College basketball games this week: Top 10 games to watch, including the Big 12/SEC Challenge

AUBURN, AL - JANUARY 22: K.D. Johnson #0 of the Auburn Tigers reacts during the second half against the Kentucky Wildcats at Auburn Arena on January 22, 2022 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
AUBURN, AL - JANUARY 22: K.D. Johnson #0 of the Auburn Tigers reacts during the second half against the Kentucky Wildcats at Auburn Arena on January 22, 2022 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

The Big 12/SEC Challenge is a huge highlight on this week’s college basketball schedule.

Every week is a joyful one to watch college basketball but this week’s slate is no exception thanks to the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The two conferences have been the best in the country this season and have given us some epic games so far, including last week’s top contest, the Auburn-Kentucky SEC showdown on Saturday afternoon.

Four matchups from this year’s challenge are included in the Top 10 games of this week. Check out which ones made the cut, as well as the best of the rest, below.

Top 10 games on this week’s college basketball schedule

Note: All games listed below were on the schedule as of post time. COVID-19 related issues can lead to postponements at any time.

Texas Tech at Kansas – Monday, Jan. 24 at 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN

The Red Raiders are red hot, entering this contest winners in five of their last six games, including a win over Kansas in Lubbock a few weeks ago. The Jayhawks will look to get revenge at Allen Fieldhouse, where Texas Tech hasn’t won since 2018.

Michigan State at Illinois – Tuesday, Jan. 25 at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN

This Big Ten showdown is coming at a good time for Michigan State, which bounced back from a tough home loss against Northwestern by scoring a huge road win at Wisconsin on Friday night. Illinois is hoping to have Kofi Cockburn back from a concussion in this game, which would be a big deal after the Fighting Illini fell flat in a loss to Maryland without him.

Arizona at UCLA – Tuesday, Jan. 25 at 11:00 p.m. ET on ESPN

This game was originally scheduled for late December before COVID issues within UCLA’s program led to a postponement. This contest will be huge for the Pac-12 title race, where Arizona is currently up one game on the Bruins.

Oklahoma at Auburn – Saturday, Jan. 29 at 2:00 p.m. ET on ESPN

The first matchup from the Big 12/SEC challenge features Oklahoma trying to pick up a massive road win against Auburn. The Sooners have already scored victories against SEC foes like Florida and Arkansas, but nothing would be bigger for their resume than topping the Tigers in their own building.

Baylor at Alabama – Saturday, Jan. 29 at 4:00 p.m. ET on ESPN

The Bears have looked the part of the nation’s top team for most of the season but this game against Alabama should be fascinating. The Crimson Tide have been uneven this season but they have picked up wins over Gonzaga and Houston, showcasing the ability to beat anyone in the country if their 3s are falling.

St. John’s at Villanova – Saturday, Jan. 29 at 4:30 p.m. ET on FOX

This week’s best Big East showdown features St. John’s, which is an underachieving team that has the talent to beat anyone in their conference, hitting the road to take on Villanova. The teams split their season series a year ago, with each winning on their home floor.

Kentucky at Kansas – Saturday, Jan. 29 at 6:00 p.m. ET on ESPN

The headliner from the Big 12/SEC challenge is this monster matchup between Kentucky and Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse. Both squads have Final Four aspirations so this should be a real heavyweight matchup.

Tennessee at Texas – Saturday, Jan. 29 at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN

You might as well turn your TV on to ESPN at noon on Saturday and leave it there for each of the main Big 12/SEC Challenge matchups, which culminate here with Tennessee’s trip to Austin to take on the Longhorns. This game is a huge deal for Texas, which needs to beat a quality opponent to help bolster a suddenly slipping resume.

Ohio State at Purdue – Sunday, Jan. 30 at 12:00 p.m. ET on CBS

Purdue has national title aspirations but have looked sluggish in Big Ten play, going 5-3 over their first eight conference games. The Buckeyes have picked up some strong wins early this season, including a key victory against Wisconsin, and would love to pair it with a road win over the Boilermakers.

Loyola-Chicago at Drake – Sunday, Jan. 30 at 2:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2

It is always good to pay some attention to the little guys and this game is a huge one in the Missouri Valley. Loyola Chicago has designs on an at-large bid but they will have to find a way to manage this dangerous road game against Drake, which made the NCAA Tournament last year and is loaded with talent.

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