Friday, January 19, 2007

Weekend Preview

Take one quick look at the college basketball scene and it’s obvious that the parity around the country is unbelievable. There might be more parity this season than any in recent memory. As a result, it makes nearly every game between potential contenders in conference play a key game. This weekend features several of those types of games, as well as other contests between teams in need of wins—it’s never too early to start thinking about the bubble. In other words, this weekend is huge in college basketball—and I guess it’s kind of big in the NFL too. So, basically, you never have to leave your couch.

Louisville at DePaul (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN): Two Big East teams that definitely need a win. Louisville is coming off of a loss at home to Marquette; Terrence Williams is developing into one of the Big East’s best. DePaul beat St. John’s this week, and needs the duo of Sammy Mejia and Wilson Chandler to step up. Prediction: DePaul 71, Louisville 63

Boston College at Clemson (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt): Huge game for both teams. Boston College dismissed two players this week, including shot-blocking extraordinaire Sean Williams, but is still 5-0 in the ACC. Clemson is on a two-game losing streak, and was just blown out at home by North Carolina. Prediction: Clemson 75, Boston College 69

Purdue at Michigan (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt): Bubble game in the Big Ten. These two teams played last weekend, with Purdue winning by 14 at home. Michigan is 3-1 in the Big Ten, but need all the home wins they can get. The Boilermakers are 2-3, and have not won a conference road game yet. Prediction: Michigan 72, Purdue 65

Texas at Villanova (Saturday, 1:30 PM, CBS): Interesting contest between two teams that were better a year ago. Texas is coming off of their triple-OT classic at Oklahoma State, while Villanova defeated Notre Dame this past week. Look for an outstanding match-up between the Longhorns’ Kevin Durant and Nova’s Curtis Sumpter. Prediction: Texas 73, Villanova 71

Georgia at Alabama (Saturday, 1:30 PM, CBS): Two teams going in opposite directions after their respective mid-week games. Georgia won a huge road game over Arkansas, while Alabama was blown out on the road at Vanderbilt. Georgia needs more road wins to get into the at-large discussion, while ‘Bama simply needs a win. Prediction: Alabama 70, Georgia 61

Kansas State at Iowa State (Saturday, 1:30 PM, ESPN FullCourt): Both teams are 2-2 in the Big 12, and are just trying to stay in the mix. Kansas State has won two in a row after losing their previous three, while Iowa State nearly took out Kansas at home last weekend, but have lost two in a row heading into this one. Prediction: Iowa State 66, Kansas State 60

Appalachian State at Davidson (Saturday, 2:00 PM): This game looked much better before Appalachian State lost two of their last three games, including one to 4-12 Elon. However, both are still two of the best teams in the Southern Conference. Keep an eye on Davidson freshman Stephen Curry—he can really light it up. Prediction: Davidson 78, Appalachian State 70

Wisconsin at Illinois (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN): Big Ten battle between perennial favorites. Wisconsin is one of the best teams in the country, but has not played well since their game against Ohio State. Illinois needs a big win to add to their NCAA Tournament resume, and this would certainly do the trick. Interesting game. Prediction: Wisconsin 65, Illinois 61

Vanderbilt at Kentucky (Saturday, 3:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt): Don’t look now, but Kentucky is 4-0 in the SEC, while Vandy has upset Tennessee and Alabama in back-to-back weeks. The Wildcats are flying under the radar, but they have won 11 in a row. Vanderbilt struggles on the road, but they need a win to stay in the hunt. Prediction: Kentucky 75, Vanderbilt 63

Duke at North Carolina State (Saturday, 3:30 PM, ABC): Could Duke lose their third game of the ACC season already? Doubtful, but NC State isn’t easy to beat at home. Duke has played well since their two-game losing streak, while the Wolfpack have lost two of three since having a solid non-conference campaign. Prediction: Duke 73, North Carolina State 67

Indiana at Connecticut (Saturday, 3:45 PM, CBS): Easily the best non-conference game of the week. Indiana has been playing very well lately, and the Hoosiers are looking like the clear-cut #3 in the Big Ten. Connecticut still hasn’t defeated a good team, but the Huskies could break through here at home. Prediction: Connecticut 68, Indiana 67

LSU at Arkansas (Saturday, 3:45 PM, CBS): Two more inconsistent SEC teams. LSU is atop the West division with a 2-1 record, but they have not looked very impressive doing it. Arkansas fell at home to Georgia this week, pushing their losing streak to three games, and more importantly, tying them for last place in the SEC West. Prediction: Arkansas 74, LSU 69

Arizona at UCLA (Saturday, 4:00 PM, FSN): The best game of the week. Two potential national title contenders—also #1 and #2 in the RPI, by the way. Arizona has struggled immensely on defense, and has lost three of their last four. UCLA has only one loss this season, by two points at Oregon. They could blow out Arizona if things go right. Prediction: UCLA 72, Arizona 65

Kansas at Texas Tech (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN): Interesting Big 12 contest. Kansas has looked dominant at times this season, but mediocre and unimpressive at other times. Texas Tech’s solid year has been overlooked because of Bobby Knight’s record, but Jarrius Jackson and Martin Zeno will have Tech hungry for an upset. Prediction: Kansas 70, Texas Tech 68

San Diego State at Air Force (Saturday, 5:00 PM, Versus): Two of the preseason favorites in the conference will battle. San Diego State has not played to expectations, sitting at only 2-2 in the conference, while Air Force had won thirteen in a row before falling at Utah this week. Prediction: Air Force 66, San Diego State 57

Old Dominion at VCU (Saturday, 5:30 PM, Regional TV): Two of the contenders in the Colonial face-off in a must-win for ODU. The Colonials risk falling to 5-3 with a loss here, while VCU is sitting comfortably at 7-0 in the CAA. ODU has been up and down all season, but VCU has won 13 of their last 14 games and is hot. Prediction: VCU 77, Old Dominion 71

Washington at Washington State (Saturday, 6:00 PM, FSN): Heading into the season, one might have thought it would be a blowout—with the Huskies pouncing on the Cougars. However, it will still likely be a blowout—just the other way around. WSU fell last Saturday in OT at Stanford, while Washington has lost 5 of 6 in conference play. Prediction: Washington State 68, Washington 54

California at Oregon (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt): Two more surprising teams in the Pac-10. California has won four of five, including three on the road, to sit at 4-2 in the conference—without starting center Devon Hardin. Oregon is one of the best teams in the country, and are a two-point loss to USC from being undefeated. Prediction: Oregon 75, California 65

Oklahoma State at Texas A&M (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt): Key game in the Big 12. Oklahoma State bounced back from their 30-point loss at Kansas with a triple-OT win over Texas. Texas A&M has been flying under the radar since their loss to UCLA, but they have won eight in a row—only one by less than ten points. Prediction: Texas A&M 69, Oklahoma State 64

Indiana State at Northern Iowa (Saturday, 8:05 PM): The first of three big-time games in the MVC. Indiana State started the conference season hot, but they have lost two in a row to drop to 4-3. Northern Iowa picked up a huge road win at Missouri State on Thursday after dropping their previous two, and is now 5-2. Prediction: Northern Iowa 63, Indiana State 51

Southern Illinois at Creighton (Saturday, 8:05 PM, Regional TV): The winner could be in first place by the end of the night. Creighton leads the conference right now at 6-2, after a poor non-conference campaign in which they went 6-4. Southern Illinois lost to Evansville this week to fall to 5-3 in the conference. They need a win. Prediction: Creighton 59, Southern Illinois 56

Wichita State at Bradley (Saturday, 8:05 PM, Regional TV): A must-win for both teams. Wichita State is 3-5 in conference play, and can’t afford to drop to 3-6 heading into the second half. Bradley lost to Creighton on Thursday after winning their previous three games, but is still only 4-4. The loser could be out of the conference race. Prediction: Bradley 75, Wichita State 71

Georgia Tech at North Carolina (Saturday, 9:00 PM, ESPN): Interesting ACC contest. Georgia Tech has been playing much better lately, winning 7 of their last 8, including back-to-back victories over Duke and Florida State. North Carolina bounced back from their loss at Virginia Tech with a dominating win at Clemson. Prediction: North Carolina 84, Georgia Tech 76

Nevada at New Mexico State (Saturday, 9:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt): Arguably the game of the year in the WAC. Nevada is 5-0 in the conference, had have won ten in a row heading into Saturday night. New Mexico State dropped their first conference game to Louisiana Tech on Wednesday, but will be ready for the upset. Prediction: Nevada 73, New Mexico State 70

Marquette at Pittsburgh (Sunday, 3:00 PM, CBS): Arguably the two hottest teams in the Big East go head-to-head. Marquette has won three in a row after starting Big East play 0-2, while Pittsburgh is clearly the class of the conference, sitting at 5-0. Look out for Pitt’s Levance Fields and Marquette’s Dominic James at the point. Prediction: Pittsburgh 75, Marquette 68

Maryland at Virginia Tech (Sunday, 7:30 PM, FSN): Two teams seemingly going in opposite directions. Maryland is 1-3 in the conference after their loss at Virginia this week, and really need a win here. Virginia Tech, despite their loss at Florida State, is 3-1 in the conference, with wins over North Carolina and Duke. Prediction: Virginia Tech 81, Maryland 71

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