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The first "Big Monday" of the season delivers a pair of undefeated teams (in conference play) in the Big East followed by "Bedlam" in the Big 12. Villanova visits Louisville in a game that should prove to be entertaining given the deep backcourts. Villanova will have to deal with a Louisville defense that pressured full-court only to fall into an active 2-3 zone. But they've got plenty of playmakers and perimeter shooters with Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher leading the way. The key for the Cardinals will be to turn the Wildcats over while limiting their own miscues.
It's the biggest Saturday of the season thus far in regards to games played with 135 games on the schedule. The afternoon delivers two of the many important contests, with Connecticut visiting Georgetown and Duke taking on Georgia Tech. The Huskies are ranked thirteenth in the polls right now but they lack a headline victory, something that can be attained at the Verizon Center. UConn's "big three" of Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson and Kemba Walker rank among the nation's best when they're on; they key for them is consistency.
The Mountain West schedule makers hit the nail on the head with their opening week slate, scheduling games between the four teams expected to compete for the regular season title. On Tuesday San Diego State defended their home floor with a win over New Mexico but it remains to be seen how long Billy White (high ankle sprain) is out of the lineup. Wednesday's showdown will be in Provo, with UNLV visiting BYU in a game that should be an entertaining one. The Rebels have depth and will need to use their defense in order to beat one of the best scoring teams in the nation.
Tuesday's schedule is a light one but there is a very good game to check out in the Mountain West as New Mexico visits a talented group of Aztecs. Darington Hobson has been outstanding for the Lobos and if you concentrate solely on the junior college transfer than a player like Roman Martinez can jump up and make you pay. Steve Alford's squad picked up its lone loss of the season on the road, falling at Oral Roberts, so it would not be a surprise if SDSU pulled off the upset.
College basketball on the first Monday of the new year provides nearly sixty games to whet the appetite with key contests in the Big East and WAC grabbing the headlines. Pittsburgh, fresh off of their win at Syracuse on Saturday, takes on Cincinnati in the Queen City in a matchup of teams undefeated in conference play. The return of Jermaine Dixon and Gilbert Brown has added much-needed experience and depth of Jamie Dixon's rotation, something they were in need of in order to navigate the Big East.
Saturday will feature one of the game's biggest rivalries when Louisville visits Kentucky in Lexington. The two fan bases are at each other's throats for 365 days a year with the winners owning bragging rights for the following year. Expect Rick Pitino, who's been a polarizing figure in the state ever since he took the Louisville job following a tough time with the Celtics which was preceded by an outstanding run in Lexington, to get an earful at Rupp Arena.
The final day of the decade also offers conference openers in both the Big Ten and Pac-10 with the best matchup being Ohio State visiting Madison to take on Wisconsin. Bo Ryan's club has been dominant during his tenure at the school in Big Ten home games, boasting a record of 61-5 in those games. Trevon Hughes is arguably playing the best basketball of any point guard in the conference and with the Buckeyes still without Evan Turner points could be even tougher to come by.
The game of the night on Wednesday may be the Big East opener for both Connecticut and Cincinnati, with the highly-touted Lance Stephenson (Cincinnati) and Ater Majok (UConn) getting their first taste of Big East play. Immensely talented players have made their marks in the conference since its inception but not everyone is 100% ready for that first taste of the Big East's physical nature. But maybe "Born Ready" and Majok are different; at the very least they'll have some talented teammates who have been through the ringer to lean on.
Tuesday sets up to be an intriguing evening, complete with some important non-conference games along with conference play in some leagues getting underway. The Big Ten will have its first conference games on Tuesday with title contender Purdue visiting an Iowa team that looks to be the worst in the conference. But Iowa City is a dangerous place to visit so expect Matt Painter's squad to be completely focused on this one instead of looking ahead to their home game against West Virginia on Friday.