Pregame Shootaround: The Battle for Kansas headlines a busy Saturday slate
GAME OF THE DAY: No. 25 Kansas State at No. 18 Kansas (2 p.m., ESPN)
Saturday’s only matchup between ranked opponents is also a tremendous in-state rivalry between the Wildcats and Jayhawks. Kansas has probably played the most difficult schedule in the country, so they’ll be prepared when another ranked team visits Phog Allen Fieldhouse. Wayne Selden showed flashes of brilliance on the offensive end of the floor in Wednesday’s win over Oklahoma, scoring 24 points and knocking in five three-pointers and the Jayhawks have won seven straight home games against Kansas State. Marcus Foster is playing tremendous ball for Kansas State and the freshman guard looks mature beyond his years as the season goes on. But will Foster have enough help to topple the Jayhawks?
WHO’S GETTING UPSET? No. 10 Florida at Arkansas (1 p.m., ESPN2)
The No. 10 Gators will be missing leading scorer Casey Prather when they travel to face the Razorbacks in an SEC clash on Saturday. Florida is also dealing with an ankle injury to guard Scottie Wilbekin and Patric Young missed Thursday’s practice with sore knees while Michael Frazier II was limited in that same practice with a calf injury. So will the banged-up Gators have enough firepower to stay with Arkansas? The Razorbacks won this contest at Bud Walton Arena last season and average an SEC best 87 points a game. Florida’s health is a major concern entering this contest, but they have overcome adversity at other times this season when facing injuries and suspensions.
MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: No. 6 Wichita State at Missouri State, (8 p.m., ESPN3)
Don’t worry, Shocker fans, I didn’t forget about you guys after previewing the matchup of Kansas’ other two ranked college basketball teams -- the Wildcats and Jayhawks. Unbeaten Wichita State (16-0, 3-0) travels to Missouri State (12-3, 2-1) in a Missouri Valley Conference matchup that could serve as a solid test for the Shockers. Missouri State has an 8-0 home record on the season and does a good job limiting turnovers -- 10.6 per game, second in the MVC to Wichita State. For the Shockers, can sophomore point guard Fred VanVleet go his fifth consecutive game without a turnover?
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
1) If you’re a fan of high-scoring basketball, be sure to tune in to see the Big 12 contest between No. 9 Iowa State and Oklahoma. Both teams average 87 points a game, good enough for sixth in the country, as the unbeaten Cyclones (14-0, 2-0) travel to visit the Sooners (12-3, 1-1). The difference in this one could come down to defense, an area that Oklahoma has struggled with. The Sooners have given up 85 or more points in three straight games.
2) Which North Carolina team will we see when they travel to No. 2 Syracuse: the Tar Heels that have beaten Michigan State, Kentucky and Louisville or the Tar Heels that own five losses to unranked opponents. Thanks to Syracuse’s 2-3 zone and North Carolina’s struggles from the perimeter, it is likely that the Orange will win the ACC contest at home, but with the way North Carolina has played against elite competition, can you really count them out?
3) Can Jabari Parker break out of his shooting slump and can Rodney Hood stay hot against one of the nation’s best defenses in Clemson (10-4, 1-1)? The Tigers host the No. 16 Blue Devils (12-3, 1-1) in an ACC battle and Clemson’s defense has allowed a Division I-low of 53.5 points per game while holding opponents to 36 percent shooting from the field.
4) Will No. 19 UMass (13-1, 1-0) look better after a sluggish opener in Atlantic 10 play? The Minutemen escaped with a 66-62 win over St. Joseph’s in a game in which they trailed by nine points with 6:23 remaining. UMass will need to play better to get past St. Bonaventure (11-4, 1-0), which will be on NBCSN at 12:30 p.m.
5) How will No. 21 Missouri (12-2, 0-1) respond from losing its SEC opener at home against Georgia? The Tigers travel to Auburn (8-4, 0-1) on Saturday and they’ll need a better offensive output than their two losses this season in which Missouri was held to 64 points.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25:
- Minnesota at No. 5 Michigan State, 2:15 p.m., BTN
- TCU at No. 7 Baylor, 1:30 p.m., ESPN3
- No. 8 Villanova at St. John’s, 1:00 p.m., Fox Sports 1
- No. 11 Oklahoma State at West Virginia, 4:00 p.m., ESPN3
- No. 14 Kentucky at Vanderbilt, 3:30 p.m., CBS
- No. 24 Memphis at Temple, 3:00 p.m., ESPN2
- Saint Louis at Dayton, 11:00 a.m., ESPN2
- Wake Forest at Pitt, 12:00 p.m., ESPN3
- Ole Miss at Mississippi State, 4:00 p.m., ESPNU
- Virginia at North Carolina State, 5:00 p.m., ESPN2
- Central Florida at UConn, 6:00 p.m., ESPNU
- Texas A&M at Tennessee, 6:00 p.m., ESPN3
- Cal at Oregon State, 8:00 p.m., ESPNU