Other noteworthy games include Alabama-Purdue (3:30, ESPN2). The Crimson Tide aren't going to win in West Lafayette, but whether Purdue can step up and put the hammer to them will be an early indicator of how good the Boilermakers are. At 5:15 EST, there are nationally televised games between Illinois-Gonzaga (ESPN) and N.C. State-Syracuse (ESPN2). The Wolfpack were destroyed at Wisconsin on Wednesday and I can't see how a trip to Syracuse is going to end any happier. Illinois looked good in picking apart North Carolina Tuesday night and following it up by winning out in Seattle would be a good early statement for Bruce Weber's team.
Away from the lights of national television on Saturday is Texas Tech-Washington, with both teams being at the point where they need wins like this if they're going to make the NCAA Tournament. And on Sunday, Temple visits Maryland. The Owls appear to be the better team early on, but Gary Williams' Terps have a way of springing surprises when least expected.
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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football , game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.