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Men’s College Basketball: Post-Christmas scheduling offers intriguing Conference matchups

Christmas starts this college basketball week, which means most games will be played later in the week.

Conference clashes are kicking in more regularly though, and the marquee matchup is a Big East affair in Milwaukee. 

Here are five games worth watching this coming week.

Montana at Weber State

  • Where is Montana vs. Weber State? Dee Events Center, Ogden, UT
  • When is Montana vs. Weber State? 9 PM ET, Thursday, December 28
  • Where can I watch Montana vs. Weber State? ESPN Plus
  • What are the odds for Montana vs. Weber State? TBD

It’s been several years since either the Montana Grizzlies or Weber State Wildcats reached the NCAA tournament. Both squads sit at 7-4 and start their respective Big Sky schedules in Utah Thursday night.

The Grizzlies have won five straight and are led by Aanen Moody (15.4 ppg), Money Williams (14.3 ppg, 3.5 apg) and Laolu Oke (9.4 ppg, 8.5 rpg). 

Weber State is 4-0 at home so far this season. The Wildcats are paced by Dillon Jones, who leads the team in points, rebounds, assists and steals. Jones is putting up a double-double each time out, averaging 17.8 points and 10.9 boards.

UCLA at Oregon State

  • Where is UCLA vs. Oregon State? Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, OR
  • When is UCLA vs. Oregon State? 10 PM ET, Thursday, December 28
  • Where can I watch UCLA vs. Oregon State? Pac-12
  • What are the odds for UCLA vs. Oregon State? TBD

UCLA has struggled of late, losing four straight and 5-of-6, including a 69-60 setback at home to Maryland Friday night. Coach Mick Cronin’s Bruins are already in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first non-COVID season of his five-year tenure, after three straight trips to the Sweet 16. 

Sebastian Mack (15.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and Adem Bona (12.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg) lead the Bruins.

UCLA travels to Corvallis Thursday night to face Oregon State, which has won five straight, in the Pac-12 season opener for each. 

The Beavers are led by Jordan Pope, who is averaging 16.9 points and 3.4 assists a game. Dexter Akanno (11.7 ppg) and Tyler Bilodeau (11.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg) are aiding Pope’s cause. 

It’s been a few years since Coach Wayne Tinkle’s Beavers made a surprising run to a region final. He would love to get the school back to the tournament in the final year of the Pac-12.

San Diego State at No. 15 Gonzaga

  • Where is San Diego State vs. Gonzaga? McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane, WA
  • When is San Diego State vs. Gonzaga? 9 PM ET, Friday, December 29
  • Where can I watch San Diego State vs. Gonzaga? ESPN 2
  • What are the odds for San Diego State vs. Gonzaga? TBD

Each time San Diego State has been ranked this season, the Aztecs have lost. However, they are 10-2 and riding a 3-game win streak heading to Spokane to take on 15th-ranked Gonzaga Friday night. 

Jaedon LeDee is averaging 21.6 points and 9.4 rebounds a game for last year’s national finalists. Guards Reese Waters (13.7 ppg, 4 rpg), Micah Parrish (10.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and Lamont Butler (8.3 ppg, 3.7 apg) are contributing as well.

Gonzaga sits at 9-3, but those three losses have come to two Top-5 teams Purdue and UConn, as well as Washington, which is on the verge of the Top 25. 

They rebounded to the Connecticut setback with a resounding 100-76 victory over Jackson State. Anton Watson and Graham Ike lead five players averaging in double figures with 14.1 points a game each.

Washington at Colorado

  • Where is Washington vs. Colorado? CU Events Center, Boulder, CO
  • When is Washington vs. Colorado? 9 PM ET, Friday, December 29
  • Where can I watch Washington vs. Colorado? ESPNU
  • What are the odds for Washington vs. Colorado? TBD

Both the Huskies, who haven’t been in yet this season, and the Buffaloes, who have, are threatening to join the Top 25. 

Washington’s 78-73 defeat of Gonzaga a couple weeks ago served notice that they are a team to be reckoned with. They took San Diego State to overtime and No. 20 Colorado State to the wire before falling. 

Keion Brooks Jr. is the team’s lynchpin, averaging 20.1 points and 7.6 rebounds a game. Sahvir Wheeler, a transfer from Kentucky, is 15.6 points and 7.2 assists a game.

The Buffaloes are 9-2, with only an overtime loss to Florida State and a close defeat to rival Colorado State as blemishes on their record. They pounded then-No. 15 Miami, 90-63, a couple weeks ago. 

Coach Tad Boyle’s team missed the tournament the past two years and are agitating to make it this season. KJ Simpson (19.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.5 apg) and Tristan da Silva (15.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg) lead Colorado.

No. 12 Creighton at No. 6 Marquette

  • Where is Creighton vs Marquette? Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
  • When is Creighton vs Marquette? 2 PM ET, Saturday, December 30
  • Where can I watch Creighton vs Marquette? CBS
  • What are the odds for Creighton vs Marquette? TBD

The week’s marquee game takes place Saturday afternoon in Milwaukee. The 12th-ranked Blue Jays have lost 2-of-3, including an overtime setback to Villanova on Wednesday. Guard Baylor Scheierman leads the team in points (18.2), rebounds (7.5) and assists (4.4).

The Golden Eagles also suffered a conference setback this week, a 15-point defeat at Providence. All-American candidate and reigning Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek paces Marquette with 15.3 points and 6.2 assists per game.

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