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Men’s College Basketball: Games to watch

Thanksgiving and most of the tournaments associated with that week are now behind us, as some schools begin conference play this week, while several Top-25 teams have stiff tests out of conference as well.

Here are some of the top men’s basketball games coming up this week.

No. 19 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 24 Illinois

WhereMadison Square Garden, New York, NY
When6:30 PM ET, Tuesday, December 5
How to watchESPN

The Florida Atlantic Owls, surprise Final Four participants last season, are off to a 6-1 start. They were humbled by Bryant early in their schedule, but defeated Texas A&M and Virginia Tech to win last week’s ESPN Events Invitational and handed Liberty its first loss Thursday night. 

They travel to Madison Square Garden to face No. 24 Illinois in the opener of the Jimmy V Classic.

The Fighting Illini are off to a 6-1 start with just one player - Chicago native Terrence Shannon - averaging double figures. Their lone setback is a 71-64 defeat to No. 3 Marquette.

No. 17 North Carolina vs. No. 4 Connecticut

WhereMadison Square Garden, New York, NY
When9:00 PM ET, Tuesday, December 5
How to watchESPN

The defending champion Huskies are not scheduling lightly in their quest to repeat. 

Connecticut has already faced No. 16 Texas and No. 5 Kansas and also has 11th-ranked Gonzaga on the schedule later this month. They take on No. 17 North Carolina in the nightcap of the Jimmy V Classic in Madison Square Garden.

The Tar Heels’ only loss so far was an 83-81 overtime thriller to Villanova. RJ Davis scored 27 points while Armando Bacot had 22 points and 11 rebounds as the Tar Heels knocked off No. 10 Tennessee Wednesday night in the ACC/SEC Challenge.

No. 16 Texas at No. 3 Marquette

WhereFiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
When8:00 PM ET, Wednesday, December 6
How to watchFS1

The Golden Eagles have been impressive early in the season, with wins over Illinois, UCLA and then-No. 1 Kansas and their only loss being a 3-point defeat to new No. 1 Purdue on their record. 

Marquette is led by Kam Jones' 16.4 points per game, Tyler Kolek's 13.5 points and 5.3 assists per game, and Oso Ighodaro's 12.6 points per game.

The Longhorns are led by Oral Roberts transfer Max Abmas, who is scoring 16.7 points a game and hit a buzzer-beater in a victory over Louisville. Kadin Shedrick (14.2 points per game) and Dillon Mitchell (11.6 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game) are contributing regularly as well. 

No. 23 Alabama vs. No. 1 Purdue

WhereCoca-Cola Coliseum, Toronto, Ontario, CA
When1:30 PM ET, Saturday, December 9
How to watchFOX

The top-ranked Boilermakers face No. 23 Alabama as part of a doubleheader in Toronto. The two schools were No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament last season, although neither reached the Final Four. 

Toronto native and reigning Wooden Award winner Zach Edey is having another banner season with 21.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.9 blocks a game. 

Favorites to win the John Wooden Award

The Crimson Tide experienced high turnover from last year’s 31-6 SEC championship squad and they are now 5-2 with losses to Ohio State and Clemson. Seniors Mark Sears and Aaron Estrada lead the team in scoring with 20.3 and 16.9 points per game respectively.

UCLA at No. 18 Villanova

WhereWells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
When7:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 9
How to watchFOX

Traditional powers UCLA and Villanova meet in a West Coast-East Coast clash in Philadelphia. 

The Bruins are 5-2, having lost to No. 3 Marquette and No. 11 Gonzaga by a combined six points. Freshman Sebastian Mack paces UCLA with 15.8 points a game while Adem Bona is going for 15 points and 6.5 rebounds. 

The Wildcats, at 6-2, have rebounded nicely so far from last year’s uncharacteristic 17-17 campaign under second-year Coach Kyle Neptune, despite a 78-65 defeat to St. Joseph’s Wednesday night. Villanova is led by Justin Moore's 15.6 points per game and Eric Dixon's 14 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.

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