Monday, January 29, 2007

The Week Ahead

With February right around the corner, the stretch drive is officially here in college basketball. Some conferences are at the mid-point in league play, meaning it’s time for teams to start making moves with an eye towards the NCAA Tournament. That “Last Ten Games” category on team’s NCAA Tournament profiles? It starts now.

Pittsburgh at Villanova (Monday):
Potential upset in the Big East. Pittsburgh has demonstrated they are the best team in the conference, winning 9 of their last 10. Villanova is only 3-4 in the Big East, but had won three in a row prior to losing a tough one on Saturday at Notre Dame.

Notre Dame at Syracuse (Tuesday): Two teams looking to keep up in the Big East standings. Notre Dame beat Villanova this weekend to move to 5-3 in the Big East, but they have been up-and-down lately. Syracuse has lost two in a row after starting 4-1 in conference play. Both teams need a win.

Maryland at Florida State (Tuesday): Big-time bubble battle in the ACC. Maryland knocked off Georgia Tech to improve to 2-4 in the ACC, but they have lost three of their last five and need a road victory. Florida State lost a heartbreaker at Boston College last week, and would like to go .500 in the conference.

Michigan State at Illinois (Tuesday): Interesting battle between 2005 Final Four teams. Michigan State nearly beat Ohio State Saturday night, and is looking more and more like an NCAA Tournament team. Illinois was dominated by Purdue over the weekend, and need a win here in order to keep their fading Big Dance hopes alive.

Wichita State at Northern Iowa (Tuesday): Don’t look now, but this game suddenly has a big impact on the MVC race. Wichita State has won two in a row to move to 5-6 in the conference, and could be making a move. Northern Iowa has done the opposite, losing their last two conference games, and is now only 6-4.

UNLV at Colorado State (Tuesday): Interesting game in the Mountain West. UNLV is trying to boost its NCAA Tournament resume, and has won four in a row, sitting at second place in the conference. Colorado State is 8-1 at home this season, and is only one game back of UNLV in the MWC standings.

VCU at Hofstra (Wednesday): First-place battle in the Colonial. VCU improved to 10-0 over the weekend, with their victory over Drexel in Philadelphia. At 18-3 overall, the Rams might also have a shot at an at-large bid. Hofstra has won 16 of their last 18 after starting the season 0-3, and is 9-1 in the CAA.

Ohio State at Purdue (Wednesday): Big Ten battle. Ohio State nearly blew a 20-point lead against Michigan State this weekend, but pulled it out in the end. They need to keep up with Wisconsin in the conference race. Purdue blew out Illinois at home on Saturday, and a win here would really boost their NCAA Tournament profile.

Vanderbilt at Florida (Wednesday):
The top two teams in the SEC go head-to-head. Vanderbilt has played outstanding lately, winning four in a row, including wins over Alabama, LSU, and Kentucky. Florida is looking like a repeat title contender, after their demolition of Auburn on the road Saturday.

Wisconsin at Indiana (Wednesday): Will the nation’s longest win streak come to an end? Wisconsin has won seventeen in a row after their victory over Iowa this weekend, and is looking like a legit Final Four squad. Indiana blew out Michigan on Saturday, moving to 5-2 and third place in the conference.

Georgia at Tennessee (Wednesday): An SEC East showdown. Georgia won yet another close game over the weekend, beating LSU on a last-second three. They have won five of their last six. Tennessee is really struggling lately, losing five of their last six and sitting at 2-4 in the conference. They need Chris Lofton back badly.

Creighton at Bradley (Wednesday): Key battle in the MVC, with at-large and conference standings implications. Creighton is tied for first in the conference at 8-3, and have won six of their last eight. Bradley didn’t look good at Missouri State over the weekend, and could really use a win here to get back on the right track.

Alabama at LSU (Wednesday): An SEC West battle between the two preseason favorites in a division that has been horrendous since the start of conference play. Alabama is 2-4 in the SEC, after their loss at home to Arkansas on Saturday. LSU is also 2-4 in the conference, and has lost three in a row since starting 13-4.

Texas at Texas Tech (Wednesday): Big 12 showdown in the Lone Star state. Texas is tied for first in the conference, and has won seven of their last nine. They are improving every game. Texas Tech fell to Missouri over the weekend after knocking off Kansas and Texas A&M in consecutive games.

Gonzaga at Stanford (Wednesday): Best non-conference match-up of the week. Gonzaga is sitting at 5-1 in the WCC, but need a quality road win after starting only 9-6 in non-conference play. Stanford is playing some of the best basketball in the country, winning six of their last seven and knocking off USC and UCLA in a four-day span.

Old Dominion at Drexel (Thursday): Another quality CAA game. Old Dominion has won two in a row to move to 7-3 in the conference, tied for third place. Drexel lost a tough one at home to league-leader VCU on Saturday, but they get big man Frank Elegar back from a one-game suspension and should bounce back here.

Washington State at Arizona (Thursday): Rematch of an overtime battle three weeks ago that Washington State won by four. The Cougars lost a heartbreaker to Oregon over the weekend in OT, but are still 6-3 in the Pac-10. Arizona was obliterated by North Carolina at home on Saturday, and is only 5-4 in the conference. They need a victory.

Duke at Virginia (Thursday): Third place is up for grabs in the ACC in this one. Duke has won five in a row since their 0-2 start to conference play, and might be hitting their stride at the right time. Virginia has won four in a row, including back-to-back road victories over NC State and Clemson. Both teams are 5-2 in conference.

Oregon at UCLA (Thursday): First-place in the Pac-10 is on the line in the best game of the week. Oregon bounced back from only their second loss of the season with a comeback win at Washington State in overtime. UCLA blew a big first-half lead at Stanford on Sunday to fall back into a tie with the Ducks at 7-2.


  1. Don't hate on Marquette, buddy. Some of the things you said might be true, but you can't discount the win at Pitt (a big team who was overmatched by Marquette's guards) either. The two conference losses at this point (at Providence and vs. Syracuse) came when Jerel McNeal, the soul of the team, and Wes Matthews, the brains of the team, were either out of commission (McNeal in the first game) or deeply affected (both players in the second) by concussions. Since then, nobody has beaten them. Obviously, they will lose more games this year, but this is a very solid team that is playing at a very high level. Expect them to at least make the Sweet 16.

  2. Well, first of all, "buddy", I'm assuming you meant to comment on the article about "teams to avoid" and whatnot. Kudos on that.

    Secondly, I do like Marquette. I think they have great guards and a decent frontcourt. I'll have them in "at least the Sweet 16". However, they have a lot of weaknesses that could be exploited in March.

    The article wasn't about teams that won't reach the Sweet 16--it was about teams to stay away from when picking your Final Four. Here were my exact words: "The teams in Group A that I will discuss are potential high-seeded teams that I don’t think have the necessary make-up to make a deep run in March."