Photo from University of Louisville Athletics

Pregame Shootaround: 1.14.13: Big Monday’s back!

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Game of the Day: No. 1 Louisville at UConn (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Call me crazy, but I think that UConn has a real chance to knock off Louisville tonight at the XL Center in Hartford. With the Cardinals taking over the reins as the No. 1 team in the country tonight, UConn is playing without an ounce of pressure on them this season. They, quite literally, have nothing to lose. Regardless of what they do this season, the Huskies are ineligible from tournament play due to APR sanctions from the Jim Calhoun days.

A team with nothing to lose is a dangerous team, and I happen to think that the Huskies matchup pretty well with Louisville, mainly because they have a back court — Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright — that is talented enough to beat Louisville’s pressure while avoiding turnovers. If Deandre Daniels plays the way he has through three Big East games, Louisville could find themselves heading back to the Commonwealth with a loss.

Who’s Getting Upset?: See above

Five Things to Watch For

1) Big Monday happens tonight for the first time this season, and as someone that grew up on Big East basketball, I can tell you that it’s bittersweet. This is the last season where Big Monday will truly be Big Monday.

2) Baylor will be taking on Kansas in the nightcap at 9:00 p.m. ET, but there is much less hype heading into this season’s matchup between the Bears and the Jayhawks. Baylor has the roster makeup to give Kansas a scare, as seven-footer Isaiah Austin is talented enough to force Jeff Withey to cover him on the perimeter. But, simply put, I just don’t trust Baylor anymore.

3) Davidson is sitting at 4-0 in the Big South’s Southern division, but they aren’t the only undefeated team in that conference. Up in the Northern division, Western Carolina is sitting at 4-0 as well as going 3-9 in non-conference play. The Catamounts take on Elon tonight.

4) Southern has ripped off six straight wins to take control of first place in the SWAC. They host Mississippi Valley State tonight.

5) No Damian Lillard, no big deal. Weber State puts their 5-0 record on the line by heading to Idaho State tonight.

The Top 25

  • No. 1 Louisville at UConn (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Baylor at No. 4 Kansas (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Other Notable Games

  • Davidson at Georgia Southern (7:00 p.m. ET)

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)