NO. 1 SYRACUSE (20-0, 7-0 Big East) AT NOTRE DAME (11-8, 3-3 Big East)
Time/TV: 6 p.m./ESPN
Monday's showdown between #3 Baylor and #7 Kansas gave the visiting Bears a great chance to make the statement that they were ready to dethrone a program that's won at least a share of the last seven Big 12 titles. Well while there's still plenty of basketball to be played before the regular season champion is determined, it's safe to say that Bill Self's team has no plans to simply hand over the top spot.
Throughout the history of the Big 12 Conference there has been one measuring stick for the rest of the league: Kansas. The Kansas (14-3, 4-0) program has won seven straight Big 12 regular season titles, and despite the early-season doubts of many Bill Self's team has the ability to extend that streak. And while there are multiple challengers there may not be a more talented one than #4 Baylor (17-0, 4-0), and Scott Drew's team is well-equipped to be the last team standing in April as well.
There weren't many opportunities to watch ranked teams play each other (there was just one, which is discussed below), but Saturday's slate provided many teams the chance to improve their resumes. Florida State and Northwestern took full advantage of their opportunities as they both knocked off Top 10 opponents at home, albeit in different ways.
The Mountain West, similar to the Ivy League and Great West, had to start conference play later than other conferences due to the fact that they've got just eight members. Saturday marks the beginning of conference play and there are two key games to keep an eye on, most notably #22 San Diego State (14-2) hosting #12 UNLV (16-2) in the day's lone matchup of ranked teams.
It was thought that Pittsburgh's loss at DePaul last week was the epitome of "rock bottom" for Jamie Dixon's program, which is still without injured point guard Tray Woodall. But in hindsight that high-scoring defeat at the hands of the Blue Demons was nothing compared to what happened at the Petersen Events Center on Wednesday night. Pitt scored the fewest points in their history as a Big East member, falling 62-39 at Rutgers in front of a stunned crowd.
The first Saturday of the new year proved to be far more exciting than anticipated, much to the detriment of ranked teams who took their show on the road. Removing #7 Missouri and #20 Marquette, who both lost on the road to ranked opponents (more on both of those games below), five ranked teams lost to unranked opponents with four of the losses coming on the road. The Big East provided the most intrigue, with #8 Connecticut and #9 Georgetown falling on the road while #10 Louisville lost in double overtime at home. So which of the three defeats is most concerning?
NO. 20 MARQUETTE (12-3, 1-1 Big East) AT NO. 1 SYRACUSE (16-0, 3-0 Big East)
Time: 4 p.m.