With the exceptions of a single bowl game--one between Pittsburgh and Kentucky, which would honestly make for a far more entertaining basketball contest-- and two NFL playoff games, Gridiron Saturdays have made way for College Basketball Saturdays.
Since this is the first big Saturday of conference action, with all six BCS leagues in play, along with the non-major leagues, most of whom started play last month, there's simply a lot going on. From now until the end of the regular season, expect to see these Saturday previews posted on Friday evenings. I've gone this route to help you plan your Saturday viewing a bit better, especially since the morning isn't really a high traffic time for the site, thanks to people sleeping in/being hungover from the night before.
Also, since there are so many games on the slate, I've grouped them by watchability--from four stars to one--then ordered them by tip time within their individual groups. This is something you'll also see when things are busy at midweek, though Monday and Friday posts, in particular, won't quite be so orderly.
After the jump, I'll kick things off with my four-star picks for Saturday, January 8.
West Virginia at Georgetown, ESPN2 (11 a.m. ET)
Weird Big East scheduling facts: Both of these teams are currently 1-2 in the conference, with each defeating DePaul and losing to St. John's. However, Mountaineers are in more danger with a loss in this early contest.
KenPom.com prediction: Hoyas 74-68, 64 poss.
Austin Peay at Murray State, ESPNU (12 p.m. ET)
The Governors--the only OVC team with an unblemished league mark--already own a home win over Morehead State, who are a league favorite alongside the Racers. However, winning at Murray is a completely different task.
KenPom.com prediction: Racers 65-61, 62 poss.
Kansas State at Oklahoma State, ESPN2 (1 p.m. ET)
Remember, that while Jacob Pullen is back the Wildcats will be without Curtis Kelly for this one and their game against Colorado next week. The Cowboys, who have a nice, but slightly inflated, record, will look to take advantage and grab a nice win for their profile.
KenPom.com prediction: Cowboys 69-68, 69 poss.
Marquette at Pittsburgh, Big East Network/SNY/MASN/BHSN/TWC Sports/ESPN3/Full Court (2 p.m. ET)
The Golden Eagles, yet again, seem to be in full "Play Really Close Games" mode. The Panthers should handle them, especially at the Pete, but don't expect anything less than a tight contest.
KenPom.com prediction: Panthers 80-68, 67 poss.
Florida State at Virginia Tech, ESPN2 (3 p.m. ET)
Whoever scores 50 first wins. I'm not kidding at all. This is a virtual elimination game for Tuesday's projection.
KenPom.com prediction: Hokies 65-60, 69 poss.
Connecticut at Texas, ESPN (3:30 p.m. ET)
The Huskies step out of Big East play, which has been less than kind to them early on, for the comforts of the road and non-league play. If the Longhorns aren't foolish, they'll know they have to make people not named Kemba Walker beat them. If it sounds simple, that's because it really is.
KenPom.com prediction: Horns 74-66, 70 poss.
St. John's at Notre Dame, ESPNU (8 p.m. ET)
Another weird Big East scheduling fact: The Johnnies and Irish will play each other twice in the span of eight days, all part of a gauntlet of eight consecutive games against ranked teams for the Red Storm. (They host Syracuse between the two Notre Dame contests.) Obviously, the home team will have the advantage in each.
KenPom.com prediction: Irish 72-66, 64 poss.
Mississippi at Florida, SEC on CSS/BHSN/CST/ESPN3/Full Court (8 p.m. ET)
The Gators look to have gotten things together in their past two games, just in time for SEC play. The Rebels, however, will look to strike an early blow for the West, a division that was famously inept against the East last season.
KenPom.com prediction: Gators 73-64, 65 poss.
Syracuse at Seton Hall, Big East Network/SNY/MASN/BHSN/TWC Sports/ESPN3/Full Court (12 p.m. ET)
Putting my irritated, non-objective hat on for a moment.
Yes, it's "the Orange's first true road game of the season." Blah. Blah. Blah. Tell it to the other Big Six programs who schedule in a similar fashion and don't get criticized for it.
Irritated, non-objective hat off.
The Orange also played at The Rock last year early in the league slate, and only won by seven.
KenPom.com prediction: Orange 73-65, 69 poss.
North Carolina at Virginia, ACC Network/ESPN3/Full Court (12 p.m. ET)
Welcome to the ACC portion of your schedule, Tar Heels. Your first challenge, taking on a Cavalier team which is one of the most inconsistent ones in the entire country.
KenPom.com prediction: Heels 71-63, 67 poss.
Missouri at Colorado, Big 12 Network/Altitude2/YES/ESPN3/Full Court (1:30 p.m. ET)
The Buffaloes' guards may be able to keep up with the Tigers' frenetic pace, but CU will struggle to defend well enough to keep this one close.
KenPom.com prediction: Mizzou 83-78, 74 poss.
Tennessee at Arkansas, SEC Network/ESPN3/Full Court (1:30 p.m. ET)
The Razorbacks were hoping to create a little bit of national noise in Austin Tuesday night. And they did, by getting smacked, leaving themselves with a 10-3 record that's highly suspect. Of course, their league opener is against a Tennessee team who alternates between world beater and world beaten, which will also be missing its coach for the first of an eight-conference game suspension.
KenPom.com prediction: Vols 70-68, 72 poss.
UTEP at UAB, CBS College (4 p.m. ET)
With Memphis showing its young age, these two look to be among the most serious contenders for the C-USA crown, along with UCF and Southern Miss.
KenPom.com prediction: Blazers 66-63, 66 poss.
Kentucky at Georgia, SEC Network/ESPN3/Full Court (4 p.m. ET)
Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie will look to reintroduce themselves to the country by upsetting the Wildcats in Athens. Don't expect that to happen, however, even with UK's youth. Also, the Wildcats will certainly not have Enes Kanter in the lineup, as his appeal for eligibility was denied by the NCAA on Friday afternoon.
KenPom.com prediction: Cats 72-63, 66 poss.
Vanderbilt at South Carolina, ESPN2 (5 p.m. ET)
The Commodores, whose roster has been so repleted by injuries that walk-ons are getting regular minutes, should get John Jenkins (concussion) back, but may not have Andre Walker (mono) for this one.
KenPom.com prediction: Dores 74-66, 73 poss.
Miami at Clemson, ESPNU (6 p.m. ET)
A pair of 11-4 and 0-1 teams meet at Littlejohn. Keep in mind, the Tigers lost their league opener at FSU just short of a month ago, while the Canes fell at Duke Sunday night. It will be strength vs. strength in this one, as Miami has proved to be an offensive force in the first few weeks of the season, while Clemson's been effective on D.
KenPom.com prediction: Tigers 68-64, 66 poss.
Iowa State at Nebraska, FS Midwest/ISU Sports/ESPN3/Full Court (8 p.m. ET)
Two Big 12 teams on the fringe of the at-large discussion, mostly because of decent records earned against underwhelming opposition, look to get off to a good start in league play against one another.
KenPom.com prediction: Huskers 65-60, 68 poss.
Michigan State at Penn State, Big Ten Network (1 p.m. ET)
The Spartans should handle the Nittany Lions handily, even in State College, but if they revert to the Bad Sparty we saw occasionally during the non-conference season, the Nits could pick up a valuable win for their thin profile.
KenPom.com prediction: Sparty 69-63, 65 poss.
Baylor at Texas Tech, ESPNU (2 p.m. ET)
The Bears haven't looked like a ranked team over their last few non-league games, while the Red Raiders need a big conference campaign to save Pat Knight's job.
KenPom.com prediction: Bears 77-71, 72 poss.
California at Arizona State, FSN (2:30 p.m. ET)
Oooh...it's two offensively challenged Pac-10 teams with losing league records. Don't everybody flip over at once!
KenPom.com prediction: Bears 62-61, 66 poss.
Wake Forest at NC State, ACC Network/ESPN3/Full Court (2:30 p.m. ET)
The Wolfpack will need to make a lot of noise in the league to earn an at-large, especially with Tracy Smith back. To put it mildly, losing to a bad Demon Deacon team would not be a good start.
KenPom.com prediction: Pack 83-69, 72 poss.
Utah State at Nevada, ESPNU (4 p.m. ET)
The only way the currently 2-0 Aggies get in Tuesday's bracket as the WAC leader is if both 3-0 teams, Boise State and Fresno State, lose Saturday. USU should do their part against a Wolf Pack team that's simply not very good.
KenPom.com prediction: Aggies 72-61, 64 poss.
Oregon State at Washington, FSN Northwest/FCS Pacific (6:30 p.m. ET)
The Huskies will look to push the Beavers, who fell at Washington State Thursday, further down the Pac-10 heap. UW just can't afford to be as lackadaisical as they were early on against Oregon.
KenPom.com prediction: Huskies 94-67, 76 poss.
Bucknell at Navy, CBS College (8 p.m. ET)
Patriot League play starts Saturday. Fittingly, the conference's first national TV game of the season features the Bison, who own the league's best non-conference win, earned at the buzzer at Richmond on Sunday.
KenPom.com prediction: Bison 73-63, 71 poss.
Fresno State at New Mexico State, WAC Sports Network/ESPN3/Full Court (9 p.m. ET)
The Bulldogs can move to 4-0 in the conference with a win over the struggling Aggies.
KenPom.com prediction: Aggies 74-67, 69 poss.
Oregon at Washington State, FSN Northwest/FCS Pacific (10:30 p.m. ET)
The Cougars will look to complete a sweep of the Oregon schools to get to .500 in the league. The Ducks showed good fight for about 32 minutes against the Huskies before UW's superior talent took over. They should last 36 minutes in this one.
KenPom.com prediction: Cougs 77-62, 70 poss.
This section consists of games that, barring a huge upset, should have minimal bracket impact. They'll often feature league bottom-feeders, hence the inclusion of Auburn, LSU, and Oklahoma, along with all of today's Mountain West matchups, which pair favorites with strugglers. This applies to teams below the Red Line too, as, for example, Wagner should handle an awful St. Francis (PA) team and Davidson and Western Carolina don't appear to be serious SoCon contenders at the moment.
NOTE: Reality is obligated to make all of my game ratings and selections look like they were made by a fool.
Davidson at Western Carolina, SportSouth/ESPN3/Full Court (12 p.m. ET)
Air Force at BYU, The Mtn. (2 p.m. ET)
Detroit at UIC, Horizon League Network/CSN Chicago/STO/WWRD (2 p.m. ET)
Denver at Louisiana-Monroe, CSS/CST/ESPN3/Full Court (2 p.m. ET)
San Diego State at Utah, Versus (4 p.m. ET)
New Mexico at Wyoming, CBS College (6 p.m. ET)
St. Francis (PA) at Wagner, MSG+/FCS Atlantic (7 p.m. ET)
Milwaukee at Green Bay, TWC Sports/Horizon League Network (8 p.m. ET)
Providence at Rutgers, Big East Network/SNY/MASN/Cox Sports/ESPN3/Full Court (8 p.m. ET)
Weber State at Northern Arizona, University House/FS Arizona/FCS Pacific (8:30 p.m. ET)
TCU at UNLV, The Mtn. (9 p.m. ET)
For broadcast information for games slated to be aired regionally, like Hofstra at Northeastern, George Mason at Old Dominion, Delaware at Drexel, Georgia Tech at Boston College, East Carolina at Memphis, Richmond at La Salle, College of Charleston at Wofford, Coastal Carolina at Liberty, Stanford at Arizona, Kent State at Akron, St. Mary's at Pepperdine, Portland at Gonzaga, and Montana State at Northern Colorado, 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.