Danny’s can’t-miss games of the week

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FILE – In this Aug. 9, 2018, file photo, New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) talks with quarterback Tom Brady (12) before a preseason NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Foxborough, Mass. There’s just two receivers in NFL postseason history with over 100 catches – Jerry Rice with 151 and Edelman with 105. That link has only been strengthened off the field in the past year as Brady and Edelman prepare to play in their fourth Super Bowl together. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Obviously this week, there’s one game and one game only on everyone’s minds: the Super Bowl. However, that is still four days away, so what are you supposed to watch until then?

Well I’m glad you asked, because there are quite a few interesting matchups this week to tide everyone over until the big game on Sunday night. Let’s get to it.

NCAAW: #2 UConn Huskies vs. #3 Louisville Cardinals

Thursday Jan. 31, 7 p.m. on ESPN

Top 10 matchups are always fun, top five matchups are a blast, but this game is a top three matchup, and that is what you live for as a sports fan. Since Notre Dame fell to UNC on Sunday, both of these teams moved up a spot in the rankings, and they both enter the game with just one loss on their record. This is a true heavyweight battle.

This will be UConn’s third top-10 opponent of the season and Louisville’s second. UConn beat then No. 1 Notre Dame on Dec. 2, but lost to then No. 8 Baylor on Jan. 3. Louisville lost to then No. 1 Notre Dame on Jan. 10.

Both UConn and Louisville have star-studded lineups highlighted by their top seniors. For UConn, it’s Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson, and for Louisville, it’s Asia Durr and Sam Fuehring. All these players have a chance to go in the first round of this year’s WNBA Draft, and Durr, Collier and Samuelson may all go top five.

Right now though, they won’t be thinking about their draft placements. They’ll be thinking about leading their respective teams to a huge statement victory on Thursday.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Toronto Raptors

Thursday Jan. 31, 8 p.m. on TNT

When the UConn-Louisville game is over, you’ll definitely want to switch the channel to this game, where the top two teams in the Eastern Conference will be facing off.

The Bucks enter this game with a 36-13 record this season and they are coming off a 115-105 win over the Pistons on Tuesday. They are the only NBA team that hasn’t lost two consecutive games this season.

On the other side, the Raptors are 37-15 this season and are coming off a tight 123-120 victory over the Mavericks on Sunday. They are playing at home for the first time in over a week.

Headlining the game for the players are two players that were picked to start the All-Star Game for the Eastern Conference this year: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard. Giannis leads the Bucks in a multitude of categories including minutes per game (33.3), points per game (26.5), rebounds per game (12.6), assists per game (5.9) and player efficiency rating (29.3). Leonard is also having a terrific season, leading his team in many of the same categories like points per game (27.9), rebounds per game (7.9) and player efficiency rating (27.3).

The supporting casts aren’t too bad either, featuring the likes of Khris Middleton and Kyle Lowry. This is absolutely the NBA’s best game this week.

NCAAM: #9 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. #15 Louisville Cardinals

Saturday Feb. 2, 2 p.m. on ESPN

This is a really good matchup between two of the top teams in the ACC. No, they are not Duke and Virginia, but they are still a couple of storied programs that are having another good season that could certainly head deep into March.

Both teams have identical 6-1 records in the conference, but UNC’s one conference loss came to Louisville back on Jan. 12. They lost that game in very bad fashion (83-62), but they have played great since then, even earning a big win over then No. 10 Virginia Tech to move back into the top 10. So I would expect the rematch to be a much closer game than the original.

Louisville has been hot lately as well, and they haven’t lost since their overtime defeat by Pitt back on Jan. 9. Sophomore Jordan Nwora has been their best player, averaging over 18 points and almost eight rebounds per game.

On the UNC side, senior Luke Maye is the guy to watch out for. He’s averaging almost a double double this season with 13.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.

Both teams have a great offensive attack, so I expect to see a lot of points being scored on Saturday.

NHL: Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals

Sunday Feb. 3, 12:30 p.m. on NBC

For all you hockey fans, there’s a great matchup to fill your last few hours before the Super Bowl. The Bruins and the Capitals both have an identical 27-17-6 record, and they are tied for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

Neither team is particularly hot right now. The Bruins are on a two-game slide while the Caps have lost seven games in a row. In fact, the last time that Washington won was against the Bruins way back on Jan. 10. Both teams play another game before this one so their losing streaks may come to an end before they meet. If not though, one of these teams will snap their skids on Sunday.

Despite their recent struggles, Alexander Ovechkin is still having a great season, ranking 15th in the league with 57 points on 37 goals and 20 assists. One of the guys ahead of him, though, is Bruins left-winger David Pastrnak, who has 59 points on 28 goals and 31 assists. Look for these two guys to get involved in some of the goals scored on Sunday.

While not the class of the conference, both of these teams are contenders who will almost definitely make it to the postseason, and have a chance at making a run. As their records would suggest, these teams are very evenly matched and this should be a really good game.

Super Bowl LIII: New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Rams

Sunday Feb. 3, 6:30 p.m on CBS

Finally! The moment we’ve all been waiting for. It’s gotten to the point where the Super Bowl is no longer just a sporting event: it’s a national holiday. People who have no idea what a fumble or a field goal is will be tuning in to CBS on Sunday night. Annually, the Super Bowl is the most-watched event on TV by a pretty large margin.

So for all those Saints fans that claim to be boycotting the Super Bowl this year because of the no-call pass interference, I don’t buy it. There’s no way that your butt is not on your couch, munching on chips and dip when Gladys Knight sings the National Anthem on Sunday. It could honestly be a requirement by law to watch this game and I don’t think many people would argue.

I don’t need to talk much about this game. We all know the storylines: Goff vs. Brady, young vs. old, the past against the future, blah blah blah. The bottom line is that when the Patriots make the Super Bowl (so like every year), it’s always an entertaining game, so buckle up and appreciate greatness as we watch Tom Brady and Bill Belichick go for their sixth Lombardi trophy.


Danny Barletta is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.barletta@uconn.edu.

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