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Report: UConn, Duke to meet at Izod Center next season

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UConn and Duke have met just nine times on the basketball court, with the Blue Devils having won five of those meetings. But what the two programs haven’t produced in quantity, it can be argued that they’ve made up for it in quality. Whether it’s the 1990 East Regional Final, the 1999 national title game or the 2004 Final Four, UConn and Duke have combined to play some highly entertaining games.

That will be the expectation when the two programs meet during the 2014-15 season, with ESPN.com’s Andy Katz reported that the game will take place “just prior to Christmas” at the Izod Center in New Jersey (it’s the Meadowlands).

Duke won the last meeting between the two teams, which occurred in the 2009 Preseason NIT title game, and they’ll begin the season as one of the favorites to win the national title. As for UConn, the status of guard Ryan Boatright and forward DeAndre Daniels will have a major impact on their chances of winning a second consecutive national title. Both are still evaluating their options in regards to the 2014 NBA Draft, with the NBA’s early entry deadline just four days away.

As for their schedules, both teams boasted solid non-conference slates even before this contest was announced.

UConn, whose non-conference slate becomes a bit more important given their belonging to the American Athletic Conference, has games against Florida (road), Stanford (road) and Texas (home) as well as a trip to San Juan to play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. As for Duke the Blue Devils will play Michigan State in the Champions Classic, and they’ve also got games in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

And in an interesting note about this series, all nine games have been played on neutral courts.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: