Today's Specials: Sunflower Showdown heads to Manhattan

Rodney McGruder needs a monster effort if Kansas State is going to knock off Kansas on Tuesday. (US Presswire)

Before we get into the game, how fun was it having basketball during a weekday afternoon on Monday? I wasn’t even home (at the Hoop Hall Classic in Massachusetts), but daytime hoops during the week is just awesome. Anyway, Tuesday doesn’t feature an extensive slate -- but seven ranked teams are in action, including two top-11 teams facing each other in an intrastate battle.

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

Best game: No. 3 Kansas at No. 11 Kansas State (8 p.m., ESPN3). This might be the best chance someone has at beating Kansas in the Big 12 this season. The Jayhawks have had mixed results in Manhattan the past few years, and Kansas State has won eight in a row heading into the week. Kansas has shown signs of vulnerability at times in the past two weeks, but the Jayhawks continue to find ways of pulling out wins. The Jayhawks will focus on stopping on Rodney McGruder, as well as controlling the defensive glass. On the other end, can Kansas State’s bigs stay out of foul trouble against Jeff Withey? The McGruder–Ben McLemore matchup should be fun.

Second-best game: No. 13 Michigan State at Wisconsin (7 p.m., ESPN). Wisconsin had an interesting week, beating Indiana on the road before falling at Iowa. The Badgers had won seven in a row before the weekend defeat. Michigan State has won five in a row since losing on New Year’s Eve at Minnesota -- and currently sits atop the Big Ten. Getting consistently open shots will be a key for Michigan State, while the Spartans’ leadership will also come into play the Kohl Center. Which Traevon Jackson will show up for Wisconsin? The one who averaged 12.5 points in two wins over Illinois and Indiana -- or the one who went 1-for-10 over the weekend?

Another one to watch: Iowa at No. 14 Ohio State (6:30 p.m., Big Ten Network). Two teams that had inconsistent starts to the Big Ten season, but are playing much better basketball in the past couple of games. Iowa beat Wisconsin over the weekend, while Ohio State followed its win over Michigan with a close loss to Michigan State. The free-throw battle could be interesting, as Iowa loves to get to the charity stripe, while Ohio State could stand to be more aggressive at times. Look at the battle between Aaron White and Deshaun Thomas to be a deciding factor. 

Guaranteed win: Missouri has been blown out in back-to-back weekends, first against Ole Miss and then more recently against Florida. But the Tigers shouldn’t have any issues with South Carolina (7 p.m., ESPNU). Missouri should have its way on the offensive glass, and the Tigers’ ability to get into the lane will be too much for the Gamecocks.

Potential upset: A couple of weeks ago, everyone was down on Pittsburgh. The Panthers hadn’t beaten anyone of note in nonconference play, and a 1-3 start in the Big East didn’t help matters. However, the Panthers have won two in a row -- heading into a road trip to Providence (7 p.m., ESPN2). The Friars have solid talent at the top of their roster, and they can score against nearly anyone. Defensively, Ed Cooley has to get his team ready to rebound and guard the lane.

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. With upcoming games at Duke and Florida State, Maryland needs to grab a win at home against Boston College (9 p.m., ESPNU).
  2. Kentucky has won two straight since losing at home to Texas A&M, but a road trip to Alabama (9 p.m., ESPN) won’t be easy.
  3. Louisville lost its No. 1 ranking with a home loss to Syracuse over the weekend; how do the Cardinals bounce back against Villanova (8 p.m., ESPN3).

Other games to watch:

  • No. 18 North Carolina State at Wake Forest (7 p.m., ESPN3)
  • Tulane at Memphis (8 p.m.)
  • Illinois at Nebraska (8:30 p.m., Big Ten Network)

For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed and subscribe to our College Basketball Newsletter. You can follow Jeff Borzello on Twitter here: @jeffborzello

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