Today's Specials: Syracuse looks to avoid letdown vs. Cincinnati

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer
Michael Carter-Williams will look to help Syracuse avoid a letdown against Cincinnati. (US Presswire)

After the best day of the season on Saturday -- and a full two weeks until the Super Bowl -- another big week of college basketball is on the docket. It starts Monday, which features an expanded slate of games thanks to Martin Luther King Day. The marquee matchup features two Big East foes.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: No. 21 Cincinnati at No. 3 Syracuse (3:30 p.m., ESPN). Syracuse picked up one of the bigger wins of the season on Saturday, going into Louisville and knocking off the top-ranked Cardinals. Are the Orange headed for a letdown against Cincinnati? The Bearcats have won three in a row, including an overtime victory over Marquette on Saturday. Cashmere Wright missed Saturday's game, but he would be a major boost for the Bearcats if he could go back and go against Michael Carter-Williams. Look at the battle on the boards, too. Both teams crash the offensive glass with aggression.

Second-best game: Oklahoma State at Baylor (5:30 p.m., ESPN). Kansas is likely to run away with the Big 12 title, but both of these teams are in the mix for second place. Baylor's only loss of the conference season came at Kansas, although Oklahoma State has lost three of its last five games. There is plenty of talent on display, but the key matchup could be Marcus Smart vs. Pierre Jackson. Jackson is one of the most dynamic guards in the country, but Smart can defend and has a size advantage over Jackson.

Another one to watch: Georgetown at No. 24 Notre Dame (7:30 p.m., ESPN). Both teams could use a win in order to remain in contention in the Big East (behind Louisville and Syracuse, of course). Notre Dame bounced back from two straight losses with a win over Rutgers, while Georgetown dropped one at South Florida over the weekend. With Greg Whittington out, the Hoyas lose some of the length that could have given the Fighting Irish problems. Jack Cooley needs to stay out of foul trouble for Notre Dame.

Guaranteed win: It's usually not easy to pick a team going on the road as the guaranteed win, but that's how much better Southern is than the rest of the SWAC. The Jaguars are 7-0 in the league, and now they trip to Alabama A&M (9:30, ESPNU). A&M has lost three of its last four, and it doesn't have the defense to contain Malcolm Miller and Derick Beltran.

Potential upset: Texas is 8-9 with four straight losses, but the Longhorns nearly knocked off Kansas at home over the weekend. Against Oklahoma (9:30 p.m., ESPN), a team which has won five of its last six, Texas has to control the defensive glass and force difficult shots inside the arc. Offensively, it comes down to simply scoring the ball efficiently. The Longhorns have had trouble putting the ball in the basket throughout the season.

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. Despite Detroit blowing a 22-point lead to Valparaiso last week, the Titans are only one game out of first in the Horizon. Wright State is a half-game back. (7 p.m.)
  2. Of course we all knew Towson would be 5-1 in the CAA after winning one game all of last season. The Tigers host Georgia State (7 p.m.).
  3. Kyle O'Quinn and some of the other heroes from last season's NCAA tournament win are gone from Norfolk State, but it's still 5-0 in the MEAC. Morgan State comes to town on Monday (8 p.m.).

For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed and subscribe to our College Basketball Newsletter. You can follow Jeff Borzello on Twitter here: @jeffborzello

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