Whew, what a weekend. The fun slows down for the first few days of the week before a trio of heavy hitters Wednesday on the ESPN family of networks. Nevertheless, any chance for a breather will be welcomed by weary college basketball fans. If you have got some free time, kick back, relax and check out what this week has to offer. Here are RPI Scoreboard‘s Games To Watch this week.
A Monday matchup in the Big East will see Connecticut and Louisville kick off the week in style. Despite the absence of coach Jim Calhoun, the Huskies easily dispatched Seton Hall (RPI No. 32) this past weekend. However, it remains to be seen which Connecticut team will show up on Monday. Though they are sophomores, Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb are the leaders in this backcourt. A quality performance from both will be key in UConn’s bout with Rick Pitino’s boys. On the home team’s side of the ball, a four-game win streak has Louisville trending in the right direction. The Cardinals are sitting pretty with the fifth seed in the Big East standings going into their contest against the Huskies, while the Huskies occupy the ever-familiar ninth spot in the conference. The KFC Yum! Center will be rocking if Louisville can get an early lead, but don’t overlook what is sure to be an eager Connecticut team.
Both teams come into this game riding long win streaks, which means either Florida or Kentucky will be looking to start anew in their next game. Nevertheless, a bout between the top two squads in the SEC is sure to have fans tuned in come tipoff. For the Gators, a big win against Vanderbilt (RPI No. 28 ) put a two-game cushion between second and third place in the conference standings. Coming into this contest, however, Florida’s ability to score the ball is certainly a positive sign. On the flip side, the size of Kentucky’s frontline is what will give Florida trouble. POY candidate Anthony Davis bolsters a potent frontcourt that also includes Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Terrence Jones. Long story short, these three pose a gruesome trio for teams to deal with on the boards. If Florida’s big men can keep the rebound margin manageable, this trip to Rupp Arena might not be a complete nightmare.
Wednesday’s threesome gets started on ESPN when Georgetown travels to take on Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. It is worth noting the job that John Thompson III has done in an ever-competitive Big East. With a win, the Hoyas will close the lead that the conference-leading Orange have over the rest of the field to a single game. Though this team has won five out of their last six games in conference, the Hoyas will get a serious test from the Orange. For Syracuse, the importance of having Fab Melo back in the lineup cannot be understated. Not that the team struggled so mightily in his absence — albeit brief — but any team would be happy to welcome back the 7-foot sophomore. Jim Boeheim’s bunch boasts size and speed from top to bottom, a factor that could figure heavily in Wednesday’s matchup.
If you have got plans for Wednesday around 6 p.m., you had better go ahead and reschedule. A three-way tie for first place definitely adds a little spice to the second contest between Kansas and Baylor. The rematch will take place on the Bears’ home court in Waco, Texas, but that does not preclude Thomas Robinson from making the Ferrell Center his personal playground. In the team’s first battle a +15 rebounding margin, not to mention a field goal percentage better than 55 percent, figured heavily in Kansas’ dismantling of Baylor. Come Wednesday evening, look for those figures to come back down to earth a bit. That is not to say that Quincy Acy and the rest of the Baylor frontline will completely neutralize Kansas’ size, rather Scott Drew will have some wrinkles prepared for his team’s battle with Kansas.
College basketball does not get much better than this. The 233rd meeting in the North Carolina-Duke rivalry is set for Wednesday night at the Dean Dome. Duke lost a heartbreaker to Miami (RPI No. 38 ) on Sunday, but will look to get back on track against North Carolina. Nevertheless, a one-game edge in the ACC standings enhances the magnitude of an already important matchup. For North Carolina, a blowout loss to Florida State (RPI No. 17) just more than two weeks ago has long been forgotten thanks to the team’s spirited play of late. Following this battle with the Blue Devils, the Tar Heels will host Virginia (RPI No. 44) later in the week. Roy Williams and company certainly have a chance to make some real noise this week, but things start with Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils.
2/6 — Missouri vs. Oklahoma (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
2/7 — Purdue vs. Ohio State (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
2/7 — Alabama vs. Auburn (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
2/8 — Marshall vs. UCF (7:00 p.m. ET)
2/8 — Pittsburgh vs. South Florida (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
2/8 — Northern Iowa vs. Wichita State (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
2/8 — Saint Louis vs. Saint Joseph’s (8:30 p.m. ET)
2/8 — LSU vs. Vanderbilt (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
2/8 — Notre Dame vs. West Virginia (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
2/9 — Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
2/9 — Wisconsin vs. Minnesota (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
2/9 — Valparaiso vs. Cleveland State (7:00 p.m. ET)
2/9 — Illinois vs. Indiana (8:00 p.m. ET, BTN)