Highlighted Games for Saturday, 1/27

Highlighted Games for Saturday, 1/27
Jan 26, 2007, 07:57 pm
Join us in discussion on our forums on Saturday in the NCAA game thread.


-NORTH CAROLINA AT ARIZONA (***Pod System Implications***). This is a game between two heavyweights. North Carolina is on pace to get a #1 seed, and although a win helps that, a loss really doesn’t hurt that. Arizona is still a heavyweight, but they have lost four of their last six games. Granted, three of those came on the road and the one at home was to a very good Oregon team, so none of those losses were bad, but they don’t want to make it five losses in seven games. A win over North Carolina would be a huge win on their resume, as well as be a good thing for their mental health. They are coming off a blowout win against Arizona State, which had to feel good, but it would be nice for them to take down a big time team at home as well.

-OREGON AT WASHINGTON STATE (Pac Ten) (***Pod System Implications***). Oregon suffered just their second loss of the season in a somewhat surprising loss to a Washington team that had really been struggling. They have a much tougher assignment today, so rebounding won’t be so easy. Wazzu defeated Oregon State rather decisively the other night, and is not only in good shape to make the NCAA Tournament, but is challenging for the pod system. Unfortunately for them they are the host team for the games in Spokane, so the closest geographic location they can be placed at for the first/second round would be Sacramento. As for Oregon, they are a clear candidate for Spokane. Winning this game will help either team with their cause, and it’s very possible both teams end up seeded #4th or better regardless of the outcome.

-VCU AT DREXEL (Colonial Athletic) (***At-Large Implications***). This game is huge for both teams because it has NCAA Tournament implications. Drexel has the better wins, especially out of conference, and probably has the better overall resume, but they are two games behind VCU in the conference standings. VCU, who is unbeaten in league play, doesn’t have any wins over tournament caliber teams, so winning at Drexel, who is right now a bubble team at worst, would be huge for them. It’s a pivotal game for both teams because both have played well, but need some quality wins on their resume. Also, if it comes down to where both these teams are on the bubble, how they do head to head is a major factor. A loss for Drexel puts them three games behind VCU in the conference standings, so that’s another important factor when it comes to this game.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTED GAMES: Games are in alphabetical order via the home team, and conference games are indicated in parenthesis.

-ARKANSAS AT ALABAMA (SEC). Both of these teams have stumbled lately, and could really use a win. Alabama isn’t in any danger of falling out of the bracket picture right now, but their resume has been damaged, especially due to a lack of production on the road, so they really need to take care of business at home. Arkansas has lost four of their last five games, including a very damaging road loss to South Carolina in their last game. If they lose this they probably won’t be in the next bracket projection, and will have some work to do if they want to be dancing this March.

-FLORIDA AT AUBURN (SEC). This is an interesting game. Auburn didn’t appear to be a very good team at all, but they’ve lately managed to win at home against Tennessee and Alabama, and amazingly are in first place in the SEC West. Florida is among the best teams in the country, but they will be walking into a game against an Auburn team that has a ton of confidence, and I’m sure the crowd will be behind them as well. Florida is no stranger to hostile environments, but Auburn has quite a bit to play for. A win here is a major step forward as far as playing their way onto the bubble. They also appear to be much better than Mississippi State, who gave the Gators trouble the other night.

-AIR FORCE AT BYU (Mountain West). Air Force really needs to be on upset alert here. BYU has won nine of their last eleven games, and is unbeaten at home this year. A win like this would boost their RPI, give them a quality win, and go a long way as far as improving their NCAA Tournament resume, so this is a tremendous opportunity for BYU. Air Force has been solid all year long, and that includes on the road, but this is one of their tougher challenges of the season. It’s against an improving BYU team who is desperate for a statement win on their home court.

-USC AT CALIFORNIA (Pac Ten). Both of these teams were beaten rather handily last night. USC lost to Stanford, which isn’t too surprising in and of itself, but it was surprising as to how poor they played. California hung with UCLA for a little while, but wound up getting beaten rather decisively when it was over. USC is still in good shape, but they don’t want to make it two losses in a row if they want to sustain the quality of their current resume. California is still on the outside looking in and needs to win some games to get themselves into the mix.

-PROVIDENCE AT CONNECTICUT (Big East). This is a game between two teams that are on the outside looking in and still have some work to do. Both teams need to string together some wins just to get to the point where they’re being considered.

-INDIANA STATE AT CREIGHTON (Missouri Valley). Indiana State has won some big games, but has not been all that productive on the road, and is currently on a downslide now. They need to win some games just to get back in the area of being considered a bubble team. Creighton appears to be squarely on the bubble, and has had some bad luck in close losses recently. They need to take care of business at home today. They are still in a three way tie for first place, but as tight as the race is every game is a pivotal game.

-BUTLER AT DETROIT (Horizon League). Butler had a close call the other night against Loyola, but they are clearly the superior team in this match-up tonight. They continue to dominate the league, which is what they need to do if they want to make the pod system.

-NORTHERN IOWA AT DRAKE (Missouri Valley). Northern Iowa has a pretty good overall profile but they have lost three of their last five, including a close decision to Southern Illinois in their last game where they appeared to hit a game tying shot at the buzzer, but didn’t get it off in time. They need to get over that and take care of business against a beatable Drake team on the road.

-WICHITA STATE AT EVANSVILLE (Missouri Valley). Wichita State is coming off a win against Drake. They need to string together a few more in order to get back into the bracket picture. Evansville is a winnable conference road game for them, and they need to take care of business if they want to continue to rebuild their resume.

-WAKE FOREST AT FLORIDA STATE (ACC). Florida State has lost four of their last six, including their last game at Boston College in the final seconds after having what appeared to be a commanding lead. They have struggled on the road, and can’t afford to lose this game at home to a Wake Forest team that is among the worst in the ACC conference. Their resume has really declined and they are very close to the bubble right now.

-CINCINNATI AT GEORGETOWN (Big East). Cincinnati isn’t the best team in the conference by any stretch, but they have played some pretty good basketball at times this season and could give the Hoyas a game. Georgetown has been inconsistent for most for most of the season, but has played well lately winning their last three games, including a decisive home victory over De Paul. Their resume continues to improve, and a win today sustains that along with their momentum.

-SAN FRANCISCO AT GONZAGA (West Coast). Gonzaga’s situation hasn’t changed. If they dominate the league they should be fine. San Francisco is just 6-13 on the season and should pose little challenge on the road at Gonzaga.

-MICHIGAN AT INDIANA (Big Ten). Michigan is still lacking a big time road win, and needs to pull some off if they want any serious consideration for an at-large. They need to do it against quality teams such as Indiana. Indiana is playing very well, but is coming off a loss on the road to Illinois where they really struggled on the offensive end. They should have a much better game on their home floor today, though. The Hoosiers had won nine out of ten prior to that loss with the only defeat being a close road loss to Ohio State.

-COLORADO AT KANSAS (Big Twelve). This is a huge mismatch. Kansas has been somewhat streaky lately, but blew out Baylor on the road in their last game and really looked impressive, so it looks like their loss to Texas Tech really woke them up. Colorado is not having a good season and stands little chance on the road against a Kansas team who appears to be headed toward the pod system.

-NEBRASKA AT KANSAS STATE (Big Twelve). Both these teams need to string together some wins just to get back into the tournament picture. Kansas State has some halfway decent wins, but they are no longer at full strength and sort of need to reprove themselves. Nebraska nearly upset Texas in their last game, but couldn’t quite get it done. They have not played well on the road this year and will likely have a rough time today.

-SYRACUSE AT LOUISVILLE (Big East). Louisville has been playing better lately, but is still shooting poorly and still doesn’t have a quality win. A win today over Syracuse would be their best win so far even though it would be a home win. Syracuse had been inconsistent in the first half of the season, but then stepped it up and won six out of seven games with the only loss coming against Pittsburgh. They suffered a surprising loss to Saint John’s in their last game, though, and probably still don’t have the type of resume that reflects how good a team they are. If they continue to play at a high caliber, the quality wins will come, though. This is a big game for them today against a Louisville team who really needs a quality win, so it will be interesting to see how both teams play in a game like this.

-SOUTHERN MISS AT MEMPHIS (Conference USA). Memphis is one of those teams whose situation is pretty consistent. They are dominating their league, have a solid tournament resume, and if they win out they could end up making the pod system. Southern Miss has won their last two, but they shouldn’t be much of a match for Memphis.

-OHIO STATE AT MICHIGAN STATE (Big Ten). Michigan State has an impressive 17-4 record, and has some decent wins to go along with that record, but this would easily be their most impressive win of the season so far, and really boost their tournament resume through the roof. Ohio State is in good shape being that they are a solid pod system team who is still in contention for a #1 seed. These are the types of games they need to win in bulk if they want to end up a #1 seed. Michigan State is a decent team, but even though it’s a road game it’s the type of game Ohio State needs to win most of the time. This would actually be the best road win of the season so far for the Buckeyes.

-TEXAS TECH AT MISSOURI (Big Twelve). Texas Tech has won back to back games against top six teams, but both of those came at home. They appear to be a much better team than Missouri, who has played well at home, but who also needs to go on a winning streak to get themselves back into the potential at-large picture. Out of Tech’s five losses, four have come away from home. They do have some decent road wins, and they need that to continue if they want to end up with a good seed.

-BRADLEY AT MISSOURI STATE (Missouri Valley). Missouri State is still in our bracket, but they aren’t exactly solid enough to where they can afford too many more losses. They’ve lost four out of their last five, are just 5-5 in league play, and desperately need a decent win in order to resuscitate themselves. Bradley, on the other hand, is right on our bubble, and therefore every game is a big game. This is a chance for them to pick up a conference road win against another team that appears to be on the bubble. It’s a very important game because it’s between two bubble teams who play in the same conference. Bradley is just one game out of first, but there are three teams ahead of them, so a win keeps them in the mix among the teams atop the conference.

-UTAH STATE AT NEVADA (WAC). Utah State is a respectable 14-5, and is one of the better teams in the WAC, but they don’t have much of a chance at being strongly considered for an at-large without finishing first in the league standings. They are right in the mix, though, seeing as how they are just one game back in the loss column of Nevada and New Mexico State. A win like this on the road will probably be what it takes to put them on the bracketology map. It would easily be their best win of the season so far, which is something they really need. Nevada can’t afford to lose too many games either. Although they are 16-2, their schedule hasn’t been that tough, and it wouldn’t take too many losses to really affect their seed, or result in them being left out altogether. As of now, they’re solid though.

-VILLANOVA AT NOTRE DAME (Big East). With Notre Dame’s point guard being out for the rest of the year, they really need to win some big games between now and the end of the season. They have not been playing well lately, and are coming off a road loss to Saint John’s which is a game they need to win if they want to make a statement that they’re a tournament team. They need to be able to defend their home court as well. Villanova has looked great in their last three games, including a win on the road against a fairly decent Providence team in their last game. This would be yet another nice road win for the Wildcats.

-IOWA STATE AT OKLAHOMA STATE (Big Twelve). Iowa State is a tough team at home, but hasn’t really done much on the road, and are coming into this game with three straight losses. Oklahoma State is looking to make the pod system, and should be able to take care of business at home against an inferior opponent.

-SAINT JOHN’S AT PITTSBURGH (Big East). Pittsburgh continues to play like the class of the Big East and remains on pace to make the pod system. Saint John’s has racked up two decent wins in a row against Syracuse and Notre Dame, but both of those came at home. Winning at Pitt is a much taller order. If they were to pull it off, it would get them to 4-4 in the Big East and give them their third consecutive quality win.

-ILLINOIS AT PURDUE (Big Ten). Purdue continues to play well at home, but poorly on the road. Illinois’ luck on the road hasn’t been all that much better, but they just had a pretty good win against Indiana and can get another decent conference win on their resume if they can pull it off today. That’s important considering Illinois appears to be just outside the bubble right now.

-GEORGE WASHINGTON AT RHODE ISLAND (Atlantic Ten). These are the top two teams in the league standings, but GW appears to be the much better team. They should get some consideration for an at-large if they can finish first. Rhode Island has just one conference loss, but is a rather unimpressive 13-8 overall. They could still get a look if they run the table, but anything short of that probably won’t be enough if they don’t win the conference tournament.

-NEW MEXICO STATE AT SAN JOSE STATE (WAC). San Jose State has just two wins on the season, and this should be an easy road win for New Mexico State. Unfortunately it will hurt their RPI even if they win, which isn’t all that good to begin with right now, but they will likely get strong consideration if they can finish first in the league standings.

-ILLINOIS STATE AT SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (Missouri Valley). Southern Illinois has won four of their last five games, and appears to be the hottest team in the MVC right now. They are in a three way tie for first place, but appear to have the clearest shot at finishing first in the league standings. Illinois State is a modest 10-10 on the year, but is just 3-7 in league play. That isn’t likely to improve today.

-BAYLOR AT TEXAS (Big Twelve). Baylor has played modestly well, and this is somewhat of a rivalry so they could step up, but all indications point to Texas being the superior team, and playing at home gives them an even bigger advantage. Texas snapped a two game losing streak earlier this week with a tough road win against Nebraska. They are a talented team that has played good basketball, but just came up short in some tough road games. A win here sustains their resume and keeps them in good shape.

-OKLAHOMA AT TEXAS A&M (Big Twelve). Texas A&M is coming off a loss at Texas Tech and is looking to rebound from that. They are a tough team to beat at home, and Oklahoma hasn’t been all that impressive this year. One would think they would be overmatched on the road against a TAMU team that is close to making the pod system.

-HOFSTRA AT TOWSON (Colonial Athletic). Hofstra has a pretty good team, but their resume is not up to par right now. However, they are just one game out of first in the conference standings and they do have a good win on the road against Drexel. It’s possible they could go into first place if Drexel beats VCU today and they take care of business against Towson. If Hofstra can finish first in the league and come close to running the table the rest of the way they should be in the mix for an at-large bid.

-NEW MEXICO AT UNLV. UNLV is right with Air Force in the conference standings. They have a solid resume and as long as they keep taking care of business they are safe for an at-large bid. A loss like this can hurt their resume and seeding, but they should remain okay for a bid unless they completely go into the tank. New Mexico got off to a fairly decent start this season, but has been hit by the injury bug and lost six of their last seven since losing J.R. Giddens.

-MISSISSIPPI AT VANDERBILT (SEC). It’s as if a switch was flipped in regards to Vanderbilt. After a mediocre start, they’ve won four out of five, and all have been against quality opponents. They have gotten themselves into the bracket picture rather quickly with a string of quality wins, and a win today at home should put make them a solid tournament candidate and land them in the next projection.

-OREGON STATE AT WASHINGTON (Pac Ten). Washington finally got a big win in conference when they knocked off Oregon on Thursday night, but even with that they still have a long way to go. They need to take care of business today and keep it up if they want to be in position to receive an at-large.

-DAYTON AT XAVIER (Atlantic Ten). Dayton has yet to win a road game, and hasn’t won on the road against Xavier since 1981. Xavier has been inconsistent all season, so it’s probably not a good thing that they played a solid game their last time out against Saint Joseph’s. This is probably the biggest rivalry in the Atlantic Ten, so it means a lot off paper as well as on. As for Xavier, they need to win this, and pretty much all the rest of their games, in order to get a good look from the selection committee.

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