Rivalry week is over, but with a new team atop the polls, an exciting week of basketball is ahead.

Paul Wong
Joeseph Forte and North Carolina will try to defend the team”s new No. 1 ranking.<br><br>AP PHOTO

Tonight, 7:30 p.m., No. 7 Syracuse at No. 20 Boston College

Boston College is off to its best start in 34 years, with its only two losses to Duke and St. John”s. But the Eagles may not be as good as their record indicates. Their schedule contains such teams as Quinnipiac, Wofford and Marist.

Syracuse escaped last Saturday with a 54-53 victory over North Carolina State with a basket in the final 20 seconds of play. Damone Brown and Preston Shumpert hold the key to the Orangemen”s success. They lead the team in points-per-game and rebounds.

Boston College is atop the Big East-East region and Syracuse is tied for first with Notre Dame in the Big East-West region. The winner of the game will have bragging rights in the conference.

Look for the Orangemen to turn red hot on the defensive end, shutting down Boston College”s leading scorer Troy Bell, who is averaging 21.1 points per game.

Syracuse 75, Boston College 64

Feb. 10, CBS 1 p.m., No. 13 Maryland at No. 1 North Carolina

North Carolina took over the top spot in the polls this week after an impressive win over Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. North Carolina now has a large target on its back everyone will be gunning to shoot it down.

Maryland is on the rebound after two embarrassing losses. The Terrapins blew a 10-point lead in the final minute against Duke. They followed that performance with a 99-78 loss to Virginia. This past weekend, the Terrapins were finally able to overcome their “shell shock,” defeating Clemson on Sunday.

North Carolina has not missed a beat under first-year head coach Matt Doherty. The Heels have won 16 consecutive games and are 9-0 in the fierce ACC for the first time since 1986-87.

Surprisingly, as the best team in the nation, the Tar Heels lead the ACC in just one category rebounds with 38.9 per game. But North Carolina also owns the worst free-throw percentage in the league. North Carolina will lose the game, along with its No. 1 ranking, at the charity stripe.

Maryland 75, North Carolina 73

Feb. 10, ESPN-Plus 8 p.m., No. 4 Michigan State at Minnesota

Michigan State is flying high after defeating in-state rival Michigan in a game that was over shortly after the opening tip. The Spartans” team manager even suited up for the game, scoring four points against the dismal Wolverine defense.

Minnesota has lost four straight and the future does not look bright. The Golden Gophers will have to play without one of their most promising young players, Michael Bauer, who broke his forearm against Purdue.

The Golden Gophers have struggled from the tipoff as of late, digging themselves into a hole, forcing them to play catch-up for much of the game.

The “Izzone” has begun to tour from game to game, following the Spartans on the road like the Deadheads. Look for the Spartan fans to fill the arena because, quite frankly, they do not do homework in East Lansing.

Michigan State 94, Minnesota 60 (the Spartans” team manager will have a double-double)

Feb. 11, 2 p.m., No. 23 Notre Dame at West Virginia

On Monday night, Troy Murphy”s 34 points led the Fighting Irish to a come from behind victory against St. John”s. Notre Dame went on a 39-10 run during the second half to take the lead and the game. The Irish have won a school-record six straight Big East games.

West Virginia”s Chris Moss will play in his third-straight game after returning from suspension for spitting on a Notre Dame cheerleader in the team”s earlier meeting this year. Luckily for Moss, the game will be played on the Mountaineers” home court, where he will not have to face a hostile Notre Dame student section.

The game will be a showdown between two of the top rebounders and scorers in the conference in Murphy and West Virginia”s Calvin Bowman. The player with the more prolific numbers may be the difference in the game.

The Fighting Irish are hot while the Mountaineers are not. Their last two games include blowout losses to Pittsburgh and Georgetown. Look for Notre Dame to win its seventh conference game in a row.

Notre Dame 78, West Virginia 62

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