Huge games looming this week for Top 25 teams
Kentucky faces perhaps its biggest obstacle on the road toward a perfect season during a huge week for teams in The Associated Press Top 25.
The top-ranked Wildcats, the only undefeated team in Division I, start the penultimate week of the regular season at Mississippi State before hosting No. 18 Arkansas on Saturday.
The Razorbacks have been playing well, winning six straight and nine of 10, so they could give Kentucky a run.
Of course, the Wildcats have played their best against the top programs – beating Kansas, Louisville and North Carolina – and Arkansas will have to play well to pull off the upset.
”To beat Kentucky would take an extraordinarily super-human effort,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said before the Wildcats rolled over the Tigers last week.
Even if Kentucky isn’t tested, it will be a good week to park in front of the TV and watch some college basketball.
Tuesday features No. 5 Wisconsin at No. 14 Maryland in a Big Ten showcase, and in the Big East No. 6 Villanova hosts No. 25 Providence – which is ranked for the first time since 2003-04.
The marquee game Wednesday night will be in the Big 12, where No. 12 Iowa State hosts No. 19 Baylor. The Bears beat the Cyclones 74-73 on a last-second shot earlier this season, so it should be another good one.
Baylor has another tough test on Saturday, when it faces West Virginia. The Bears won the previous meeting by 18, but the Mountaineers have been playing better, moving up to No. 20 after knocking off Kansas and Oklahoma State last week.
The Pac-12 and Missouri Valley also have huge games on Saturday.
The game between No. 7 Arizona and No. 13 Utah in the Pac-12 lost a little luster when the Utes fell to Oregon last week, but these are two talented teams fighting for a conference championship.
The Valley game will be the conference’s biggest of the season, with No. 10 Northern Iowa playing at No. 11 Wichita State in a battle for first place.
The Panthers (26-2) moved into the top 10 for the first time in program history on Monday and are tied with the Shockers at 15-1 in conference play.
Saturday also figures to be a big day for teams on the NCAA tournament bubble.
In the Big 12, Texas plays at Kansas, and Kansas State hosts No. 12 Iowa State. Miami, in need of a marquee win, hosts No. 15 North Carolina.
Dayton also has a chance to enhance its resume, facing No. 22 Virginia Commonwealth in an Atlantic 10 game.