There probably should be two games of the week among the teams outside of the Power-5 conferences. The Providence-Xavier and Gonzaga-Saint Mary’s showdowns both could have top billing.
This could be a week where there is some separation at the top of the Big East standings while Florida Atlantic looks to extend the top active winning streak among men’s Division I teams.
Houston remained at No. 3 in both national polls. Gonzaga went from 14th to 12th in The Associated Press rankings and stayed at No. 14 in the coaches’ poll. Marquette moved up three positions to 12th in the coaches’ poll and is 14th in the AP ranking.
No. 16 Xavier, No. 17 Providence, No. 18 Saint Mary’s and No. 19 Florida Atlantic are also in the top 20 in the AP vote. San Diego State moved into the top 25 at No. 22 while UConn fell five spots to 24th.
According to the college basketball playoff odds, Houston (+600) has the top odds to win the national title. Gonzaga (+2500) and UConn (+2500), Xavier (+2800), Marquette (+3300).
Gonzaga is priced at -110 and Saint Mary’s at -160 in the odds to win the WCC title. Houston (-1600) is the overwhelming favorite in the American Athletic Conference title odds.
Here’s a look at the upcoming games for the ranked teams for the programs outside of the Power-5 conferences.
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Game of the Week
Providence vs Xavier
- Date, time (TV): Wednesday, Feb. 1, 6:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
This is not the top game of the week in the Big East, but a game that will draw national attention as the Friars and Musketeers are tied with Marquette for the Big East lead and both teams are hoping to inch closer to the top 10 in the national pls.
Xavier (17-5, 9-2 in the Big East) is looking to bounce back from a 17-point loss to Creighton that kept the Musketeers from holding onto sole possession of first place in the Big East.
Xavier has four players averaging more than 14 points per game led by Souley Boum’s 16.1 mark. However, second-leading scorer and top rebounder Zach Freemantle is out for multiple weeks.
“At the moment, it doesn’t require surgery. He’s going to be out for what we estimate about four weeks, one month.” https://t.co/1iQjvedQGY
— Adam Baum (@AdamJBaum) January 31, 2023
Providence (17-5, 9-2), the lone Big East team still undefeated at home, features Bryce Hopkins as the Friars’ top scorer has at least 20 points in six of his last 13 games.
Providence has won four of the last five meetings and covered in five straight. Four of the last five games between the teams finished over the total and that includes the action-packed 99-92 game in the most recent meeting.
Xavier is home on Saturday to face St. John’s.
Other Games to Watch
Villanova vs Marquette
- Date, time (TV): Wednesday, Feb. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
It seems a bit surreal to see Villanova languishing two games under .500 in the Big East standings. Still, the Wildcats will have the attention of a Marquette team that is currently tied for first in the conference standings.
Keep an eye on sophomore Oso Ighodaro for the Golden Eagles (17-5, 9-2) as he has made 23 of his last 26 field-goal attempts.
For Villanova (10-11, 4-6), freshman Cam Whitmore is averaging 15.5 points over his last six games.
The Golden Eagles have won the last three meetings with Villanova and covered against the Las Vegas odds in each of them.
Marquette welcomes Butler to town on Saturday.
Something to consider for those who bet online: the Golden Eagles lead the Big East with a 15-6-1 record against the spread.
Florida Atlantic vs UAB
- Date, time (TV): Thursday, Feb. 2, 7 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
FAU puts its 20-game winning streak on the line. The Owls have survived some recent scares, beating North Texas by four points, UTEP by eight and Western Kentucky by seven.
The Owls’ depth has been crucial as Florida Atlantic (21-1, 11-0 in Conference USA) is averaging 23 more points off the bench than its opponents over the last five games.
UAB (15-7, 6-5) is led by Jordan Walker. His 23.8 points per game average would be leading the conference if he hadn’t missed six games. He is a major reason why the Blazers are scoring more points than any other Conference USA team.
UAB had won 11 of the last 12 meetings before the Owls’ two-point win on Jan. 5. The Blazers have won the last eight home games against Florida Atlantic.
FAU has another road game on Saturday against Charlotte.
The Owls are 15-4-1 against the Las Vegas odds this season, the best mark among men’s Division I programs.
Boise State vs San Diego State
- Date, time (TV): Friday, Feb. 3, 9 p.m. ET (FS1)
First place in the Mountain West will be on the line when Boise State heads to meet the conference-leading Aztecs.
San Diego State fell into a tie for first with Boise State after a 75-66 loss at Nevada as the Aztecs had no answer for Jarod Lucas. Lucas finished with 26 points, his third 20-point effort over the last five games. It didn’t help San Diego State that starters Lamont Butler, Keshad Johnson, and Nathan Mensah had a combined total of 11 points on 3 of 10 shooting.
Max Rice had 22 points and seven rebounds as Boise State erased an eight-point deficit win at Air Force on Tuesday.
Boise State (18-5, 8-2 in the WCC) has won the last three meetings against San Diego State (17-5, 8-2). The last time the teams met came in the 2022 Mountain West title game with the Broncos winning 53-52.
Each of the last four games in the series went under the total.
UConn vs Georgetown
- Date, time (TV): Saturday, Feb. 4, 12 p.m. ET (FS1)
UConn snapped a four-game road losing streak with a 90-76 win at DePaul. It was more interesting than it needed to be as the Blue Demons pulled within six points midway through the second half.
The trio of Jordan Hawkins, Adama Sanogo and Tristan Newton combined to score UConn’s final 37 points. They all topped 20 points in the win as UConn (17-6, 6-6 in the Big East) moved back to .500 in conference play.
Georgetown recently ended a 29-game losing streak in the Big East with a win over DePaul and narrowly missed an upset of St. John’s the last time out. Primo Spears is averaging 27.7 points over the last three games. The Connecticut native had 19 points in the first meeting this season against UConn as the Hoyas threw a scare into the Huskies.
UConn has won the last five games against the Hoyas and that includes a hard-earned 84-73 home win on Dec. 20 as a 21-point favorite.
Each of the last four games in the series went over the total.
Gonzaga vs Saint Mary’s
- Date, time (TV): Saturday, Feb. 4, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
It isn’t often that Gonzaga goes into a West Coast Conference showdown facing a team ahead of them in the standings. Barring any surprises on Thursday, that is exactly what will be happening.
The game features the most accurate shooters in the conference. Gonzaga’s Drew Timme tops the WCC by making 60.8% of his field-goal attempts while Mitchell Saxen of Saint Mary’s is second at 54.5%.
Gonzaga leads the WCC in scoring offense with an average of 86.3 points per game while Saint Mary’s average of 57.3 points allowed is the best in the conference.
Gonzaga (18-4 7-1 in the WCC) has won eight of the last nine games versus the Gaels (19-4, 8-0). However, Saint Mary’s won 67-57 when listed by the sportsbook as the 10½-point underdog the last time it hosted Gonzaga.
Before the huge matchup in the WCC, both teams have home games on Thursday with the Bulldogs playing a 16-7 Santa Clara team while a 15-9 San Francisco squad travels to meet the Gaels.
Houston vs Temple
- Date, time (TV): Sunday, Feb. 5, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Coming into the season, this figured to be just a typical early February game in the American Athletic Conference. However, that changed when Temple handed the Cougars their lone conference loss with a one-point win on Jan. 22. The 10 missed free throws were too much for Houston to overcome.
Since that game, Houston freshman Jarace Walker is averaging 21 points and 5.5 rebounds per game for a Cougars’ team currently sitting atop the NET rankings that are used by the NCAA when it comes time to select and seed the national tournament field.
Temple (14-9, 8-2) won back-to-back overtime affairs with Khalif Battle averaging 25.5 points in the victories against South Florida and USF. The Owls can move into first place in the conference standings with a win.
Houston (20-2, 8-1) topped Temple six times in a row before the loss earlier this season. Four of the last five meetings finished under the total.
Houston plays at Wichita State on Thursday before the rematch with the Owls.