College basketball's regular season gets tagged as blasé, but even naysayers should be pumped about Saturday.
After all, No. 1 vs. No. 2 just doesn't happen that often. Top 10 games, sure. But this'll be the 38th time since 1949 when the top teams face off in what should be the regular-season's best game.
In this instance, the SEC's best team, Tennessee, travels to No. 1 Memphis. No, the game isn't on Tobacco Road, but hoops in the state of Tennessee shouldn't take a backseat to anyone this season. (Well, maybe Indiana, with its four ranked teams would have something to say about that.)
Especially when one considers Memphis (26-0) hasn't lost at home in 47 games and wants to avenge last season's 76-58 thrashing. It all turns an already fierce rivalry into a monster game. (Want a ticket? Got $10,000?)
Beyond all that hype, there's plenty more:
It'll be fast. Memphis gets more than 71 possessions a game, Tennessee 73.2.
Joey Dorsey will own the boards. The Vols' Wayne Chism is good (10.3 OR%, 20.2 DR%), but Memphis' beast on the inside is among the top 10 in OR% (16.3) and DR% (28.4).
The free-throw line will hardly be free. Tennessee is 302nd in FT percentage, but Memphis is worse at 338th (58.8 percent!).
Kenpom.com expects an 81-71 Memphis win. I think it'll be like 89-85, Memphis. Feels like a game where the Vols can keep it close with outside shooting and balanced scoring, but will fall short in a hostile environment.
The last time an undefeated No. 1 team played No. 2 this late in the season, top-ranked UNLV beat Arkansas, 112-105, on Feb. 10, 1991 in Fayetteville, Ark.
Before this season, Memphis spent one week at No. 1 in the polls. It lost, 64-56, to Virginia Tech on Jan. 10, 1983.
Tennessee has beaten No. 1 once. Dec. 6, 1969 at South Carolina.
No. 1 has won 19 of the 37 meetings against No. 2, but has lost five of the last 6, including Wisconsin's 49-48 loss to Ohio State last season.