6. Tennessee at #7 North Carolina – Sunday, 5pm ET (ESPN) – UNC is coming off a scare at home against Davidson and welcome in a high-scoring Tennessee team. The Vols have 7 players who score 8.9 points per game or better led by senior guard Robert Hubbs. The Heels will hope to get their star Joel Berry back after he missed the Davidson game with an ankle injury. Prediction – UNC by 15
5. Utah at #13 Xavier – Saturday, 5:30pm (FOX) – An interesting Pac 12/Big East matchup as the Musketeers look to end a two game losing streak (Baylor and Colorado, both true road games). This will be Utah’s 2nd test of the season, the first was a loss to another Big East foe in Butler. Xavier is very guard strong and Utah is front court strong, giving this one a huge mix in tempo. Prediction – Xavier comes out hot and takes a big halftime lead, then barely holds on to get the win.
4. Michigan at #2 UCLA – Saturday, 8pm (ESPN2) – If you haven’t seen UCLA play yet, you are severely missing out and here is yet another chance for you to do so. The Bruins have an unprecedented six players scoring in double-figures to this point and are still scoring 97 points per game. Of those six players, five are shooting 41 percent or better from behind the arc and Lonzo Ball continues to put on dunk shows night after night. With all that being said Michigan isn’t a bad basketball team and can score themselves, but they are running into a buzzsaw. Prediction – UCLA scores in the 90s and wins by 12-17.
3. #17 Wisconsin at Marquette – Saturday, 2pm (FS1) – The two best basketball schools in the state of Wisconsin meet for the 123rd time. Last year Marquette went into Madison and stole a 57-55 win as they held Wisconsin to just 36 percent shooting from the floor. Wisconsin looks for revenge against a Marquette team that has only lost 2 neutral site games at the 2K Classic to Pitt and Michigan. The Golden Eagles are a tough matchup for the Badgers and they have the size to cover Happ and length to cover Hayes. Prediction – Marquette in a squeaker.
2. #22 Cincinnati at #16 Butler – Saturday, 4:30pm (Fs1) – Old Big East travels to new Big East in one of two inter-ranked games of the weekend. Both teams had interesting weeks as Cincinnati stunned Iowa State in Ames and Butler lost at Indiana State (on Larry Bird’s birthday). The frontcourt battle of Cincinnati’s Kyle Washington and Gary Clark against Butler’s Andrew Chrabascz and Kelan Martin should be a great one, amazingly with not a single one of those four being taller than 6’9″. Prediction – Butler bounces back at home in a big fashion and wins by less than 10 over a very good opponent.
1. #1 Villanova vs. #23 Notre Dame (game held in Newark, NJ) – Saturday, noon (CBS) – CBS’s appetizer for the Army/Navy game is a good one. Many people are saying that UCLA is the number one team in the country and that Nova hasn’t been tested too much, which is a fair argument with the exception of a win at Purdue in the first week of the season. Well here is a big chance for the Wildcats to get a good win on a neutral court. Both teams are 9-0 and the Irish have a really solid squad led by double-double machine Bonzie Colson; he has one of those in six straight games. Josh Hart to me is the best all-around guard in the country. He can score, leads his team in rebounds and assists and is a great defender. The reason this is such a big test for Nova is because they are still a small team. Who is going to body up Colson, who at only 6’5″ plays like he is 6’10”? The game being in Newark favors Nova immensely as their fans will travel the 94 miles north to see an old Big East matchup. This one feels like it should be at Madison Square Garden, but we’ll settle for getting it at all. Prediction – Notre Dame with the upset win near the buzzer.