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On The Menu: January 5, 2016

The first Tuesday of January has a lot to live up to. It's a busy one, so there's some potential.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Game information courtesy Matt College Sports on TV Website, which has even more games listed.

All times listed are Eastern, adjust accordingly.

Big Ten

Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-8, 0-2) at Penn State Nittany Lions (9-6, 0-2), 7 p.m. (BTN)
Wisconsin Badgers (9-6, 1-1) at Indiana Hoosiers (12-3, 2-0), 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-7, 0-2) at No. 19 Iowa Hawkeyes (11-3, 2-0), 9 p.m. (BTN)

The Hoosiers and Hawkeyes, both back on their home floors, will look to continue their strong starts to the Big Ten season. The Badgers looked much better in defeating Rutgers on Saturday, but that was the Scarlet Knights and in Madison, so a trip to Assembly Hall will offer more of a challenge. On the other hand, Iowa's opposition, the Cornhuskers, look like they just don't have the talent to compete with the league's top half this season.

The first game is so inconsequential that I forgot about it when originally writing this piece this morning. Oops.


No. 22 South Carolina Gamecocks (13-0) at Auburn Tigers (7-5, 1-0), 7 p.m. (SEC Network)
No. 9 Kentucky Wildcats (11-2, 1-0) at LSU Tigers (8-5, 1-0), 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Vanderbilt Commodores (8-5, 0-1) at Arkansas Razorbacks (8-5, 0-1), 9 p.m. (SEC Network)

The game of the night might be the showdown in Baton Rouge between the Wildcats and Tigers. UK lost at the PMAC two seasons ago and escaped with a two-point win in 2015. LSU surprisingly won at Vanderbilt on Saturday, and it looks like Ben Simmons increased assertiveness and the return of Craig Victor and Keith Hornsby have helped the Tigers' offense considerably. But the visiting Wildcats head to the Louisiana capital after opening with a dominant home win over Ole Miss on Saturday. Kentucky's backcourt, featuring sophomore Tyler Ulis and freshman Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe, might be the difference though.

In the undercards, the Gamecocks' first SEC game is their second true road game of the season (and calling a game against Clemson in Greenville a true road game isn't really accurate) at Auburn Arena, where the Tigers have been tough to tame so far this season. Later, the disappointing Commodores travel to Fayetteville looking to rebound from Saturday's home loss to the Bayou Bengals. The hosts were manhandled by Texas A&M, so the Hogs could be ripe for roasting.

Big East

Marquette Golden Eagles (10-4, 0-2) at No. 8 Providence Friars (14-1, 2-0), 7 p.m. (FS1)
No. 18 Butler Bulldogs (11-3, 0-2) at DePaul Blue Demons (6-8, 0-2), 8 p.m. (select FSN outlets)
Georgetown Hoyas (9-5, 2-0) at Creighton Bluejays (10-5, 1-1), 9 p.m. (FS1)

The Golden Eagles and Bulldogs hit the road, in desperate need of a first Big East win, but Butler is in far better position to grab one, thanks to the opposition. Still, an upset win for Marquette would get them right back into the bid picture. Both squads in the Fox Sports 1 nightcap are currently on the outside looking in, so the victor in Omaha will grab a bit of an edge for the moment.

Big 12

Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-4, 1-0) at Baylor Bears (10-3, 0-1), 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Kansas State Wildcats (10-3, 0-1) at Texas Longhorns (8-5, 0-1), 8 p.m. (Longhorn Network)

Amazingly, the Longhorns are the only team of these four who are in my first bracket projection of 2016. That's due in no small part to Baylor's poor computer numbers and K-State and Oklahoma State's uninspiring non-conference results. So, Big 12 wins will go a long way to getting the quartet on more solid footing.


Clemson Tigers (8-6, 1-1) at Syracuse Orange (10-5, 0-2), 8 p.m. (ACC Network/ESPN3)

At first glance, you'd think the Orange would get their first ACC win of the season tonight, but they'll have to finish a lot better to do so. Syracuse might rue its second half performances against Pitt and Miami if it finds itself on the outside looking in on Selection Sunday.

Atlantic 10

Richmond Spiders (8-5, 0-1) at Rhode Island Rams (9-5, 1-0), 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
VCU Rams (9-5, 1-0) at Saint Joseph's Hawks (11-2, 1-0), 7 p.m. (ASN)

The Spiders, currently on the wrong side of the bubble in early January, and the Hawks, on the right side following their win in Richmond on Saturday, will both be tested by Rams tonight. Rhode Island wants to prove it can compete for a league crown even without E.C. Matthews, while VCU is trying to get itself back into the national picture after a testing November and December.

American Athletic

East Carolina Pirates (8-6, 0-1) at Tulsa Golden Hurricane (8-6, 0-2), 7 p.m. (ESPNEWS)
Temple Owls (6-6, 1-1) at No. 23 Connecticut Huskies (10-3, 1-0), 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
Tulane Green Wave (7-8, 0-2) at Houston Cougars (12-2, 2-0), 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

While the Cougars should remain at the top of the league, UConn will face a bit of a test in its attempt to keep pace with Houston (and ineligible SMU). Look for Tulsa to pick up its first conference win in the evening's early game.

Other Viewing Options

Akron Zips (11-2) at Buffalo Bulls (7-6), 7 p.m. (ASN/ESPN3)
Kent State Golden Flashes (9-4) at Western Michigan Broncos (6-7), 7 p.m. (ESPN3)

MAC play finally begins tonight, and the Zips, the new league favorite, heads to last season's NCAA rep to start the run to Cleveland. Meanwhile, Kent State, another potential challenger for the title, travels to Kalamazoo to take on one of the two league squads that failed to record a winning record in non-league play.

Mercer Bears (11-3, 1-0) at Chattanooga Mocs (12-2, 1-0), 7 p.m. (SoCon Digital Network)

If you really want a taste of March, check out this showdown between the two best teams in the Southern Conference. Chattanooga boasts early season road wins over Illinois, Georgia, and, most impressively, Dayton. Mercer, meanwhile, has taken down George Mason and Arkansas.

Boise State Broncos (10-4, 1-0) at Utah State Aggies (9-4, 1-1), 10 p.m. (CBSSN)

The Broncos head to Logan as winners of seven in a row, though they were pushed by Colorado State at Taco Bell Arena on Saturday. On the other hand, the Aggies dropped a vital home game to San Diego State last time out. They won't want a repeat tonight.

Viewing Picks

Again, these are my picks for the order in which a neutral should follow the contests in each window.

Early Window

Mercer at Chattanooga, 7 p.m. (SoCon Digital Network)
Marquette at Providence, 7 p.m. (FS1)
Wisconsin at Indiana, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
VCU at Saint Joseph's, 7 p.m. (ASN)
Temple at UConn, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
Richmond at Rhode Island, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
South Carolina at Auburn, 7 p.m. (SEC Network)
Clemson at Syracuse, 8 p.m. (ACC Network/ESPN3)
Oklahoma State at Baylor, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Kansas State at Texas, 8 p.m. (Longhorn Network)
Akron at Buffalo, 7 p.m. (ASN/ESPN3)
Kent State at Western Michigan, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
Butler at DePaul, 8 p.m. (FSN)
East Carolina at Tulsa, 7 p.m. (ESPNEWS)

Late Window

Kentucky at LSU, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Georgetown at Creighton, 9 p.m. (FS1)
Nebraska at Iowa, 9 p.m. (BTN)
Boise State at Utah State, 10 p.m. (CBSSN)
Vanderbilt at Arkansas, 9 p.m. (SEC Network)
Tulane at Houston, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

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