College Hoops Viewing Guide: December 21, 2013

Grant Halverson

The Saturday before Christmas will be a busy one, with several showcase games at neutral sites on the schedule.

All TV info is courtesy Matt's College Sports on TV site. He has many more games listed, and you'll also want to check out his listings for information on which ACC and SEC regional contests and CSN, FSN, and Root Sports games (all games listed in these posts marked with an *) are available on which affiliates.

All times are Eastern.

Georgetown Hoyas (7-2) at Kansas Jayhawks (7-3), 12 p.m. (ESPN)
The Jayhawks' brutal non-conference stretch continues with a visit from the Hoyas, who may be happy to get away from D.C. after back-to-back close home wins over Elon and Colgate.

Belmont Bruins (8-4) at Kentucky Wildcats (8-3), 12 p.m. (ESPNU)
The Bruins haven't exactly built on early season wins over North Carolina and Indiana State, as they've dropped to in a row to South Dakota State and Denver out of the Summit League. IF Belmont can shock the young Wildcats, its profile would just about match the Tar Heels' in the oddness department.

East Carolina Pirates (10-2) at N.C. State Wolfpack (8-2), 12 p.m. (ESPN3)
When we last saw the Wolfpack, they were winning at Tennessee Volunteers rather handily. When we last saw the Pirates, they were giving Duke Blue Devils all it could handle in the NIT Season Tip-Off. So, ECU should be an at-large threat, right? Well, not exactly. Of the Pirates' 10 wins this season, a whopping four have come against non-Division I opposition. In short, they would be well served to win in Raleigh and perform extremely well in Conference USA.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (8-3) at Cincinnati Bearcats (8-2), 2 p.m. (FS Ohio*/ESPN3)
These two will meet in the semifinals of the first-ever Emerald Coast Classic next November. As for this season, a win over the Bearcats may give the Blue Raiders some hope of earning a surprise at-large bid for the second year in a row. A win may mean just as much for Cincy after Tuesday's loss to Pittsburgh in the Jimmy V Classic.

Orange Bowl Classic

UMass Minutemen (10-0) vs. Florida State Seminoles (7-3), 2 p.m. (FSN*)
Fresno State Bulldogs (6-5) vs. Florida Gators (8-2), approx. 4:30 p.m. (FSN*)
The first game of this doubleheader will likely have the most national impact, as the Minutemen head to Sunrise unbeaten and with Chaz Williams, one of the most exciting players in the country and a true contender for National Player of the Year, in tow. Of course, the Seminoles won't be intimidated, especially after obliterating Charlotte, another early season surprise, in Tallahassee on Tuesday. Naturally, I'm traveling down to South Florida because of the Gators' presence in game two. However, their contest against the Bulldogs doesn't have such a great storyline attached.

Governor's Cup Classic

James Madison Dukes (3-9) vs. Hampton Pirates (5-6), 3 p.m. (NBCSN)
Virginia Tech Hokies (7-3) vs. VCU Rams (9-3), approx. 5:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Given that both JMU and Hampton will need to win their respective leagues' auto bids to dance this season, game two is the highlight in Richmond. The Hokies need to be wary of playing just a few miles from VCU's campus, even though the Rams last played in the Coliseum on March 5, 2012, the night they won the CAA title for the final time. Virginia Tech will enter this contest looking for a win to give them some serious confidence as they prepare to return to the ACC campaign. VCU, on the other hand, needs to avoid a potentially embarrassing loss, especially after falling at Northern Iowa last Saturday.

Gonzaga Bulldogs (10-1) vs. Kansas State Wildcats (7-3) at Wichita, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Wildcats will attempt to use defense to earn a quality win over the Bulldogs, who blasted K-State in Seattle last season.

Michigan State Spartans (9-1) at Texas Longhorns (10-1), 4 p.m. (CBS)
The unofficial triangular series between MSU, Texas, and UNC wraps up in Austin, where the Longhorns will look to stake a more serious claim for an at-large bid with a win over the Spartans.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (8-3) at Vanderbilt Commodores (6-3), 4 p.m. ET (SEC on FSN*/ESPN3)
Two power conference teams with slender at-large hopes meet in Nashville. Curiously, this is the first of four in a row away from Atlanta for the Yellow Jackets, as they close their non-conference campaign at Charlotte before opening ACC play with back-to-back road games against Maryland and Duke.

Northern Iowa Panthers (5-5) at Virginia Cavaliers (7-3), 4 p.m. (ESPN3)
The Cavaliers return to the court after two weeks off aiming to stop a two-game losing streak. On the other hand, the Panthers will look to grab a second quality win over an opponent from the Commonwealth.

Davidson Wildcats (4-7) at North Carolina Tar Heels (7-3), 5 p.m. (ESPNU)
Sure, the Tar Heels should defeat a down Wildcat team pretty easily, but can you really expect things to go according to script for UNC at this point?

UAB Blazers (9-2) at LSU Tigers (7-2), 5 p.m. (CST*)
One of the teams to hand UNC a surprise loss -- UAB -- heads to Baton Rouge to take on a talented LSU squad that just escaped Texas Tech with a win on Wednesday night.

Missouri Tigers (10-0) vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (9-2) at St. Louis, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
After falling to Oregon in Portland a week ago, the Illini really need to hand Mizzou its first loss to salvage a somewhat disappointing non-conference season.

Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-4) at Arizona State Sun Devils (9-2), 6:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
The Red Raiders travel to Tempe looking to finish a job they were unable to complete at home on Wednesday. That won't be easy, as the Sun Devils have been unbeatable at home so far, though Marquette is really the only victory that may help ASU in the long run.

SEC/Big 12 Challenge

Oklahoma Sooners (10-1) vs. Texas A&M Aggies (8-2) at Houston, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
This event, which began with Alabama's win over Texas Tech all the way back on November 12th, ends with the Sooners attempting to defeat their second SEC opponent of the season. The first was... Alabama, back on opening night in Dallas.

Xavier Musketeers (8-3) at Alabama Crimson Tide (5-5), 7 p.m. (SEC on CSS*/ESPN3)
The Musketeers travel to Tuscaloosa looking to extend their post-Battle 4 Atlantis win streak to four. The Tide, meanwhile, have dropped four of their last six, with close losses to Drexel, USF, and Wichita State the most disappointing.

Ohio State Buckeyes (11-0) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-3) (Gotham Classic), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
While both of these squads should be able to put up points at Madison Square Garden, the Buckeyes have the defense required to win the Gotham Classic's showcase game.

Michigan Wolverines (6-4) vs. Stanford Cardinal (8-2) (Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational), approx. 8:30 p.m. (FS1)
With a win over the Wolverines, the Cardinal will return to California with what could be a nice pair of wins for a profile that was looking quite poor heading into Wednesday's game at Connecticut.

MGM Grand Garden Showcase

Marquette Golden Eagles (7-4) vs. New Mexico Lobos (7-3), 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-1) vs. Colorado Buffaloes (10-1), approx. 11:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Surprisingly, game one is a must-win for both squads, who have each struggled through the early season. Conversely, the former Big 12 rivals who meet in game two are both making an early case for a protected seed.

BYU Cougars (8-4) at Oregon Ducks (10-0), 10:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
The Cougars' cause has been boosted by Stanford and Texas this week, but a win of their own at Oregon would be far more helpful.

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