There are two really strong matchups on the day following the Super Bowl.
Best game — Virginia at North Carolina, 7 ET, ESPN: Both are coming off of rather stunning Saturday losses. Duke scored on 14 of its final 15 possessions against Virginia’s seemingly impentrable defense to win by six. Even more shockingly, North Carolina gave up an 18-point second half lead against Louisville and lost in overtime. This is a really good matchup for the Cavaliers (19-1, 7-1 ACC), as the Tar Heels (17-5, 7-2) can’t beat them with 3-point shooting. Instead, they’ll have to rely on penetration and post play against a pack-line defense best at not allowing teams in the lane and is sound at making rotations inside. Think Virginia takes this.
Second-best game — Iowa State at Kansas , 9 ET, ESPN: Kansas (18-3, 7-1 Big 12) will look to avenge its only conference loss, as the Cyclones beat the Jayhawks at Hilton behind big games from Monte Morris and Jameel McKay. But this should be a different story at Kansas. The Jayhawks can open up a two-lead over the Cyclones (16-4, 6-2), leaving West Virginia (18-3, 6-2) with the best chance to catch them. So if Bill Self and Co. can take another step toward winning the Big 12 title for an incredible 11th straight year.
Matchup of the night — Anthony Gill vs. Brice Johnson: This likely won’t tell the tale of the game, but should be fun to watch in Chapel Hill. Gill has been one of the nation’s more underappreciated players, as he’s currently sixth in the KenPom player of the year standings. He is true shooting percentage is nearly 60 percent, and he’s among the country’s best offensive-rebounding big men. He’s also a really smart defender who plays his role well in Virginia’s defense. Against Johnson, he’ll face an athletic, fluid player who can get 20 points any given night. Should be an interesting game within the game.
Potential upset: Green Bay has dropped a couple of road games in the Horizon already, and has to go on the road to face Wright State on Monday. Could be a tough one for the Phoenix.
Pick of the night — Virginia -1 vs. North Carolina: I really like this matchup. As previously mentioned, the Tar Heels just don’t quite have enough spacing to give the Cavaliers major issues. Teams without spacing generally tend to end up clogged in the lane, which does not work vs. Virginia because it makes it impossible to get through the pack-line.
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