Local Rivalries Top This Weekend's Action
(4) Kentucky at Indiana, 12:00 Saturday CBS
The Blue Grass State's version of the Wildcats, fresh off a two consecutive victories over top-15 teams, look to extend their undefeated record against a rebuilding Hoosiers squad.
Tom Crean has this team headed in the right direction, but he'll like need a boisterous Assembly Hall crowd and off night from John Wall to stand any chance in this Ohio Valley rivalry.
(3) Villanova at Temple, 3:00 Sunday
The Big Five is practically always a lock to provide entertaining games even when the teams are mismatched. The atmosphere in the Palestra is unmatched when Big Five schools square off. That was the case Wednesday night as a mediocre St. Joesph's team took Villanova down to the wire.
With Temple being surprisingly good this year, the Owls behind a raucous Palestra crowd stand a shot to knock off the third ranked Wildcats and their not-so-big frontcourt.
(19) Cincinnati at Xavier, 7:00 Sunday ESPNU
The battle for bragging rights in the Queen City renews with a twist. After several years of Xavier entering the rivalry game as the favorite and ranked team, Cincinnati now plays that role.
The Bearcats are much improved with new freshman Lance Stephenson while the Musketeers have taken a step back after losing several key players to graduation or professional basketball.
The matchup between Stephenson and the infamous LeBron dunker, Jordan Crawford should be highly entertaining.
Marquette at (23) Wisconsin, 6:00 Saturday ESPN2
Usually these two teams fight for bragging rights in the state of Wisconsin, but after the Badgers lost to UW-Green Bay, Marquette in theory would need victories of the Badgers and the Phoenix to lay claim to the Badger State.
But Marquette and UW-Green Bay won't square off this season so the tilt between the Golden Eagles and Badgers will have to suffice as Wisconsin's premiere matchup.
The Badgers will be hungry for a victory (and will need one to stay in the top 25) after losing to Green Bay in a let down game earlier this week. Wisconsin has the size and the guard play to exploit Marquette's small roster.
Richmond at VCU, 7:30 Saturday
The battle of the 804 area code tips off in downtown Richmond as the suburban Richmond school heads to the city to face Virginia Commonwealth. It's been awhile since these two schools were both this good as the Spiders are 7-1 and the Rams are 5-2, with a victory over Oklahoma.
This game could turn out to be the best of the entire weekend, but the nation will unfortunately not be watching.
Rhode Island at Boston College, 6:45 Sunday FSN
The Rams have been a pleasant surprise in the Atlantic 10 so far with only loss, but face a tough challenge heading to Boston College Sunday.
But if Harvard can win at BC, so can Rhode Island right?
It's hard to imagine, but the Rams might not be as good as the Crimson so a win at Boston College probably isn't as likely for Rhode Island. Plus the Rams don't have Jeremy Lin, arguably the best player outside the major conferences.
Detroit at Michigan, 12:00 Sunday
Michigan is shockingly awful. Detroit is half decent.
The Titans should be amped for this in-state game and should give the floundering Wolverines a real challenge.
Props to Mountain West Scheduling
Three Mountain West schools pulled off a great scheduling feat that could make Saturday one of the best days for the league in recent memory.
Three schools, UNLV, New Mexico, and San Diego State will play host to Big 12 or Pac-10 schools.
On ESPN 360 Saturday night at 7:00, the Rebels will welcome in a strong Kansas State team to Orleans Arena. The game will be a chance for both schools to prove they are legitimate contenders, not only in their conference, but on the national scene.
Undefeated New Mexico will put its unblemished record on the line as the Lobos tip-off against the 18th ranked Texas A&M Aggies. New Mexico is probably the biggest surprise in the Mountain West so far this season and a win would help the Aggies build its resume so that a third MWC school goes dancing in March.
Finally, Arizona heads to San Diego State to play the Aztecs. The Wildcats desperately need a win to keep their at-large hopes alive, but also to help the Pac-10 save face. A San Diego State win could put the school in position to be th fourth Mountain West team to receive consideration from the selection committee in March.
Top 25 teams Square Off
(16) Washington vs. (13) Georgetown, 2:00 Saturday FSN
The Hoyas finally have a solid win after knocking off Butler in the Jimmy V Classic, but that win might not hold much clout come March. A victory against the Pac-10 favorites (and clear top 25 despite the one loss) would go a long way to helping Georgetown's seed in March.
Washington, like Arizona above, could help the Pac-10 get back on the right track against Georgetown. The Huskies like to push the ball while the Hoyas are content to sit back and work through its offense. Something has to give as the team that controls the tempo will likely come away with a victory.
(15) Ohio State at (20) Butler, 12:00 Saturday ESPN
It's debatable whether these two teams can currently even be consider top 25 squads. With Evan Turner, Ohio State deserves that 15th place ranking. OSU at full strength might be the second best team in the Big 10 after the way Michigan State has struggled. Without Evan Turner, the Buckeyes might have trouble creating the proper spacing needed to operate its perimeter based attack.
Butler is just a disaster at this point. The Bulldogs have blown every opportunity to beat a ranked team and earn their top 25 ranking. If Butler doesn't beat Ohio State, then the Bulldogs will at no point deserve another top 25 vote even if the school dominates a weak Horizon League.