In NCAA basketball, things begin to get really interesting once conference play tips off. This is the juncture in the season when squads begin to face teams that they're most familiar with, and in historic inter-conference rivalry games, the passion of the moment has been known to bolster even more-or-less floundering squads to overcome their highly-ranked competition. Basically, this is when the real upsets start to happen, which translates finer to this being when the fun really begins. Currently, the nation’s top three squads are all headed into their conference schedules undefeated, and we’ve got a preview of their inaugural matchups, as well as some of the marquee games on the horizon, as they look to set the tone for 2013 and ride a wave of success into March Madness.
No. 1 Duke Blue Devils (12-0) - Atlantic Coast Conference
For the third consecutive week, Duke is resting at the peak of the college basketball mountain as the No. 1 squad in the land, and this Saturday they open up ACC action at home in a Tobacco Road showdown against Wake Forest (7-5). Having earned quality wins over Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State early on in the season, the Devil’s top rank is justified and they'll look to continue riding National Player of the Year candidate Mason Plumlee to success. With point guard in Quinn Cook as the leader, athletic guard Rasheed Sulaimon slashing the lane, and the long distance prowess of Seth Curry, Duke is expected to redeem themselves of last year’s opening round NCAA Tournament loss. Their first objective, though, is to take the ACC crown. They’ll have competition from #23 N.C. State on February 7th and, of course, from their legendary rivals, the UNC Tarheels, whom they'll meet at home on February 13th. Get your Duke Blue Devils Basketball tickets now to see if they can remain undefeated and inspire them to cut down the nets for the ACC title.
No. 2 Michigan Wolverines (13-0) - Big Ten Conference
Led by sophomore point guard Trey Burke, who’s arguably the best point guard in the country and leading the squad with 17.8 points per game, the Wolverines are 13-0 for the first time since their 1985-86 Big Ten championship season. They're looking to replicate that success as they open up this season’s Big Ten action against the Northwestern Wildcats (9-4) tonight at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston. Michigan is stacked with sensational freshmen to help carry the load, but they’ll likely miss Tim Hardaway Jr. and his 15.8 points per game to an ankle injury. Burke, who helped Michigan beat Northwestern in overtime twice last season, will look to lead the Wildcats to their fourth-straight win over Northwestern, and then they’ll look ahead to the rest of the Big Ten, which is looking very solid this year. In the future they're scheduled to meet #8 Ohio State on Jan. 13th, #11 Illinois on Jan. 27th, #5 Indiana on Feb. 2nd, and #18 Michigan State on Feb. 12th. Purchase your Michigan Wolverines basketball tickets today to see if they can keep the streak alive and top the Big Ten.
No. 3 Arizona Wildcats (12-0) - Pac-12 Conference
Arizona lost to the Colorado Buffalos in the Pac-12 tournament championship game last season and subsequently missed the NCAA Tournament. Tonight, the Wildcats will welcome the Buffalos (10-2) to the McKale Center in Tucson for their Pac-12 opener and a bit of revenge. Arizona is hoping to seal the lid on their best start since the 1931-32 season, and with Xavier transfer Mark Lyons leading this talent-laden bunch with 13.4 points per game, their chances to remain untarnished looks splendid. Arizona has never lost a conference opener that they've played at home since they joined the conference in 1978, and Coach Sean Miller’s has a bevy of big men to rely on to keep the streak alive, including starting center Kaleb Tarczewski and forward Brandon Ashley. Highlight games on the Wildcats' Pac-12 schedule include matchups against Arizona State on Jan. 19th, UCLA on Jan. 24th, and USC on Jan. 26th. Get your hands on premium Arizona Wildcats basketball tickets to see them battle their Pac-12 foes by visiting the Vivid Seats marketplace now.