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UCLA, Arizona try to regain footing in Pac-12 race while Miami looks to make statement
As the college basketball season nears the end of the first month of the new year, the standings still reveal a handful of surprises.
Instead of Arizona and UCLA, Oregon is atop the Pac-12. Ole Miss is undefeated in the SEC, though the Rebels have yet to run into the Florida steamroller. Meanwhile, Miami is the only team unscathed in ACC play.
The Hurricanes will have perfection tested this week when they play host to Duke, and on the other side of the country, UCLA and Arizona will try to reclaim a pice of Pac-12 dominance when the two meet at the McKale Center.
Here’s our look at the rest of the week and how it could impact the postseason.
All times Eastern.
JAN. 23 BRACKET UPDATE
MOST IMPORTANT GAME:
UCLA at Arizona (Thursday, 9 p.m., ESPN2)
Just about every preseason source had either UCLA or Arizona as the top team in the Pac-12 (Athlon picked Arizona). Five games into the conference season, and both are chasing Oregon. Arizona bounced back from its loss to the Ducks to defeat Arizona State 71-54 on the road. Meanwhile, UCLA will need more from freshman Jordan Adams, who didn’t have a field goal against Oregon on Saturday.
Related: Key stats from last week in college basketball
ALL EYES ON: Miami
Duke (Wednesday, 7 p.m., ESPN)
Florida State (Sunday, 6 p.m, ESPNU)
Back in December, it seemed a broken thumb for Reggie Johnson would be a major detriment to Miami’s NCAA Tournament hopes. After losing two of their first three without Johnson, Miami has reeled off five consecutive wins, including a 4-0 start in the ACC. A strong showing against Duke -- Miami already has a win in Chapel Hill as well -- would add to Miami’s legitimacy in the ACC even if Duke is shorthanded without Ryan Kelly. In facing Florida State (10-7, 2-2 ACC), Miami will look to avoid a letdown no matter the result against the Blue Devils.
Related: Duke retains top spot in power rankings
UNDER PRESSURE: San Diego State
at Nevada (Wednesday, 10 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
New Mexico (Saturday, 4 p.m., NBC Sports Network)
The Mountain West contenders have started to beat each other up, and none has more bruises than San Diego State. Before last week, the Aztecs had gone 14-2 with one loss in an aircraft carrier game in the opener against Syracuse and a one-point loss to Arizona in Hawaii. Then came back-to-back MWC losses. San Diego State lost 82-75 at home to UNLV and then had only four field goals and nine points in the first half of a 58-45 loss at Wyoming. The Aztecs should get past Nevada with little difficulty, but they’ll be tough to take seriously as an MWC contender if they lose at home to New Mexico on Saturday.
at Villanova (Saturday, 11 a.m., ESPNU)
Syracuse reasserted its spots as one of the nation’s top five five teams last week by defeated Louisville on the road and then grinding out a win over Cincinnati on a quick turnaround Monday afternoon. The Orange this without one of their most most valuable players in James Southerland. Point guard Michael Carter-Williams has proven he’s capable of carrying Syracuse to a Big East title.
Michigan (Sunday, 6 p.m., Big Ten Network)
The season is in danger of going into a downward spiral for Illinois, which has lost three in a row and started 1-4 in the Big Ten. A 68-54 loss to Northwestern on Thursday was particularly alarming. A swing against Michigan on Saturday, Michigan State, Indiana and Minnesota between now and Feb.1 0 could bury Illinois in its bid for the NCAA Tournament.
MID-MAJOR TO WATCH:
Lehigh at Bucknell (Wednesday, 6 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
What a game this could have been if not for a broken foot for Lehigh’s star guard C.J. McCollum. Lehigh averaged 79.4 points per game with McCollum and 67.3 points in the last three without him (not including a win over Division III Muhlenberg). Lehigh is still 3-0 in the Patriot League, but so is Bucknell, who gave Missouri a scare earlier this month.
Colorado State at New Mexico (Wednesday, 8 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
The Rams have a bit of staying power. Dorian Green came out of nowhere to score 24 points in win over UNLV last week.
Wyoming at UNLV (Thursday, 9 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
Offcourt problems have been an issue in Laramie, but Wyoming may still be a factor after defeating San Diego State 58-45. The Aztecs helped Wyoming by scoring nine points in the first half.
BYU at Gonzaga (Thursday, 11 p.m., ESPN2)
Perhaps the two teams can swap sob stories of being on the wrong end of miracle game-winners -- BYU against Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga against Butler.
Maryland at Duke (Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS)
Maryland has lost three of its last four but defeated NC State 51-50 last week. The Terrapins might not be able to win in Cameron, but can’t they show they’re a Tournament team?
Minnesota at Wisconsin (Saturday, 2 p.m., Big Ten Network)
Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe is averaging 15 points and 10.3 rebounds in the last three games.
Oklahoma at Kansas (Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN)
We’re starting to hear talk of Ben McLemore having one of the top seasons in Kansas history. Catch him while you can.
UCLA at Arizona State (Saturday, 4 p.m., Fox Sports Network)
The Sun Devils gave Arizona fits until freshman scorer Jahii Carson got into foul trouble.
Temple at Butler (Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN2)
A run down of the teams Temple and Butler have defeated this year: Indiana, Gonzaga, Syracuse. The Owls have been a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde act, though, by losing at home to St. Bonaventure on Saturday.
North Carolina at NC State (Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN)
Since defeating Duke, NC State lost to Maryland and slogged through a win over Clemson.
Michigan State at Indiana (Sunday, noon, CBS)
Michigan State’s win over Ohio State on Saturday reminded us not to leave out the Spartans when talking about the Big Ten’s dominance. Tom Izzo and his former assistant Tom Crean split last year’s season series.