With the long, drawn-out parade of bowl games continuing this evening, ESPN is once again taking the night off from college basketball. (I seriously hope they don't have an hour and a half worth of pregame for the Sponsored By Whomever Mobile Bowl.) That means, once again, the TV slate isn't quite as busy as you'd expect for a night like this.
After the jump, I'll have a look at the slate. I've made a few changes to the format based on some suggestions in the comments for yesterday's preview, though I'm not going to breaking things up into grades of watchability until Saturday, where believe me, it will be necessary. Instead, I've featured seven games and put a pair a little lower down the list, though you'd have to stretch to find those games anyway.
I've also added the KenPom.com pick for each contest to give you an idea of how the game should play out. I figured using a statistics-based model would work a little better than going with a Vegas-manipulated spread.
Xavier at Cincinnati (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET)
The Musketeers are the unbeaten Bearcats' biggest test since they topped Oklahoma in Oklahoma City by 10 back on December 18. Remember, Xavier upset then-ranked UC last year in a game filled with extracurriculars. KenPom.com pick: Cincinnati 71-60, 66 poss.
Villanova at USF (ESPNU, 7 p.m. ET)
The Wildcats are Cincinnati's next Big East opponent, as they meet on Sunday in Philadelphia. While I wouldn't bet on the Bearcats entering that contest as an unbeaten overall, I would bet on both teams being 2-0 in the league at that point. Nova should simply have too much of everything for a hapless Bulls' squad.
KenPom.com pick: Villanova 65-56, 63 poss.
Charleston Southern at Liberty (MASN/ESPN3/Full Court, 7 p.m. ET)
The Flames are the early leader in the Big South, albeit only because they've played a game more than Coastal Carolina, their opponent on Saturday. The Buccaneers are a game back in the loss column, having already lost to the Chanticleers. Expect this one to be close. Outside of a nine-point win over Presbyterian, Liberty's other three league games have been decided by a total of 9 points.
KenPom.com pick: Liberty 66-65, 66 poss.
IUPUI at Oakland (FS Detroit/FCS Atlantic, 7:30 p.m. ET)
The only reason IPFW is in this week's bracket instead of the Golden Grizzlies is that Greg Kampe's team was really tested during the non-league, impacting their overall record. Tonight, Oakland hosts another team that took its lumps, as the Jaguars sit at 8-8 overall, but a game back in the loss column in the league at 2-1. The Grizzlies should dominate inside and move to 5-0 in the Summit.
KenPom.com pick: Oakland 79-68, 67 poss.
Northwestern at Illinois (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET)
Over at our Wildcat blog, Sippin On Purple, there wasn't a lot of happiness after NU came back on Michigan State Monday night, only to fall short. The item that stood out to me was the report of a contentious conversation between Northwestern AD Jim Phillips and coach Bill Carmody. Making matters worse for a Wildcat team that's desperate for a win is John Shurna's bum ankle. On the other hand, the Fighting Illini picked up a nice win over Wisconsin Sunday. A 3-0 league start would certainly put a less than stellar finish to the non-conference slate in the rearview.
KenPom.com pick: Illinois 76-67, 66 poss.
St. Mary's at Loyola Marymount (ESPNU, 9 p.m. ET)
Back in the preseason, I paired these two together in an Intriguing Bracket Teams post. The Gaels indeed had a far better go of things in the early season, so much so that they're one of the few mid-majors with serious at-large hopes at the moment. As for the Lions, they've stumbled to a 7-7 mark, which featured a home loss to Morgan State on Opening Night and a split of a home-and-home with South Dakota. The stats tell the story, as St. Mary's rates in the top 20 percent of Division I at efficiency at both ends of the floor (11th in adj. offensive efficiency), while LMU is firmly a middle of the pack team in both categories.
KenPom.com pick: St. Mary's 77-65, 67 poss.
California at Arizona (FSN, 10:30 p.m. ET)
Both of these squads are coming off disappointing defeats on Sunday, when the Golden Bears fell to archrival Stanford by 14 and the Wildcats missed a 2-0 Pac-10 start with a one-point loss at Oregon State (who joins Washington as the only pair of 2-0 teams in the league). This is your best shot at watching some Pac-10 competition tonight, as the rest of the league's slate is relegated to regional broadcasts (granted, two of the other three games do involve road games for the somewhat punchless Oregon schools...sorry Beavers). However, the Golden Bears inconsistent offense paired with the Wildcats' decent one means it's not likely to be a close contest.
KenPom.com pick: Arizona 75-61, 69 poss.
Also in action tonight...
Denver at Western Kentucky (WKYU/FCS Central, 8 p.m. ET)
Combined record for these two 11-17. However, while the Hilltoppers are 0-1 in the league, the Pioneers are showing signs of life at 2-0.
KenPom.com pick: WKU 67-60, 62 poss.
Idaho State at Northern Arizona (University House/FCS Pacific, 8:30 p.m. ET)
The Lumberjacks are looking for their first Big Sky win after being swept at the Montana schools.
KenPom.com pick: NAU 77-60, 63 poss.
For broadcast information for games slated to be aired regionally, like Detroit at Loyola-Chicago (HLN stream) Wright State at UIC (HLN stream), Oregon at Washington, Stanford at Arizona State, and Idaho at Hawai'i, 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.