There's only one matchup of ranked teams this weekend, but it will be worth staying up late Saturday night to catch it. The Oklahoma State-Colorado matchup highlights this weekend's slate:
1. Oklahoma State vs. Colorado (Saturday, 11:30 p.m. EST): The last time the Buffaloes met a former Big 12 foe, they upset Kansas earlier this month in Boulder on an Askia Booker buzzer beater. They'll attempt to do the same to Oklahoma State on Saturday night in the weekend's lone game pitting two ranked teams. What will be most intriguing about this one will be the perimeter matchup between an Oklahoma State backcourt highlighted by Marcus Smart and Markel Brown and a Colorado backcourt featuring Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie. The Buffaloes must limit their turnovers and hit a higher-than-average rate of threes to spring the upset. Projected winner: Oklahoma State.
2. Michigan State at Texas (Saturday, 4 p.m. EST): Texas validated a 10-1 start earlier this week with its first marquee win of the season, an upset victory at erratic North Carolina. Now the surprising Longhorns have a chance to notch a second huge win and crack the AP Top 25 if they can topple fifth-ranked Michigan State in Austin. Texas could be catching the Spartans at a good time since big man Matt Costello is out with mono and Gary Harris (ankle) and Adreian Payne (foot) are still at less than full strength. Michigan State must focus on limiting Texas' second-chance opportunities and scoring in transition before the Longhorns' defense is set to avoid a second December road loss. Projected winner: Michigan State.
3. Georgetown at Kansas (Saturday, noon EST): At long last, Kansas has returned to Lawrence. Twenty-eight days after defeating Towson in Allen Fieldhouse on Nov. 22, the Jayhawks return for their first home game in nearly a month. Their opponent is a Georgetown team that has won six straight since opening the season with two losses in three games. For Georgetown to even keep this close, it's imperative the Hoyas limit Kansas' transition opportunities and keep mammoth center Joshua Smith on the floor for as many minutes as possible. Smith, Georgetown's lone true low-post scoring threat, has fouled out twice and picked up four or more fouls in five of nine games this season. Conditioning issues have also contributed to him playing more than 20 minutes only three times. Projected winner: Kansas.
4. Notre Dame vs. Ohio State (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EST): Of the 12 remaining unbeaten teams, few are as untested as Ohio State. None of the the Buckeyes' 11 victories are particularly noteworthy with the exception of a road win at Marquette and perhaps a home win over Maryland. If Notre Dame performs as well as it did last Saturday when it defeated Indiana, the Irish (8-3) may pose a greater test. The most fun matchup will come when Notre Dame has the ball and its array of high-scoring guards attempt to solve Ohio State's stifling perimeter defense. Worth watching on the other end of the floor will be LaQuinton Ross, who has emerged from an early slump to score 17 or more in five of his past six games. Projected winner: Ohio State.
5. BYU at Oregon (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. EST): Blink and you'll miss a basket in this matchup of two of the nation's most high-octane teams. A BYU team fueled by Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino averages 88.6 points per game and 80.7 possessions, both top 10 nationally. An Oregon team powered by one of the nation's top backcourts plays at slightly slower pace but scores more efficiently, averaging 89.3 points per game. It's tough to imagine anyone outscoring the Ducks at home, but BYU has two slight advantages heading into this one. The Cougars will be highly motivated coming off a poor performance against Utah in their rivalry game and they're catching Oregon in the first game back for Dominic Artis and Ben Carter. Those two will help the Ducks in the long run of course, but it may take a game or two for Oregon to jell again now that it's whole. Projected winner: Oregon.
Five others worth watching:
• Stanford vs. Michigan (Saturday, 8:30 p.m. EST): Can Stanford pick up a second marquee win on its East Coast trip after upsetting UConn on Wednesday night? Michigan hasn't lived up to expectations so far this season, but a John Beilein team won't be as easy to zone as UConn was because so many guys can sink threes. Projected winner: Michigan.
• UMass vs. Florida State (Saturday, 2 p.m. EST): From LSU to New Mexico to BYU, UMass has passed every test so far this season. Florida State could pose the biggest challenge yet to the unbeaten Minutemen since they have the size to match UMass in the frontcourt and the quickness to defend Chaz Williams and Derrick Gordon off the dribble. Projected winner: Florida State
• Illinois vs. Missouri (Saturday, 5:30 p.m. EST): One of the better annual non-conference rivalry games pits an undefeated Missouri team against an Illinois team eager for a marquee win. The backourt battle will be fun in this game, but I like Missouri's better and I think the Tigers can have success on the glass. Projected winner: Missouri.
• Cal at Creighton (Sunday, 6:30 p.m. EST): Cal had a disappointing home loss to UC Santa Barbara earlier this month. Creighton fell to San Diego State and George Washington in the Anaheim Classic. Both teams would love to win this one to get back on track, but the Bluejays may be too good at home. Projected winner: Creighton
• Marquette vs. New Mexico (Saturday, 9 p.m. EST): New Mexico has dropped two straight against Kansas and New Mexico State and likely won't have starting guard Hugh Greenwood due to injury. That doesn't bode well against a Marquette team that is starting to find its offense again. Projected winner: Marquette.
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