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Saturday Six-Pack: Marquette-Cuse, Mizzou-Texas lead the way

Ryan Greene
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If you're trying to weed through the mass amount of games on Saturday's college hoops slate, here are six worthy of your consideration ...

No. 9 Syracuse at Marquette — 3 p.m. EST

Both teams need this one, but the host Golden Eagles need it badly. Their 4-4 Big East record could easily look much better, but in the last two weeks, they've let late leads over UConn, Notre Dame and Louisville all turn into losses. After this game, Marquette heads on the road for its next three. As for the Orange, since winning 18 straight to open up the season, they've dropped three in a row, with the latest setback being a humiliating 90-68 home loss to Seton Hall on Tuesday night. This is the start of a 3-game road swing for Syracuse, who is at UConn on Wednesday. If a return trip to the NCAA tourney is what Marquette wants, winning this game might be a necessity.

No. 9 BYU at New Mexico — 4 p.m. EST

Do the Cougars have an emotional hangover looming after Wednesday's monster home triumph over No. 4 San Diego State? After their last big win — Jan. 5 at UNLV, when they snapped an 8-game drought in Las Vegas against the Rebels — they then squeaked by Air Force, 76-66, at home three days later. This one promises to be much tougher, as New Mexico is flat-out desperate for a marquee win. The Lobos are just 2-4 in the Mountain West after winning at least a share of the league's regular season crown each of the last two years. If they want any chance at getting back into the at-large picture, winning this game is a must. Despite the team's struggles, The Pit will be electric.

Georgia at No. 14 Kentucky — 4 p.m. EST

Georgia is basically the SEC's version of Marquette, having dropped wrenching home games against Tennessee last week and on Tuesday to Florida, thanks to late-game heroics on the other sides. The Bulldogs are 4-1 on the road this year, and have already beaten Kentucky, doing so at home on Jan. 8, 77-70.

No. 17 Wisconsin at Penn State — 4 p.m. EST

This game likely doesn't have any NCAA tournament implications, but Penn State is a live underdog anytime it's hosting a ranked Big Ten foe in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions have already knocked off Michigan State and Illinois on their home floor, and are 3-1 in league play so far at the Bryce Jordan Center. Plus, you can't go wrong tuning in to watch Talor Battle. A win here for Wisconsin would be very impressive.

Kansas State at No. 6 Kansas — 4 p.m. EST

K-State finally found a pulse on Monday night, out-slugging Baylor at home, 69-61. But the Wildcats are still just 2-4 in the Big 12, and will be catching an emotionally charged opponent in the first regular season meeting with rival Kansas. The Jayhawks not only had their 69-game home win streak snapped last Saturday by Texas, but they also made a trip late in the week to Washington, D.C., to support sophomore forward Thomas Robinson at his mother's funeral. These two typically play close games, though Frank Martin is 0-3 in his career at Allen Fieldhouse.

No. 11 Missouri at No. 7 Texas — 9 p.m. EST

This should be the day's best game. It's a brief stop back home for Texas, who in the last week knocked off both Kansas and Oklahoma State on the road, then will have a Big Monday showdown with Texas A&M in College Station 48 hours after this one. Since losing by two at A&M on Jan. 15, the Tigers have slugged Kansas State and Iowa State by a combined margin of 49 points. Both teams are gunning for high tourney seeds, and if Missouri pulls off the upset, the Tigers are right back in the thick of the Big 12 title picture.

A few others worth keeping tabs on: No. 13 Texas A&M at Nebraska (2 p.m. EST); No. 21 Georgetown at No. 8 Villanova (12 p.m. EST); Xavier at Richmond (12 p.m. EST); No. 23 Louisville at No. 5 UConn (12 p.m. EST); No. 16 Minnesota at No. 12 Purdue (1 p.m. EST); Colorado at Baylor (1:45 p.m. EST); Butler at Valparaiso (2 p.m. EST); West Virginia at Cincinnati (8 p.m. EST).

Ryan Greene covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for the Las Vegas Sun. Read his Rebels coverage and follow him on Twitter.

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