As we enter the first full week of 2011, conference play is already beginning to separate some of the pretenders from the contenders. Last week featured several marquee match-ups with teams attempting to send a message to the rest of the country that they are going to be in their respective conference race for good. This week continues that trend, with plenty of quality intra-conference battles as well as a couple of non-conference games. If nothing else, last week showed that no one was invincible – who will step up this week?
No. 13 Georgetown at St. John’s: St. John’s is coming off a nice win at West Virginia, while Georgetown is struggling lately.
No. 18 Michigan State at Northwestern: Both teams could use a win. Could this be the game Michigan State wakes up?
No. 8 Connecticut at No. 14 Notre Dame: Connecticut didn’t have a great week, while Notre Dame was blown out at Syracuse.
No. 5 Pittsburgh at Providence: If Marshon Brooks is scoring, Providence can hang. Pitt will put the clamps on him though.
Missouri State at Creighton: Two of the Missouri Valley contenders will look to separate themselves from the pack.
Arkansas at No. 12 Texas: This game usually produces at least a few storylines – which Arkansas team will show up?
UAB at No. 1 Duke: Kyrie Irving is still not playing for Duke, but the Blue Devils continue to roll past opponents.
Drexel at VCU: Is Drexel a legitimate CAA contender? VCU has had positive moments, but also some disappointing games.
Michigan at Wisconsin: Wisconsin faltered at Illinois on Sunday, while Michigan hasn’t been on the road since November.
No. 21 Memphis at Tennessee: Always an entertaining game. Tennessee badly needs a win, while Memphis has a lot to prove.
No. 15 BYU at No. 25 UNLV: Two of the Mountain West favorites battle in a must-see conference opener.
Xavier at No. 24 Cincinnati: Cincinnati is the country’s most unlikely undefeated team; Crosstown Shootout is always fun.
Saint Mary’s at Loyola Marymount: Seems like a good time to mention I had Loyola as an at-large team. Whoops.
Northwestern at No. 20 Illinois: Northwestern has a quick turnaround after Monday’s game against Michigan State.