A look at the two most notable games on Monday's schedule:
Connecticut at Louisville
There are lots of stats and results that can be used to show that the Big East is the best league in the country. The best evidence of all, though, might be this week's Top 25. The country's new No. 1 - Connecticut - is third in the Big East standings at the moment, behind unbeatens Marquette and Louisville, against whom the red-hot Huskies defend their top ranking tonight. The Cardinals famously ended Pitt's run at the top of the rankings three weeks ago, and based on the way they've been playing lately, there's a pretty good chance the Huskies will meet the same fate in this one. Both teams enter this game on nine-game winning streaks, and both played especially well last week. UConn beat DePaul and Providence by a combined 55 points, and Louisville destroyed South Florida and was up 20 on West Virginia before the Mountaineers made a second-half run to keep it close. The Huskies' win over the Friars featured a triple-double (15 points, 11 rebounds, 10 blocks) by Hasheem Thabeet, who is going to need another big game here if the Huskies are going to get a win. It's no secret that Thabeet has come up small in most of his games against teams that have an inside presence - something the Cardinals certainly have in Samardo Samuels and Earl Clark. If Louisville wins (and we think they will), it would be real hard to keep them off the 1 line next week, even with three losses on their resume. UConn might still be a 1 seed too, even with a loss, as long as they dispose of Michigan at Gampel on Saturday. Looking long term, and assuming the Big East regular season champ gets a 1 seed, this game is especially huge for the Huskies' eventual seeding. This is their only regular season match-up with Louisville, and they only face Marquette once, too - in Milwaukee in three weeks.
Kansas at Baylor
There probably isn’t a team in the country flying more under the radar right now than Kansas. The Jayhawks beat Nebraska and Colorado last week to stay unbeaten in the Big XII and got bumped up to a six seed in our latest bracket as a result. Kansas’ overall resume isn’t exactly overflowing with Top 25 wins (their only OOC wins of note are Washington and Tennessee), but they only have one bad loss (UMass) and they’ve built up a game and half lead on Missouri and a two-game lead on Texas in conference. One of the teams looking up at the Jayhawks is Baylor, which needs to win this game in the worst way. It was all but assumed the Bears would make the tourney as recently as two weeks ago, but now they’ve lost three in a row and have seen their seed - which was once a 7 - fall all the way to the 12 line. Baylor only has one good OOC win (Arizona State) and they have yet to win a game against a Big XII team that’s currently in the tournament. Even more troubling for the Bears is the recent emergence of Texas A&M and Kansas State as at-large contenders out of the Big XII. A&M made the field this week and Kansas State – thanks to two huge wins last week – is knocking on the door. If Baylor doesn’t win here, there’s a good chance they are on the outside looking in come Monday.
Also receiving votes: Butler at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Robert Morris at Pittsburgh