Highlighted Games for Saturday, 1/13
|by: Drew Barnette - Staff Writer
|January 12, 2007
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-TENNESSEE AT OHIO STATE (***Pod System Implications***). Tennessee had looked as good as anyone in the country until the other night, when they had their winning streak surprisingly snapped by Vanderbilt. Perhaps that is due partly to the rivalry. Perhaps they were looking ahead to this game. Perhaps it was a combination of both. Nevertheless, they, along with Ohio State, are contenders to make the pod sytem. If Tennessee were to win this, it would be a huge statement win and really boost their profile. Ohio State lost their most recent game on the road againts Wisconsin. Ohio State has played, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Florida all on the road, so their schedule has been rather tough. Finally, they get a quality opponent at home. Expect a fast paced game as both teams can get up and down the floor. Lots of athleticism on both teams, so it should be very entertaining.
-UCLA AT USC (Pac Ten). This game should be a war. Itís a huge rivalry, and UCLA is one of the best teams in the country playing on the road against a USC team who has been playing excellent basketball for most of the season, especially since conference play began. UCLA is coming off a loss to Oregon, which was also played in a hostile road environment. As good as UCLA is, they havenít won many road games, so this would be a nice addition to their resume as far as getting a #1 seed goes. It will also keep them at the top of the standings. The same can be said for USC, though. Both teams only have one loss in league play, and conference standings are important to seeding. This game is important for all kinds of reasons.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTED GAMES
-ELON AT APPALACHIAN STATE (Southern). Appy State is 10th in the RPI right now, but that should drop after today due to Elonís poor record. Appy State will likely get some consideration for an at-large if they were to need it, but theyíll have to come close to winning out in order to get it.
-TEXAS TECH AT BAYLOR (Big Twelve). Baylor has played some good basketball, but come up short in their last two games against Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Still, those are two of the better teams in the conference, so Baylor is better than their resume indicates. They could end up surprising some of the teams in the Big Twelve, so Texas Tech needs to be ready. Texas Tech has won seven of their last eight and picked up a nice win at Kansas State in their last game, but this will be another challenge for them.
-NEW MEXICO STATE AT BOISE STATE (WAC). Boise State is a respectable 8-6 and is unbeaten at home. New Mexico State has won eleven in a row, but most of those have not been against high caliber teams, so going on the road to face a team that is unbeaten at home will probably be NMSUís biggest challenge since they began the win streak. They need some challenges though if they want their resume to improve. They struggled against Idaho the other night and must play better today.
-VIRGINIA AT BOSTON COLLEGE (ACC). Both of these teams have slipped a little bit and need this win. BC has actually won four in a row, two of which were conference games, but none of the teams they faced were really tournament quality teams. Virginia has played two very good games in their last two outings, but both resulted in losses. They need to keep playing at a high level and pick up a conference road win today. Their resume needs to be upgraded, and to do that they need to string together some league wins.
-WASHINGTON AT CALIFORNIA (Pac Ten). Both these teams need to improve their resumes to get to the NCAAs. Washington has fallen to 1-4 in conference play, and has yet to win on the road all season, so they really need to kick it into gear. At this point in time nothing really indicates that they are an NCAA Tournament team. California is on the outside looking in right now as well. They were just beaten very handily at home by Washington State the other night.
-TEXAS A&M AT COLORADO (Big Twelve). Colorado hasnít been all that impressive this season and the home court advantage isnít likely to help them all that much. TAMU has won seven straight and remain unbeaten in conference with a win today, as well as remain solidly in the hunt for the pod system.
-PENN AT COLUMBIA (Ivy League). Assuming Penn defeats Cornell on Friday, theyíll need this one to keep pace with the top of the league. If Columbia defeats Princeton they could find themselves in the mix as well.
-PRINCETON AT CORNELL (Ivy League). Princeton should win this one without too much trouble. A loss would be very damaging because the top of the league is usually so dominant that itís very difficult to catch up once a team falls behind in the race.
-LA SALLE AT DAYTON (Atlantic Ten). Dayton could play their way into a position for an at-large, but they need to pretty much dominate the league to do it. They lost to Rhode Island last week, and another defeat like that could cause more damage than they can recover from between now and the end.
-SAINT BONAVENTURE AT GEORGE WASHINGTON (Atlantic Ten). George Washington is a respectable 10-4 on the year. They already have one conference loss though and 10-4 isnít all that respectable given the schedule that theyíve played. They could impress the committee enough to consider them if they win out or come close to it, but two more conference losses could be too many.
-VANDERBILT AT GEORGIA (SEC). Vanderbilt got a rather surprising win over rival Tennessee last night. It improves them to 10-5, and although it doesnít quite get them into the mix just yet, it is their second high quality win of the year, and it indicates that maybe they can turn it around and make a run in conference play that will impress the committee enough to give them a look. Playing on the road is never easy though, especially against a Georgia team that appears to be much better than their profile. Georgia is 8-5, four of the five losses came against ranked teams and they played pretty well in some of those games. They blew out South Carolina, who is pretty good, in their last game and could end up blowing out Vanderbilt tonight. Georgia doesnít have the resume quite yet either, but it looks as if theyíre good enough to earn their way into the dance between now and the end.
-FLORIDA STATE AT GEORGIA TECH (ACC). Georgia Tech just got a big home win against Duke, but they have another tough assignment today. Florida State has lost their last two games, but both were on the road against top notch teams. North Carolina beat them pretty badly, but they came very close to winning against Clemson. FSU really needs a conference win because although theyíve played top teams, itís still not easy to rebound from an 0-3 start and get back into the race to finish at or near the top. They are also a team that historically struggles on the road in league play. Right now, both teams appear to have solid tournament resumes, but this would be another very nice win for either team.
-NEVADA AT HAWAII (WAC). Nevada is 14-1 on the year, but this will likely be one of the more challenging games remaining on their schedule. Hawaii is very tough to beat at home, and just beat a very good Fresno State team rather handily the other night. Nevada may also be without Nick Fazekas, which would make it even more of a challenge to win this one.
-BRADLEY AT INDIANA STATE (Missouri Valley). Indiana has won six straight and has been very tough at home this season. They also have just one conference loss, and appear to be making quite a case for themselves that they are an NCAA Tournament team. Bradley has won two straight, including a rather surprising win against Southern Illinois in their last game, but that win came at home. Indiana State appears to be as tough a place to win as any team in the conference.
-KANSAS AT IOWA STATE (Big Twelve). Iowa State has won four straight, including their first two conference games, so they may play better than expected against Kansas. Kansas is playing as well right now as they have all season though. They look like a solid pod team, and could end up with a #1 seed if they can win the league or come close to it. They absolutely destroyed a very good Oklahoma State team in their last game, so they have a ton of momentum going into this one. Iowa State can be a very tough place for opponents to play though, depending on what the crowd is like.
-MISSISSIPPI STATE AT KENTUCKY (SEC). Kentuckyís win streak just keeps getting longer and longer. They havenít gotten into the toughest part of their conference schedule, but nevertheless they are unbeaten in league play and should be heavy favorites to win this one at home. Mississippi State is 10-5 with most of those wins coming against weak out of conference teams.
-WINTHROP AT LIBERTY (Big South). Itís pretty much the same story throughout conference play for Winthrop. They are undermatched and they need to win them all to get any consideration. Today is no different.
-PROVIDENCE AT LOUISVILLE (Big East). Providence has been a surprise this year, but could be in for a tough game today against a Louisville team that really came to life against South Florida. Louisville has no tournament credentials whatsoever, but if they play like they did in their last game they could end up winning enough quality games to get them in. Providence is 12-3 and defeated both Seton Hall and Marquette rather handily, so they are really playing well now. This would be another nice road win for them if they can pull it off. Louisville needs to string together some wins just to get themselves into the picture.
-AUBURN AT LSU (SEC). Auburn doesnít appear to be that good and could be in for a long day against an LSU team that is competing for a spot in the pod system. LSU actually has a lot to play for with first/second round games being played in New Orleans, and this is the kind of game they should be expected to win if they want to get that kind of seed and placement. They lost their last game against Alabama, and they need to rebound from that.
-WEST VIRGINIA AT MARQUETTE (Big East). West Virginia has some really good wins, but none have come on the road. They need to do something on the road if they want to get a decent seed. Marquette has some good wins, but have been inconsistent this season. Still, they are coming off a nice win at Connecticut and are looking to build upon that. Both these teams look like tournament caliber teams, but at the same time both have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to their current resumes.
-CLEMSON AT MARYLAND (ACC). Maryland is coming off a very surprising loss at home to Miami, FL, who isnít all that strong. Clemson is now 17-0 on the season, but they are really going to have their work cut out for them in this one. Itís a road game in what will be a very hostile environment against a good team who is coming off a disappointing loss. Even though Clemson is unbeaten now, donít be surprise if they end the season with several losses. I donít believe they are going to completely fall apart and miss the tournament, but this is not an easy league to win on the road in, especially when youíre at the top of it. This win would be big for Marylandís resume as well. As for Clemson, this might be their most impressive win of the season, at least off paper, if they pull it off.
-TEMPLE AT MASSACHUSETTS (Atlantic Ten). As is the case with most of the better teams in the Atlantic Ten, they could end up with an at-large, but theyíll need to dominate the league to do it. Massachusetts is off to a 2-0 start and is a respective 12-4 overall. However, they need to dominate if they want to be considered for an at-large. They shouldnít have too much trouble taking care of business at home today.
-KANSAS STATE AT MISSOURI (Big Twelve). Kansas State has lost three straight games despite playing some pretty good basketball. Theyíre also without Bill Walker, which means that they arenít going to get as much credit for the games they won in the Las Vegas Classic, so they really need to string together some wins if they want to be in the tournament picture. Winning at Missouri will be tough though. Mizzou is another team that has been slipping somewhat, and is looking to turn it around. Mizzou will eventually need to win some games on the road, but taking care of business at home is also important, especially when playing teams who have not yet solidified themselves as a tournament candidate.
-OKLAHOMA STATE AT NEBRASKA (Big Twelve). Oklahoma State was absolutely blown out by Kansas in their last game, and they could be in for another battle in this one. Nebraska has played pretty well at times, but didnít beat any really strong teams out of conference. They are also coming off a loss to Iowa State, which dropped them to 9-4 on the year. Still, this is the kind of win that would be a huge step forward in putting Nebraska on the bracketology map.
-HOFSTRA AT NORTHEASTERN (Colonial Athletic). Hofstra just won a big game on the road against Drexel, but they need to regroup and focus on beating a somewhat talented Northeastern team today. A loss today would be as far a step back as their win against Drexel was a step forward.
-WISCONSIN AT NORTHWESTERN (Big Ten). Wisconsin is on cruise control and is playing at a level that will have them end up with a #1 seed. They just defeated and excellent Ohio State team and should be able to beat Northwestern today. Northwestern is always tricky due to their style of play and they have been known to surprise some teams every now and then. Either way though, Wisconsin is a very strong team with a strong profile.
-DREXEL AT OLD DOMINION (Colonial Athletic). Drexel is coming off an overtime home loss to Hofstra, and needs to rebound because they have another tough assignment today. Old Dominion is tough to beat at home, and is coming off a blowout win against Delaware. They will be excited for this one. Even though they donít appear to have a strong at-large caliber resume, the winner of this league will be strongly considered for a bid, and a win against Drexel would be considered a quality win, so there is still quite a bit to gain here for Old Dominion. There is also quite a bit to lose for Drexel, so even though itís early in league play, itís still somewhat of a pivotal game.
-INDIANA AT PENN STATE (Big Ten). Penn State has played pretty tough at certain points this year, so donít be surprised if they step up and play really well in this game. Indiana has been playing very well this season, it appears as though theyíve improved a lot as the season has progressed, their profile keeps getting better and better, and a win today would be their sixth in seven games.
-GEORGETOWN AT PITTSBURGH (Big East). Pitt looks like a solid pod system team, and theyíve been playing very well since conference play began. Georgetown just had a seven game win-streak snapped with their loss to Villanova, and will have a hard time rebounding from that at Pitt. Still, if they do it would be a huge quality win for them and really boost their resume. They appear to be a solid tournament team for now, but this would certainly make it even more solid and improve their seed.
-MICHIGAN AT PURDUE (Big Ten). Purdue was just blasted by Indiana in their last game, and has struggled on the road all season long. They are at home today, and itís important that they win because they are slipping down quite a bit after getting off to such a good start. Michigan loaded up on cupcakes out of conference and really hasnít done anything yet to indicate that they are a tournament caliber team, so winning a game like this would be a huge plus for their profile, which desperately needs some work.
-DE PAUL AT RUTGERS (Big East). De Paul was beaten handily by Pittsburgh in their last game, which was sort of a setback, but not too bad. They do need to win this game on the road today because even though they have some big wins they are still hovering around the bubble because of their slow start to the season, so itís important that the win games such as this.
-XAVIER AT SAINT LOUIS (Atlantic Ten). Xavier appears to be the strongest team in the Atlantic Ten at this point, but they could be in trouble today. Saint Louis has played poorly their last two games, but they did have a nice run out of conference and can be very tough to beat. Xavier also has a tough time playing against their zone defense, so donít be surprised if they have trouble adjusting to that. Itís a big game for Xavier, because they really need to dominate this league if they want to be safe for a tournament bid. This will likely be one of their tougher tests.
-FRESNO STATE AT SAN JOSE STATE (WAC). Fresno State was beaten rather badly at Hawaii, which dropped them to 13-3. San Jose State has just one win this season, so they shouldnít have too much trouble rebounding. Fresno is not out of the race yet, but their margin for error is rather small due to their schedule strength.
-GONZAGA AT SANTA CLARA (West Coast). Gonzaga has blown out their first two conference opponents after struggling down the stretch of their OOC schedule, but this could be a very tough game for the Zags to win. Santa Clara is 10-5 on the year and has played some pretty good basketball throughout the season. They can be tough to beat at home, and they will be pumped for this game due to the rivalry that these schools have.
-FLORIDA AT SOUTH CAROLINA (SEC). Florida is a serious candidate for an at-large bid. South Carolina is 10-4, but has been blown out in their last two games against Kansas and Georgia. Florida is far better than Georgia, so it could be another blowout today.
-MISSOURI STATE AT SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (Missouri Valley). Southern Illinois looked to be one of the better teams in the conference, but theyíve lost their last two games and really need to rebound from that. They do have a shot to get a quality win today, which is usually a good way to turn a slump around. Missouri State has won three straight and is coming off a 52 point pasting of Evansville. They are one of the best in the league, and have the best overall profile up to this point. This would be another good road win for them if they can pull it off. This conference is full of good teams, so one gets the feel that there is a lot on the line for every game, and this one certainly isnít any different.
-CONNECTICUT AT SAINT JOHNíS (Big East). Connecticut has yet to win a road game. For that matter, they havenít beaten anyone in the RPI top 100 yet. Not only that, they really havenít looked that good. They are still in the rankings for some strange reason, but a loss today, which is very possible, should drop them out. They will have more opportunities as the season continues, but as of now they have done absolutely nothing to indicate that they belong in the tournament. Saint Johnís has played well at times, but theyíve lost three of their last four games, including a decisive loss to a rather unimpressive Seton Hall team. This is the kind of game that Connecticut needs to win almost all the time. If they canít, then they are in very big trouble.
-WASHINGTON STATE AT STANFORD (Pac Ten). Washington State has been impressive both on the road and at home since conference play began. They beat Cal very handily the other night, and also have a win against a very good USC team on the road. Tonight will be a challenge. Stanford just got a big win against Washington and appears to be playing better than California right now, although Cal did beat them at home the other week. Despite that, Stanford appears to be getting better, and this would be a huge win for them when it comes to making a case and improving their resume. Wazzu appears to be solid right now, but every game is still important if they want to maintain that.
-VILLANOVA AT SYRACUSE (Big East). Villanova is coming off a big road win against Georgetown, which was something they desperately needed. They have another tough one today against a Syracuse team that has been playing well lately. Theyíve won two straight road games, one of which was against Marquette, which is something that Syracuse really needed. Both these teams have resumes that need some improvement, but both also appear to be on the rise. Nevertheless, this is the kind of game that can propel the winner forward, so itís big for both teams.
-OKLAHOMA AT TEXAS (Big Twelve). This is the Red River Shootout, although it isnít as big as it has been in past years. Texas is 12-3 and won four in a row, including a blowout win against Missouri, so it looks as though they have improved quite a bit as the season has gone on. This will sustain their status as a solid tournament caliber team if they end up winning.
-BYU AT UNLV (Mountain West). UNLV is coming off a rather surprising loss at Wyoming, and although they are at home, they may have their hands full again today against a pretty good BYU team. Going on a slump in this league will be much more damaging than going on a slump in a major conference, so itís very important that UNLV rebound and get out of this game with a win. It may not be easy though. BYU is 11-4 against div1 and has won seven straight games. A win keeps the Cougars unbeaten in conference, as well as gives them a quality road win.
-TOWSON AT VCU (Colonial). VCU can improve to 14-3 with a win and remain unbeaten in conference play. They havenít faced the tougher teams in the league yet, but they are still building up a ton of momentum and putting themselves in position to possibly play their way onto the bubble. They need to win games such as this, and they need to take down a few of the heavyweights in order to finish at or near the top of the standings and get the consideration they deserve.
-NORTH CAROLINA AT VIRGINIA TECH (ACC). Itís as if a switch has flipped in regards to Virginia Tech. They just got a big road win against Duke last week, and blew out UNC Greensboro during the week. This is a huge home game for them in which the atmosphere should be absolutely berserk. North Carolina is a very strong candidate for a #1 seed, and even a loss today doesnít change that, but they canít afford too many of them if they want a top seed. They are a very good team, but this environment will be as tough as any they play in all year. It will be interesting to see how their young players handle it.
-EVANSVILLE AT WICHITA STATE (Missouri Valley). After getting off to an 8-0 start and looking like a top ten team, Wichita State has fallen apart and are playing their way out of the bracket picture. They desperately need this win today. It is a home game against one of the lower caliber teams in the conference, which is something they really need. Theyíve lost six of their last seven and really need to make a big turnaround. Evansville has lost four straight as well, so neither team has looked all that good lately.
-AIR FORCE AT WYOMING. Wyoming just got a big time home win against UNLV, and has proven they are tough to beat on their home court. Air Force just won a big game against New Mexico. Neither team has lost in conference yet, which is important because this is a league that will most likely send its regular season champion. Wyoming might not have all that impressive of an OOC profile, but if they win the regular season title theyíll have to beat some quality teams to do it and that would get them strong consideration. They are not easy to beat at home. However, Air Force is very disciplined and that will work to their advantage.
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