Friday, January 20, 2006

Weekend Preview

Yet another weekend filled with excellent conference battles is upon us. Three unbeatens take their flawless records on the road in an attempt to continue their undefeated seasons, while several other teams need to win in order to position themselves for potential at-large bids. No matter what is at stake this weekend, there is a plethora of quality games to keep an eye on.

Top Games

Iowa at Michigan State (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN)- Another high-quality Big Ten matchup. Michigan State is coming off of back to back wins over Indiana and Ohio State. Maurice Ager and Shannon Brown form one of the best wing duos in the nation, while post player Paul Davis is having an All-America-type season. Drew Neitzel is a solid point guard that doesn’t turn the ball over much. Iowa is underrated nationally, but also have their own star trio. Jeff Horner and Adam Haluska are very good all-around players on the perimeter, while bruiser Greg Brunner handles the paint responsibilities. Erek Hansen is an excellent shot-blocker. Prediction: Michigan State 77, Iowa 69

Duke at Georgetown (Saturday, 1:30 PM, CBS)- Could this be the game where Duke's undefeated season ends? Doubtful, but Georgetown will give the Blue Devils a game. The Hoyas have a very good forward tandem in Brandon Bowman and Jeff Green, while Roy Hibbert is an underrated center. Ashanti Cook is an athletic scorer in the backcourt. If Georgetown hits their threes, they will keep the game close. Duke has the nation's best inside-outside duo in guard J.J. Redick and post man Shelden Williams. Sean Dockery is an underrated guard, while Greg Paulus is developing into an ACC-caliber point guard. Prediction: Duke 71, Georgetown 64

Alabama at LSU (Saturday, 3:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- The two best teams in the SEC West battle in Baton Rouge. LSU is developing into a team that can make a serious run in the NCAA Tournament. Tyrus Thomas is the best freshman in the country, while Glen Davis is one of the top big men in the nation. Darrell Mitchell has developed into the best guard in the SEC. Alabama has won 3 in a row since star Chuck Davis went down with an injury. Jermareo Davidson is a very athletic big man who can score and rebound, while Ronald Steele is a solid point guard. Richard Hendrix has played well as of late. Prediction: LSU 72, Alabama 64

West Virginia at UCLA (Saturday, 3:45 PM, CBS)- This should be a high-scoring non-conference contest. West Virginia is playing as well as any team in the country right now. Mike Gansey seems like he can score from anywhere on the court, while Kevin Pittsnogle (who might not play the entire game due to the possible birth of his son) is an outstanding scorer and shooter. They might be the best inside-outside scoring tandem in the country. Joe Herber is an underrated third option. UCLA has survived injuries to stay in the lead for the Pac-10 title. Jordan Farmar and Aaron Afflalo form one of the best backcourts in the country. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute plays a major role on the interior, while Darren Collison is developing into a good scorer at the point. Prediction: West Virginia 78, UCLA 75

George Washington at Charlotte (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Two of the top teams in the Atlantic-10 face off in what should be a high-scoring affair. Charlotte has turned their season around since they started off 5-5. Curtis Withers is one of the best low-post performers in America, while De'Angelo Alexander is an excellent scorer on the wing. Leemire Goldwire is a scoring machine in the backcourt. George Washington is one of the most talented teams in the nation. Pops Mensah-Bonsu and the underrated Mike Hall form a very good frontcourt tandem, while Danilo "JR" Pinnock is an outstanding scorer on the wing. Maureece Rice is one of the best sixth men in the country. Prediction: Charlotte 77, George Washington 74

Syracuse at Villanova (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPN)- Similar to the Big Ten, it seems like every game in the Big East is a quality contest between two NCAA Tournament teams. Syracuse is starting to develop into a team that is going to be a tough out in a couple of months. Gerry McNamara can keep the Orange in the game from the perimeter, while Terrence Roberts is the main man down low. Demetris Nichols is a versatile scorer at the forward spot and guard Eric Devendorf is a crafty player in the backcourt. Villanova has struggled in their past 4 games, but are still an outstanding team. Randy Foye and Allan Ray are one of the best backcourt duos around, while Mike Nardi and Kyle Lowry makes the Wildcats' perimeter the best in the nation. Jason Fraser and Will Sheridan need to provide some sort of inside production. Prediction: Villanova 73, Syracuse 61

Florida at Tennessee (Saturday, 7:00 PM, FSN)- Going on the road, this is where Florida's unbeaten season could end. The balanced Gators have overachieved all season, led by the frontcourt trio of Corey Brewer, Al Horford, and Joakim Noah. Brewer is an all-around stud, while Horford and Noah form a very talented post duo. Taurean Green is one of the best point guards in the SEC and Lee Humphrey is an outstanding shooter. Tennessee is a perimeter-oriented team led by potentially the best backcourt in the league in C.J. Watson and shooter Chris Lofton. Major Wingate provides balance on the inside, while Andre Patterson is a versatile scorer in the frontcourt. Prediction: Tennessee 84, Florida 78

Connecticut at Louisville (Saturday, 9:00 PM, ESPN)- A game that looked phenomenal at the start of the season has lost some of its luster with Louisville standing at 1-3 in the Big East. The Cardinals have struggled throughout the season, and are even worse-off now with star guard Taquan Dean out with an injury. Juan Palacios and David Padgett are a good inside duo that need to play to their potential. Brandon Jenkins is an underrated perimeter player and Terrence Williams leads a host of freshman that contribute. On Connecticut's side, Marcus Williams is becoming the All-American point guard he was last season, while Hilton Armstrong has developed into the Huskies' best big man. Rudy Gay can take over a game from the wing and Rashad Anderson can carry the Huskies if his shot is falling. UConn may be the best team in the country. Prediction: Connecticut 86, Louisville 72

Wichita State at Missouri State (Sunday, 3:05 PM, ESPNU)- A rematch of last weekend's Wichita State victory, both teams need a win to stay in the Missouri Valley Conference race.Missouri State is coming off of a huge win over league-leader Southern Illinois. They are a high-scoring bunch, led by super-scorer Blake Ahearn. Guards Tyler Chaney and Deke Thompson are also very good guards, while Kellen Easley is one of the best sixth men in the country. Wichita State is tied for first with three other teams, at 6-2. They may have the best frontcourt combo in the MVC in Paul Miller and Kyle Wilson. Guards P.J. Couisnard and Sean Ogirri are the top players in the backcourt for the Shockers. Prediction: Missouri State 79, Wichita State 70

Other Games to Watch

Pittsburgh at St. John's (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Another undefeated heads on the road. St. John's always plays tough defense, but Pitt has the inside-outside duo of Carl Krauser and Aaron Gray. Prediction: Pittsburgh 66, St. John's 59

South Carolina at Kentucky (Saturday, 1:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- An SEC East matchup between two teams in need of a win. South Carolina might be too far from an NCAA bid already, but the Wildcats need a victory to stay on track. Prediction: Kentucky 69, South Carolina 62

Texas Tech at Oklahoma (Saturday, 1:00 PM, ABC/ESPN FullCourt)- A Big 12 matchup between two teams that still have a chance for an at-large bid. Oklahoma need another win to build their resume, while Tech could really use a decent road win. Prediction: Oklahoma 68, Texas Tech 60

Texas A&M at Iowa State (Saturday, 1:45 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- See above. Iowa State has several quality wins, but needs to finish at a decent spot in the Big 12 standings, while Texas A&M needs a quality road win--or any type of quality win, actually. Prediction: Iowa State 72, Texas A&M 64

George Mason at UNC-Wilmington (Saturday, 2:00 PM, Regional TV)-
A CAA matchup between two of the teams in contention for a regular season title. George Mason might be the only team in the conference with an outside shot at an at-large bid, while UNC-Wilmington needs to protect its homecourt. Prediction: UNC-Wilmington 76, George Mason 73

Georgia Southern at Davidson (Saturday, 2:00 PM)- A matchup in the Southern Conference between two of the top teams in the South Division. Ian Johnson and Brendan Winters are a great duo for Davidson, while Georgia Southern's Elton Nesbitt is the best scorer in the conference. Prediction: Davidson 78, Georgia Southern 71

Kent State at Northern Illinois (Saturday, 2:00 PM)- One of three undefeateds in the MAC East Division takes on the West Division's best. Northern Illinois has a clear path to a division title, while Kent State needs to fight off a bevy of quality teams to win their division. Prediction: Northern Illinois 73, Kent State 65

Wake Forest at North Carolina State (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- An ACC battle between the 2nd best team in the conference and a disappointing club. North Carolina State can beat any team in the country when they are hitting their shots, while Wake Forest has struggled all season due to the lack of a point guard. Prediction: North Carolina State 75, Wake Forest 60

Alabama A&M at Southern (Saturday, 4:00 PM)- The preseason favorite to win the SWAC takes on the current leader. Obie Trotter is going to have to carry A&M against a hot Southern team that has won 5 of their last 6. Prediction: Southern 81, Alabama A&M 75

Nebraska at Kansas (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN)- Similar to seemingly every Big 12 game, two teams with NCAA aspirations face off. Kansas has lost two in a row after looking like they were in good shape, while Nebraska needs to pick up a quality road win along the way to receive serious consideration for the Tournament. Prediction: Kansas 74, Nebraska 62

Colorado at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Oh wow, it's another Big 12 contest with teams that have a chance of getting an at-large bid. Oklahoma State has won 6 of 8, while Colorado has won 2 in a row after losing their first two conference games. Prediction: Oklahoma State 71, Colorado 61

Houston at UAB (Saturday, 6:00 PM, CSTV)-
The only two teams in the conference besides Memphis that have RPIs in the non-100s will battle in Birmingham. Expect a high-scoring battle. Click here for a complete preview. Prediction: UAB 82, Houston 73

Delaware State at Hampton (Saturday, 6:00 PM)- A rivalry in the MEAC continues with a rematch of last season's conference tournament title game. Delaware State leads the conference, while Hampton is 1.5 games back. No team in the league has an overall record above .500. Prediction: Delaware State 75, Hampton 73

California at Arizona (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ABC/ESPN FullCourt)- A battle between two disappointing Pac-10 teams that have work to do before they have definite at-large-worthy profiles. Arizona is maddeningly inconsistent, while Cal just hasn't played to their potential. Prediction: Arizona 73, California 69

Gonzaga at San Diego (Saturday, 6:00 PM)- The only two teams in the WCC with above-.500 records, San Diego might stand a chance to upset Gonzaga. On second thought...nah. Prediction: Gonzaga 82, San Diego 74

Samford at Eastern Kentucky (Saturday, 7:30 PM)- Two teams on Murray State's heels in the OVC battle it out. Eastern Kentucky has turned around their disappointing season, while Samford has stayed right in the race the entire season. Prediction: Eastern Kentucky 72, Samford 69

Boston College at Miami (Fl.) (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Both of these teams could be on the bubble come March. Boston College has struggled in the ACC, while Miami (Fl.) has turned their season around with four straight wins. Prediction: Miami (Fl.) 77, Boston College 69

Montana State at Northern Arizona (Saturday, 8:00 PM)- Two of the top teams in the Big Sky battle for league supremacy. Northern Arizona is the lone undefeated, while Montana State might have the most potential of any team in the conference. Prediction: Northern Arizona 76, Montana 71

Wright State at Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Saturday, 8:00 PM)-
The two best in the Horizon League go at it each other in Milwaukee. UW-Milwaukee is the best team in the conference on paper, but Wright State has been a surprise and are right on the Panthers' heels. Prediction: Wisconsin-Milwaukee 80, Wright State 66

Missouri at Kansas State (Saturday, 8:00 PM, Regional TV)- Are you serious? Is this the fifth game in the conference this weekend with at-large implications? Missouri needs a win to stay in second place, while Kansas State needs to build off last week's win over Kansas and this week's victory over Texas A&M. Prediction: Kansas State 71, Missouri 70

New Mexico State at Louisiana Tech (Saturday, 8:00 PM)- Look at the WAC standings--these two have the best records in the conference. Neither of these two hold at-large chances, so they have to continue winning and try to get a good seed in the conference tournament. Prediction: Louisiana Tech 69, New Mexico State 60

Western Kentucky at South Alabama (Saturday, 8:05 PM)- Another conference battle with the top teams facing off. Western Kentucky has been the most impressive team in the conference all season, while South Alabama is the lone unbeaten in the league. Prediction: South Alabama 70, Western Kentucky 68

Air Force at New Mexico (Saturday, 9:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- New Mexico has one of the most interesting resumes this season: they are undefeated at home, but have not won a game on the road. Air Force is a team to watch out for from the MWC in March. Prediction: New Mexico 65, Air Force 62

Montana at Sacramento State (Saturday, 10:05 PM)- Another Big Sky matchup with two of the four quality teams in the conference facing off. This could be a preview of the tournament championship, as both teams have the ability to outscore anyone. Prediction: Sacramento State 93, Montana 89

Rutgers at Cincinnati (Sunday, 2:00 PM)- Two quality teams in the Big East face-off in what should be a defensive affair. Cincinnati has been destroyed by injuries, while Quincy Douby has led Rutgers to a surprising start. Prediction: Cincinnati 66, Rutgers 62

North Carolina at Florida State (Sunday, 6:30 PM, FSN)- Two teams in the ACC that are in the middle of the pack in the standings. Florida State has been somewhat of a surprise this season, while North Carolina has fallen a bit since their excellent start. Prediction: Florida State 79, North Carolina 72

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