8-2) — 2:30, FOX
Notre Dame rose all the way to No. 5 in the country before getting beat up at Michigan State. The Irish lost two games later to Ball State by way of a Tayler Persons buzzer beater.
Make no mistakes. Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell play for a very good Irish team, but Mike Brey still has some kinks to work out. Indiana hasn’t had the greatest start to the Archie Miller era. But put that team in front of a packed Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and they may be up to the task of taking down a ranked rival.
Hitachi College Basketball Classic @ Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
Michigan (8-3) vs. Detroit Mercy (4-6) — 12:00, ESPNU
In a similar event to the Crossroads Classic, Michigan faces former player Kam Chatman and Detroit Mercy. The Titans are struggling — and their coach was mysteriously away from the team for a few weeks — but this should be a fun event to watch, even though the other game is the better one to watch.
No. 2 Michigan State (9-1) vs. Oakland (6-4) — 2:00, ESPNU
The Spartans have a legitimate argument to be ranked No. 1, though it probably doesn’t bother coach Tom Izzo that his team will “have a chip on its shoulder.” State should win this game, but Oakland is capable of becoming an upset candidate in the NCAA Tournament come March.
The Golden Grizzlies have a solid backcourt in Kendrick Nunn and Martez Walker (combined 42.9 PPG) and Jalen Hayes tearing up the post with double-double prowess through six games after missing the beginning of the season due to suspension. There may not be an upset in Detroit Saturday, but this is worth a watch because once Oakland hits its stride, they will be dangerous.
Syracuse (8-1) @ Georgetown (8-0) — 12:30, CBS
An old Big East rivalry renewed. Patrick Ewing has his alma mater off to a nice little start, but the Hoyas have played literally the easiest schedule in the country, ranking 351st of 351 DI teams, according to kenpom.
Syracuse will be a pretty good test for Georgetown. The Orange have also played a pretty easy schedule, save playing Kansas on a neutral floor, but this is a pretty solid team with Tyus Battle and Frank Howard. Either way, you’ll want to watch at least part of this game to harken back to the days of “the old Big East.”
No. 25 Cincinnati (7-2) @ UCLA (7-2) — 3:30, CBS
This game could be a lot more interesting if the Bearcats take care of business Tuesday, rather than taking a three-game skid into Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins saw a big lead slip away at Michigan last weekend and will be hungry to get back on track. Freshmen Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands are still coming into their own, but it will be fun to watch them battle with the likes of Gary Clark, Cane Broome and the Bearcats’ stingy defense, which ranks in the top five in adjusted defensive efficiency
Oklahoma (7-1) @ No. 3 Wichita State (8-1) — 4:00, ESPN2
The Shockers received a lot of preseason hype, especially after moving to the American Athletic Conference, and have largely lived up to that hype. Some people are scoffing at the Shockers’ high ranking, but trust me, this team is the real deal and Markis McDuffie (stress fracture in left foot) hasn’t even stepped on the court yet.
If you haven’t had a chance to see Wichita State play yet, you should check this one out as they get a shot at a pretty good team. Oklahoma is still figuring things out, but has a shot at a bubble berth this season. Trae Young is lighting it up with 28.8 PPG and 8.8 assists per game. The Sooners will put up a good fight, but the Shockers are the better team.
Utah (7-2) @ BYU (8-2) — 11:00 p.m., ESPN2
Holy War, basketball style. End your night with a good rivalry game. Utah has lost two winnable games against UNLV and at Butler, but have looked pretty good all year. David Collette (13.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG) went missing in both of those losses, but the 6-foot-10 senior anchors this offense and it will be fun to watch him match up with Yoeli Childs. The 6-foot-8 Childs puts up 16.2 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.
Sunday, Dec. 17
No. 7 North Carolina (9-1) @ No. 20 Tennessee (7-1) — 3:00, ESPN
UNC’s title defense is off to a good start, though the Tar Heels lost the only marquee matchup they have played thus far. And it was an ugly 18-point loss against Michigan State. They’ve kicked it into gear since then and will have a tough test against Tennessee Sunday.
The Volunteers were a little off-the-radar going into the season, but beating Purdue and competing with Villanova in the Bahamas raised some eyebrows. Their potent three-point shooting (41.2 percent) will give them a chance to beat UNC, especially with a rowdy crowd at Thompson-Boling Arena.