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NCAAM Breakdown: Purdue, UConn Setting Pace

UCLA Coming off Pair of Impressive Wins

There was a change at the top of the men’s basketball national polls last week after Houston suffered its first loss of the season. Purdue is now entering its second week atop the rankings with UConn breathing down the Boilermakers’ neck. No. 1 Purdue received 40 first-place votes in the latest AP poll with UConn getting 21.

There is only one matchup between ranked teams this week with No. 22 Miami playing host to sixth-ranked Virginia. The good news is that many of the top teams will have conference games before the calendar flips from 2022 to 2023.

Trey Kaufman-Renn #4 of the Purdue Boilermakers shoots the ball against the Davidson Wildcats
Andy Lyons / Getty Images North America / Getty Images via AFP

When looking at the Las Vegas odds, third-ranked Houston (+165) has the best odds to reach the Final Four followed by Connecticut (+225).

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

Defending Champs Not Going Away

Things look much different at Kansas with so many key members of the national championship team now playing professionally.

However, the fourth-ranked Jayhawks are rolling right along with a 10-1 record. Since falling to Tennessee in the Battle 4 Atlantis, Kansas is 4-0 with an average margin of victory of 28 points. While recent wins over Seton Hall and Missouri were impressive, the most eye-opening performance was the 84-62 demolition of nationally ranked Indiana.

Kansas shot 51.5% in the game to overcome Indiana getting 20 of the 27 foul shots. Kansas rolled to victory even with top scorer Jalen Wilson shooting 4 of 18. Freshman  Grady Dick posted his third 20-point game of the season with 20 points, six rebounds, and five steals. He is averaging 16.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.8 steals over those four games. Indiana lost guard Xavier Johnson during the game to a foot injury.

Big Man Delivering for Boilermakers

While games against Minnesota, Hofstra, Nebraska and Davidson aren’t the greatest litmus test, Zach Edey is looking very much like a national player of the year for No. 1 Purdue.

The 7-foot-4 junior is averaging 23.5 points and 18.3 points during those four games to help Purdue remain undefeated.

Edey is 23 of 33 from the field over the last three games as his development continues with the Boilermakers. He has gone from averaging 8.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots in 14.7 minutes as a freshman to putting up 22.6 points, 13.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots in 31.8 minutes this season.

The college basketball betting odds list Edey (-125) as the leader in the race for the national player of the year.

Cougars Sharpen Claws

A loss to Alabama might have knocked Houston out of the top spot in the national polls, but it did little to shake the resolve of the veteran team.

Hitting the road to face then-No. 2 Virginia, the Cougars had five players score in double figures, led by freshman Jarace Walker in the hard-earned 69-61 victory.

Houston, which jumped two spots to No. 3 in this week’s AP poll, faces McNeese State on Wednesday before ending 2022 with American Athletic Conference matchups with Tulsa and UCF.

Then There Were Five

The number of undefeated teams remaining is down to five. No. 1 Purdue and No. 2 UConn are joined by Mississippi State. The Mountain West is the only conference with more than one undefeated team. New Mexico is 11-0 and Utah State 9-0.  It will be interesting to see what the records are for the Lobos and Aggies when they meet on Feb. 1.

Mississippi State’s perfect record could be at risk. First, comes a matchup with an 8-3 Drake team on Tuesday, and the final game of 2022 for the Bulldogs comes against nationally ranked Alabama.

UConn used an impressive second half to roll past host Butler 68-46. Adama Sanogo continued his domination with 27 points and 14 rebounds in the win. Georgetown comes to Connecticut on Tuesday and, after more than a week off, there will be a huge matchup with Villanova for the Huskies.

Something to consider for those who bet online: UConn has the best mark (11-0-1) against the spread so far this season.

With Louisville winning its last two games after starting 0-9, that leaves California as the only Division I men’s team yet to win this season.

All losses sting, but falling to a three-win Eastern Washington team at home 50-48 has to hurt a little more for the Golden Bears.

The Bears get one more chance to break into the win column before embarking on Pac-12 play when 4-7 UT Arlington comes to town on Wednesday.

Tar Heels Figuring Things Out

The month of December began with Virginia Tech adding to North Carolina’s misery with an 80-72 win. That was the fourth straight loss for a team that brought back multiple starters from a squad that played for the national title last season.

Things are headed in a positive direction now with North Carolina rallying late to force overtime and then toppling Ohio State 89-84 in the CBS Sports Classic. It was North Carolina’s third win in a row.

The Tar Heels trailed by 10 points with 6½ minutes to play. Pete Nance’s buzzer-beating basket sent the game into overtime. Guards R.J. Davis and Caleb Love each had four points in overtime while Armando Bacot finished with 28 points.

Armando Bacot #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels fights off Sean McNeil #4 of the Ohio State Buckeyes as he chases down a loose ball
Rich Schultz / Getty Images North America / Getty Images via AFP

Team of the Week

UCLA Bruins

Things didn’t go very well during UCLA’s first two games against ranked teams as the Bruins lost to Illinois and Baylor in the Main Event. After five wins in a row against unranked foes, the level of competition went up dramatically.

First the Bruins, now ranked 13th, traveled to Maryland and came home with an emphatic 27-point win. Jaylen Clark led the way with 19 points and David Singleton added 18 off the bench.

Three days later, it was a matchup of blue-blood programs at the World’s Most Famous Arena with UCLA getting 19 points and 12 rebounds in a 63-53 win over Kentucky in the CBS Sports Classic.

Player of the Week

Drew Timme, Gonzaga

After being held to nine points in a loss to Baylor, it is safe to say that Gonzaga’s national player of the year candidate responded well with four straight 20-point games and a pair of double-doubles.

In a showdown of ranked teams, Timme had 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and four assists to help overcome a 36-point effort from Alabama’s Brandon Miller in the entertaining 100-90 win over the Crimson Tide in the C.M. Newton Classic.

Game of the Week

Virginia Cavaliers vs Miami Hurricanes

  • Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. ET (ACC Network)

It will be strength against strength when the high-scoring Miami Hurricanes welcome one of the nation’s best defensive teams to Watsco Center for a huge early ACC game.

Miami recently won a 107-105 thriller against Cornell behind 36 points from Isaiah Wong. He followed that up with a pair of 22-point efforts against North Carolina State and Saint Francis (Pa.)

Virginia is coming off a 69-61 loss to Houston, with issues connecting from the 3-point range proving costly.

The Cavaliers have won the last six games against Miami. However, Virginia has covered just three of those matchups.

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