Today's Specials: Bucknell vs. Lehigh, the rematch

Mike Muscala and Bucknell need to do better against Lehigh the second time around. (Getty Images)

Matt Norlander opened up Monday’s podcast by saying “the latest week, the greatest week.” Based on Monday night’s slate of games, that doesn’t seem so true. There isn’t too much on the docket, although a Patriot League showdown and a Big East battle will keep your attention.

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

Best game: No. 21 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at No. 16 Pittsburgh Panthers (7 p.m., ESPN). Two teams coming off losses that could prevent them from being in the thick of things for the Big East title. Notre Dame played six overtimes in its last two games before Saturday, and then got blitzed by Providence in a 17-point loss. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh was carved up by Marquette’s ball movement and shot-making ability. The key for Notre Dame will be on the defensive end, where it needs to keep Pittsburgh from scoring near the rim. On the other side, hitting just one 3-pointer (as it did against Providence) won’t cut it.

Second-best game: Bucknell Bison at Lehigh Mountain Hawks (7 p.m., CBS Sports). This game lost some of its luster over the weekend, when both teams lost in the final minutes. Now, each team has two losses with four games remaining in the season. Lehigh won the first matchup, by three points on Bucknell’s home court. Another victory for the Mountain Hawks would make it difficult for the Bison to win the league. Big man Mike Muscala had one of his least efficient games of the season in the first meeting, scoring 16 points on 15 shots. He needs to dominate on Monday night.

Another one to watch: West Virginia Mountaineers at No. 10 Kansas State Wildcats (9 p.m., ESPN). Yeah, it’s not a great slate of hoops. With that said, West Virginia is playing much better basketball lately (or maybe it’s an easier schedule), having won four of its last five to move to .500 in the conference. Kansas State is staying right in the thick of the Big 12 race, remaining tied with Kansas and Oklahoma State atop the standings. The Wildcats need to take care of the ball and control the defensive glass to move into first place.

Guaranteed win: The SWAC race is starting to heat up, with three teams within one game of each other at the top of the standings. On Monday, the top two teams don’t face very difficult tasks in league play. First-place Southern Jaguars welcomes Alabama A&M Bulldogs (9 p.m.), which was winless on the road until Saturday. A&M lost the first meeting by 14. Meanwhile, Texas Southern Tigers faces Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils (9 p.m.), which is 4-20 this season.

Potential upset: There isn’t much opportunity for upset potential on Monday, but we’ll go back to the SWAC for this one. Maybe I just wanted to say “back to the SWAC,” whatever. Anyway, Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions went from first to third on Saturday after its loss to Texas Southern, and now faces an uphill climb to win the league. On Monday, it visits Prairie View A&M Panthers (8:30 p.m.), which lost a close one to UAPB in the first meeting and is 9-1 at home this season.

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. Villanova Wildcats road win at Connecticut on Saturday was a huge feather in the cap for its at-large resume, but it needs to follow that up with a win over Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9 p.m., ESPNU).
  2. North Carolina Central’s loss over the weekend shook up the MEAC race, as Norfolk State is the lone unbeaten remaining. Norfolk State Spartans heads to Hampton Pirates (7 p.m., ESPNU), while North Carolina Central Eagles faces South Carolina State Bulldogs (7:30 p.m.).
  3. The MAAC is going to feature one of the more wide-open conference races of the season, and two of the better middle-of-the-pack teams are Iona Gaels and Fairfield Stags (7 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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