Month one of college hoops conference play is already coming to a close, and while some questions have been answered over the course of the past few weeks of action, it actually seems as if there have been an even greater number of questions formed. One team that would fall into that category would be the Arizona Wildcats, who play host to North Carolina Saturday in the biggest non-conference game of the weekend.
January has also left us wondering if certain teams are for real. Like Auburn, for example. The Tigers will host the top-ranked Florida Gators on Saturday. And how about Michigan State, who will be on the road at Ohio State? And Boston College, who will pay a visit to Duke? Are these teams conference contenders, NCAA bubble squads, or simply college hoops pretenders?
North Carolina at Arizona
It's rare that we get an out-of-conference clash this impressive at this point in the season, but that's the case when the Heels and Cats hit the hardwood Saturday out west. While UNC is clearly the dominant team in the ACC, Arizona has struggled to a 5-4 start in Pac-10 play.
Villanova at Notre Dame
Both squads are hovering right around the .500 mark in Big East action, but it's the Wildcats who are hot, with recent wins over the likes of Georgetown, Notre Dame, and Texas. The Irish, meanwhile, have dropped two of their last three.
Florida at Auburn
There's no doubting that the Gators are the class of the SEC, but the Tigers may be the most surprising team in the conference thus far. A bottom-dweller in recent years, AU is off to a fabulous 4-2 start with recent home wins over the likes of Tennessee and Alabama.
Michigan State at Ohio State
While Michigan State is 17-4 overall and 4-2 in league play, somehow you just don't get that warm and fuzzy feeling about the Spartans just yet. A win on the road in Columbus against one of the conference's best teams would certainly change that perception though.
Oregon at Washington State
Few experts projected these two to be joining UCLA near the top of the Pac-10 standings, but nearly a month into the conference season, that's the exact situation we have. Both have played extremely well this year, accumulating a number of big wins, and consequently impressive resumes.
Boston College at Duke
Thanks to a buzzer-beater to take down Florida State earlier this week, the Eagles continue to lead the way in the ACC. Duke, meanwhile, fell behind the pace early, but you knew the Devils would rebound, which they have with four straight league wins. Can either of these two seriously challenge UNC?
OTHER TOP MATCHUPS
Providence at Connecticut - 11:00 AM CST
The Huskies have lost six of their last eight and don't look anything like a Tournament team right now.
Michigan at Indiana - 11:00 AM CST
Both teams are looking to rebound from tough road trips, IU at Illinois and UM at Wisconsin.
Virginia Commonwealth at Drexel - 11:00 AM CST
Along with Hofstra, these guys will be fighting it out all spring for the Colonial championship.
Mississippi at Vanderbilt - 12:00 PM CST
Both teams are playing well right now, and each is coming off a big win (UM vs Tennessee, Vandy at LSU).
Oklahoma at Texas A&M - 1:00 PM CST
Aggies lost a tough one on the road at Texas Tech but should rebound with this trip back home.
Indiana State at Creighton - 1:05 PM CST
Blue Jays should win this one against a Sycamores squad that's now fallen below .500 in MVC play.
Illinois at Purdue - 1:30 PM CST
Illini hopes to ride momentum from big mid-week win over Indiana to a victory on the road at Purdue.
Arkansas at Alabama - 2:00 PM CST
Eventually one of these teams will step up and live up to their potential...maybe.
Texas Tech at Missouri - 3:00 PM CST
Tech has proven they can beat the big boys at home, but can they beat the little guy on the road?
Air Force at BYU - 5:00 PM CST
Mountain West-leading Falcons venture out on the road to face one of their toughest competitors.
Nebraska at Kansas State - 5:00 PM CST
Bob Huggins' squad needs to win this one at home if they're serious about making a NCAA run.
Southern Cal at California - 5:00 PM CST
Trojans have gotten off to a fast start in Pac-10 play but need to continue it by winning games on the road.
Syracuse at Louisville - 6:00 PM CST
Surprisingly, these two are right in the middle of things in the Big East, both 4-2 in league play.
South Carolina at Mississippi State - 6:00 PM CST
Dawgs lost heart-breaker to top-ranked Florida earlier this week but must refocus and claim this home win.
Iowa State at Oklahoma State - 7:00 PM CST
Cyclones are a dangerous team, but OSU should prevail easily at home.
Bradley at Missouri State - 7:05 PM CST
Both squads are hovering around the .500 mark in league play and always shopping for a nice win.
Utah State at Nevada - 9:05 PM CST
Along with New Mexico State, the Aggies may be Nevada's biggest challenger in the WAC.
Virginia at Clemson - 12:00 PM CST
Tigers lost a heart-breaker on the road at Duke on Thursday but can get things back on track against a quality Cavs squad.
Tennessee at Kentucky - 12:00 PM CST
There's no reason these two shouldn't finish second and third in the SEC East.
Wisconsin at Iowa - 12:05 PM CST
Badgers look to remain unbeaten in Big Ten play aginast a Hawkeyes squad that's 3-3 in conference games.
DePaul at West Virginia - 1:00 PM CST
This is the Mountaineers' first Big East outing since a disappointing road loss at Cincinnati last weekend.
LSU at Georgia - 2:00 PM CST
Tigers are limping along and not faring well, while UGA has rolled to a 4-2 start to SEC play.
Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech - 2:30 PM CST
Both of these teams are likely NCAA bubble squads at this point, so it'll be interesting to see who comes out on top.
UCLA at Stanford - 7:00 PM CST
Another tough outing for the Bruins, still ranked 2nd in the SCS.com Fab 15. Cardinal is fresh off a big win over USC on Thursday.