1. Drake Bulldogs vs. #22 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (9:00 AM PT, ESPN2)
The first of two weekend meetings between a 19-1 Drake squad and a 17-3 Loyola group, both programs have just one league defeat to their name and the MVC regular season is likely on the line. Learn some of the names these rosters now. You’ll likely need to know them come March.
2. #4 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Indiana Hoosiers (9:00 AM PT, ESPN)
Winners of seven of their last eight overall, Chris Holtmann’s boys are moving their way up the NCAA Tournament seeding picture in a hurry. EJ Liddell and Duane Washington Jr. are spearheading a very deep roster. However, don’t sleep on an Indiana team in search of key wins.
3. #14 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. #12 Oklahoma Sooners (10:00 AM PT, ESPN+)
Just a half-game separates the Mountaineers and Sooners for the second spot in the Big 12 and boy, oh boy, should this be a good one in Morgantown. Both teams come into Saturday’s clash at a combined 11-2 over their last handful of contests. Buckle up and bring your hard-hat.
4. Arizona Wildcats vs. Oregon Ducks (11:00 AM PT, ESPN2)
An early tip for the West Coast-ers, if the open ended nature of the Pac-12 doesn’t get your blood pumping, you might want to check with your local physician. The Ducks have rattled off back-to-back wins and can still make a push for a conference title. So long as Arizona doesn’t play spoiler.
5. LSU Tigers vs. #16 Tennessee Volunteers (11:00 AM PT, ESPN)
Unknown to some, LSU is still hanging strong in the SEC picture and currently, the Tigers are in a three-way logjam with Arkansas and Tennessee for the second spot in the league behind Alabama. The Volunteers though, look ready to turn a corner with a manageable slate ahead.
6. Michigan State Spartans vs. #15 Iowa Hawkeyes (11:30 AM PT, FOX)
In order for Tom Izzo to work his March Madness magic, the Spartans actually have to get to the tournament first, which is seeming like a bigger and bigger task by the day. Opportunities (or road blocks) like this one still await, if Michigan State can handle Luka Garza and company.
7. #10 Missouri Tigers vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (1:00 PM PT, ESPN2)
Just as everyone couldn’t stop hyping up this Missouri crew enough, the Tigers had a huge setback loss on the road at Ole Miss. Such is life in the SEC. However, earlier this year, the Tigers went into Bud Walton Arena, turned it over 21 times and beat Arkansas by 13 points. What?!?
8. #19 Creighton Bluejays vs. #5 Villanova Wildcats (2:00 PM PT, FOX)
Creighton might’ve drawn the short end of the scheduling stick by landing two games against Villanova in their final five contests, yet it also leaves a world of opportunity for the Bluejays to prove their worth. The Wildcats are coming off a completely dominant victory over Marquette.
9. #9 Virginia Cavaliers vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (3:00 PM PT, ESPN)
According to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, North Carolina is currently in the 68-team NCAA Tournament field as a #10 seed, so an upset over a top-ten squad would look very good on their resume. The Tar Heels scored just 54.5 PPG in two losses to the Cavaliers last season. A chess match awaits.
10. Eastern Washington Eagles vs. Montana State Bobcats (4:00 PM PT, SWX)
A fight for the top spot in the Big Sky will be on the line, as the second leg of a twosome between the Eagles and Bobcats tips off. Tune in to see two of the conference’s best talents, in compact Montana State guard Xavier Bishop and savvy Eastern Washington forward Tanner Groves.