The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

What to watch this weekend: Kentucky-Baylor highlights solid slate

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Kentucky faces its toughest test since its loss to Michigan State (Getty Images)

This weekend's college basketball slate provides us with a few incentives to push off our holiday shopping another few days. Here's a look at the can't-miss games, including a formidable neutral-court test for Kentucky's young but talented roster:

1. Kentucky (7-1) vs. Baylor (7-1), Friday, 10 p.m. ET

The marquee game of the otherwise largely forgettable SEC-Big 12 Challenge will feature Kentucky's stiffest test since its opening-week loss to Michigan State. With high-scoring Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin in the front court and an array of 3-point shooters on the perimeter, Baylor boasts a potent offense. The Bears also possess the size and length on defense to bother Julius Randle in the paint and its zone is capable of limiting Kentucky's dribble penetration and forcing the Wildcats to hit jump shots. Several of Kentucky's top players will have ample motivation to win in Dallas. Randle and Andrew and Aaron Harrison are all Texas natives returning to their home state. Predicted winner: Kentucky

2. Marquette (5-3) at Wisconsin (9-0), Saturday, 2 p.m. ET

The 120th edition of this intrastate rivalry pits two teams who have started the season very differently. Unbeaten Wisconsin is ranked in the top 10 and has amassed as impressive a collection of marquee wins as any team in the nation. Three-loss Marquette has slide out of the Top 25 and is still in search of its first notable victory of the season after losses to San Diego State, Arizona State and Ohio State. The good news for the Golden Eagles is that its offense started to show some life during last week's Wooden Legacy tournament after an anemic start to the season. To have any chance at a road upset, Marquette needs point guard Derrick Wilson to continue to aggressively attack the rim, freshman Deonte Burton to build on his breakout game against San Diego State on Sunday and center Davante Gardner to exploit his size and strength advantage in the post. Predicted winner: Wisconsin

3. UCLA (8-0) at Missouri (8-0), Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET

UCLA has won all eight of its games by an average of nearly 22 points, but its most notable win came against small-conference power Drexel. Missouri has won all eight of its games by an average of nearly 15 points, but its most credible victory came against rebuilding West Virginia. On Saturday, we finally will get a better idea whether the fast starts by the Bruins and Tigers are the product of formidable rosters or soft schedules. Neither UCLA nor Missouri has a true point guard, but the wing matchups will be lots of fun to watch. Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, Norman Powell and underrated freshman Zach Lavine will pose a big challenge  for Missouri's Jordan Clarkson, Jabari Brown and Earnest Ross. Predicted winner: UCLA

4. BYU (7-2) at UMass (7-0), Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET

The last time BYU faced a point guard similar to UMass star Chaz Williams, Baylor's Pierre Jackson carved up the Cougars last season for 16 points and nine assists in a 79-64 Bears rout. BYU will have to do a better job keeping Williams out of the lane to have a realistic chance of handing surging UMass its first loss of the season. Between the quickness of Williams, the slashing ability of Derrick Gordon and the athleticism and ability to run the floor of big men Cady Lalanne and Raphiael Putney, the Minutemen are a difficult matchup defensively for BYU. The high-octane Cougars will have score efficiently and limit their turnovers against UMass' pressure to make up for it. Predicted winner: UMass

5. Kansas (6-1) at Colorado (8-1), Saturday, 3:15 EST

It wasn’t long ago that Kansas fans would outnumber those from Colorado when the Jayhawks made their annual Big 12 visit to Boulder to pummel the bottom-feeding Buffaloes. That won’t be the case Saturday when Kansas returns as a non-conference opponent. Not only is Spencer Dinwiddie-led Colorado an NCAA tournament contender, the Buffs have also sold out the entire season at the Coors Event Center. They'll pose a credible threat to a Kansas team eager to bounce back from a poor weekend in the Bahamas last week in which the Jayhawks lost to Villanova and struggled with UTEP. Predicted winner: Kansas

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