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Today’s Specials: Focus is on Jimmy V Classic doubleheader in NYC

NC State’s C.J. Leslie should be able to dominate inside against Connecticut. But will he? (US Presswire)

Monday got the week off to a slow start, but Tuesday should feature some good action. Nine top-25 teams are in action, led by a double-header in New York City for the Jimmy V Classic.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: No. 25 North Carolina State vs. Connecticut (9 p.m., ESPN). The highlight of Tuesday’s Jimmy V Classic, both teams are still figuring themselves out. NC State looked better against Michigan, despite the loss, and the Wolfpack’s talent could be coming together. Meanwhile, Connecticut hasn’t looked great since its season-opening win over Michigan State. Keep an eye on the backcourt battle between UConn’s Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright, and NC State’s Lorenzo Brown and Rodney Purvis. Can the Huskies battle NC State on the inside?

Second-best game: Texas vs. No. 15 Georgetown (7 p.m., ESPN). This game would be a lot more exciting if Texas point guard Myck Kabongo was able to play. Instead, he has yet to be cleared by the NCAA and did not make the trip to New York City. Texas has won three in a row since a disastrous Maui Invitational, ranking near the top of the nation in defensive efficiency — but Georgetown is a different animal. The Hoyas are still inconsistent offensively, but they have size, length and defend extremely well. I don’t expect to see too many open shots for either team; this will be a defensive battle.

Another one to watch: Oklahoma at Arkansas (7 p.m., ESPN2). Both teams are likely to finish in the middle of the pack in their conferences, but a decent nonconference win could come in handy. Oklahoma’s only loss came on a neutral court to Gonzaga, while Arkansas has lost three in a row to Arizona State, Wisconsin and Syracuse. With that said, Arkansas guard BJ Young is one of the best scorers in the country — can Oklahoma’s depth and balance come out on top?

Guaranteed win: It’s been difficult to read Wisconsin this season. The Badgers were dominated by Florida and Creighton, and then lost to Virginia at home. They turn around and run undefeated California out of the building. The next test comes Saturday at Marquette. Tuesday night’s home tilt against Nebraska Omaha (8 p.m., ESPN3) won’t be a test.

Potential upset: Louisville almost fell at home to Illinois State over the weekend, but the Cardinals pulled it out late. Now they travel to Charleston (9 p.m., ESPNU) in a potentially scary game. Charleston suffered some losses early in the season, but they knocked off Baylor on the road shortly after Thanksgiving and do have some pieces. The Cougars will need to take care of the ball and knock down 3-pointers.

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. It might seem weird that St. John’s is taking a long trip to San Francisco (10 p.m., ESPN3) in December, but it’s something of a homecoming for Red Storm coach Steve Lavin, who was born in San Francisco. His father, Cap Lavin, also played at San Francisco.
  2. Illinois State put everyone on notice when the Redbirds took Louisville to the wire over the weekend, and now they welcome an undefeated Wyoming team to town (8 p.m.).
  3. South Dakota State has suffered two three-point defeats this season, but can Nate Wolters put the Jackrabbits over the top at No. 14 Minnesota (8 p.m., ESPN3)?
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