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Best of the Rest Rundown: Gonzaga Faces Another Rugged Road Test

When it comes to the top conferences in the country, the Big East is not letting the Power-5 leagues have all the fun.

Four Big East teams are currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, and one of the most intriguing games this weekend will be the matchup between No. 12 Xavier and No. 25 Marquette on Sunday.

Anton Watson #22 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs
Anton Watson #22 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs | Brandon sumrall/getty images/afp

Before that, No. 8 Gonzaga figures to be tested during its trip to Provo, Utah, to meet Brigham Young.

Houston looks to remain atop the national polls longer than it did earlier this season while UConn is in danger of falling out of the top 10.

According to the college basketball playoff odds, Houston (+650) has the best odds to win the national title while UConn (+1200) is tied for third. Keep an eye on Xavier and Providence, two of the fastest-rising teams in the national polls.

Here’s a look at the upcoming games for the ranked teams for the programs outside of the Power-5 conferences.

Let’s check the latest NCAAB picks, stats, injury reports, and NCAAB predictions. We’ve plenty of NCAAB expert picks for you to consider.

Game of the Week

Xavier vs Marquette

Date, time (TV): Sunday, Jan. 15, Noon ET (FOX)

A huge game in the Big East as 12th-ranked Xavier (14-3, 6-0 Big East), which withstood a spirited challenge from Creighton for a three-point win on Wednesday, puts its 10-game winning streak on the line when it visits a Marquette team coming off a win over a top-10 ranked UConn team.

Souley Boum had 26 points, including a pair of late free throws, for Xavier to avoid the upset and remain unbeaten in conference play.

No. 25 Marquette (14-4, 6-1), which just broke into both national polls, is led by sophomore guard Kam Jones and junior forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper. They combined for 32 points against UConn while Oso Ighodaro led the Golden Eagles with 19 points, matching his season high.

The Golden Eagles have won six of the last eight games against Xavier. Something of note for those who bet online: Marquette is tied with UConn for the best record against the spread (12-4-1) among Big East teams.

Other Games to Watch

Gonzaga vs BYU

  • Date, time (TV): Thursday, Jan. 12, 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Gonzaga was not playing its best basketball as the calendar flipped from 2022 to 2023.

Rasir Bolton’s tip-in with less than 10 seconds to play lifted the Bulldogs to a two-point win on the road against San Francisco. Gonzaga was down at Santa Clara with 90 seconds to play before winning by five.

A game at BYU could be another challenge for the eighth-ranked Bulldogs (14-3, 3-0 West Coast Conference) as Gonzaga tried to keep pace with Saint Mary’s atop the league standings.

Gonzaga is just 4-11-1 against the Las Vegas odds, the worst mark among WCC teams.

Providence vs Creighton

  • Date, time (TV): Saturday, Jan. 14, 2 p.m. (FS1)

Providence (14-3, 6-0 Big East) will have a week to get ready for a challenging road game.

The last time out, the 19th-ranked Friars held on for an 83-80 home win against St. John’s as Providence improved to 4-1 in games decided by five points or less.

Kentucky transfer Bryce Hopkins has led the way, averaging 16 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.

This is the third straight game against a ranked team for Creighton.

College of Charleston vs Elon

  • Date, time: Saturday, Jan. 14, 4 p.m. ET

It hasn’t always been easy, but Charleston has won 16 games in a row since a loss to then-No. 1 North Carolina and is 5-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Five of those wins came by three points or less and that includes a pair of overtime victories as Charleston improved to 17-1.

With the next two games against 2-15 Elon and 7-10 William & Mary, perhaps there won’t be much late-game drama.

New Mexico vs San Diego State

  • Date, time: Saturday, Jan. 14, 4 p.m. ET

San Diego State looks to remain perfect in the Mountain West when a 15-2 New Mexico team comes to town.

Since losing to Saint Mary’s, San Diego State has won six games by an average of 14.8 points per game.

Matt Bradley’s scoring numbers have dropped from 16.9 to 13.5 points, but he is still a force for every Mountain West team to deal with.

St. John’s vs UConn

  • Date, time (TV): Sunday, Jan. 15, Noon ET (FS1)

The good news for UConn (15-3, 4-3 Big East) is that three of the next four games are at home, considering that Wednesday’s loss to Marquette was the third straight road loss for a team that was ranked as high as No. 2 in the national polls.

UConn had issues from 3-point range, going 6 of 22 from distance in the six-point loss, and only got seven field-goal attempts for Adama Sanogo.

Houston vs Tulane

  • Date, time (TV): Tuesday, Jan. 17, 7 p.m. (ESPN+)

Houston is coming off a tough test at home against South Florida as Marcus Sasser’s 31 points and six 3-pointers lifted the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll to the 83-77 win. Sasser’s 3-pointer with 13:06 left to go gave Houston the lead for good as the Cougars won their eighth game in a row.

Now Houston heads to New Orleans to face Tulane, one of three teams tied for second place in the American Athletic Conference standings. There is almost a week between games so there is time for the Cougars to catch their breath.

The Green Wave have won four games in a row and are led by the high-scoring duo of Jaylen Forbes and Jalen Cook.

That will be followed by Sunday’s home matchup with Temple, another of the teams with a 4-1 conference mark.

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