The final weekend in January is here which means... one step closer to February which is a short month until... MARCH MADNESS. This weekend is the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Here’s what we’ll be watching these next few days.
Can’t Miss College Basketball Games
*All times CST
Saturday, January 27
No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers @ No. 4 Duke Blue Devils at 1 on CBS
Top-5 matchups do not occur all that much during the regular season, and when they do they are special and worth watching — especially when it comes to two teams led by coaches with so much experience in the NCAA Tournament. Duke and Virginia beat Wake Forest and Clemson, respectively this past Tuesday. Cavaliers guards Kyle Guy and Devon Hall are savvy enough to give the Blue Devils problems in Durham on Saturday. This is a showcase opportunity for Duke’s freshmen on national television against one of the nation’s best defensive teams.
Kentucky Wildcats @ No. 7 West Virginia Mountaineers at 6 on ESPN
It’s been a long, long time (nearly four years) since the Kentucky Wildcats have entered the weekend un-ranked. John Calipari has already lost two home games this season; to UCLA and a more recent heart breaker to Florida. The Wildcats had a nice bounce-back game against Ben Howland’s Mississippi State Bulldogs on Tuesday, where it appears guard Kevin Knox II is emerging as this team’s go-to scorer. West Virginia is tough to beat in Morgantown, especially with Jevon Carter running the show at point guard.
No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners @ Alabama Crimson Tide at 1:15 on ESPN
College football traditionalists are screaming, “if only this was a college football game!” This is no easy slate for the Oklahoma Sooners. Oklahoma beat Kansas on Tuesday before traveling to the solid, talented and well-coached Alabama Crimson Tide led by shooting guard Collin Sexton. Sexton missed last week’s games but seems healthy enough to battle it out with Trae Young on Saturday. Expect Sexton and Young to both be lottery picks in June.
Sunday, January 28
No. 6 Michigan State Spartans @ Maryland Terrapins at Noon on CBS
Can anybody say “rematch”? January 4, 2018. Maryland visits then No. 1 ranked Michigan State and loses by 30 in East Lansing. Even with all of Tom Izzo’s success, Maryland’s Mark Turgeon is in the top half of Big Ten coaches and one can bet he’s chomping at the bit to have another shot Sparty. Maryland’s lost three of their last four games, and the schedule only gets harder after playing Michigan State — the Terps travel to No. 3 Purdue next Wednesday. This game means a lot for a Maryland team oozing with talent and struggling at the moment.
No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers @ Indiana Hoosiers at 2:30 on FOX
This rivalry game is must-watch on Sunday. At the time of publishing this post, Purdue is undefeated (with a game against Michigan at home on Thursday night) in Big Ten play. The Purdue-Indiana basketball rivalry dates back to 1901 with Purdue owning the all-time series lead 117-89. The Boilermakers won both contests in 2017 and are winners of five of the last six of these games. Indiana’s been pretty inconsistent, but they appear to be improving (save for a loss to the Illini last night) after a disastrous start to the season.