Now that final exams are over I will have a couple weeks at home to relax and watch some quality college basketball. There will be a ton of great games on throughout the next couple weeks so I just wanted to give you a few recommendations on games to watch over the holidays or winter break for college students.
Iowa State vs. Cincinnati
This game is a matchup of two top 25 teams. Iowa State has struggled recently even though their record doesn’t show it. They did come back to beat Iowa after being outplayed for the first 30 mins of that game. Cincinnati just lost to Xavier but I love Mick Cronin and feel that his guys will be up for the task against the veteran Iowa State guys. Be sure to tune into this one as two well rounded teams go at it.
Purdue vs. Vanderbilt
Purdue and Vanderbilt will both be looking to add one final non conference win before their conference schedule begins. Purdue is coming off of their first loss of the season in a tough game against Butler. They will want to rebound at home against Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt has struggled the past couple weeks losing games to Baylor and Dayton. They will need another signature victory to make it a successful non-conference slate. If Damian Jones can play to his potential and shut down Isaac Haas and AJ Hammons then Vanderbilt will be right in this game.
Louisville at Kentucky
You are going to love the gifts that you receive on Christmas. You will love them so much that while everyone is returning gift on Saturday you will be able to watch Louisville go into Rupp Arena to face Kentucky. This game will be very competitive and will be a lot of fun to watch.
Louisville does not have Montrezl Harrell this season but they are led by two transfer guards in Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. Those two guards are extremely talented. Louisville’s only loss came to Michigan State in East Lansing. Rick Pitino will look for his depth in the front court to pound it inside. He will look to feed Mangok Mathiang and Chinanu Onuaku down low right from the beginning.
Kentucky has its typical array of McDonald’s All-American freshman but they play a different style than they did last year. They play more of a perimeter game led by Tyler Ulis, Isiah Briscoe, and Jamal Murray. There main player down low is Skal Labissiere but he has struggled to find a rhythm with constant foul issues. Look for Isiah Briscoe to have a big game matched up with Quentin Snider.
Florida vs. Florida State
This game sticks out to me because of Dwayne Bacon, the highly touted freshman at Florida State. I have not had a chance to see him play yet so this will be my opportunity. I will also be intrigued to see how the post Billy Donovan era is going so far in Gainesville.
Purdue at Wisconsin
My December 29th schedule is all booked up with these two games. Purdue will have to go to the Kohl Center where it is never easy to win. I will be interested in watching Purdue in a tough road environment and how the Wisconsin players respond to the sudden retirement of Bo Ryan. Look for Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes to have big games as they are the most talented Badgers and the biggest match-up problems for Purdue.
Villanova vs. Xavier
Before you start cracking open the champagne you are definitely going to want to watch this game. The game starts at noon which gives you plenty of time to watch before the New Year’s festivities begin.
There has been chatter about this game since Xavier beat Michigan in the second week of the season. Both teams are shooting for the Big East crown and this game could be the turning point for one of the teams. Villanova has a nice blend of veterans and youth with Jalen Brunson the diaper dandy of the Big East. The difference in this game will be whether Villanova can knock down their outside shots. They take over half of their shots from 3-point land and have struggled to knock most of those down only shooting 35%.
I expect to see very fundamentally sound teams with chips on their shoulders. Villanova feels that they should be ranked higher than Xavier and they do not get the respect from winning the Big East last year. Xavier wants to start their conference schedule with a huge victory to set the tone for the rest of the season. This game will be must see TV for all college basketball fans.
Providence at Butler
The Big East may not be what it was 10 years ago but on New Year’s Eve it will sure bring some quality basketball games. This game will be right after the Villanova and Xavier matchup around 2:30 pm. Providence is led by future NBA lottery pick Kris Dunn and his sidekick Ben Bentil. Butler is led by Kellen Dunham who can light it up from anywhere. This game will have tons of scoring and should be a very fast paced game which is fun to watch. Two top 25 teams facing off in Hinkle Fieldhouse, I won’t be changing the channel and neither should you.
If you are looking for something to watch on New Year’s Day I would definitely flip on Utah vs. Stanford. Two underrated teams in my mind and Jacob Poeltl has the potential to be a star.
Kansas vs. Oklahoma
This game has been circled on my schedule all year. Oklahoma and Kansas are the two frontrunners for the Big 12 and Oklahoma seems to be the only hope to end Kansas’s Big 12 winning streak. Both of these teams have both talent and experience. Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden seem like an unstoppable force for the Jayhawks. Oklahoma is led by Buddy Hield who had a huge game in their rout of top 10 ranked Villanova. I think the experience of Oklahoma will help them going into the raucous Allen Fieldhouse. If Oklahoma can find a way to win this game they will be in the drivers seat for the Big 12. Put this game on your schedule as both of these teams have the aspirations of being in the Final 4 come April.
Kentucky vs. LSU
Although I have already put a Kentucky game on this list I believe this will be another game that you would be wise to tune into. Kentucky has struggled recently getting all of their talented freshman acclimated and they will get a taste of their own medicine as freshman phenom Ben Simmons comes to town. Simmons is a match-up nightmare and Alex Poythress will have his work cut out for him. Simmons and Antonio Blakeney will try to forget some of their early losses and reach their full potential.
Needless to say there are a ton of games to fulfill your College Basketball taste bites during the college winter break. Take some time to relax and watch one of these great match-ups. You will really enjoy it and it might help you when filling out your bracket in March.