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Best of the Rest Rundown: Xavier, UConn in Rematch

If not for the Big 12, the Big East would be leading the way when it comes to the conferences having the most teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

That will make for some can’t-miss matchups in the coming days and months with four ranked teams. It starts on Wednesday with Big East-leading Xavier heading on the road to try to sweep the season series against UConn.

Paul Scruggs #1 of the Xavier Musketeers
Paul Scruggs #1 of the Xavier Musketeers - Brady Klain/Getty Images/afp

The teams with the two longest active winning streaks among Division I men’s programs also happen to play outside of the Power-5 Conferences. College of Charleston has won 20 games in a row and Florida Atlantic is riding an 18-game winning streak.

Houston dropped two spots to No. 3 in both the Associated Press and coaches’ polls after its loss to Temple. No. 13 Xavier, No. 14 Gonzaga, and No. 19 UConn fell five, eight, and four spots, respectively, in the latest AP rankings while 16th-ranked Marquette and No. 22 Saint Mary’s each moved up four spots.

According to the college basketball playoff odds, Houston (+650) still leads the way in the odds to win the national title. Gonzaga and UConn are both priced at +2200.

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 college basketball news, stats, injury reports, and college basketball lines. We’ve got plenty of NCAA basketball picks for you to consider.

Game of the Week

Xavier vs UConn

  • Date, time (TV): Wednesday, Jan. 25, 6:30 p.m. ET (FS1)

Xavier ended 2022 with a 10-point win at home against UConn and the Huskies will be ready for the rematch.

The Musketeers outscored the Huskies 23-4 at the foul line and UConn aided in that number with 37 of the 67 field-goal attempts coming from 3-point range.

Jerome Hunter had a season-high 15 points off the bench for Xavier (16-4, 8-1 Big East) in the first game and has continued to produce.

Expect to see UConn freshman Donovan Clingan play more than the seven minutes he saw in the Dec. 31 meeting. The Huskies will have the services of the 6-foot-10 Samson Johnson. He missed 19 games after getting injured in the season opener. He returned in Sunday’s win over Butler.

Xavier plays at Creighton on Saturday in a nationally televised game while UConn (16-5, 5-5) gets a chance to catch its breath with nearly a week off before its next game.

Other Games to Watch

Houston vs UCF

  • Date, time: Wednesday, Jan. 25, 7:00 p.m. ET

Houston is coming off a stunning one-point loss at home to Temple and it doesn’t get any easier with the next two games against teams that are a combined 27-13.

Don’t expect the Cougars (18-2, 6-1 American Athletic Conference) to shoot 34% from the field, 35% on 3-pointers or to miss nearly as many free throws as they made as was the case in the loss to Temple.

The top two scorers (Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark) are shooting 42.1 and 41.3% from the field so more offensive consistency would be a huge boost.

Marquette vs DePaul

  • Date, time: Wednesday, Jan. 25, 7:00 p.m. ET

Marquette is coming off a 21-point road win against Seton Hall and is back on the road again, looking to end January with a 6-1 record.

DePaul (9-11, 3-6 Big East) is struggling a bit. However, the Blue Demons are 7-3 at home while Marquette moved over the .500 mark on the road in the Seton Hall win.

With an upcoming game against Villanova, this could be a dangerous game if the Golden Eagles (16-5, 8-2) aren’t focused on DePaul.

Sophomore Kam Jones, one of the most improved players in the country, has nine 3-pointers and 43 points in Marquette’s last two games.

Marquette leads the Big East with a 14-6-1 record against the college basketball lines.

Butler vs Providence

  • Date, time: Wednesday, Jan. 25, 8:30 p.m. ET (FS1)

Providence’s matchup with Villanova on Sunday will likely garner more attention. However, looking ahead in the competitive Big East can be hazardous to a team’s won-loss record.

The Friars (15-5, 7-2) have lost two of their last three games. Noah Locke got Providence back into the win column with a season-high 29 points in a win over DePaul the last time out.

Al Durham #1 of the Providence Friars
Al Durham #1 of the Providence Friars – Quinn Harris/Getty Images/afp

Middle Tennessee vs Florida Atlantic

  • Date, time (TV): Thursday, Jan. 26, 7:00 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)

Florida Atlantic (19-1, 9-0 Conference USA) has built up a 2.5-game lead in the Conference USA standings. One of its nearest competitors will be the opponent as FAU puts its 11-0 record at home on the line and looks to extend its winning streak to 19 games.

Middle Tennessee State would be well advised not to send FAU’s top scorer to the foul line as Johnell Davis is 17 for 17 on free throws over the last five games.

Something to keep an eye on for those who bet online: FAU has covered 82.4% of the time this season and that is the best mark among men’s Division I teams.

Air Force vs New Mexico

  • Date, time: Friday, Jan. 27, 10:00 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

New Mexico (18-3, 5-3 in the Mountain West) has been working overtime in more ways than one with the last two games needing more time to decide a winner.

The Lobos’ time as a ranked program could be coming to an end after a 97-94 overtime loss at Nevada on Monday.

Jamal Mashburn Jr. had 33 points in the loss and he has topped the 20-point mark six times in the last seven games. Mashburn is 7 of 11 from 3-point range in his last two games.

Makuach Maluach #10 of the New Mexico Lobos
Makuach Maluach #10 of the New Mexico Lobos – David Becker/Getty Images/afp

Hofstra vs College of Charleston

  • Date, time: Saturday, Jan. 28, 4:00 p.m. ET

Charleston, which owns the longest active winning streak among men’s Division I programs, goes after its 21st straight victory and 14th win at home when Hofstra, one of three teams tied for second place in the Colonial Athletic Association standings, comes to town.

The Cougars (21-1, 9-0 CAA) got 47 bench points in their most recent game. That is nothing new as nine different players average more than 10 minutes per game.

Charleston is 13-7-1 and Hofstra is 11-9 against the Las Vegas odds.

Gonzaga vs Portland

  • Date, time: Saturday, Jan. 28, 7:00 p.m. ET

Gonzaga bounced back from its stunning loss at home to Loyola Marymount by putting 99 points up on Pacific. National player of the year candidate Drew Timme had 24 of his career-high 38 points in the second half. Time needs just 16 points to hit the 2,000-point mark and he is doing it while shooting nearly 62% from the field in his four years at Gonzaga.

The Bulldogs (17-4, 6-1) are 10 of 36 from 3-point range in their last two losses.

Saint Mary’s vs BYU

  • Date, time: Saturday, Jan. 28, 10:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

It is Saint Mary’s and not perennial West Coast Conference juggernaut Gonzaga that is currently at the top of the WCC standings.

The Gaels (18-4, 7-0 WCC) are doing a pretty good Gonzaga impersonation with a 6-0 record in January and an average margin of victory of 23.5 points.

Freshman Aidan Mahaney has scored at least 20 points in three of his last four games and has multiple 3-pointers in seven straight contests.

BYU is 9-2 at home and one of those losses came by one point against Gonzaga.

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