Monday, January 26, 2009

The Week Ahead

With February right around the corner, the stretch drive is officially here in college basketball. Some conferences are at the mid-point in league play, meaning it’s time for teams to start making moves with an eye towards the NCAA Tournament. This week is filled with important conference clashes that could make the difference between whether a team is “in” or “on the bubble” come March, as well as important contests that will have a huge impact at the top of the league standings. That “Last Ten Games” category on teams’ NCAA Tournament profiles? It’s just about to start.


Marquette at Notre Dame (7:00 PM, ESPN): Battle in the Big East as Marquette tries to stay unbeaten in conference play, while Notre Dame looks to bounce back from its loss to Connecticut.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (9:00 PM, ESPN): One of the best rivalries in college basketball, it will be "Bedlam" as the perimeter-oriented Cowboys try to slow down Blake Griffin and co.


Buffalo at Western Michigan (7:00 PM): The two division leaders in the Mid-American square off to try to get some separation in what is always a competitive title race.

Boston College at Maryland (7:30 PM, ESPN2): Although both teams have had some bright spots this season, they each have plenty of work to do to garner an NCAA bid.

Northeastern at VCU (9:00 PM, ESPNU): Both teams are tied at 8-1 atop the CAA and are looking to get ahead as we head down the stretch. VCU has won seven in a row.

Texas at Baylor (9:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): A very interesting battle in the Big 12. Texas has struggled somewhat at the point this year; Baylor is loaded in the backcourt.

Purdue at Wisconsin (9:00 PM, ESPN): Outside of Michigan State, the Big Ten is fairly wide-open. Purdue has started to pick it up, but Wisconsin has lost four in a row.

BYU at Utah (10:00 PM, Regional TV): The Mountain West has several teams capable of winning the title, but these two also harbor at-large hopes and need a win here.


Michigan at Ohio State (6:30 PM, Big Ten Network): Two Big Ten teams in need of a victory to boost their at-large resumes. The winner will have a big bubble win come March.

Saint Joseph’s at Richmond (7:00 PM): The Atlantic-10 might not get a third bid this year outside of Xavier and Dayton, but the winner here stays right behind XU in the league.

Syracuse at Providence (7:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Providence has been the surprise of the Big East season thus far, while Syracuse has lost three of its last four.

Duke at Wake Forest (7:00 PM, ESPN): Two of the top teams in the country square off as Wake Forest tries to get back on the right track after losing its first game of the year. Duke will try to stay No. 1.

Pittsburgh at Villanova (7:00 PM, ESPNU): Pittsburgh showed no ill effects after its lost to Louisville by winning at West Virginia. Villanova could really use a marquee win for its resume.

Kansas at Nebraska (7:30 PM, ESPN2): Kansas is quietly getting better and better, and is undefeated in Big 12 play. Nebraska is always tough at home, and needs a big win.

Georgetown at Cincinnati (7:30 PM): Georgetown is struggling lately, having lost three in a row and five of its last seven. Cincinnati has won three of four and will try to keep it up.

LSU at Tennessee (8:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): The SEC is way down this year, and Tennessee has fallen off its perch atop the conference. LSU needs a resume win.

Illinois State at Northern Iowa (8:05 PM, Regional TV): Northern Iowa has a two-game lead over the rest of the MVC, and Illinois State needs a road win if it wants a chance at a title.

UAB at Tulsa (8:05 PM): Possibly the two most talented teams outside of Memphis in Conference-USA. The winner will stay on the Tigers' heels in the league standings.

North Carolina at Florida State (9:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Florida State always seems to get up for big games, while UNC is starting to hit its stride again after earlier struggles.

TCU at San Diego State (10:00 PM, CBS College Sports): Two of the six teams caught in the logjam that is the Mountain West standings. SDSU has lost two of three; TCU two of four.


Clemson at Virginia Tech (7:00 PM, ESPN): Clemson has lost two of three since its 16-0 start, while Virginia Tech is one of the hottest teams in the country, having won nine of its last 10.

Washington at Arizona (8:30 PM, Regional TV): Washington might be the best team in the Pac-10 right now and is atop the league standings. Arizona needs a win to keep its hopes alive.

Illinois at Minnesota (9:00 PM, Big Ten Network): Illinois has quietly solidified itself as arguably the second-best team in the Big Ten, while Minnesota has lost two of its last three games.

Nevada at Utah State (9:05 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): The two best teams in the WAC square off. Utah State is a real sleeper this year, while Nevada has won five in a row.

San Diego at Portland (10:00 PM): Outside of Saint Mary's and Gonzaga, these are the two best in the West Coast Conference. The winner will keep pace in the league standings.

Stanford at USC (10:30 PM, Regional TV): The Pac-10 will be a muddled mess for most of the year, with these two in the mix. Stanford has slowed down since its hot start, while USC has won three of four.

California at UCLA (10:30 PM, FSN): Another interesting Pac-10 battle. Cal looked like the best in the league before dropping two in a row, while UCLA has to re-assert itself as the cream of the crop.

Saint Mary’s at Gonzaga (11:00 PM, ESPN2): One of the best developing rivalries on the west coast. Both teams are in the top-25 and will look for a decent seed come Selection Sunday.


East Tennessee State at Jacksonville (7:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): The two best teams in the Atlantic Sun battle for first place. Jacksonville has won eight in a row since a 3-8 start.

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