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Viewer's Guide: Duke-Arizona highlights loaded slate

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer

Can standout freshman Jabari Parker carry Duke to a neutral-court win over Arizona? (USATSI)
Can standout freshman Jabari Parker carry Duke to a neutral-court win over Arizona? (USATSI)

For many people, the Friday after Thanksgiving is a day to just relax on the couch and intermittently nap. Luckily, the college basketball schedule makes it easy to just watch great hoops all afternoon and night. Friday's slate is absolutely loaded with intriguing battles, including a top-10 matchup with tons of talent.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP Poll.

Best game: No. 6 Duke vs. No. 4 Arizona (6 p.m., ESPN). Don't be surprised to see this game played again in a few months – either in the Final Four or at a regional final. Two of the best teams in the country, with two of the best players in the country in Jabari Parker and Aaron Gordon. Parker has received more attention at the start of the season, and he's been playing some of the best basketball of anyone in America. The matchups in this one will be key. Arizona has much more size than Duke, but which team will flinch first? Duke can go with a small lineup, and Arizona could either go small or force Duke to bring in more size. The Blue Devils will have hold their own on the glass, while Arizona will need to consistently attack the rim.

Second-best game: Villanova vs. No. 2 Kansas (9:30 p.m., NBC Sports). Big chance at a statement win for Villanova. The Wildcats are sitting at 5-0, while Kansas has been one of the better teams in the country (hence the No. 2 ranking). The Jayhawks struggled a bit against USC, and freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Frank Mason were the key offensive performers. Will Mason have to come up big again against Ryan Arcidiacono? On the other side, Villanova will have to deal with Kansas' size and consistent interior play. The Wildcats' lone contributor taller than 6-foot-7 is Daniel Ochefu. If Jayvaughn Pinkston can get Kansas' bigs into foul trouble, that would be a major boost.

Another one to watch: No. 21 Memphis vs. LSU (5:30 p.m., ESPN2). Two teams that are loaded with top-end talent – and have the potential to win games in March. Unfortunately, both teams are inconsistent enough to get bounced in the Round of 64, too. LSU's lone loss was by two points at Massachusetts in the season opener, and the Tigers are coming off a blowout win over Saint Joseph's. Getting Jarell Martin back from injury has been huge, as has the play of freshman forward Jordan Mickey. Meanwhile, Memphis is still hoping for another shot at Oklahoma State after getting rolled two weeks ago in Stillwater. LSU has to take care of the ball, while Memphis has to keep the Tigers off the offensive glass.

Guaranteed win: While there are a ton of really intriguing contests on the slate, there are also a handful of obvious blowouts. Here are the primary four: Kennesaw State at Cincinnati (4 p.m., ESPN3), North Florida at No. 7 Ohio State (5 p.m., Big Ten Network), Mount St. Mary's at No. 1 Michigan State (1 p.m., Big Ten Network), and Coppin State vs. No. 22 Michigan (3 p.m., Big Ten Network).

Potential upset: If Damion Lee was healthy, Drexel over Alabama would be the obvious pick (3:30 p.m., ESPN2). Of course, if Lee was healthy, the Dragons might not even be the underdog. Either way, I think Drexel has a good shot at taking down the Tide. They have the guards to neutralize Trevor Releford in Chris Fouch and Frantz Massenat. Meanwhile, George Washington is going to really test Marquette (3:30 p.m., ESPN). The Colonials are 5-0, and are getting consistent perimeter scoring from Indiana transfer Maurice Creek. Can Marquette score enough?

Five things to keep an eye on:

  1. Could Friday bring the first loss of the Brandon Miller era? Butler faces Marcus Smart and No. 5 Oklahoma State (1:30 p.m., ESPN).
  2. The Barclays Center Classic kicks off with two games: Georgia Tech vs. Ole Miss (4:30 p.m., NBC Sports) and Penn State vs. St. John's (7 p.m.).
  3. No. 20 Creighton cruised past Arizona State on Thursday – what does San Diego State have up its sleeve for Doug McDermott? (9:30 p.m., ESPN2).
  4. Florida State has been much better than expected in the early season, while Florida isn't complete yet. Intriguing intrastate battle (7:30 p.m., ESPN2).
  5. Both SMU and Virginia have good talent and depth – but the Mustangs' interior will be tested against the Cavaliers' size (7:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network).

Other games to watch:

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