Top 5: The best upcoming college hoops games
by Scott M Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, it’s not March Madness yet, but Saturday’s college basketball slate makes for the perfect precursor to the Christmas holiday for hoops fans.
Here’s a look at the top five games on deck:
No. 3 Syracuse vs. Temple | Saturday, noon, ESPN2
About the Orange (10-0): Syracuse has beaten one ranked team (San Diego State) this season, so a win against a tough Atlantic 10 school could help the Orange climb higher in the rankings if other top teams stumble. The game will be at Madison Square Garden, so expect a pro-Syracuse crowd. With their move to the Atlantic Coast Conference, the number of Orange games at the Garden will dwindle. Four players can post big scoring numbers at any time, led by guard Brandon Triche and forward James Southerland, who combine for more than 30 points a game. Michael Carter-Williams leads the nation in assists, averaging 10.7 a game, while big man C.J. Fair adds 11.3 points and 6.8 rebounds a game.
About the Owls (8-2): Temple lost to No. 1 Duke, and it wasn’t pretty. Then they Canisius beat the Owls to provide a huge resume stain. Still, this team has proved it is capable of winning a jam-packed Atlantic 10 that’s completely unpredictable. The Owls are led by Scootie Randall, who averages 13.7 points and 7.5 rebounds a game, while Khalif Wyatt (14.5 points, 3.9 assists a game) can score and dish. Anthony Lee (10.4 points, 6.6 rebounds) gives the Owls a nice post presence.
The matchup: Syracuse’s pressure 2-3 zone is often difficult for teams to adjust to, and playing its third game of the week won’t make life easier for a Temple team that couldn’t handle Mason Plumlee or Duke’s speedy guards.
Our pick: Syracuse
No. 8 Kansas at No. 7 Ohio State | Saturday, 4 p.m., CBS
About the Jayhawks (9-1): Kansas has won eight in a row since losing to Michigan State by three in November and is winning by substantial margins, other than a six-point win vs. Oregon State. Freshman guard Ben McLemore (15.9 points, 5.7 rebounds a game) … [For more on Top 5: The best upcoming college hoops games, click here.]