There is simply a lot of college basketball on the TV and the Internet on the third Saturday in December, making up for what was at times a painfully slow week (though there will be a few quiet evenings next week too). So, I wanted to get this post up a bit early to help you plan your viewing day.
I'll be in in Sunrise to check out the Orange Bowl Classic, which features two terrific matchups, one of which is completely unexpected. More on those two games, and the rest of the Saturday slate after the jump.
If a team's name appears as a link, click it to visit that school's SB Nation blog for more coverage.
Orange Bowl Classic (at Sunrise, FL)
UCF vs. Miami (FL), FSN/Comcast SportsNet (1 p.m. ET): This is another opportunity for the Knights to show that they can help make Conference USA a two-bid league this season. Both teams look to be competent offensively (UCF ranks 12th in Ken Pomeroy's eFG ranking, while Miami is 68th), but the Knights rank third in eFG defense.
Kansas State vs. Florida, FSN/Comcast SportsNet (approx. 3:30 p.m. ET): Can the sometimes inconsistent Gator backcourt stop Jacob Pullen? Can they get the ball inside to Vernon Macklin enough? How many free throws will the Wildcats miss? The Gators could have issues against a tough k-State defense, given that they're still not a great second half team.
The Showcase (Dallas)
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas, ESPN2 (2 p.m. ET): Both of these teams play stellar defense, but the Aggies are a bit more efficient with the chances they get, thanks to an outstanding effort on the offensive glass.
Gonzaga vs. Baylor, ESPN2 (approx. 4:30 p.m. ET): The Bulldogs really need to win this game and Wednesday's matchup at home against Xavier to get back in the at-large conversation. It's not going to be easy against LaceDarius Dunn, Quincy Acy, Perry Jones III and the rest of the Bears. While this will be Baylor's first trip away from the Ferrell Center, they should have the bulk of the crowd support.
John Wooden Classic (Anaheim)
Game one, St. Mary's vs. Long Beach State, at 2:45 p.m. ET, won't be televised.
BYU vs. UCLA, FSN/Comcast SportsNet (5:30 p.m. ET): The Cougars' one of the most well-rounded teams in the country will be a difficult test for a Bruins team that continues to be one of the most inconsistent out there.
All-College Classic (Oklahoma City)
Oklahoma State vs. Alabama, ESPN2 (6:30 p.m. ET): The Crimson Tide have yet to win a game against a Big Six conference opponent, and they aren't likely to break that streak in a virtual road situation (unless they happen to keep it close and get all of the OU fans behind them).
Oklahoma vs. Cincinnati, ESPNU (approx. 9 p.m. ET): It's really too bad they didn't flip the opponents for the host schools. It would have been interesting to see the Bearcats take on a tournament quality opponent in their first game outside the state of Ohio.
There is no TV for the Battle at Atlantis, which is a doubleheader at that resort in the Bahamas, featuring Mississippi State and Virginia Tech in game one (2:30 p.m. ET) and Richmond and Georgia Tech in the nightcap (approx. 5 p.m. ET). In the future, this event will be an exempt tournament.
In regularly scheduled games on Saturday...
USC at Kansas, ESPN (12 p.m. ET): Lots of comings and goings in this one, as Fordham transfer Jio Fontan makes his debut at the point for the Trojans, and freshman Josh Selby finally makes his Jayhawk bow. On the other hand, KU will be without Mario Little, who was suspended indefinitely after being arrested on Wednesday night for allegedly pushing a woman into a sink.
South Carolina at Ohio State, CBS Regional (2 p.m. ET): The Gamecocks played Michigan State close back on Marathon night, but they'll have a much more difficult time against a Buckeye team that seems a bit more with it (and bigger to boot).
Stanford at Butler, CBS Regional (2 p.m. ET): A win over the Cardinal won't really help the Bulldogs' computer numbers that much, but the fact the game is on semi-national TV should help them from a prestige standpoint.
Cleveland State at West Virginia, Big East Network/CST/MASN/SNY/ESPN3/Full Court (2 p.m. ET): Last year's Viking team wasn't anywhere near as good as this season's undefeated version. In fact, they were 4-7 when they welcomed the Mountaineers to the Wolstein Center. CSU only lost that one by two. They have a chance to pull off a huge upset in Morgantown Saturday afternoon.
Loyola-Chicago at DePaul, Big East Network/ESPN3/Full Court (2 p.m. ET): The Blue Demons pulled away from Milwaukee in the second half on Tuesday, but the 8-3 Ramblers should provide a tougher challenge in this Windy City grudge match.
Texas vs. North Carolina at Greensboro, CBS (4 p.m. ET): Almost exactly one year ago, the Longhorns cruised past the Tar Heels at Jerry World, as they began their rise to the top spot in the polls. In the end, this game had absolutely no bearing on who cut down the nets in Indy. Despite nice early records, it's possible this one also has little impact nationally when all is said and done. This is the first opportunity for many more casual fans to see Harrison Barnes in action.
Indiana State vs. Purdue in Indianapolis, Big Ten Network (4 p.m. ET): Where did the late John Wooden play in college? Where did he coach before heading to UCLA? Since the Wooden Tradition event in the Circle City has faded away, this game will serve as a Midwestern tribute to the man and his rich legacy. It's just too bad it's at the same time as the Wooden Classic.
Iona at Syracuse, Big East Network/TWCS/SNY/ESPN3/Full Court (7 p.m. ET): The Gaels, who have ripped off seven straight wins, look to hand the Orange their first loss of the season. Syracuse may play without freshman center Fab Melo, who's nursing a torn right calf muscle.
Detroit at Central Michigan, ESPNU (7 p.m. ET): This one matches up two talented youngsters who elected to play under their fathers, the Titans' Ray McCallum, Jr., and the Chips' Trey Zeigler.
Wake Forest at Xavier (Skip Prosser Classic), CBS College (8 p.m. ET): Last season, the Demon Deacons won the first game in this memorial event, a 96-92 double OT thriller that Skip Prosser would have been proud of. This season, Wake will need to show a lot of heart to grab a second straight.
Eastern Kentucky at Austin Peay, Wazoo Sports/ESPN3/Full Court (8 p.m. ET): The Govs fell in OT at Memphis on Thursday night. They'll need to recover from that disappointment quickly, as they prepare for a battle of OVC contenders against the Colonels.
Western Kentucky at Murray State, WKYU/FCS Central (8:30 p.m. ET): The Racers, who've had a lot of issues on both ends of the court so far this season, host a Hilltopper team that's been fighting through an offensive slump of late.
Texas Tech at UTEP, CBS College (10 p.m. ET): The Miners welcome a struggling Red Raider team and Southland contender Stephen F. Austin to the Haskins Center before they face a major test at BYU on Thursday.
Florida State at Loyola Marymount, ESPNU/ESPN3 (11 p.m. ET): LMU fans have been pointing to this one for awhile, and their team has prepared by winning three straight. However, they may have trouble scoring against one of the country's top defensive squads.
If these choices aren't enough (or if you're a fan of one of these teams), you can also check out these matchups.
- Arkansas State at Georgia, SEC on CSS/BHSN/CST/ESPN3/Full Court (12 p.m. ET)
- Loyola (MD) at Georgetown, Big East Network/MASN/SNY/ESPN3/Full Court (12 p.m. ET)
- Illinois at Illinois-Chicago, Big Ten Network/Horizon League Network (2 p.m. ET): This game will be played at the United Center.
- Centenary at Marquette, Big East Network/TWC 32/ESPN3/Full Court (2 p.m. ET)
- Gardner-Webb at Louisville, Big East Network/WHAS/ESPN3/Full Court (3:30 p.m. ET)
- Prairie View A&M at Michigan State, Big Ten Network (6:30 p.m. ET)
- Maryland-Eastern Shore at Pittsburgh, Big East Network/FSN Pittsburgh/MASN/ESPN3/Full Court (7 p.m. ET)
- Miami (OH) at Wright State, Horizon League Network (7 p.m. ET)
- Delaware at Villanova, ESPN3 only (7:30 p.m. ET)
- Bowling Green at Milwaukee, Horizon League Network (8 p.m. ET)
- IPFW at Valparaiso, Horizon League Network (8 p.m. ET)
- George Washington at Oregon State, FSN Northwest/FCS Pacific (8 p.m. ET)
- Mississippi Valley State at Kentucky, SEC on CSS/BHSN/CST/ESPN3/Full Court (8 p.m. ET)
- Central Arkansas at Missouri, Mizzou Sports/FS Midwest/ESPN3/Full Court (8 p.m. ET)
- Idaho State at Creighton, CBS 3/ESPN3/Full Court (8 p.m. ET)
- Pacific at New Mexico State, Aggie Vision/Altitude 2/ESPN3/Full Court (9 p.m. ET)
- Southern Utah at UNLV, The Mtn. (10 p.m. ET)
- San Francisco at Washington, FSN Northwest/FCS Pacific (10 p.m. ET)
For information about games that will be televised regionally, like William & Mary at Liberty, Western Carolina at Dayton, Northern Colorado at Denver, Iowa at Drake, Wichita State vs. LSU at Bossier City, Utah State vs. Utah Valley, visit Matt Sarz's College Sports on TV site. Another good resource is the schedule page at BB State.
Please share your thoughts about today and tonight's action in the comments, after you sign up for a free SB Nation account, of course.