Friday, February 23, 2007

Weekend Preview

Bubble battles. Key conference tilts. A non-conference game involving Duke on the road. Oh, and #1 vs. #2 contest. This weekend has it all. Several conference tournaments begin in the coming week, meaning that the postseason is nearly upon us. With only sixteen days remaining until Selection Sunday, every game counts.

Siena at Marist (Saturday, 11:00 AM, ESPN2): MAAC title on the line in this one. Both teams are undefeated in February, with Marist winning seven in a row to get to 13-4 in the MAAC. Siena has also won seven in a row, and sits at 12-5. The conference tournament should be outstanding either way. Prediction: Marist 74, Siena 68

Oklahoma State at Texas Tech (Saturday, 12:00 PM, CBS): Big-time Big 12 bubble game. Oklahoma State has struggled mightily lately, losing five of six to drop to 5-7 in the conference. Texas Tech has lost six of their last eight and is only 6-7 in Big 12 play. Neither team can afford a loss.
Prediction: Texas Tech 69, Oklahoma State 63

Syracuse at Providence (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN): Another bubble game, this time in the Big East. Syracuse has played well as of late, winning three in a row to jump to 8-5 in the conference, but a road win would be huge. Providence is lurking as a potential at-large team, sitting at 7-5 in the Big East after back-to-back wins.
Prediction: Providence 73, Syracuse 70

Mississippi State at Georgia (Saturday, 1:00 PM, Regional TV): Yet another bubble battle between two SEC teams in need of a win. Mississippi State has jumped into the picture, winning four in a row to move into a tie for first place in the West. Georgia has won three of four, but they are only fourth in the East. Prediction: Georgia 71, Mississippi State 64

Clemson at Boston College (Saturday, 1:00 PM, Regional TV): ACC contest between two teams that are heading in the wrong direction. Clemson was 17-0 to start the year, but have lost eight of ten to drop to 5-7 in the ACC. Boston College has lost three in a row since starting 9-2 in the ACC. Prediction: Boston College 74, Clemson 66

Tennessee at Arkansas (Saturday, 1:05 PM, ESPN FullCourt): Two more SEC teams on the bubble looking for a win. Tennessee has terrific power numbers, but they are only 7-6 in the SEC East and face a tough final stretch. Arkansas is 5-7 in the West, and has lost three of four. Prediction: Arkansas 77, Tennessee 72

Pittsburgh at Georgetown (Saturday, 2:00 PM, CBS):
One of the best games of the season. Unfortunately, Pitt’s star center, Aaron Gray, likely will sit out due to injury. The Panthers still have plenty of options, but they might not have the size to match-up with Georgetown’s outstanding frontcourt duo of Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green. The winner has the inside track towards the Big East Championship.
Prediction: Georgetown 70, Pittsburgh 65

Georgia Tech at Virginia (Saturday, 3:30 PM, ABC): ACC contest between a couple of teams looking for a win. Georgia Tech is squarely on the bubble, but has won five of six to get to 6-7 in the conference. A road win here would be huge for their at-large hopes. Virginia is coming off of a bad loss to Miami (Fl.), but they are still only one game back at 9-4 in the ACC. Prediction: Virginia 76, Georgia Tech 69

Marquette at Notre Dame (Saturday, 3:30 PM, ABC): Interesting match-up in the Big East in a game that will be key for seeding in the conference tournament. Both teams are tied for fourth place in the league at 9-5. Marquette had lost three in a row prior to their win over Villanova this week, while Notre Dame has won their last three games to get closer to an at-large lock. Prediction: Notre Dame 79, Marquette 75

Texas at Oklahoma (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt): Big 12 game between two teams heading in opposite directions. Texas has been one of the best teams in the conference all year, and is sitting in third at 10-3. Oklahoma has lost three in a row after a 6-4 conference start that had bubble heads talking.
Prediction: Texas 73, Oklahoma 71

Florida A&M at Delaware State (Saturday, 4:00 PM): Big game in the MEAC with conference championship implications. Florida A&M is second in the league at 10-5, while Delaware State is in first at 13-2. There’s only three games left in the conference season, so it’s a must-win for A&M. Prediction: Delaware 62, Florida A&M 53

BYU at San Diego State (Saturday, 5:00 PM, CSTV): Big-time game in the Mountain West. BYU has won eight in a row and sit in first place in the conference at 11-2. They are playing some of the best basketball in the country, led by Keena Young. San Diego State is making a late run in conference play, winning five of their last six. They are a team to be reckoned with in the conference tournament. Prediction: San Diego State 68, BYU 59

Wichita State at Creighton (Saturday, 5:05 PM, ESPN2): The two top teams in the preseason in the MVC go head-to-head. Wichita State has fallen flat since their hot start, and has lost three in a row to drop to 8-9. Creighton has lost two in a row, but a win here would lock up second place in the conference.
Prediction: Creighton 67, Wichita State 60

Stanford at UCLA (Saturday, 6:00 PM, FSN): Rematch of Stanford’s upset win over the Bruins a month ago. Stanford could really use a win here to wrap up an NCAA bid, as a loss here would be the Cardinal’s sixth in nine games. Despite that, they still sit at 9-6 in the conference. UCLA would be on the verge of a Pac-10 title and the overall #1 seed with a victory here. The Bruins have won three in a row and have only three losses all year. Prediction: UCLA 70, Stanford 63

Jackson State at Mississippi Valley State (Saturday, 8:30 PM):
Crucial game in the SWAC title race. Jackson State, led by big-time scorer Trey Johnson, is sitting in first place with a 10-4 record, while MVSU has lost two of three to drop to 10-5 and second place. Prediction: Mississippi Valley State 66, Jackson State 61

Indiana at Michigan State (Saturday, 9:00 PM, ESPN): Big Ten battle between two teams looking for a victory. Indiana is sitting in third in the conference at 8-5, although they have lost two of three and are only 4-4 in their last eight games. A win here would be huge for their seeding. Michigan State picked up an outstanding win over Wisconsin earlier in the week, and a victory here could wrap up their at-large bid. They have won three in a row. Prediction: Michigan State 65, Indiana 59

Washington at Oregon (Saturday, 10:30 PM, FSN): Pac-10 battle between two teams looking for a win. Washington's at-large hopes are finished after their loss Thursday to Oregon State, but they could use a victory to get momentum heading into the conference tournament. Oregon picked up a huge win over Washington State Thursday night. They had lost six of eight prior to the win. Prediction: Oregon 75, Washington 64

Louisville at Connecticut (Sunday, 12:00 PM, CBS): This game looked a lot different heading into the conference season. Louisville was struggling mightily at that point, but has since turned it around to move into third place in the Big East. They knocked off Pitt and Marquette on the road last week. Connecticut has done just the opposite, fighting to even make the Big East Tournament. They have won four of six, but are still only 6-7 in the conference. Prediction: Louisville 71, Connecticut 67

Kentucky at Vanderbilt (Sunday, 2:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt): Key game in the SEC with both SEC Tournament and NCAA Tournament implications. Kentucky has a lofty RPI, but has lost three of four and is 8-5 in the SEC. They face a tough final stretch, so a road win here could be huge for their seeding. Vanderbilt came back from their big win over Florida with a blowout loss at Mississippi State. However, Derrick Byars and Shan Foster are outstanding wings, and could be too much for UK. Prediction: Vanderbilt 72, Kentucky 66

Duke at St. John’s (Sunday, 2:00 PM, CBS):
Intriguing non-conference game in a weekend full of big-time conference tilts. Duke has really bounced back from their mid-ACC swoon, winning three in a row to get back to 8-6 in the conference. Their RPI is back in good shape, and no one is talking about the Devils missing the Big Dance. St. John’s has been inconsistent this season, but they have wins over Syracuse and Notre Dame at home, so this won’t be an easy win for Coach K and co.
Prediction: Duke 63, St. John’s 60

Wisconsin at Ohio State (Sunday, 4:00 PM, CBS): One of the biggest games this year. It is a match-up of #1 vs. #2, with both teams still in the running for a Big Ten Championship, and possibly more important (in some people’s eyes), a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Some of the luster was taken off the game with Wisconsin’s loss to Michigan State, but this game will still be outstanding. The first meeting between the two resulting in a three-point for the Badgers in Madison. Prediction: Ohio State 69, Wisconsin 66 CLICK

North Carolina at Maryland (Sunday, 5:30 PM, FSN):
An excellent ACC match-up that will have implications in the ACC standings and in the Big Dance. North Carolina is in the running for a top seed, and a road win here would keep that goal alive. The Tar Heels are also only one game up in the ACC, ahead of second-place Virginia and Virginia Tech. Maryland has essentially locked up an NCAA bid with their recent four-game winning streak that included two road games. A victory over UNC would give the Terps even more momentum heading into March. Prediction: Maryland 80, North Carolina 78