Monday, January 25, 2010

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.


Charleston at Western Carolina (7:00 PM, Regional TV): The two best teams in the Southern Conference go head-to-head for league supremacy. Charleston has beaten UNC; Western Carolina defeated Louisville.

No. 12 Georgetown at No. 5 Syracuse (7:00 PM, ESPN): Big-time battle in the Big East. There are interesting match-up galore, but I’m interested to see how Greg Monroe matches up against the zone of ‘Cuse.

Missouri at No. 3 Kansas (9:00 PM, ESPN): Two teams that like to get up-and-down the floor. Expect plenty of points in this one, but I don’t know if Missouri is going to force enough turnovers to win.


Rhode Island at Dayton (7:00 PM, Regional TV): A couple of Atlantic-10 teams in the at-large mix. URI fell at Xavier over the weekend, while Dayton has lost two of three and cannot afford another loss.

Miami (Fl.) at Maryland (7:00 PM, ESPNU): Surprisingly, the teams with the worst and best records in the ACC, respectively, match-up. Maryland has won three in a row, but Miami has dropped three consecutive contests.

No. 10 Kansas State at No. 25 Baylor (8:00 PM, Regional TV/ESPN FullCourt): Will Kansas State bounce back from its home loss to Oklahoma State? Or will Baylor get another win for its at-large resume.

Tulsa at UAB (8:00 PM): Conference-USA clash for supremacy. Both teams are 5-0 in the league, with Tulsa needing work for an at-large bid. UAB is undefeated at home this season and could be the C-USA favorite.

No. 24 North Carolina at North Carolina State (9:00 PM, Regional TV/ESPN FullCourt): North Carolina has lost three in a row and four of its last five, while North Carolina State defeated Duke at home last week.

Northwestern at Minnesota (9:00 PM, Big Ten Network): Huge bubble battle in the Big Ten. Northwestern is just 4-4 in its last eight games, while Minnesota has lost four of five. The winner gets back on track towards a bid.


No. 16 Temple at Charlotte (7:00 PM, Regional TV): Charlotte doesn’t have much on its resume besides wins at Louisville and Richmond, but it is only one game out of the A-10 lead. Temple is basically a lock for the Big Dance, and could be a top-four seed.

Vanderbilt at No. 8 Tennessee (7:00 PM, ESPNU): Can either of these teams compete with Kentucky all season? Vandy has won nine in a row, while Tennessee finally snapped its winning streak with a loss at Georgia over the weekend.

Notre Dame at No. 4 Villanova (7:00 PM, ESPN): This should be an interesting game in the Big East. Villanova has more guards than a state prison, while Notre Dame relies on burly forward Luke Harangody. Which side will prevail?

Illinois State at Wichita State (7:05 PM, Regional TV): The Missouri Valley is looking like a one-bid conference this season, although both of these teams are still on the bubble periphery. The winner stays in the mix.

Texas A&M at Oklahoma State (7:30 PM, ESPN2): This game could mean a ton come Selection Sunday. OK State has won two in a row, including a win over Kansas State, while A&M has won its last two games by a combined seven points.

Memphis at Marshall (8:00 PM, CBS College Sports): Both of these teams will try to keep pace with the winner of UAB-Tulsa in Conference-USA. They are each 4-1, and both teams are need of a win.

Texas Tech at No. 1 Texas (9:00 PM, ESPNU): Intrastate battle in the Longhorn State. Texas Tech could use a marquee win for its potential at-large candidacy, while Texas needs to snap a two-game losing streak that dropped it from its No. 1 perch.

Florida State at No. 7 Duke (9:00 PM, ESPN): This game should feature plenty of quality big guys, as each team has plenty of talent and depth on the inside. Can the Florida State guards hang with the Duke backcourt?

No. 14 BYU at New Mexico (10:00 PM, Regional TV): Not surprisingly, there is a meaningful Mountain West game going on this week. BYU was the nation’s first 20-win team, while New Mexico has Darington Hobson.


Wake Forest at No. 19 Georgia Tech (7:00 PM, Regional TV): Two teams that are going to need to develop consistency if they want to make noise in March. Wake has won two in a row and 10 of 12. Tech is 3-3 in its last six games.

Virginia Tech at Virginia (7:00 PM, Regional TV): Virginia is shockingly tied for first in the ACC, while Tech is a game back. If the Hokies want to compete for an at-large bid, this is the sort of game they need to win.

St. John’s at No. 9 Pittsburgh (7:00 PM, ESPNU): Both teams need to bounce back and get into the win column. The Johnnies have lost two in a row and five of seven, while the surprising Panthers came down to Earth with two losses last week.

No. 18 Wisconsin at No. 13 Purdue (7:00 PM, ESPN): The winner of this game will stay within striking distance of Michigan State. Expect tons of physical play and keep an eye on the battle between Trevon Hughes vs. Chris Kramer.

Oakland at IUPUI (7:00 PM): The top two teams in the Summit. Oakland is 9-0 in the conference, while IUPUI is one game back at 8-1. Oakland won the first match-up between these two, beating the Jaguars by seven.

California at Arizona State (8:30 PM, Regional TV): California is basically the only team in the Pac-10 with legitimate at-large hopes right now, but the Golden Bears can’t fall into the same trap as everyone else in the league has.


Butler at Wisconsin-Green Bay (9:00 PM, ESPNU): A win by Butler would give it a four-game lead in the loss column over Green Bay. Needless to say, UWGB needs a victory here, while Butler can’t afford a loss to a sub-100 team.

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