Can't-miss college hoops games 2/2 - 2/5

Can't-miss college hoops games 2/2 - 2/5

Can't-miss college hoops games
By MATT SEVERANCE

With football season over it's really time to concentrate on college basketball. Here is the best game each night this week with a look at next weekend coming Friday.

Connecticut at Louisville (Monday, 7 p.m., ESPN)

The game of the week kicks off the week. Connecticut expects to be No. 1 in the polls for the first time since 2006. Louisville almost certainly will reside in the top five as well. Both have won nine games in a row. The Huskies would become the fifth No. 1 team this year. The past two (Duke and Wake Forest) have lost in their initial week at the top.

Hasheem Thabeet had the seventh triple double in UConn history as the Huskies beat a Providence team that had owned Connecticut in the past few years. The junior's 10 blocks were the most by one player in the NCAA this season.

"No. 1 hasn't panned out for a lot of teams this year, but we haven't been there yet," guard A.J. Price said to the Hartford Courant. "We have a tough game coming up on Monday. There's not much time to celebrate."

UL has blocked seven or more shots in a game nine times this season, while UConn has led the nation in blocks for seven consecutive seasons and had 17 against the Friars. So if you can find an over/under prop bet on swats, take the over.

The Huskies have played 40 games in which they and their opponent are in the Top 10. Connecticut is 25-15 in those matchups and 5-3 all time when both teams are ranked in the Top 5. UConn has won four of six meetings against Louisville including a 69-67 victory last year.

South Carolina at Florida (Tuesday, 9 p.m., ESPN)

Don't look now, but the Gamecocks are tied atop the SEC East with the Gators and Kentucky. South Carolina is the only one of those three on a winning streak, having beaten UK on Saturday, 78-77.  Florida, meanwhile, was thumped by Tennessee.

The Gamecocks beat Florida 70-69 on Jan. 21 on a Zam Fredrick layup at the buzzer after UF missed a free throw. That was South Carolina's first win over Florida since the 2006 regular season. Saturday’s win against Kentucky was South Carolina’s 16th of the season, surpassing by two its win total each of the previous two seasons.

Minnesota at Michigan State (Wednesday, 8:30 p.m., Big Ten Network)

The Spartans looked like the class of the Big Ten not too long ago but have dropped two of four games after Sunday's loss to Penn State. The shocking thing about MSU is not that it lost two games but two games straight at home in the past two weeks. At one time, Sparty had the third-longest home-winning streak in the country.

The Gophers have won two straight and held Illinois to just 36 points Thursday. They will have had six days to prepare for this one. That 23-point win over the Illini snapped a 20-game losing streak to Illinois and was Minnesota's biggest margin of victory against a ranked team ever.

Eight Gophers played at least 10 minutes against the Illini, but coach Tubby Smith answered "probably not" to reporters when asked if that would continue. Minnesota lost to Michigan State 70-58 in the Twin Cities in the Big Ten opener this season. MSU dominated on the boards, 49-27.

Gonzaga at Portland (Thursday, 11 p.m., ESPN2)

If Gonzaga is going to be stopped from winning an eighth consecutive West Coast Conference regular-season title, it appears the only team capable of that might be Portland. The Pilots are a game behind the Zags after routing Saint Mary's Saturday.

That was Portland's first win over a ranked team in 28 years, as the Gaels were without injured star guard Patrick Mills, who will miss about a month. That injury solidifies Portland as the biggest threat to Gonzaga.

Portland, one of the nation's top shooting 3-point teams, is 10-1 at home this season including an 80-74 win over Pac-10 co-leader Washington. Gonzaga has won eight games in a row and is beating WCC foes by an average of 25 points. It won the first meeting against Portland this season by 17 points.

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