College Hoops Viewing Guide: December 28, 2013

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

As 2013 is wrapping up, so is the bulk of this season's non-conference action, until March, that is. Two big rivalry games are the highlights, but there are also a couple of (gasp) regular-season rematches to keep an eye on.

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.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-3) at Cincinnati Bearcats (10-2), 12 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Cornhuskers travel to Cincy where they'll attempt to solve the Bearcats' defense, which should be good preparation for them heading into the Big Ten season.

Belmont Bruins (8-5) at Indiana State Sycamores (8-3), 1:05 p.m. (ESPN3)
The Bruins started their season by picking up seven wins in their first eight, including a thrilling one-point win over the Sycamores in Nashville. Since then, Belmont has dropped four of five, including their last three. As for the Sycamores, with their win over Notre Dame not looking so great, they can ill afford a sweep at the hands of  Rick Byrd's squad.

Villanova Wildcats (11-0) at Syracuse Orange (11-0), 2 p.m. (CBS)
The ranks of the unbeaten will certainly be smaller when this one concludes. Curiously, Nova's defense actually ranks higher in KenPom's adjusted efficiency rankings than the Orange's, while 'Cuse has a similar edge on the offensive side. On paper, Syracuse has an edge, especially because of its size inside, but that disadvantage didn't seem to cost Villanova against Kansas in the Bahamas. However, the Carrier Dome crowd might just take the Wildcats out of their game, much as it did in an 11-point loss last January.

UC Irvine Anteaters (7-6) at Arizona State Sun Devils (10-2), 2 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
The Anteaters head to Tempe looking to complete the Pac-12 portion of their slate with a 2-2 mark, after a win at Washington back on November 14th. The Sun Devils will attempt to overwhelm UCI, much as California and Oregon did more recently.

Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival

Columbia Lions (7-5) vs. St. John's Red Storm (8-3), 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
Kansas State Wildcats (8-3) vs. Tulane Green Wave (7-6), approx. 5 p.m. (FS2)
VCU Rams (10-3) vs. Boston College Eagles (4-8), approx. 7:30 p.m. (FS2)
The most notable thing about this tripleheader at the moment is that all three games are on national TV (though many of you will be challenged to find FS2 on your cable systems). Game three appeared to have promise, until Boston College decided to struggle its way through the non-league season.

Louisville Cardinals (11-1) at Kentucky Wildcats (9-3), 4 p.m. (CBS)
Rick Pitino's club makes the short trip to Lexington, the second of four straight road games for the Cardinals. Louisville once again looks like a serious threat for the national title, but this will be the most difficult opposition its faced since losing to North Carolina Tar Heels in the final of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off before Thanksgiving. The Cards' archrivals were pegged by many as the top team in the country heading into this season -- always a risk when predicting the fate of a team loaded with freshmen -- so the Wildcats will enter this one with the feeling they have even more to prove to the nation.

Akron Zips (6-4) at South Carolina Gamecocks (4-6) (Diamond Head Classic), 4 p.m. (ESPNU)
Hey, didn't we just play on an island far, far away? The Gamecocks will look to complete the rare back-to-back sweep of a non-conference foe in Columbia today where they'll face a Zips squad that should be just about as tired as they were on O' ahu.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (10-2) at Xavier Musketeers (9-3), 5 p.m. (FS1)
Both of these squads have not lost since completing disappointing trips to the Battle 4 Atlantis -- each has won four straight. However. the Musketeers' victories have come against slightly stronger opposition. Plus, they're at home for this edition of the Skip Prosser Classic, so the advantage goes to them.

Providence Friars (10-2) at UMass Minutemen (10-1), 6 p.m. (ESPNU)
When we last saw UMass, they lost to Florida St. Seminoles in Sunrise, Florida, thanks to some questionable late-game decision-making -- and a pair of dicey calls on a missed dunk. Today, Chaz Williams and company welcome an improved Friar squad to the Mullins Center -- one that desperately needs a quality non-conference win for its profile.

Missouri Tigers (10-1) at N.C. State Wolfpack (9-2), 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Speaking of squads that need a quality win, the Wolfpack will attempt to get one just before the start of the ACC slate when Mizzou comes to Raleigh. A week ago, the Tigers fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with a one-point loss to Illinois in St. Louis. Today, they face their first true road game of the season.

Santa Clara Broncos (7-6) at Gonzaga Bulldogs (10-2), 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
The Bulldogs begin WCC play with a visit from the Broncos, who closed the Las Vegas Classic with a nice win over USF in the consolation game. Gonzaga is a step up from the Bulls, however.

Alabama Crimson Tide (5-6) at UCLA Bruins (7-2), 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Tide head West having won just two of its last seven (against North Florida and Charleston Southern) with two of those losses coming consecutively at home. On the other hand, the Bruins, while not looking like national contenders away from Pauley, have been unstoppable there.

Georgia Bulldogs (6-4) at Colorado Buffaloes (10-2), 10 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
While the Buffs would not have much of a chance against the Bulldogs in football at this point, they can take solace in the fact that they should take care of them in basketball. However, Georgia only lost by two when these two squads last met in Boulder back in November of 2011 -- months before Colorado would win the Pac-12 Tournament and win a game in the NCAAs.

As Sunday's schedule isn't terribly attractive -- thanks to the final Sunday of the NFL regular season -- my next TV preview will come on Monday. On Tuesday, things really get cranking thanks to the start of conference play in the new Big East, Big Ten, and the American.

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