By Steve Silverman
Saturday, January 13
Kansas State (12-4, 2-2) at No. 12 Kansas (13-3, 3-1), 12 noon ET, ESPN
The Big 12 is the best basketball conference in the nation this year, and while this conference is almost always the domain of the Jayhawks, that may not be the case this year.
Kansas has plenty of talent and will be near the top of the conference and almost certainly a two or three seed in the NCAA tournament, but the Jayhawks will be tested almost every game among by their conference opponents.
That includes this game against in-state and archrival Kansas State. The Wildcats would like nothing better than to come in Lawrence and steal a win from the Jayhawks. Guard Barry Brown is coming off a career-high 38-point game against Oklahoma State, and he is leading Kansas State with an average of 16.9 points per game.
Forward Dean Wade has the size at 6-10 to be a factor on the boards. He is averaging 14.6 points and a team-best 6.5 rebounds per night.
The high-scoring Jayhawks (86.6 points per game, 13th in the nation) are led by guards Devonté Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who are averaging 18.1 and 16.9 points per game respectively. Center Udoka Azubuike is averaging 14.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per night.
Look for the Wildcats to push hard in this game, but Kansas will have too much for the visitors in the second half.
Saturday, January 13
No. 20 North Carolina (13-4, 2-2) at Notre Dame (12-4, 3-1), 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
The North Carolina Tar Heels may be the defending NCAA champions, but they have not looked like they will be at a similar level this season at tournament time.
Roy Williams’ team has had a number of hiccups already, but there is still plenty of time to turn their season around. They have an opportunity to right themselves on the road against a tough opponent. Key road wins will do more for a team’s confidence than anything else, and while Notre Dame is tough at home, the Irish don’t have star forward Bonzie Colson (broken foot) in the lineup.
The Tar Heels lost back-to-back road games to Florida State and Virginia, but they rebounded with a 30-point win over Boston College. Forward Luke Maye is averaging 18.2 points per game and pulling down 10.2 rebounds per night.
Senior guard Joel Berry is averaging 17.6 points per…