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December 27, 2010


Connecticut at Pittsburgh
Monday 7:30 p.m. ESPN2

After shocking the college basketball universe by winning the Maui Invitational in November, Connecticut has rode the momentum all the way to the fourth spot in the polls. The Huskies haven’t played anyone since beating Wichita State, Michigan State and Kentucky on the island, but that hasn’t stopped Kemba Walker from continuing his tear. He’s averaging more than 26 points per game, but that pace can’t continue into Big East play. And his young teammates will not be able to keep UConn in the top-5 all season long. I’ll take Pitt at the Pete any day of the week.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 67, Connecticut 62


Purdue at Michigan
Tuesday 1 p.m.

It’s a nice story and all—likeable John Beilein loses Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims but leads a group of unknowns to a 10-2 record before Big Ten play—but a banner win against Clemson on a neutral court isn’t convincing anyone. Beilein’s as proven as a tactician as anyone, but we’ll find out if this team is for real Tuesday afternoon.

Prediction: Purdue 68, Michigan 55

Minnesota at Wisconsin
Tuesday 6 p.m.

What a way to start Big Ten play. People love to talk about Minnesota’s big men, but they’ll have a tough time containing the versatile Jon Leuer Tuesday night. He’s a nightmare for a plodding big man to defend, and he plays his role perfectly in Bo Ryan’s swing offense.

Prediction: Wisconsin 54, Minnesota 52

Georgetown at Notre Dame
Wednesday 6 p.m.

Just a few years ago, you couldn’t find a team that played faster than Mike Brey’s Fighting Irish. These days, though, Notre Dame’s offense has shifted. It’s more methodical and much, much slower. And that’s yielded results this season, as ND has cracked the polls with an 11-1 record.

Prediction: Georgetown 71, Notre Dame 66

Missouri State at Northern Iowa
Wednesday 7 p.m.

If the upstart Bears want to make a statement that they’ve arrived in the Missouri Valley, a win in Cedar Falls might turn some heads. Although UNI has hit a few roadblocks this season, I’m not ready to strip the Panthers of their MVC title. They’re the defending champs, and until Missouri State, Wichita State or another contender knocks them off, they have to be considered a favorite this winter.

Prediction: Nothern Iowa 56, Missouri State 52

Temple at Villanova
Thursday 7 p.m.

It’s one of the best non-conference rivalries: Philly vs. Philly. Unfortunately, it’s not at the historic Palestra, but it’ll still be a heck of a ball game. After a shaky performance at the Old Spice Classic last month, it seems many fans—and AP voters—had lost faith in the Owls. But I caution you not to judge this team on those three games. Juan Fernandez is a natural point guard, and he’s getting acclimated to replacing Ryan Brooks. With Fran Dunphy’s track record, they’re the obvious choice to win the A-10. And I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Villanova fall victim to an intra-city upset.

Prediction: Temple 58, Villanova 57

Old Dominion at Missouri
Thursday 7 p.m.

ODU may not have Gerald Lee anymore, but they’re rolling along just fine. It it hadn’t lost to Delaware on the road, this team would probably be in the top-25. As for Missouri, Mike Anderson’s squad has been in the rankings since October. Having played two overtime games and two other thrillers against Oregon and Illinois, the Tigers have shown a flair for the dramatic. Against a well-coached ODU team, it may see some drama again at Mizzou Arena.

Prediction: Missouri 76, Old Dominion 71

Kentucky at Louisville
Friday 11 a.m.

This rivalry is special. It’s a must-see game, no matter the record of either team. Fortunately, we’ve got a few good ballclubs playing on New Year’s Eve in this game. Kentucky’s the better team, and Louisville has been inconsistent. But the Cardinals always play hard for Rick Pitino, and their pressure may wear down a UK team with a freshman point guard and not much depth.

Prediction: Louisville 80, Kentucky 75

New Mexico at Dayton
Saturday 1 p.m.

Dayton has a ton to prove on New Year’s Day. Once considered unbeatable at home, DU lost on its home floor to East Tennessee State earlier this year, and they’ve looked putrid at times. However, this team has too much talent to fold, and the Flyers are 10-3, after all. Steve Alford has built quite a program at New Mexico, but it could be a tall task to ask it to win at Dayton.

Prediction: Dayton 72, New Mexico 62

Last week’s prediction record: 3-3
Overall prediction record: 39-18

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