Viewer's Guide: Backcourt battle between Memphis and OK St.

On a night highlighted by freshmen, Marcus Smart will headline the biggest game of the day. (Getty Images)
On a night highlighted by freshmen, Marcus Smart will headline the biggest game of the day. (Getty Images)

After a quiet Monday, things pick up on Tuesday. We have a high-level battle between two talented top-12 teams, and then a West coast matchup between two teams looking to make the NCAA tournament. Moreover, there are several ranked teams – and big-time freshmen – in action.

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

Best game: No. 11 Memphis at No. 7 Oklahoma State (8 p.m., ESPN). This is the marquee matchup of the week – and it’s going to feature some of the best backcourts in the country. On one side is Marcus Smart and Markel Brown, while Memphis counters with the quartet of Joe Jackson, Mike Dixon, Geron Johnson and Chris Crawford. Smart can prove himself as the best guard in the country on Tuesday, but the key player for Oklahoma State could be junior forward Le’Bryan Nash. He is a difficult matchup for most defenders, and he has seemed to buy into his role. This game is going to be up and down, and whether Memphis can take care of the ball on the road will be something to watch.

Second-best game: Arizona State at UNLV (10:05 p.m., CBS Sports Network). Through three games, Arizona State has been one of the highest-scoring teams in the country, putting up more than 90 points per game – and pushing the tempo on the offensive end. Jahii Carson is looking to solidify his All-American status, and Penn State transfer Jermaine Marshall has been a terrific sidekick. UNLV is struggling, to put it simply. The Runnin’ Rebels lost by 21 to UC Santa Barbara at home, and then were taken to the wire by Nebraska Omaha. Can they bounce back against the Sun Devils?

Another one to watch: Iona at No. 2 Kansas (8 p.m., ESPN3). In the days of Scott Machado and Mike Glover, this would have been a more interesting matchup – but this also won’t be a cakewalk for the Jayhawks on Tuesday. Iona will look to push the ball offensively, attacking the rim with its trio of Sean Armand, David Laury and Isaiah Williams. We haven’t seen Kansas since it beat Duke in Chicago last week, and now the Jayhawks have some more hype. Andrew Wiggins looked like the No. 1 draft pick we all know he can be, while Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden were also impressive.

Guaranteed win: Don’t be surprised to see several blowouts on the docket Tuesday. No. 3 Louisville is now close to full strength, and the Cardinals play host to Hartford (7 p.m., ESPN3). Elsewhere in the Bluegrass State is the No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats welcoming Texas-Arlington into town (7:30 p.m., ESPN3). And finally, we have No. 17 Oregon looking to cruise past Utah Valley (9 p.m., Pac-12 Network). 

Potential upset: There a couple of mid-majors heading on the road against power-conference teams – and those games could be closer than one thinks. First, Sun Belt favorite Georgia State goes to Alabama (8 p.m., ESPN3). Ryan Harrow and R.J. Harrow form a high-major caliber backcourt, and Alabama has been inconsistent up front. Next, Bucknell looks for another impressive win. The Bison took Stanford to the wire and already beat Penn State – can they knock off St. John’s (8:30 p.m., FOX Sports 1)? Tempo could be a major factor.

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. East Carolina is 4-0 right now, although two of those wins were against non-DI teams. The Pirates probably won’t stay undefeated at No. 6 Duke (6 p.m., ESPNU).
  2. Rhode Island and its mix of talented returnees and newcomers haven’t meshed yet. Can the Rams make a run at No. 5 Arizona (11 p.m., ESPNU)?
  3. Guards, guards, guards. The intrastate battle between La Salle and Penn State (7 p.m., ESPN3) will feature backcourts of Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland vs. Tim Frazier and D.J. Newbill.
  4. BONUS: Tuesday will have the four best freshmen in the country in action: Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker and Aaron Gordon. 

Other games to watch:

  • Canisius at Elon (5 p.m.)
  • Vanderbilt at Butler (6 p.m., FOX Sports 1)
  • Drexel at Rutgers (7:30 p.m., ESPN3)
  • North Dakota at No. 12 Wisconsin (8 p.m., Big Ten Network)
  • Coastal Carolina at Minnesota (8 p.m.)
  • Colorado State at UTEP (9:05 p.m.)
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