Friday, February 2, 2007

Weekend Preview

Finally, February is upon us. The stretch run in college basketball. Conference title races, rivalries, bubble teams, RPI, quality wins—the best two-month stretch of the year starts now. From here until Selection Sunday, nearly every game matters—for seeding, conference standings, and for inclusion to the Big Dance. Since it’s only the midpoint for many conferences, most leagues are still up for grabs. However, there are only a few weeks left until conference tournaments, so it's time to make your move--either in or out of the NCAA Tournament.

Top Games

Kentucky at Arkansas (Saturday, 1:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt): SEC battle between two programs with history. Kentucky is second in the SEC East, sitting at 5-2 following their second-half blowout of Tennessee last weekend. The Wildcats are led on the perimeter by scoring guards Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley. Randolph Morris, one of the best post players around, anchors the post. Arkansas is only 3-4 in the SEC West, yet a half-game out of first. Forwards Charles Thomas and Sonny Weems are match-up problems up front, while Gary Ervin and Patrick Beverley are solid on the perimeter. Prediction: Arkansas 73, Kentucky 65

Virginia Tech at Boston College (Saturday, 1:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt):
Two teams trying to keep pace with North Carolina in the ACC. Virginia Tech had been rolling, but had a bad loss at home to North Carolina State this week. Senior guards Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon carry the team in the backcourt. Deron Washington is active and athletic up front. Boston College is still trying to find its way without Sean Williams, but is still 6-2 in the conference. Jared Dudley is one of the best all-around players in the country, and Tyrese Rice and Sean Marshall are very good scorers in the backcourt. Prediction: Boston College 70, Virginia Tech 68

Southern Illinois at Wichita State (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN2):
Two of the preseason favorites in the MVC go head-to-head. Southern Illinois has lived up to their billing, tied for first in the conference at 9-3. The Salukis play outstanding defense, and they have a nice trio in guard Jamaal Tatum, and forwards Randal Falker and Matt Shaw. Wichita State has won three in a row to get back to 6-6 in the MVC. This win would go a long way for their at-large hopes. Kyle Wilson is an inside-outside scorer up front, while P.J. Couisnard has very good all-around ability. Prediction: Southern Illinois 61, Wichita State 57

Tennessee at Florida (Saturday, 3:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt): SEC East showdown that looked a lot better last season—on paper, at least. Tennessee still might be without Chris Lofton, who has missed three games, and the Volunteers are fifth in the division. Guards JaJuan Smith and Ramar Smith have picked up the slack, while Duke Crews is solid in the paint. Florida is one of the favorites to cut down the nets in early April. They have outstanding balance, led by point guard Taurean Green in backcourt, Joakim Noah inside, and Corey Brewer on the wing. Prediction: Florida 84, Tennessee 69

Oregon at USC (Saturday, 3:30 PM, Regional TV): Rematch of Oregon’s first loss of the season. The Ducks are coming off of a loss at UCLA in which they didn’t look impressive at all. Aaron Brooks leads the way for Oregon, while a host of perimeter players also contribute. Maarty Leunen is the lone post player for the Ducks. USC has flown under the radar, but is only a game out of first place at 7-3. Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt lead a deep perimeter group. Taj Gibson has been one of the nation’s best freshmen inside for the Trojans. The winner takes second place in the conference. Prediction: USC 72, Oregon 69

Ohio State at Michigan State (Saturday, 4:00 PM, CBS): Potential upset in the Big Ten? It nearly happened last week, when the Buckeyes almost blew a twenty-point lead in the second half before escaping with a win. OSU is tied for first in the conference at 7-1. Greg Oden anchors the paint for Thad Matta, while fellow freshmen Mike Conley and Daequan Cook are the leaders on the perimeter. Ron Lewis is also solid on the wing. Michigan State dropped to a three-way tie for fourth place after back-to-back road losses. Drew Neitzel might be the most valuable player in the country, in terms of team impact. He does it all for the Spartans. Raymar Morgan is another good scorer on the wing. Prediction: Michigan State 65, Ohio State 60

UNLV at BYU (Saturday, 5:30 PM, Regional TV): The winner keeps pace with Air Force for first in the Mountain West. UNLV is one of the best least-talked about teams in the country, winning 14 of their last 16. They are led by an excellent perimeter group, including explosive wing Wendell White and guard Wink Adams. Gaston Esseneque anchors the paint. BYU knocked off Air Force last weekend, and has won 28 straight home games. Trent Plaisted and Kenna Young form an excellent frontcourt duo for the Cougars, and Lee Cummard is a do-it-all type of player in the backcourt. Prediction: BYU 75, UNLV 71

Georgia at Vanderbilt (Saturday, 7:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt): Two 5-3 teams in the hunt for an at-large bid from the SEC. Georgia had won five of six before losing to Tennessee this week. Sundiata Gaines has developed into one of the best guards in the SEC, while Mike Mercer and Levi Stukes are also solid guards. Takais Brown is a threat down low. Vanderbilt had won four in a row before losing at Florida this week. Derrick Byars and Shan Foster form one of the best wing duos in the SEC, and Dan Cage and Ross Neltner form a nice inside-outside duo. Prediction: Vanderbilt 73, Georgia 67

Texas A&M at Kansas (Saturday, 9:00 PM, ESPN): Best game this season in the Big 12. Unfortunately, it’s the only time the two teams play. Texas A&M is arguably the best defensive team in the country, and they have an improved offense. Acie Law is an outstanding point guard, while Joseph Jones is a beast down low. Antanas Kavaliauskas is another good post player, and Josh Carter is an excellent shooter. Kansas is another Final Four contender. They have some of the best talent in the country, led by perimeter players Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers, and Sherron Collins. Prediction: Kansas 70, Texas A&M 66 CLICK HERE FOR MY COMPLETE PREVIEW OF TEXAS A&M VS. KANSAS

Florida State at Duke (Sunday, 2:00 PM, FSN): Interesting ACC battle. Florida State is 4-4 in the ACC, after their impressive second-half showing against Maryland. Al Thornton might be playing the best of any player in the conference right now, and Jason Rich and Toney Douglas are two very good scoring guards. Duke is coming off of an overtime loss at Virginia, to drop to 5-3 in the conference. Josh McRoberts is a do-it-all player in the paint, while DeMarcus Nelson and Jon Scheyer are the two main threats from the perimeter. Prediction: Duke 68, Florida State 62

Other Games to Watch

Louisville at Villanova (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN2): Bubble battle in the Big East. Louisville is tied for second in the Big East at 6-2, and has won 11 of their last 13. Villanova, despite a three-game winning streak two weeks ago, is only 3-5 in the Big East after dropping two in a row. Both teams need a win. Prediction: Villanova 72, Louisville 65

Rhode Island at Fordham (Saturday, 12:00 PM): Battle for first place in the Atlantic-10. Rhode Island had a chance to get first place last week, but fell at home to George Washington, and is now 6-2. Fordham has won five in a row to move to 6-2. Jimmy Baron of URI and Marcus Stout of Fordham are two very good guards. Prediction: Fordham 74, Rhode Island 64

Clemson at Georgia Tech (Saturday, 1:00 PM, Regional TV):
Both teams could really use a win here in the ACC. Clemson is only 4-4 in the ACC after starting 17-0. They have lost four of their last five, the latter two losses coming by a combined three points. Georgia Tech is only 2-6 in conference play after losing four in a row. They are seeing their at-large hopes fade.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 79, Clemson 73

Washington at Arizona (Saturday, 1:30 PM, FSN): Two of the top three teams in the Pac-10 heading into the season, this is shaping up to be a potential bubble game. Washington is slowly moving back into the thick of things, winning three in a row to get to 4-6. Arizona is going the other direction, losing six of their last eight, dropping to 5-5. Prediction: Arizona 85, Washington 77

UNC-Greensboro at Davidson (Saturday, 2:00 PM, Regional TV): Two of the best in the Southern Conference go head-to-head. UNC-Greensboro is sitting at 9-2, tied with Appalachian State in the North Division, after winning five in a row, including a win over ASU. Davidson is 10-1 in the conference, and has won 15 of 16. Prediction: Davidson 78, UNC-Greensboro 71

Providence at Marquette (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPNU): Entertaining game in the Big East. Providence is 4-3 in the conference after going into Storrs and beating Connecticut last week. A win here would be huge for their at-large hopes. Marquette is tied for second in the conference at 6-2, and has won six in a row. Prediction: Marquette 75, Providence 66

Kansas State at Texas (Saturday, 3:30 PM, ABC): Don’t sleep on this game in the Big 12. Kansas State is only one game out of first place, at 5-2 in the conference. The Wildcats have won six in a row. Texas is tied for first at 6-1, after the Longhorns went into Lubbock and knocked off Texas Tech behind Kevin Durant’s legendary performance. Prediction: Texas 76, Kansas State 67

DePaul at Syracuse (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt): Two middle-of-the-pack Big East teams facing a must-win. DePaul is on their last straw in terms of at-large hopes, but a win here would get them back to .500 in the Big East. Syracuse was 4-1 in the conference only two weeks ago, but has since lost three in a row, including their horrendous performance against Notre Dame at home this week. Prediction: Syracuse 73, DePaul 64

Santa Clara at St. Mary’s (Saturday, 7:00 PM, Regional TV): Two teams in the West Coast trying to keep pace with Gonzaga. The winner has sole possession of second place, only a game behind the Bulldogs. Santa Clara has won four of five, but the lone loss was at home to 1-6 Loyola Marymount. St. Mary’s has won five of six, with their loss at home to 2-5 Pepperdine.
Prediction: St. Mary's 75, Santa Clara 67

Sam Houston State at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Saturday, 8:00 PM):
The two preseason favorites for the Southland title go head-to-head. 6-2 Sam Houston State has been up and down in conference play, beating Stephen F. Austin and Southeastern Louisiana, but falling to Texas-Arlington and McNeese State. Texas A&M Corpus Christi is undefeated in conference play at 7-0, and has won ten in a row. Their RPI is nearly fifty spots better than the next team in this conference (Sam Houston St.). Prediction: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 78, Sam Houston State 65

Northern Arizona at Weber State (Saturday, 9:00 PM): Another mid-major conference with the conference lead on the line. Northern Arizona is 7-4 in the league after their exciting overtime win at Idaho State. Weber State has won three in a row to move to 8-3 in the league. They only have four games left after this one.
Prediction: Weber State 80, Northern Arizona 75

Stanford at California (Saturday, 9:30 PM, FSN): Bay Area clash. Stanford lost some of their momentum with their home loss in double-overtime to Gonzaga, but the Cardinal are still one of the hottest teams around. California needs a win to get back to .500 in the Pac-10, but they have lost three in a row and are reeling. Prediction: Stanford 66, California 63

1 comment:

  1. I love the college hoops blog. I've done a few college hoops posts since I started my blog a couple of weeks ago.

    By the way, I was wondering if you would like to link my blog onto yours. I will put yours onto mine too. Let me know. Thanks.