Today's Specials: Syracuse looks to avoid three-game losing skid

C.J. Fair and Syracuse need to beat Notre Dame in order to avoid losing three in a row. (US Presswire)

The Super Bowl got most of the attention over the weekend, but college basketball didn’t let anyone down. Several top-10 teams lost, opening up the top of the rankings yet again. Moreover, with the NFL season ending, it’s time for everyone to focus completely on college basketball. A decent couple of games on Monday will get people’s attention.

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

Best game: Notre Dame at No. 6 Syracuse (7 p.m., ESPN). Losers of two in a row, Syracuse badly needs to bounce back on Monday to stay in the thick of things in the Big East standings. The Orange are still tied for first, but three losses in a row could drop them as low as sixth or seventh by the weekend. On the other side, Notre Dame has won three in a row, including an overtime victory at DePaul over the weekend. After Monday, the Irish have to host Louisville on Saturday. Getting one win from these two games would be key for the profile.

Second-best game: Oklahoma at Iowa State (7 p.m., ESPNU). Two Big 12 teams looking to separate themselves from the middle of the pack in the conference. Oklahoma has been up and down since a 3-0 Big 12 start, dropping three of its last five games, including a tight one on Saturday against Kansas State. Meanwhile, Iowa State is having trouble in close games -- but beat Baylor over the weekend to improve to 5-3 in the league. Four teams are tied for third in the conference, and a win here for either team would be a nice chip.

Another one to watch: Seton Hall at Pittsburgh (9 p.m., ESPNU). Pittsburgh got a much-needed marquee win over the weekend, handling No. 6 Syracuse by 10 points at home. How will the Panthers follow up that victory? Seton Hall has really struggled lately, losing seven of its last eight, although the majority of those losses were tight in the second half. The Pirates will have to take care of the ball against Pittsburgh and keep them off the offensive glass.

Guaranteed win: Grambling still sits with zero wins on the season, having dropped all 19 games played so far. The Tigers seem to be getting closer, especially at home, although they still haven’t played a game within single-digits. On Monday, they head to Alcorn State (8:30 p.m.), which is 6-4 in conference play and is the only team to beat Southern in the SWAC. Doesn’t bode well for Grambling.

Potential upset: Even without Kyle O’Quinn and some of the other cast from last year’s upset-minded group, Norfolk State is off to an 8-0 start in the MEAC. On Monday, the Spartans head to Baltimore to take on Morgan State (7:30 p.m.). In the first meeting between the two teams, Norfolk escaped by just two on its home court, and Morgan is better at home. Monday could be the day Norfolk State suffers its first league loss.

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. North Carolina Central looks to move to 8-0 in the MEAC when it visits one-win Maryland-Eastern Shore (7:30 p.m.).
  2. Southern is the heavy favorite in the SWAC, but the Jaguars only have a one-game lead in the standings. They welcome Jackson State (9 p.m.).
  3. Heading into the season, Texas at West Virginia (9 p.m., ESPN) looked like a good game. Now it looks fairly irrelevant.

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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