On this second Saturday of January, there are an abundance of great matchups. Conference schedules are kicking into high gear, but there’s one non-conference game to keep an eye on. Here are the four big showdowns to watch:
Wichita State @ Houston at noon (ET) on CBS
Houston looks to improve to 3-0 in American Athletic Conference play. The Cougars are coming off an 83-66 win over South Florida. Graduate forward Josh Carlton led the way with a career-high 30 points on 11-of-16 shooting and 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.
The defending AAC champions are No. 12 in the latest AP Top 25 rankings. This was the 35th straight week Houston has been ranked, which is tied for the longest streak in school history.
Wichita State enters the game 9-4 after dropping its conference opener to Memphis 84-62. Sophomore guard Tyson Etienne led the way with 17 points. He leads the team this season averaging 14.9 points per game.
The two teams split their two matchups last season with the home team winning each game. The Cougars overcame a 10-point second-half deficit to pull out a 70-63 win. Wichita State’s last win at Houston was back in 1960.
Rhode Island @ Davidson at 2 p.m. (ET) on ESPN+
Rhode Island has yet to play an Atlantic 10 game. The Rams were supposed to play Dayton, La Salle and George Mason, but each of those games was postponed. Their last game against a Division I opponent was back on Dec. 13, an 82-58 win at Milwaukee. Rhode Island hosted American International College from Division II Sunday.
Davidson has won 10 straight to improve to 11-2, which is the school’s best start since 1969-70. The Wildcats defeated Saint Joseph’s 88-73 in their A-10 opener. Four players are averaging at least 12 point per game: Hyunjung Lee (17.5), Foster Loyer (16.2), Michael Jones (12.8) and Luka Brajkovic (12.0).
This game pits Davidson’s hot shooting against Rhode Island’s stingy defense. The Wildcats lead the A-10 in field goal percentage (50.1%), 3-point shooting (42.7%) and free throw percentage (77.3%). The Rams are allowing 61.8 points per game, which is 44th best in the country. They have allowed 70 points just once this season.
Colorado State @ San Diego State at 4 p.m. (ET) on CBS
As a result of schedule changes due to COVID-19 issued with their opponents, Colorado State and San Diego State are set to square off in a highly anticipated Mountain West matchup. CSU was the preseason favorite, while SDSU is the defending champion. This meeting was set up on Wednesday.
Colorado State has played one game since Dec. 11, and it was a 67-59 win over Air Force on Tuesday. Isaiah Stevens had 15 points, and David Roddy posted a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. The Rams are 11-0 on the season and are one of just three remaining unbeaten teams (with Baylor and Southern California).
San Diego State topped UNLV 62-55 last Saturday. Matt Bradley led four players in double figures with 17 points. The Aztecs have not lost at home in over a year. Their last loss at home was Jan. 2, 2021, when Colorado State overcame a 26-point deficit to stun SDSU.
Iona @ Saint Louis at 8 p.m. (ET) on ESPN+
Taking a page from Loyola Chicago and San Francisco, Iona and Saint Louis scheduled a high-profile non-conference tilt on short notice. This game was scheduled less than 48 hours in advance.
The Gaels were originally scheduled to have a pair of conference games this weekend, but both of their opponents were battling COVID issues, which opened up their schedule. In their most recent game, the Maroon & Gold topped Marist 69-66. Tyson Jolly led five Gael scorers in double figures with 18 points. Iona ranks 10th in the nation in blocks with 6.2 per game.
Saint Louis has played just one game since Dec. 18. The Billikins defeated Richmond 76-69 in their A-10 opener. Yuri Collins netted 24 points, eight assists and six rebounds. He leads the nation with 7.9 assists per contest. Saint Louis ranks first in the Atlantic 10 in scoring (81.6 ppg), scoring margin (+13.5) and rebounding margin (+6.4).
This game also pits Rick Pitino against Travis Ford, who played for the Hall-of-Fame coach at Kentucky.