College Basketball: Must Watch Games of the Week - January 9-15

The college basketball season is heating up. Here are 10 games you should be watching this week.

With the college basketball season in full swing and football winding down, there is no time like now to take in some of the most exciting matchups the NCAA has to offer.

Each week, we will bring you some of the more intriguing games to watch.


Game of the Day

(1) Baylor Bears at (10) West Virginia Mountaineers, 7 PM ET, ESPN2

The newly-minted number one team in the nation, Baylor, seemed to cruise through their first 13 games of the year, winning by an average of 21.3 points per game. In their last two contests, however, things have gotten a bit tighter.

They first needed a last-second jumper to defeat the Iowa State Cyclones by two before fighting off another upset attempt with a second-half rally to topple the Oklahoma State Cowboys and remain one of only two undefeated teams.

On Tuesday, the face perhaps their stiffest challenge, traveling to Morgantown to take on the nation's top defensive team, in terms of efficiency. Bob Huggins' squad also ranks second in our Power Rankings with a 20.89 nERD rating. In West Virginia's last game, they dominated our 31st-ranked Texas Christian Horned Frogs, winning by 12.

The Big 12 clash may be light on points, but not excitement, as the Bears allow the third-least amount of points (58.4 points per game) and the Mountaineers aren't far behind at 60.8.

Other Games to Watch

(15) Xavier Musketeers at (3) Villanova Wildcats, 7 PM ET, FS1

Winners of six straight, the Musketeers are coming off their best offensive performance of the season, scoring 97 points against St. John's in a true team effort. Six players reached double-figures as they shot nearly 60% from the field. Villanova, on the other hand, recently suffered their first loss while struggling with their jumpers, making only 38% versus in their loss to Butler.


Game of the Day

(12) Butler Bulldogs at (8) Creighton Bluejays, 9 PM ET, FS1

In perhaps the best Big East matchup of the week, Butler will try to slow down the country's top shooting team in Creighton, who is shooting over 53% from the floor. Against previously unbeaten Villanova last week, the Bulldogs did what no one else -- even Creighton -- could do, defeat the reigning champs. The Bulldogs held the Wildcats to only 58 points.

The real test for Butler will be their performance on the road. They have lost two of their last five games away from Hinkle Fieldhouse, and needed OT to get past Georgetown in D.C.

With double-digit wins over Providence and St. John's, the Bluejays have bounced back well since losing their first game against Villanova two weeks ago. This week's ranking of eighth in the AP Top 25 also marks a high point in the program's 100-year history. Creighton has risen all the way to sixth in the RPI, too.

With the nation's leading assist man running the show -- Maurice Watson with 9.1 assists per game -- the Bluejays rank in the top 10 in offensive efficiency.

Other Games to Watch

Pittsburgh Panthers at (14) Louisville Cardinals, 7 PM ET, ACCN

Two games ago, the Panthers knocked off the highly-ranked Virginia Cavaliers behind the dynamic one-two scoring punch of Michael Young and Jamel Artis in their most impressive win of the season. The Cardinals, on the other hand, have faltered lately, losing two of four, including one against those same Cavaliers.

Sitting at 1-2 in the ACC, Louisville needs to hold firm as the Pitt matchup is just the start of a long stretch against the conference's best. They play Duke, Clemson, and Florida State all within the next two weeks. The Panthers will be looking to snap an eight-game losing streak to their old Big East foe as well.


Game of the Day

Southern Methodist Mustangs at (22) Cincinnati Bearcats, 9 PM ET, ESPN

The battle for the lead in the American Athletic Conference comes to a head on Thursday as the Mustangs and Bearcats are both currently undefeated in conference play. Cincinnati has won six straight and has amped up their defense lately, allowing only 54.7 points per game in their last three contests. Overall, the Bearcats own the second-best defensive rating when adjusted for opponent, according to

SMU comes into the contest with a 10-game winning streak of their own, a top-five ranking in points allowed, and is on the verge of cracking the top-25 rankings. A win over 22nd-ranked Cincinnati will almost certainly put them over the edge.

Other Games to Watch

(4) UCLA Bruins at Colorado Buffaloes, 11 PM ET, FS1

After the high-flying Bruins had dropped their Pac-12 opener to Oregon, UCLA made quick work of their next three Pac-12 opponents, winning by an average of 12.3 points per game. This week, the freshman duo of Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf lead the number-one offense in the land up against a Colorado squad who are looking to add another impressive win to their resume.

(20) Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Miami (FL) Hurricanes, 7 PM ET, ESPN

Notre Dame enters their matchup with Miami as one of only two teams still undefeated in ACC play. In their three wins, the Irish already knocked off top-notch schools Louisville and Clemson. The Hurricanes may allow less than 60 points per game, but are coming off a disappointing 70-55 loss to Syracuse where the Orange made 56.8% of their shots.


Game of the Day

(21) Saint Mary's (CA) Gaels at (5) Gonzaga Bulldogs, 10 PM ET, ESPN2

Playing in the West Coast Conference, Gonzaga rarely faces a top-25 team during conference play. In fact, only two schools are even ranked in the top 150 of the nation, BYU and St. Mary's. The Gaels currently are 21st in the AP ranks and 25th in nERD rating, making them the toughest opponent the Bulldogs will face before the NCAA Tournament.

The Gaels are one of the most balanced teams in the nation, as they rank third in allowing only 58.1 points per game, but also own a top-three offensive rating. Aussie big man Jock Landale will be a player to watch as he is averaging 23.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks over his last two games.

Last season, the Zags lost twice to the Gaels in WCC play and will look to seek revenge and add another victory over a top-25 opponent (Iowa State, Arizona) to their unbeaten resume.

Other Games to Watch

(9) Florida State Seminoles at (11) North Carolina Tar Heels, 2 PM ET, ESPN

Florida State will be playing their fourth game of a difficult six-game stretch against a top-25 opponent. Depending on how the Seminoles fare on Tuesday versus Duke, they could also be carrying a 12-game winning streak into Chapel Hill.

They face a tough challenge from the sixth-highest scoring offense in the nation (89.1 points per game) in the Tar Heels who racked up 107 points against NC State on Sunday.


Game of the Day

Michigan State Spartans at Ohio State Buckeyes, 1:30 PM ET, CBS

Sunday's game is a must-win for Michigan State, as they cannot afford to lose against teams in the bottom half of the Big 10. Coming off a disappointing loss to Penn State, the Spartans are still on track to make the NCAA Tournament -- projected as a nine-seed by our models -- but need strong performances in nationally televised games like Sunday's tilt versus the Buckeyes.

The Buckeyes, for their part, hold a slim chance of making the field of 68 this year and need a quality win on their resume. Knocking off the Spartans at home becomes imperative for Ohio State if they want to avoid missing out on the tournament for the second year in a row, for the first time in 12 years.