Although the weather is cold as we reach the final week of January, the season is heating up. We saw movement again in the top 25, including a brand new team in the top stop. Can we see more action this week? Each game features a top 25 team, including the matchup of the night with two top-10 conference rivals battling it out.
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Clemson vs. No. 9 Duke (Tip 7 p.mn. ET)
Clemson got a win last Saturday, finally ending their three-game losing streak. The 75-48 win over ACC bottom dwellers Pitt was their most dominating win all season. Clemson isn’t a potent offense, but they know how to hit their deep shots as they’re 14th in three-point shooting percentage (38.4%). If they want to stay close in this game, they’ll need to find open threes.
Duke doesn’t shoot from long range like Clemson, but they’re a much better shooting team overall. This season, the Blue Devils are averaging 82.6 points per game and are 15th in the country in effective field goal percentage. This is all thanks to forwards Pablo Banchero and Wendell Moore Jr., who are one of the best duos on the wing, with both shooting over 50% this season.
As well as the Tigers’ play from the perimeter, they struggle down low. They will be out-sized as they won’t have someone to match with Duke’s 7-foot-1 center Mark Williams, averaging 3.3 blocks per game. Duke has hit in two straight when they’re favored to win between 11 and 13. The effective all-around scoring will push them towards another blowout.
Georgetown vs. No. 20 UConn (Tip 7 p.m.)
The Huskies have hit a groove as they’ve won five of six, and that loss being in overtime against Seton Hall after a three-week Covid-related hiatus. Forward Adam Sanogo is looking good as the anchor on the post — on this recent run as he was just a rebound shy of his fourth-straight double-double. For once, he’ll look small as Georgetown has three seven-footers on their team, but each doesn’t average much playing time, and it’ll be a tough matchup against a talent like Sanogo.
Georgetown is the last remaining team without a win in the Big East as the team struggles on both sides of the court. The defense has not been able To stop anyone as they’re the bottom scoring defense in the conference and No. 252 according to KenPom in adjusted defensive efficiency. Head coach Patrick Ewing likes to run a fast-paced offense (71.0 possessions per 40 minutes), but they’re struggling to run a clean game plan as they average 14.4 turnovers per game.
The turnover-prone Georgetown offense will play well into the hands of the UConn backcourt, and that’s a literal statement. Guards Andre Jackson and RJ Cole are excellent at applying defensive pressure, and each average over a steal a game. The spread is pretty big for a conference matchup. I’m more into the total for this game. UConn has hit the over in 12 of 17 games this year, and nine of their last 11, they’re going to be able to put a big number and drive that total over.
No. 3 Arizona vs. No. 7 UCLA (Tip 11 p.m.)
Arizona continues to like a team we need to pay attention to come March as they are firmly sitting at No. 3 for another week. Bennedict Mathurin, Azuolas Tubelis, and Christian Koloko are dynamic on the boards as they’re all averaging over six rebounds per game. Tubelis is currently questionable with an ankle sprain. Still, it doesn’t put them at a tremendous disadvantage because with Koloko and a mix of Oumar Ballo and Kim Aiken Jr. in the frontcourt, they will be just fine. Arizona runs a fast-paced offense as they second in KenPom’s Adjusted Tempo, which could give UCLA problems if they fall behind early.
The Bruins could stay competitive in this game with their ability to shoot behind the arc as they’re 57th nationally in three-point shooting (36.2%). They have four players (Johnny Juzang, Jules Bernard, Tyger Campbell, and David Singleton) shooting over 35% from three, so having a player on the floor at all times to shoot from outside could keep contending.
Arizona holds the height advantage in this matchup and is better on boards as they’re sixth in rebound margin per game (9.7). UCLA can hit their outside shots, but Arizona can keep up with them with three starters shooting over 50%, and Mathurin can hit it from deep himself. The most significant factor is if Tubelis plays — the Wildcats are still the better team without him, but having him in the lineup is a big advantage. Grab Arizona’s at -2.5 right after you read this sentence because if Tubelis plays, that spread will jump up.
Total Parlay (PointsBet): +611
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