Tuesday will mark one of the most impactful days of the entire college basketball season. Four prominent men’s basketball's programs — No. 1 Louisville, reigning national runner-up Texas Tech, Indiana and Connecticut — will play in a doubleheader at New York City's Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic.
The "why" behind the matchups that will leave a lasting impact upon the lives of many.
Inspired by former North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator Jim Valvano and his fight against cancer, the V Foundation for Cancer Research was created in 1993 and the Jimmy V Classic began in 1995. This is the 12th annual Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research, a weeklong ESPN initiative to raise money for cancer research, and the 25th Jimmy V Classic.
Last year’s V Week for Cancer Research raised a record-$8.3 million for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, according to the ESPN Events website. That total marked an 83-percent increase from 2017.
Since 1993, the Foundation has raised more than $225 million in cancer research grants. To learn more about the V Foundation or to donate, you can visit www.jimmyv.org.
Louisville and Texas Tech will meet at 7 p.m. ET in the first game of the doubleheader, followed by Indiana and UConn at 9 p.m. ET.
This season marks the fourth Jimmie V Classic appearance for both Indiana (1999, 2009 and 2014) and UConn (2012, 2015 and 2017), the third for Louisville (2006 and 2014) and the first for Texas Tech.
Louisville (9-0) is arguably the most balanced team in the country with the No. 5 adjusted offensive efficiency in the country and No. 3 adjusted defensive efficiency, according to kenpom.com. An emphatic 58-43 win in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge over previously undefeated Michigan represents the Cardinals’ best win to date and they’re 2-0 in ACC play with wins over Miami (FL) and Pittsburgh.
Texas Tech (5-3) will limp into Madison Square Garden on a three-game losing streak but all three losses were away from home and two were in overtime. Leading scorer Jahmi’us Ramsey (17.3 ppg) didn’t play in either overtime loss due to a hamstring injury.
While the Red Raiders have had to replace many of their core players who fueled their run to last season’s national championship game, they’re still strong defensively this season. Chris Beard’s crew ranks 13th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Indiana (8-1) started 8-0 for the first time since the 2012-13 season, when the Hoosiers earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They ran then-No. 17 Florida State out of the gym, 80-64, in an ACC/Big Ten Challenge win at Assembly Hall last week but then suffered their first loss of the season, 84-64, in a road trip to Wisconsin on Saturday.
Indiana has three remaining non-conference games – UConn, Notre Dame (neutral court) and Arkansas – and each presents a potential notable non-conference win.
Meanwhile, Indiana potentially represents UConn’s best win to date this season. The Huskies have shown some significant variance this season, losing to Saint Joseph’s (currently 2-8) at home by nine points, then beating preseason No. 6 Florida on the same floor four days later.
Since a double-overtime loss to Xavier, UConn has won each of its last three games by at least 18 points.
One of the Huskies’ potential statistical advantages in the matchup is turnovers – both avoiding them on offense and forcing them on defense. UConn is 36th nationally in offensive turnover percentage (16.5%) and 56th in defensive turnover percentage (22.7%), while Indiana is rank in the 140s nationally in both categories.