Monday, January 18, 2010

The Week Ahead

After a wild weekend that saw seven top-25 teams fall and several other just escape with wins, it’s time for another jam-packed week of college basketball. The questions that surrounded many teams after non-conference play are beginning to be answered as teams around the country attempt to separate themselves from the pack in their respective conferences. This week will answer a few more of those questions.

Monday

No. 5 Syracuse at Notre Dame (7:00 PM, ESPN): The Orange are coming off a big-time road win at West Virginia, while Notre Dame defeated the Mountaineers at home last weekend. How will Luke Harangody play against the 'Cuse zone?

No. 1 Texas at No. 13 Kansas State (9:00 PM, ESPN): Texas narrowly escaped with a win at home over Texas A&M; will the Longhorns be able to do the same on the road against a hot KSU team that is difficult to beat at home? The key could be guard play.

Tuesday

No. 9 Tennessee at Alabama (7:00 PM, ESPN): Tennessee is 4-0 since the suspension of four players, but can the Volunteers keep it going? They will get two of the suspended players back for this one, which could either hurt chemistry or help depth. Or both.

No. 24 Clemson at No. 20 Georgia Tech (7:00 PM, ESPN2): Clemson remains a half-game behind surprising Virginia in the ACC standings, while Georgia Tech is still looking to muster some consistency after alternating wins over UNC and Duke with losses to Georgia and Virginia.

Northwestern at Ohio State (7:00 PM, Big Ten Network): Big Ten battle between a couple of teams looking to keep winning. Northwestern picked up a monster win by beating Purdue on Saturday, while OSU has won two games in a row over Purdue and Wisconsin.

Oklahoma at Texas A&M (8:00 PM, Regional TV/ESPN FullCourt): Oklahoma emerged from the dead this week with wins over Oklahoma State and Missouri, and Texas A&M nearly beat Texas in Austin this past Saturday.

No. 6 Purdue at Illinois (9:00 PM, ESPN): Two teams that need to bounce back with a win. Purdue has lost three in a row since starting 14-0, while Illinois was blitzed at Michigan State for its first Big Ten loss. Should be a physical battle.

Northern Iowa at Wichita State (9:05 PM, ESPNU): Showdown in the Missouri Valley. Northern Iowa has won 15 straight games, but Wichita State is undefeated at home despite coming off of a one-point loss at Creighton.

Wednesday

Xavier at No. 19 Temple (7:00 PM, Regional TV): Xavier is 4-0 and in first place in the Atlantic-10, while Temple is 3-0 and looking like a team that could potentially get a top-four seed come March. Winner gets the inside track in the A-10.

Wake Forest at No. 12 North Carolina (7:00 PM, ESPN): Wake Forest has lost two of three, including a road loss at Duke on Sunday, and North Carolina has dropped three of four, most recently a home defeat to Georgia Tech.

St. John’s at No. 15 Connecticut (7:00 PM, Regional TV/ESPN FullCourt): Both teams badly need a win here. St. John’s needs to boost his resume with a road win, while UConn simply needs to win a game after dropping three in a row.

No. 11 Georgetown at No. 16 Pittsburgh (7:00 PM, ESPNU): Yet another big-time showdown in the Big East. Georgetown is coming off of a close loss at Villanova, while Pittsburgh has been arguably the biggest surprise in the country.

William & Mary at VCU (7:30 PM): William & Mary has the resume for an at-large bid, but it can’t drop too many CAA games. A road win in a tough venue at VCU would fit the bill for another quality win away from home.

Iowa State at Texas Tech (7:30 PM, Regional TV/ESPN FullCourt): Will either of these teams be in the at-large hunt come March? Iowa State needs a marquee road win, while Texas Tech is winless in Big 12 play thus far.

UTEP at Memphis (8:00 PM, CBS College Sports): Memphis continued its undefeated streak in Conference-USA over the weekend, while UTEP has gone from at-large threat to a team that has lost three of its last five.

Michigan at No. 13 Wisconsin (8:30 PM, Big Ten Network): Michigan might have some life, as it has won two in a row, including a home win over Connecticut on Sunday. Wisconsin is coming off a loss at Ohio State on Saturday.

Marshall at No. 10 West Virginia (9:00 PM): Marshall might be the most surprising 15-2 team in the country, behind freshman Hassan Whiteside. West Virginia has struggled lately, losing three of its last five after starting 11-0.

No. 22 Baylor at No. 3 Kansas (9:00 PM, ESPN2): Baylor and its high-powered trio of LaceDarius Dunn, Tweety Carter and Ekpe Udoh will try for an upset against a Kansas team that has been susceptible to lackluster performances.

South Carolina at No. 21 Mississippi (9:00 PM, Regional TV/ESPN FullCourt): This should be a great guard battle between South Carolina’s Devan Downey and Mississippi’s Chris Warren, Terrico White and Eniel Polynice.

No. 8 Duke at North Carolina State (9:00 PM, Regional TV/ESPN FullCourt): North Carolina State has lost three of its last four home games, but the Wolf Pack usually play Duke close. The Blue Devils are 0-2 in true road games this season.

UNLV at Colorado State (10:00 PM, Regional TV): UNLV needs to bounce back in order to get into the at-large hunt, as the Runnin’ Rebels have lost three of five, including a home game to Utah on Saturday. CSU is undefeated at home this season.

Thursday

Louisville at Seton Hall (7:00 PM, ESPN): Louisville is improving with every game, but the Cardinals have fallen just short against Villanova and Pittsburgh in the past two games. Seton Hall has lost five of six in what has been a brutal stretch for the Pirates.

Washington State at USC (10:30 PM, FSN): I guess some Pac-10 game should make “The Week Ahead.” Washington State has a gaudy 13-5 record, but the Cougars need to make a big run to get into at-large consideration. USC is still fighting despite the sanctions.

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