Danny’s can’t-miss games of the week: Big week for basketball

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Boston Celtics’ Daniel Theis (27), Terry Rozier (12) and Marcus Morris (13) walk to the bench during a timeout in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, in Boston. The Celtics were expected to challenge the Warriors for the NBA crown, and that could still happen though right now they’re looking up at Milwaukee and Toronto in the East. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

I hope you’ve cleared your calendars for this weekend, because it is packed with some unbelievable games in college basketball. Also, the NBA is coming back from its all-star break this week, and there are some great matchups to start the second half in there too. If you like basketball of any kind, you are in for a treat this week.

NBA: Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Thursday, Feb. 21, 8 p.m. on TNT

The second half of the NBA season kicks off with a bang on Thursday, when two of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference battle it out in prime time. Giannis Antetokounmpo will try to keep up the torrid pace he set in the first half in pursuit of his first MVP award, as the Bucks try to remain the top seed in the East.

On the other side, Kyrie Irving and the Celtics will look for a fresh start in the second half after a less-than-desirable first 58 games. They are definitely one of the most talented teams in the league, but they will have to iron out some wrinkles to be serious contenders the rest of the way. In this one, they will have their work cut out for them against a nearly unstoppable Bucks team.

NCAAM: No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers vs. No. 13 LSU Tigers

Saturday, Feb. 23, 12 p.m. on ESPN

Tennessee was handed their first conference loss by Kentucky last weekend, and Kentucky was handed a brutal loss by LSU a few days before that. So it is only appropriate that LSU and Tennessee, the top two teams in the conference, should face off in an SEC showdown this weekend.

The Volunteers will be looking to try to remain on top of the SEC against a Tigers team that is hungry for that position. LSU has had a fantastic year so far, going 21-4, and they have worked their way into the top 15 for the first time this season after winning 14 out of their last 15 games, including the aforementioned game against No. 5 Kentucky.

This weekend, they will face another No. 5 team in Tennessee that has just two losses the entire season, hoping to create another upset and move into first place in the conference. This game has huge implications for both of these teams as well as the SEC as a whole.

NCAAM: No. 1 Duke Blue Devils vs. Syracuse Orange

Saturday, Feb. 23, 6 p.m. on ESPN

The second part of your can’t-miss Saturday of college basketball will be when No. 1 ranked Duke takes on one of the only two teams that has beaten them this year. I’m not saying I expect another upset, but I do think that the Orange will enter this game with a sense of confidence that no other team has against Duke this season.

The Blue Devils have not lost since they played Syracuse way back on Jan. 14, and they have been winning a lot of their games by a pretty wide margin, even against quality opponents. Syracuse, on the other hand, has not been playing its best basketball lately, losing two of its last three games. However, I will never underestimate a Jim Boeheim-coached team against a great opponent. They will always fight to the finish and play a solid game.

On paper, it looks like Duke should wipe the floor with Syracuse, but that’s what we thought last time too.

NCAAM: No. 10 Michigan State Spartans vs. No. 7 Michigan Wolverines

Sunday, Feb. 24, 3:45 p.m. on CBS

This is one of the best rivalries in all of college sports, and it will be even better in this matchup because both teams are having phenomenal seasons. They are tied for the top spot in the Big 10 with Purdue, all with 12-3 records. This is just the third time in the history of this storied rivalry that the teams are playing each other while both ranked in the top 10, and the first time since 2013.

Michigan State was cruising this season until they lost three consecutive games a couple of weeks ago. Since then, they have gotten back on track and have won their last three games to move back into the top 10.

Similarly, Michigan won 20 of its first 21 games, including the first 17, but they are just 3-2 in their last five games.

Neither team is extremely hot going into this game, which means that both teams will be trying to create some momentum early. I expect this game to be a must-watch from start to finish.

NCAAM: No. 23 Kansas State Wildcats vs. No. 12 Kansas Jayhawks

Monday, Feb. 25, 9 p.m. on ESPN

Yes, there’s another classic rivalry game between ranked opponents this week. The newest chapter of the Sunflower Showdown will be written on Monday, and it might be one of the most important ones ever in the regular season.

Depending on how the events of this weekend turn out, these two teams could enter this game locked in a tie for first place in the Big 12. Kansas State is currently ahead by one game, but the Jayhawks have been playing really well as of late. No matter where the teams are in the standings on Monday, this game will have huge implications on the Big 12 with only two weeks left in the regular season.

In a series that has been historically dominated by Kansas, the Wildcats broke their eight game losing streak with a big 74-67 win on Feb. 5. Now, the Jayhawks will be looking for revenge while the Wildcats will attempt to secure their first regular season sweep of Kansas since 1983.


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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