Monday, January 12, 2009

The Week Ahead

Last week was arguably the best and most jam-packed week of college basketball so far this season, as plenty of top-25 teams fell and teams around the country began to make statements. Despite the excitement and intensity of the past seven days, this week could be even better. There are dozens of interesting intraconference match-ups, including several top teams testing their mettle against upset-minded opponents, both at home and on the road. Teams in a variety of conferences will begin to separate themselves from each other beginning this week as we head into the final two months of the season.


Notre Dame at Louisville (7:00 PM, ESPN): Two teams looking to develop some consistency in Big East play, and stay in competition for a top-four slot in the conference.

Texas at Oklahoma (9:00 PM, ESPN): The two best teams in the Big 12 do battle for conference supremacy. Does Texas have the size and talent down low to stop Blake Griffin?


Florida State at North Carolina State (7:00 PM, ESPNU): The middle of the ACC is extremely muddled, and both of these clubs are aiming to get to the upper division.

Memphis at Tulsa (7:30 PM, ESPN2): Memphis has run roughshod over Conference-USA the past two years, but Tulsa has talent and could pull off the major upset.

Kansas State at Kansas (8:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Kansas State ended Kansas' undefeated season last year; only KU will get back to the Dance.

Kentucky at Tennessee (9:00 PM, ESPN): SEC East rivalry match-up. Kentucky needs a third option to step up, while Tennessee has to improve at both ends.

TCU at BYU (10:00 PM, Regional TV): BYU is the league favorite heading into the conference season, but TCU defeated UNLV and is undefeated in the conference.


Michigan State at Penn State (6:30 PM, Big Ten Network): Penn State is one of the many surprises in the Big Ten, while Michigan State is separating itself as the best team.

Duke at Georgia Tech (7:00 PM, ESPN): Georgia Tech has the talent and depth to hang with the Blue Devils, but the Yellow Jackets have struggled to finish games all year.

Syracuse at Georgetown (7:30 PM, ESPN2): Two of the many Big East teams fighting for the No. 3 spot in the league behind Pittsburgh and Connecticut.

Florida at Auburn (8:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): The SEC is wide-open this season, and it's anyone's guess as to who the contenders and pretenders are.

Arkansas at Mississippi (8:00 PM): At times (like in wins over Oklahoma and Texas), Arkansas looks like the SEC West favorite; other times (losses to Missouri State and Mississippi State), it doesn't.

South Carolina at LSU (8:00 PM): Both teams have shown flashes of being able to contend in the SEC, but neither team has been consistent for a string of games.

Alabama at Mississippi State (8:00 PM): Alabama is one of the hottest teams in the conference, while Mississippi State is coming off a victory over Arkansas.

Drake at Illinois State (8:05 PM): Illinois State has dropped two in a row after starting the season 14-0, while Drake has won four straight Missouri Valley contests.

Michigan at Illinois (8:30 PM, Big Ten Network): Two of the surprises in the Big Ten. Both teams can contend for NCAA Tournament berths, but a Big Ten title may be a stretch.

Wake Forest at Boston College (9:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Can Wake Forest continue its undefeated season, or will Boston College bounce back after two losses?

Maryland at Miami (Fl.) (9:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Another couple of ACC teams that are in the middle of a crowded second tier. Miami is starting to heat up.

Baylor at Texas A&M (9:30 PM, ESPN2): Baylor is probably the third best team after Oklahoma and Texas, while A&M is destined to be a bubble team all season long.


Xavier at Rhode Island (8:00 PM, CBS College Sports): Xavier looks like the clear class of the Atlantic-10, but Rhode Island has Jimmy Baron and can pull off the upset.

Minnesota at Wisconsin (9:00 PM, Big Ten Network): Minnesota is still overachieving at 15-1 despite not having a ton of talent, while Wisconsin is quietly moving towards a top-four seed.

Arizona State at USC (10:30 PM): USC needs this game to get some momentum for an NCAA berth. James Harden vs. DeMar DeRozan should be an outstanding match-up.

Arizona at UCLA (11:00 PM, FSN): Normally a battle between two of the top teams in the Pac-10, Arizona needs to develop consistency, while UCLA has yet to win a marquee game.

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