Monday, December 22, 2008

The Week Ahead

After an outstanding weekend of college basketball, including four top-10 teams losing and an abundance of excellent finishes from around the country, how will the upcoming week keep the momentum going? Despite only two days of games until the weekend because of Christmas and Christmas Eve, there are still several quality contests to keep an eye on while wrapping those holiday gifts.

Wake Forest at East Carolina (Monday): Intrastate battle between the No. 6-ranked team in the country (Sixth? Wake Forest? Really?) and a somewhat surprising Conference-USA team off to an 8-2 start. The Pirates will likely come down to Earth after this one, though.

Marquette at North Carolina State (Monday): Potential upset alert? Doubtful, although NC State does have the frontcourt talent to cause problems for the perimeter-laden Golden Eagles. Can the Wolfpack backcourt hang with Marquette?

American at Maryland (Monday): Match-up in the mid-Atlantic. American is the favorite in the Patriot League, led by Garrison Carr and Derrick Mercer, while Maryland is one of several ACC teams in the middle of the pack.

Georgia Tech at USC (Monday): Two teams filled with plenty of athletes and players that can score the ball. However, the Trojans have more athletes, more scorers – and they actually play defense, too.

Butler at Xavier (Tuesday): Two of the top, uh, “non-BCS” teams in the country, both clubs have been very impressive thus far. Butler’s lone defeat was a close loss at Ohio State, while Xavier is coming off of a massacre at the hands of Duke.

Illinois at Missouri (Tuesday): A Border War in the Midwest. Illinois is looking like a potential contender for an NCAA berth out of the Big Ten, while Missouri entered my top 25 rankings last week and is on the rise.

Portland State at Gonzaga (Tuesday):
Interesting match-up out in the Pacific Northwest. Portland State nearly beat Washington recently and has the personnel to give Gonzaga a run early on. The Zags, though, are going to be hungry after their loss to UConn on Saturday.

Texas at Wisconsin (Tuesday): One of the more intriguing games of the week. It features a contrast in styles, as Texas would rather push the ball and win by scoring, while Wisconsin loves to slow it down and play in the half-court.

Kansas at Arizona (Tuesday): Two teams that love to get up and down the court and score the basketball at a high rate. Kansas has had some growing pains with such a young team, while Arizona has been inconsistent all season so far.

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