Friday, January 7, 2011

Weekend Preview

This is the sort of weekend college basketball fans live for. Although we still haven’t learned much after about a week or so of conference play, the uncertainty about most teams just adds to the excitement and intensity of this weekend. There are dozens of big games throughout the two days, including every type of game you could ask for. Marquee match-ups? Key non-conference contests? Important league games in the smaller conferences? Two NCAA Tournament contenders matching up? A sleeper looking to make a statement? Yes, they are all here – and more. So just kick back and take it all in – and only check the NFL games if you have to.

Top Games

Cleveland State at Butler (Friday, 7:00 PM, ESPNU): Butler is certainly not going to run away with the Horizon this season. The Bulldogs were just crushed by Milwaukee, and Cleveland State has just one loss this season. I’m looking forward to this one. Prediction: Butler 63, Cleveland State 56

West Virginia at No. 13 Georgetown (Saturday, 11:00 AM, ESPN2): Both teams are struggling somewhat lately, with West Virginia falling to St. John’s last week and barely beating DePaul. Georgetown lost to the Johnnies on Monday after struggling with DePaul. Prediction: Georgetown 69, West Virginia 58

Marquette at No. 5 Pittsburgh (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Expect a physical game that comes down to the final minutes. I’m excited to see the versatile forwards of Marquette against Pitt’s deep frontline. Can Marquette handle Pitt’s guards? Prediction: Pittsburgh 67, Marquette 61

Florida State at Virginia Tech (Saturday, 3:00 PM, ESPN2): These teams were supposed to compete for the second spot in the ACC, but neither squad has been overly impressive this year. Can FSU’s defense bottle up Malcolm Delaney? Expect a low-scoring affair. Prediction: Virginia Tech 54, Florida State 50

No. 8 Connecticut at No. 12 Texas (Saturday, 3:30 PM, ESPN): The marquee non-conference game of the weekend, Connecticut has regressed to the mean somewhat after its hot start, while Texas is flying somewhat under the radar despite its lofty ranking. Prediction: Texas 77, Connecticut 70

No. 10 Kentucky at Georgia (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Don’t overlook this game. Trey Thompkins is one of the nation’s premier post players, which Kentucky has struggled to contain this season. The Bulldogs have to knock down shots. Prediction: Kentucky 72, Georgia 66

St. John’s at No. 14 Notre Dame (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPNU): Big-time Big East battle. St. John’s is one of the hottest teams in the country over the past couple weeks, while Notre Dame is coming off of an impressive win over Connecticut on Tuesday. Prediction: Notre Dame 74, St. John’s 65

No. 24 Cincinnati at No. 7 Villanova (Sunday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): This will be the game where we find out if Cincinnati is for real. The Bearcats are undefeated but have not been tested, despite its win over Xavier Thursday. I can’t figure out Villanova yet. Prediction: Villanova 76, Cincinnati 66

Minnesota at No. 2 Ohio State (Sunday, 2:00 PM, Big Ten Network): Ohio State might have emerged as the new national title favorite because of its defense, while Minnesota is going to have depth problems because of Devoe Joseph’s transfer. Prediction: Ohio State 73, Minnesota 57

Maryland at No. 1 Duke (Sunday, 8:00 PM, FSN): Always a hotly-contested game in the ACC. Maryland has had very little in the way of tune-ups over the past month, which could lead to early struggles. Duke is still awaiting the possible return of Kyrie Irving. Prediction: Duke 81, Maryland 67

UCLA at USC (Sunday, 10:30 PM, FSN): Can either of these teams make a run at Washington? The winner of this will get a leg-up on second or third place in the Pac-10. It will be interesting to see if Lazaric Jones’ injury affects the Bruins at the point. Prediction: USC 65, UCLA 60

Non-BCS Conference Clashes

Austin Peay at Murray State (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPNU): The Ohio Valley was supposed to be a two-team race, but Austin Peay’s 4-0 start and win over Morehead State has changed those plans. Murray State struggled in the non-conference, but still might be the favorite. Prediction: Murray State 69, Austin Peay 60

George Mason at Old Dominion (Saturday, 2:00 PM, Comcast Sports Group): The CAA is wide-open as usual this season, although Old Dominion looks like the favorite despite its loss to Delaware. Mason is coming off a loss to Hofstra on Wednesday. Prediction: Old Dominion 61, George Mason 50

UTEP at UAB (Saturday, 4:00 PM, CBS College Sports): Conference-USA is going to feature a surprisingly good race this season. UTEP had early struggles, but Randy Culpepper still leads a talented team. UAB suffered a loss to Duke on Wednesday. Prediction: UAB 76, UTEP 68

Southern Miss at Marshall (Saturday, 7:00 PM): Southern Miss might be the second-best team in the conference right now, with Memphis’ struggles of late. Marshall has had some close losses lately, including one to UCF on Wednesday in which they led. Prediction: Southern Miss 67, Marshall 65

Missouri State at Wichita State (Sunday, 8:35 PM, ESPNU): Game of the year in the Missouri Valley so far. Missouri State just beat Creighton on the road and has been solid all year, while Wichita State has been on a roll since not faring well in the Maui Invitational. Prediction: Wichita State 65, Missouri State 58

Other Games to Watch

North Carolina at Virginia (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): North Carolina is beginning to play like the team many people expected back in November, and could be the biggest threat to Duke. Virginia has been up-and-down lately. Prediction: North Carolina 75, Virginia 70

No. 17 Kansas State at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 1:00 PM, ESPN2): This is a chance for Oklahoma State to prove itself as a contender after losses to Virginia Tech and Gonzaga. Kansas State is still trying to come together as a team, despite suspensions. Prediction: Kansas State 73, Oklahoma State 67

No. 9 Missouri at Colorado (Saturday, 1:30 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Colorado was supposed to contend for an NCAA bid behind the wing duo of Cory Higgins and Alec Burks, but the Buffs have struggled. Missouri is always fun. Prediction: Missouri 84, Colorado 78

Miami (Fl.) at Clemson (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPNU): Neither of these teams will likely contend for the top of the ACC, but both have fared well at times this season. Clemson is still getting used to new coach Brad Brownell, while Miami’s Reggie Johnson is emerging. Prediction: Clemson 75, Miami (Fl.) 68

Mississippi at Florida (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Mississippi is the only team with a remote chance at getting at an-large bid from the SEC West, but the Rebels need to beat SEC East teams. Florida has been up and down, but crushed Xavier. Prediction: Florida 73, Mississippi 60

Iowa State at Nebraska (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Are either of these Big 12 teams for real? Both have gaudy non-conference records, but there isn’t much substance on either resume. A win here would provide some momentum. Prediction: Nebraska 67, Iowa State 61

No. 3 Kansas at Michigan (Sunday, 4:30 PM, CBS): Michigan has fallen off in recent weeks, the latest being a loss at Wisconsin on Wednesday. Kansas hasn’t been unbeatable with Josh Selby in the fold, and a road trip to Ann Arbor isn’t the easiest of visits. Prediction: Kansas 84, Michigan 72

No comments:

Post a Comment