Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Week Ahead

Finally, back to a full week of solid college basketball. After most schools around the country had final exams last week, most hoops fans were impatiently waiting for quality match-ups to begin again. This week features several important games for teams looking to make a statement on their non-conference resumes, while two top-ten teams highlight the schedule with a big-time battle on a neutral court Thursday.

Kansas at Georgia Tech (Tuesday, 7:00 PM, ESPN): Kansas has already separated itself from the rest of country as one of the favorites for the Final Four, while Georgia Tech really needs a win here to boost its non-conference resume.

Kentucky at Houston (Tuesday, 9:00 PM, ESPN): Interesting match-up between two teams going in opposite directions. Kentucky has lost three in a row and will drop to below-.500 with a loss, while Houston is 9-1 with its only loss by one point to VCU.

New Orleans at Southern Miss (Tuesday, 9:00 PM): Don’t overlook this game right away. New Orleans has wins at North Carolina State, Tulane and Colorado, while Southern Miss has only one win against a Division-I team.

Bradley at Butler (Wednesday, 7:00 PM): Battle between two mid-major teams looking to pick up a solid win. Bradley did something Butler couldn’t do: win at Wright State. However, Butler is 9-1 and one of the best teams in the country.

South Florida at Wake Forest (Wednesday, 7:00 PM): Will either team be a potential sleeper in its respective conference? This game could tell us a lot. South Florida has won seven in a row, while Wake Forest is 6-3 and undefeated at home.

Memphis at Cincinnati (Wednesday, 7:00 PM, ESPN2):
I don’t know if anyone thinks Cincinnati will win, but Memphis hasn’t played a true road game yet and Cincinnati played well against Xavier in last week’s Crosstown Shootout.

UNC-Asheville at Tennessee (Wednesday, 7:30 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Is Asheville a legit contender in the Big South? Don’t look at its 8-2 record and assume so. Only five wins are against D-I teams – Tennessee will make sure it doesn’t get another one.

Baylor at South Carolina (Wednesday, 7:30 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Two teams playing better than expected so far. Baylor is 7-1 with only a three-point loss to Washington State on its schedule, while USC has been tough all year.

New Mexico State at New Mexico (Wednesday, 9:00 PM, Regional TV):
Intrastate battle between two teams that have already faced each other. NMSU won the first game, but it has struggled all year and is only 5-7, while New Mexico is 9-2 on the season.

Arizona at UNLV (Wednesday, 10:00 PM, CSTV):
West coast match-up. 7-2 Arizona has played well despite the loss of coach Lute Olson for the season, while UNLV is also 7-2 and has won three in a row. Both teams are in the top-20 of the RPI.

Santa Clara at Stanford (Wednesday, 10:30 PM, Regional TV): Wednesday’s game will mark the return of Stanford star Brook Lopez from academic suspension. Santa Clara is 7-3 and has already won five games on the road, while the Cardinal are 8-1.

Miami (Ohio) at Illinois (Thursday, 7:00 PM, Big Ten Network): Two teams in need of a solid non-conference win in order to boost their respective at-large resumes. Miami (Ohio) has lost four games by a total of nine points, while Illinois is 6-3 thus far.

Duke vs. Pittsburgh (Thursday, 7:00 PM, ESPN): By far the best game of the week. Two top-ten teams will match-up in a battle of the undefeateds. Both teams are 10-0, although Duke has been more impressive so far. Expect an outstanding game at the Mecca of college basketball, Madison Square Garden.

Gonzaga at Oklahoma (Thursday, 9:30 PM, ESPN):
Should be a very interesting game. Gonzaga is 9-2 despite the fact Josh Heytvelt, one of the best big men in the country, is out with an injury. Oklahoma is 8-3 and has won three of its last four games.

Davidson at North Carolina State (Friday, 7:00 PM, Regional TV): Going into the season, both teams looked to be solid at-large candidates. However, neither team would get a bid if the season ended today. Davidson has been in every game, but it is only 3-5, while NC State is 5-3 with losses to East Carolina and New Orleans.

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