College Basketball: Why Baylor vs. Kentucky Is the Game to Watch This Weekend

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistNovember 30, 2012

LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 21:  Alex Poythress #22 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates after dunking the ball during the game against the Morehead  State Eagles at Rupp Arena on November 21, 2012 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

There are plenty of interesting games across the nation in college basketball this weekend. 

The SEC-Big East Challenge concludes with four games on both Friday and Saturday, but it is one of the losers from Thursday's play in the tournament that plays in the top game this weekend. 


Baylor at (8) Kentucky, 12:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Kentucky lost its second game of the season to Notre Dame in South Bend on Thursday night. Last year's national champions had only two losses last season.

The Wildcats have had a rough start to the season with a loss to Duke early in November, and they also struggled to get past Maryland in their season opener. 

Coach John Calipari will have to get his team back on track in less than 48 hours as Kentucky hosts Baylor in an early tipoff at 12:30 p.m. ET at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. 

There is no doubt that the young Wildcats need plenty of work if they want to contend for the SEC title this season. But if there is one coach who is up to the task, it is Calipari. 

Once again on the national stage, the Wildcats' crop of freshmen that includes Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Nerlens Noel will get a chance to prove that they can respond to adversity and defeat Baylor.

The Baylor Bears have not had the greatest start to the season either as they also come into Saturday's game at 4-2. 

Baylor's first loss came at the hands of former Big 12 rival Colorado in the semifinals of the Charleston Classic on November 16th. 

In their most recent game, the Bears were upset at home by Charleston, a loss that no one saw coming—even the College of Charleston itself. 

Scott Drew's team also boasts some impressive freshman talent with center Isaiah Austin being the big name in Drew's recruiting class this season. 

Do not look past the other freshmen that the Bears have in the paint. Forward Rico Gathers is a good complement to Austin and junior forward Cory Jefferson, and the trio will cause trouble for Noel, Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein when the two teams take the court on Saturday.

The player with the most experience on the court on Saturday may be the player who makes all the difference in the game.

That player is Baylor's senior point guard Pierre Jackson, who has scored in double figures in all six games this season. 

Jackson is one of the nation's top point guards, and he has the stage to prove that on Saturday in a nationally televised game. 

The Las Vegas native will be matched up against Goodwin, and experience could once again trump youth like it did on Thursday in South Bend. 

Prediction: Kentucky 71, Baylor 66

Saturday's game will be a hotly contested matchup, but Kentucky has plenty to prove after its disappointing defeat on Thursday. Calipari will have his team prepared to take on a strong Baylor team.

Also, do not count out that the game is being played in Lexington, a home-court advantage that the Wildcats should take full advantage of.


Other Key Games to Watch This Weekend:

St. Joseph's at (11) Creighton, 3:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3

This is one of the best games between mid-major powerhouses all season as both teams are predicted to win their conferences.

Creighton is coming off of a loss at home to another mid-major, Boise State, while the Hawks have already beaten one Top 25 team this season, Notre Dame on November 16th.


(23) San Diego State vs. UCLA, 10:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU (Game Being Played in Anaheim, CA)

UCLA is back in the national spotlight after falling to Cal Poly at home on Sunday night, a loss that knocked UCLA out of the Top 25.

This is the first of two neutral site non-conference games that will test the Bruins, with Texas coming up next Saturday at Reliant Stadium in Houston. 


Alabama at (17) Cincinnati, 3:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2

The final day of the SEC-Big East Challenge is highlighted by this game between two 6-0 teams at Fifth Third Arena in Cincinnati.

Both teams won tournaments in November. The Crimson Tide beat Villanova to win the 2K Sports Classic, while the Bearcats won the Global Sports Classic championship over Oregon last week.