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College basketball bettors' TV guide

College basketball bettors' TV guide

College basketball bettors' TV guide

Butler at Ohio State (Saturday, noon, Big Ten Network)

One unbeaten will fall in this all-Ohio matchup Saturday, with the No. 21 Buckeyes ranked for the first time since the end of the 2006-07 season. Ohio State needs to rebound well because it can’t shoot.  The Buckeyes are hitting just 42.9 percent of its shots which is worst in the Big Ten. They lead the nation with a 10-game winning streak, five of which came at the end of last season. Evan Turner leads OSU in points, rebounds and assists. Ohio State coach Thad Matta is a former Butler coach.

Butler crushed OSU 65-46 last season and is 8-0 for the third straight year. The Bulldogs start three freshmen and a sophomore (there is no senior on the roster) and their best win so far was a 57-53 victory over Northwestern. Butler continues to depend on the 3-point shot after leading the nation in 3-point dependency last year. The Bulldogs shot 27 3-pointers in beating Bradley on Wednesday and are at 37 percent from behind the arc for the year.

Austin Peay at Louisville (Saturday, 1 p.m., ESPN Full Court/

I had to preview this game just because the Governors have the best chant in sports: “Let’s Go Peay!” The Govs are 0-5 against the Cardinals and lost 77-49 in the 2004-05 season. Look for UL to focus on stopping Austin Peay’s Drake Reed, who is averaging a team-leading 20.9 points and 7.9 rebounds. He scored a career-high 37 in the Govs’ last game, an 81-73 victory over Eastern Illinois.

The No. 9 Cards have won three in a row by an average of 32 points since a shocking loss to Western Kentucky. Last Sunday, Louisville beat Ohio by 35 points. Why is that important? The Govs lost to that same Ohio team by 11 in November. Cards freshman Samardo Samuels has been as good as advertised, leading UL in scoring at 16.3 points per game, but Earl Clark remains the team’s best all-around player.

Memphis at Georgetown (Saturday, 2 p.m., CBS)

Easily the game of the weekend in college basketball should be this one between the No. 17 Tigers and No. 19 Hoyas at D.C’s Verizon Center. This also is the first game on CBS this season, meaning the debut of Clark Kellogg pairing with Jim Nantz on the telecast. Kellogg, of course, replaces Billy Packer.

You will get to see two of the best freshman in the country in Memphis point guard Tyreke Evans and Georgetown big man Greg Monroe. The Tigers will have a huge size advantage in the backcourt, but they can’t shoot 3-pointers to save their lives. They hit on just 29.5 percent from behind the arc as a team (248th in the nation). At least Memphis will be well rested, not having played in 11 days.

Utah at Oklahoma (Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN2)

The Utes have to deal with the nation’s most dominant player in OU’s Blake Griffin and come in on a two-game losing streak. The Utes also will be without starting point guard Luke Drca due to injury. That means freshman Jace Tavita will make his second start. In Utah’s loss to Cal on Wednesday, Tavita didn’t even attempt a shot in 17 minutes. He had three assists, one turnover and four fouls. Australian center Luke Nevill (18.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg) likely will draw the main assignment on Griffin.

The No. 5 Sooners have been very impressive so far behind Griffin, who is averaging 24.4 points and 15.6 rebounds per game. No one in college basketball has averaged 15 rebounds since 1980. He and Davidson’s Stephen Curry are likely neck-and-neck for early Player of the Year honors (OU beat Davidson this year in a great display by both players), with Griffin almost a lock as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft. 

Indiana at Kentucky (Saturday, 4 p.m. CBS)

This game obviously doesn’t mean what it used to, but it’s worth a watch in name value only. The fact that Tom Crean has the Hoosiers at 5-4 is fairly impressive when you consider the mess he inherited. If you go by trends, the Hoosiers will win this game. They opened the season with two wins, lost two, won two, lost two and won their last game. Indiana has won away from Bloomington only once in a victory over Chaminade in the seventh-place game at the Maui Invitational.

Kentucky was shocked in its opener by VMI and then fell to top-ranked North Carolina but has won six of seven since. The Wildcats should be far too much to handle on Saturday, especially sophomore big man Patrick Patterson. The 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward has six double-doubles and is averaging 18.2 points while shooting 72.5 percent from the field.

Oral Roberts at North Carolina (Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN2)

The only reason to tune in here is to watch what is potentially a history-making North Carolina team. The incredibly deep Heels have a legitimate shot at going unbeaten if they can avoid the injuries that hit early in the season. This will be Oral Roberts’ first game against a No. 1 team. The Golden Eagles are 8-44 all-time against opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. ORU enters at 2-6 with its only wins coming against powerhouses John Brown and South Dakota State. This game won’t be close.

Xavier at Cincinnati (Saturday, 8 p.m., ESPN2)

The battle for the Queen City – known as the Crosstown Shootout - is one of college basketball’s best rivalries, although the No. 10 Musketeers have surpassed the Bearcats on the national scene. This will be the 76th meeting between the schools, with UC leading 47-28.

Xavier is coming off a rout of Ohio which it had a season-high 12 blocks and a season-high nine steals and held Ohio to 34.5 percent shooting. Xavier has held six of eight opponents to less than 40 percent shooting. The Muskies also got back freshman point guard Terrell Holloway on Wednesday from a stress fracture in his foot.

Cincinnati is off to a 6-1 start thanks to its defense. The Bearcats have held their opponents to 35.9 percent shooting, which ranks fourth in the Big East. Cincy has allowed 57.4 points per game, which ranks sixth in the conference. The Bearcats also lead the Big East in rebounding margin. But this will be their first game against a ranked team.

Gonzaga vs. Arizona in Phoenix (Sunday, 6 p.m., Fox Sports Net)

The No. 4 Zags look like a Final Four team and are coming off a 74-52 rout of Washington State in Pullman, which was the most lopsided loss in WSU coach Tony Bennett’s three seasons. The Zags are limiting teams to 34 percent shooting. Led by forward Josh Heytvelt’s 16.3 points per game, Gonzaga has five players averaging double figures in points.

Arizona is a few points from being unbeaten, having lost to UAB and Texas A&M by a point each. The Wildcats have little depth and their bench was held scoreless in a win over San Diego State Wednesday. The Cats do have a beast down low in Jordan Hill, who is coming off a career-high 25 points and 14 rebounds in that win over the Aztecs. Hill has recorded a double-double in every game this season.

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