The final Saturday of the college basketball season before Christmas brings plenty of goodies for fans to unpack, even as COVID-19 cases force some disruptions throughout the world of sports. Headlining the day’s action will be a CBS Sports Classic showdown between No. 21 Kentucky and North Carolina that was arranged after both squads’ originally scheduled opponents, Ohio State and UCLA, had to drop out due to COVID-19 protocols.
Elsewhere around the country, there will be some big-time in-state rivalry action as No. 3 Purdue takes on Butler in Indianapolis at Noon ET, while Western Kentucky will host Louisville at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS in another in-state showdown.
The teams from last season’s national title game also face tests away from their home arenas Saturday with No. 5 Gonzaga taking on Texas Tech in Phoenix and No. 1 Baylor putting its undefeated record on the line at Oregon. This will be the Bears’ first true road game of the season, and it represents a chance for Oregon to break through with a statement win after a disappointing 6-5 start.
Here’s the full rundown of those key matchups from the CBS Sports expert crew.
All times Eastern
Featured Game | Butler Bulldogs vs. Purdue Boilermakers
12 p.m. | Fox, fuboTV (Try for free) — Butler is 7-3 but is a double-digit underdog because it lost games against Michigan State and Houston by 21 and 18 points. However, the Bulldogs are on a four-game winning streak since then that includes a 66-62 overtime win at Oklahoma last Saturday. The Bulldogs have several seniors playing big minutes, and their recent improvement suggests they can hang close with a Purdue team that has looked sadly mortal since briefly rising to No. 1 in the polls after an 8-0 start. Prediction: Purdue 74, Butler 68
No. 5 Gonzaga vs. Texas Tech (Phoenix)
Featured Game | Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
1 p.m. | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) — Texas Tech turned in one of the best defensive efforts of the season by any team in a 57-52 overtime win over Tennessee at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 7. Facing Gonzaga will present a totally different dynamic for the Red Raiders, however, as the Bulldogs’ twin towers of Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren will test the Red Raiders’ front line. It’s been nearly two weeks since Gonzaga lost to Alabama in Seattle, and you can bet coach Mark Few will have his time operating at a much higher level now as the Bulldogs play their final regular season game against a power conference opponent. Prediction: Gonzaga 86, Texas Tech 76
Featured Game | Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Louisville Cardinals
3 p.m. | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) — Louisville lost its only true road game to date at Michigan State on Dec. 1, and this environment may be even more hostile given that it’s an in-state opponent. The Cardinals are scuffling offensively, and WKU just held Ole Miss to 48 points in a blowout victory. The Hilltoppers should ride that momentum to an emotional victory just over a week after tornadoes wreaked havoc on their region of the state. Prediction: Western Kentucky 65, Louisville 64
No. 21 Kentucky vs. North Carolina (Las Vegas)
Featured Game | Kentucky Wildcats vs. North Carolina Tar Heels
5:30 p.m. | CBS, CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free) — Expect Kentucky to play with a bit of desperation in this spot as the Wildcats try and get their first Quad 1 win of the season after an abysmal shooting performance against Notre Dame in a road loss last week. UNC has been among the nation’s best outside shooting teams so far this season, but the Tar Heels are still a work in progress defensively. If the Wildcats can hit a few outside shots and control the offensive glass, they can get a much-needed quality win. Prediction: Kentucky 80, UNC 75
Featured Game | Oregon Ducks vs. Baylor Bears
10 p.m. | ESPN2, fuboTV (Try for free) — Baylor is coming off a 57-36 home win over Villanova on Sunday that was arguably the most impressive performance by anyone in college basketball this season. The victory vaulted the Bears to No. 1 in the country, but now they must go play a true road game for the first time. Oregon has been a massive disappointment, but the Ducks can score and should get enough of a lift from their home crowd to stay in this game. Prediction: Baylor 66, Oregon 59
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