In the interest of full disclosure, this is not the best weekend for college hoops. Those exempt tournaments we all look forward to are over and final exams are about to begin on most campuses. As a result, we see many teams going 10 days or so without a game. We also get some strange matchups. Honestly, Monmouth at Syracuse almost made this list, only because Orange coach Jim Boeheim is creeping toward career victory No. 900. Go ahead and watch. History is a great thing.
Here are five games you don’t want to miss (all times ET):
Colorado (7-1) at No. 9 Kansas (6-1) (Saturday, 2 p.m, ESPN2)
There’s nothing better than a Saturday afternoon game in Lawrence, Kan., with the sun streaming through the windows of Allen Fieldhouse. Colorado vs. Kansas is old school. Forget the fact the Buffaloes left the Big 12 for the Pac 12. Squint through those sunbeams and (if you are old enough) you might be able to see the ghosts of Scott Wedman’s Buffs going against Tom Kivisto and the Jayhawks in a Big Eight game from 1974. In our depressing age of realignment, it’s good to see these two programs getting together for a non-conference home-and-home series. Colorado coach Tad Boyle is a former Jayhawk point guard and Kansas coach Bill Self says Boyle has his best team yet at Colorado. The Buffs did lose at Wyoming, however. Keep your eyes on Colorado forward Andre Roberson (12.0 ppg, 11.5 rpg). He’s special. Self is so frustrated with his point guard situation he has been taking a look at Travis Releford and Kevin Young bringing up the ball in practice. Is he brave enough to try that in a game?
No. 13 Illinois (9-0) at No. 10 Gonzaga (9-0) (Saturday, 10 p.m., ESPN2)
First-year Fighting Illini coach John Groce has his team off to a great start but this will be the first real evaluation for Illinois. This is the first game Illinois has played against a ranked opponent and the Illini are certain to get a rude welcome from the raucous McCarthey Center. Gonzaga has won 17 consecutive games at The Kennel. The Bulldogs are off to their best start in Division I history. Senior guard Brandon Paul leads Illinois in scoring. Elias Harris (16.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg) and Kelly Olynyk (13.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg) get it done for Gonzaga. Coach Mark Few is putting together a special season at Gonzaga. We will find out if Illinois is legit during a late Saturday night treat for college hoops fans.
Temple (6-0) vs. No. 2 Duke (Saturday, 3:15 p.m. , ESPN)
This game is in East Rutherford, N.J., where the Blue Devils have enjoyed success and they always seem to attract a crowd. Temple guard Khalif Wyatt scored 22 when the Owls upset Duke last season. But that was in Philadelphia and, quite frankly, Duke is much more impressive basketball team this season. The Blue Devils have balance, experience and are getting contributions from their youngsters. And, by the way, Mason Plumlee is playing like a national player of the year candidate – maybe the leader riht now. Temple just beat Villanova 76-61. Wyatt, Scootie Randall and Anthony Lee are all averaging in double figures for the Owls.
No. 8 Arizona (6-0) at Clemson (5-2) (Saturday, 8 p.m. ESPN2)
We finally get a chance to gauge where Arizona stands. The Wildcats are undefeated but haven’t played an impressive schedule. Clemson isn’t at the top of the ACC but it’s never easy to play at Littlejohn Coliseum. Sean Miller’s team needs a good test, in the heart of ACC country – especially with No. 6 Florida coming up on the schedule on Dec. 15. Solomon Hill and Nick Johnson are shooting it for Arizona but let’s see how they do in a foreign gym. K.J. McDaniels and Devin Booker share the scoring load for Clemson. The Tigers have lost to Gonzaga and Purdue.
|Things got ugly when Texas played Georgetown Tuesday|
UCLA (5-3) vs. Texas (5-3) (Saturday, 5:15 p.m., ESPN)
We apologize. This game no longer fits the “don’t miss” billing. It did at one time. Honestly, it wasn’t that long ago. But now, the only people might watching might be devoted Bruins and Longhorns fans – and people who can’t resist slowing down to stare as they drive past a car accident on the highway. Right now, UCLA and Texas are dual disaster areas and probably the two biggest disappointments in college basketball west of Lexington, Kentucky. This was billed as The Showcase and will be played at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Guessing the only thing being showcased might be a lot of empty seats. The early season mess in Los Angeles has been chronicled everywhere. And Texas is coming off a 64-41 loss to Georgetown Tuesday night in New York City. The Longhorns shot 29.2 percent, had 22 turnovers and had six fastbreak points. “We are better than how we are playing,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. For his sake, we certainly hope so.