It's not nearly as strong a slate of games as last Saturday's, but there's still a few gems buried in there. Here are six …
Florida has quietly started 6-2 in the SEC, while Kentucky has not-so-quietly been a mess on the road in league play. Following Tuesday night's loss at Ole Miss, the Cats are now 1-3 away from home this conference season. This will arguably be their toughest SEC road game, while the Gators would likely catapult themselves back into the Top 25 polls with the upset.
Honestly, just sit back and enjoy this one. These are two top-level Big East teams who always put on a show when they meet up. There's not much need for further explanation or promotion.
No one is going to accuse Pauley Pavilion of being a hostile road environment, so Steve Lavin probably won't get much of a harsh greeting in his return. Lavin had a nice seven-year run in Westwood, which included a 145-78 record and five Sweet Sixteen appearances. But this game has more than just sentimental storylines. The Johnnies have some steam going, are 5-5 in the Big East and can help their NCAA tourney résumé with a third consecutive win. UCLA, at 15-7 overall and 7-3 in the Pac-10, still has a faint pulse, too.
Well, Huskers, here's what the entire nation (or the part of it that knows of your success this season) wants to know: Are you ready for primetime? Nebraska is just 3-4 in the Big 12 this season, but a pristine 14-0 in Lincoln, including recent blowouts of Texas A&M and Colorado. A lack of quality non-con wins and an 0-4 record on the road so far in Big 12 play means that Nebraska isn't really an NCAA tourney contender right now, but could pick some buzz back up by upsetting the Jayhawks. It's a legitimate possibility, too. KU needed a dunk-filled comeback in the closing minutes to edge the Huskers in Lawrence on Jan. 15, 63-60.
At this point, any game featuring Jimmer Fredette against an NCAA tournament-caliber team is worthy of being on this list. Fredette exorcised the demons of his career-long struggles against UNLV in BYU's conference opener, scoring 39 points in an 89-77 victory in Las Vegas on Jan. 5. The Cougars could use the pick-me-up again, after losing last Saturday at New Mexico, then barely squeaking by Mountain West cellar-dweller Wyoming on Wednesday night. They're still tied for first in the league with San Diego State, but the guys around Fredette need to get their mojo back. Meanwhile, UNLV has won three straight, is two games behind BYU and SDSU in the standings and could again be a player for a regular season MWC crown with an upset here. The match-up to watch will be between Fredette and UNLV senior guard Tre'Von Willis, who talked a big game before the last meeting, but had trouble backing it up. His right knee is much healthier this time around, which could make this a good one-on-one heavyweight battle.
Austin Peay is holding onto a slim lead in the Ohio Valley standings at 9-3. A half-game back is 8-3 Murray State, who opened conference play with a 66-64 loss at home to the Governors. Morehead State and Tennessee Tech are lurking, too, at 8-4. This could wind up being not only one of the wildest conference races the rest of the way, but could set the stage for an awesome OVC tourney.