Monday, January 21, 2008

The Week Ahead

After a wild week which saw more than half of the top-25 teams lose, including No. 1 North Carolina and No. 4 UCLA falling at home on Saturday, it’s time for another jam-packed week of college basketball. The questions that surrounded many teams after non-conference play are beginning to be answered as teams around the country attempt to separate themselves from the pack in their respective conferences. This week will answer a few more of those questions.


Syracuse at Georgetown:
Battle in the Big East. Syracuse has lost three of its last four, including one at home to Villanova over the weekend. Georgetown needs to begin picking up marquee wins to boost their shot at a high seed in March.

Niagara at Marist: Two teams fighting to catch Siena in the MAAC fight for second place. Niagara has lost three of its last four, while Marist had won five in a row before falling at Loyola (Md.) over the weekend.

Texas at Oklahoma State: A potential upset in the making. Texas has struggled lately, losing three of its last six and barely beating Colorado at home on Saturday. OSU has lost two conference games in a row by single-digits.


Wake Forest at Clemson:
This game will say a lot about both teams in the ACC. Wake is nearly unbeatable at home, but the Deacons are just 1-5 on the road this season. Clemson has been playing .500 ball since its impressive 10-0 start.

Drake at Creighton: After Drake’s win over Illinois State this weekend, the Bulldogs are alone atop the MVC. However, Creighton has won five conference games in a row – including three road games – to move into sole position of third place.

Tennessee at Kentucky: Although Kentucky is having a down year this season, the Wildcats are starting to play much better lately and will be in Lexington for this one. Tennessee has evolved into one of the top teams in the country and a legit Final Four threat.


Massachusetts at Saint Joseph’s:
A rematch of Jan. 9’s meeting when St. Joe’s pulled off a surprise win in Amherst. UMass has won back-to-back games over Dayton and Charlotte after dropping two in a row, while St. Joe’s has won five of its last six games.

Akron at Kent State: A battle in the MAC. Akron is atop the conference standings as the Zips, who have won nine of 10, are the lone 4-0 club remaining. Kent State had won 11 of its last 12 before a disappointing performance at Ohio over the weekend.

Virginia at Florida State: Two teams that could be headed in opposite directions. Virginia had lost three in a row and was playing awful basketball before an 18-point win over Boston College, while FSU has lost three in a row, each by double-figures.

Pittsburgh at Saint John’s: Two teams looking to get back on the right track. Pitt followed up a huge win over Georgetown with a loss at Cincinnati, while St. John’s is just 3-9 in its last 12 games. The Johnnies need to right the ship very quickly.

Iowa State at Kansas: Two of the hottest teams in the Big 12 go head-to-head. Iowa State has won nine of its last 12 as the young Cyclones are beginning to come together. Kansas might be the best team in the country; it is one of two unbeatens remaining.

VMI at Winthrop: A rematch of last year’s Big South final. VMI is one of the nation’s most entertaining teams, as it loves to push the ball and score points. Winthrop is the perennial power in the conference, but the Eagles need to win back their supremacy.

Connecticut at Cincinnati: Two teams that are becoming increasingly more difficult to figure out. UConn had lost three of four, including a home loss to Providence, before beating Marquette by 16 on Sunday. Cincy has won five of seven, and is 4-2 in the Big East.

Florida at South Carolina: It will be interesting to see how far along the young Gators are when they hit the road in Columbia. The team is just 1-2 in true road games. South Carolina has lost three of four, but the lone win was a solid victory at Arkansas.

Missouri at Texas Tech: Both of these teams need a victory – and likely more than that – to stay in the hunt for the postseason. Mizzou gave Kansas a scare before falling late on Saturday, while Tech destroyed Texas A&M and nearly beat Oklahoma on the road.

San Diego State at BYU:
The Mountain West is wide-open this season, and these two teams will likely be contenders down the stretch. SDSU is the lone 4-0 team in the league, while BYU is just 3-3 in its last six games. The Cougars are essentially unbeatable at home, though.

Baylor at Texas A&M: Can Baylor cement its legitimacy by pulling off a huge road win here? The Bears are 3-0 in the Big 12, but need a marquee victory to boost their profile. A&M is coming off of two embarrassing road losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State by a combined 36 points.

North Carolina at Miami (Fl.):
Both teams need an impressive win to silence the doubters. UNC dropped its first game of the season on Saturday, and the Tar Heels need to bounce back. Miami has lost two in a row and three of five since starting 12-0.


Seton Hall at Providence:
Both of these teams had very solid weeks, and will look to build off them. Seton Hall went 2-0, including a comeback victory over Louisville, while Providence went into Connecticut and knocked off the Huskies to win its third straight.

Duke at Virginia Tech:
We all remember the great moments of the Duke-Tech rivalry: Sean Dockery’s three, Deron Washington’s dunk. We likely won’t see any of that this time around, despite Tech’s apparent improvement in the ACC.

Stephen F. Austin at Sam Houston State:
Two of the best teams in the Southland battle for the top of the standings. SFA is 15-2 with a win at Oklahoma, while SHS has beat Texas Tech, Fresno State and Saint Louis, but is just 2-2 in the conference.

Dayton at Xavier: Arguably the best non-Pac-10 game of the week. Dayton has struggled since the injury to star freshman Chris Wright, while Xavier finally came back to Earth after its six-game stretch of simply annihilating opponents by over 25 points per game.

Washington State at Arizona: An interesting contrast between a team that played a relatively soft non-conference schedule (WSU) and a team that played arguably the best one in the country (UA). Will the level of non-league competition matter here, as UA can’t afford its seventh loss?

Washington at Arizona State:
ASU looked to be well on its way to a northern California road sweep when it was destroyed by Stanford by 25 in the second half of their game. Washington has won two in a row to work its way back into the conference race.

Pacific at UCSB: Two of the main contenders in the Big West fight for positioning in the league race. Pacific has won five of six and sits at 4-1 in the conference, while UCSB has won back-to-back road games after starting just 1-2 in league play.

UCLA at Oregon: This might be the best game of the week. UCLA needs to bounce back from its disappointing loss to USC on Saturday, while Oregon played very well against Washington State but fell short. The Ducks need a marquee win after dropping two in a row.


Northern Arizona at Weber State:
First place in the Big Sky is on the line as two teams that are a combined 7-0 since Jan. 10 face-off. NAU has won three in a row and nine of its last 11 overall, while Weber State has pulled off four in a row since losing the conference opener.

No comments:

Post a Comment