Friday, February 25, 2005

Saturday Preview

Virginia Tech at North Carolina State: One of several bubble games today. Virginia Tech is looking more and more like an NCAA Tournament team as fringe teams continue to lose. NC State needs to win to stay in the conversation to get an at-large bid. If they lose, the Wolfpack are done. Prediction: North Carolina State by 7

Georgia Tech at Miami (Fl.): A classic late-February bubble game. The Yellow Jackets seemed to be a lock in everyone's bracket until people actually took a closer look at their resume. Miami needs a win at home to stay in next week's field of 65. They have the backcourt to match-up with Tech. Prediction: Miami (Fl.) by 3

Connecticut at Pittsburgh: The last meeting between these two was a great game that saw the Panthers come back from a 17-point deficit to win going away. UConn is one of the hottest teams in the country, while Pitt has cooled off since sweeping Syracuse. Marcus Williams has developed into the best point guard in the Big East. Prediction: Connecticut by 6

Louisville at Memphis: The last time these two played turned out the exact opposite most thought--and it was the turning point for the Tigers' season. Memphis blitzed Louisville from the start and won by 17. The Cardinals have struggled since then, and the Tigers are now on the bubble. A win here would put Memphis in the Big Dance for now, while Louisville would stay with Charlotte in the race for the conference title. Prediction: Louisville by 2

Cincinnati at TCU: What is this game doing here? Look at the standings, my friends. TCU is sitting at 7-6 with an opportunity to get an eighth win here. If they win, put them in the at-large conversation. Cincinnati has been destroying teams the past couple of weeks. They better be ready for a test here. TCU does not have the big men to stop Eric Hicks and Jason Maxiell. Prediction: Cincinnati by 4

Arizona at Washington: Should be the best game of the day. The Pac-10 title is up for grabs as the Huskies are only one game back in the loss column of the Widlcats. Arizona struggled on Thursday against Washington State, while Washington shot almost 70 percent from behind the arc against Arizona State. I can't see Salim Stoudamaire having another bad game. Prediction: Arizona by 1

Kentucky at Alabama: Battle between the East and West division leaders. I really am not overly impressed with the Wildcats, while the Crimson Tide seem to have all the weapons to make a deep NCAA Tournament run. With a win here, 'Bama would move to only one game back of Kentucky for the SEC regular season title. Freshman point guard match-up between Ronald Steele of 'Bama and Rajon Rando of UK will be something to watch. Prediction: Alabama by 3

Wichita State at Southern Illinois: After three straight losses, the Shockers moved onto the back part of the bubble, and can not really afford anymore losses. However, they are still only one game back in the Missouri Valley Conference. If they beat the Salukis for the second time this season, they will have the inside track towards the regular season championship. That should be enough to get them in the tournament. Prediction: Southern Illinois by 4

George Washington at Dayton: The West division title is up for grabs, especially after GW's loss at Xavier on Wednesday. The Colonials are on the bubble, and need to run the table and probably get to the conference tournament championship to get an at-large bid. The Flyers are quietly keeping pace with GW and have won 10 of their last 13. They have the balance and depth to hang with the Colonials, but GW is just too quick and athletic. Prediction: George Washington by 5

Niagara at Rider: Again, you are probably wondering why I am putting this game up as a top game. Well, with the regular season ending Saturday, Rider is one game back of Niagara. The winner of this game will win the regular season title. If Niagara wins, they get it outright; if Rider wins, they split it. Rider has lost 3 of 6, while the Purple Eagles have won 9 of 11. They also have one of the best mid-major players in Juan Mendez, who averages a double double (23 ppg, 10 rpg). Prediction: Niagara by 3

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