Spotlight games

No. 8 Michigan State at No. 14 Ohio State

11 a.m. Saturday (Ch. 9)

Everyone saw Michigan State as the team to beat in the Big Ten forecasts, and for the second year in a row Ohio State was overlooked. This matchup will truly gauge if the Buckeyes are contenders.

No. 9 Florida State at No. 4 Virginia

2 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2)

Duke and North Carolina are always considered the cream of the crop in the ACC, but the Cavaliers and Seminoles are just as capable of winning the league. This early meeting between top-10 teams will give one team an edge.

Trends to watch

Trending up: Kentucky dropped off the map of Final Four contenders after getting embarrassed by Duke in Game 1. The Wildcats are climbing back with three consecutive victories, including against North Carolina and Louisville. First tests in 2019 will be Jan. 19 at Auburn and Jan. 26 vs. Kansas.

Trending down: The Pac-12 is awful. Arizona State is no longer ranked after losing at home to Princeton. UCLA fired Steve Alford after losing by 15 at home to Liberty, the Bruins' fourth loss in a row. The Pac-12 is the first major conference to finish December with a winning percentage below .600 in the past 20 years, going 39-36.

Player to watch

Ja Morant, point guard, Murray State: The 6-foot-3 sophomore leads the nation with 9.6 assists per game, including four double-digit assist performances in his last five games. Morant, a projected top-five pick, is also averaging 23.0 points. His 25-point effort at Auburn on Dec. 22 nearly helped the Racers pull off an upset.