Monday, December 21, 2009

The Week Ahead

Finals are behind us. College football’s regular season is behind us. Following an exciting weekend that saw five ranked teams lose to unranked squads, will this week be able to keep that momentum going? Despite a relatively “short” week 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.

Top Games

No. 9 Michigan State at No. 2 Texas (Tuesday, 7:00 PM, ESPN2): Two preseason top-five teams battle in the week’s marquee match-up. Michigan State has lost to its two toughest opponents, Florida and North Carolina, but did beat Gonzaga. Texas is coming off of an impressive victory over the Tar Heels. The key match-up could be how the young Longhorns backcourt matches up with Kalin Lucas and co.

No. 20 Butler at UAB (Tuesday, 8:00 PM): Don’t sleep on this game. Butler has struggled somewhat this season, despite beating Ohio State and Xavier the past two weekends. On the other side, UAB has won nine in a row en route to a 10-1 start, including a blowout win over Cincinnati last week. Elijah Millsap is going to have another monster game for the Blazers to pull the upset.

California at No. 1 Kansas (Tuesday, 9:00 PM, ESPN2): Heading into the season, this game was expected to potentially pit two top-10 teams against each other. However, California is only 6-3 thus far, mainly as a result of Theo Robertson missing multiple games due to injury. Kansas has been rolling, winning its first 10 games of the season. Jerome Randle vs. Sherron Collins at the point will be great.

No. 19 Texas A&M at No. 22 Washington (Tuesday, 11:00 PM, FSN): Another Big 12 vs. Pac-10 battle. Texas A&M, projected to be a top-four or five conference team, has already defeated Clemson and Minnesota, and lost to West Virginia and New Mexico by seven or fewer points. Washington is the cream of the crop in a terrible Pac-10, but the Huskies don’t have a win over a BCS team yet – they could get it this week.

No. 15 Mississippi at No. 6 West Virginia (Wednesday, 7:30 PM, ESPN2): This game could be a classic. Mississippi has only lost one game this season, to Villanova back in mid-November. The Rebels have one of the best perimeter groups in the country, led by Chris Warren. West Virginia is coming off a two-point escape at Cleveland State to remain 8-0. The Mountaineers need to use their advantage in the frontcourt.

Other Games to Watch

UTEP at Oklahoma (Monday, 6:30 PM, ESPN2): UTEP is a completely different team with Derrick Caracter in the lineup, while Oklahoma has won six in a row since starting the season 2-3.

La Salle at Oklahoma State (Monday, 8:30 PM, ESPN2): The Atlantic-10 is going to feature a crowded title race, and La Salle has a chance to be in the mix. Oklahoma State is 9-1 and has plenty of perimeter talent.

Cornell at St. John’s (Monday, 9:00 PM, Regional TV): Two of the best teams in New York go at it. Cornell is the Ivy League favorite, and could be a sleeper in March, while St. John’s is off to its best start in years.

BYU at Nevada (Tuesday, 3:00 PM, Regional TV): The west is down this season, but these two teams could be factors down the stretch. BYU is 10-1, while Nevada has won four in a row since starting 2-4.

LSU at Washington State (Tuesday, 10:00 PM, CBS College Sports): These two teams have gaudy records, but no meat on their resume. A win here would look good. LSU has won five in a row, while WSU is 9-2.

Illinois at Missouri (Wednesday, 9:30 PM, ESPN): Two teams that have not lived up to expectations this season, but have a chance to turn it around. Illinois is just 8-3, but has wins over Clemson and Vanderbilt, while Mizzou has a loss to Oral Roberts.

North Carolina State at Arizona (Wednesday, 10:30 PM, FSN): Interesting game between the ACC and Pac-10. NC State is 8-2, but needs to prove it can compete, while Arizona is 4-5 and can’t afford another loss.

Keep an Eye On

Tulsa at Nebraska (Tuesday, 5:30 PM): Tulsa is 9-1 and could be the C-USA favorite, while Nebraska needs a good win.

Oakland at No. 5 Syracuse (Tuesday, 7:00 PM, Regional TV): Oakland is a talented mid-major, but Syracuse has been the biggest surprise this year.

Marshall at No. 10 North Carolina (Tuesday, 7:00 PM, Regional TV): How will UNC bounce back? Marshall is an impressive 9-1.

Western Carolina at No. 24 Clemson (Tuesday, 7:30 PM): Western Carolina is 10-1 and beat Louisville on the road – can they win at the Tigers too?

Stanford at No. 23 Texas Tech (Tuesday, 8:00 PM): Stanford looked plucky against Kentucky and Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech needs to bounce back.

Murray State at Western Kentucky (Tuesday, 9:00 PM, Regional TV): Two of the better mid-majors on a yearly basis go head-to-head.

Harvard at No. 11 Georgetown (Wednesday, 12:00 PM): Harvard beat Boston College on the road, and G-town is coming off a loss to Old Dominion.

Long Beach State at No. 3 Kentucky (Wednesday, 1:00 PM, Regional TV): LBSU won’t beat Kentucky, but they have the athleticism to hang with the Wildcats.

Charlotte at Old Dominion (Wednesday, 7:00 PM): Charlotte is 9-1 and could be a sleeper in the A-10, while ODU defeated Georgetown on the road.

Rider at Siena (Wednesday, 7:00 PM): The winner gets the inside track to a MAAC regular-season title. Both teams have underachieved to this point.


  1. I don't think Rider has really underachieved this season. 8 wins in the non-conference, one of them being over what was then 18th ranked Mississippi St. And there five losses came to Virginia, Kentucky, Rutgers, La Salle, and Sam Houston St.

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