Highlighted Games for Saturday, 12/9

Highlighted Games for Saturday, 12/9
Dec 08, 2006, 07:15 pm
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-WASHINGTON AT GONZAGA (***Pod System Implications***) (DirecTV #651, 11pm, est). With first round games in Spokane, this one is important. Gonzaga has a huge win over North Carolina, but typical of what is a somewhat inexperienced team they have two somewhat surprising losses along with that, most recently to in-state rival Washington State. Washington is undefeated and has a good win against Northern Iowa, but to win this on the road would be huge. It is easily their toughest opponent so far and it would go a long way to making a claim that they are a pod system team and since both are looking to make the pod system and be placed in the Spokane, the winner would have a leg up if both teams finish with similar profiles.

-WISCONSIN AT MARQUETTE (***Pod System Implications***) (DirecTV #206, 2pm, est). Both teams have a somewhat surprising loss this year, but both clearly appear to be good enough to make the pod system, which is big considering there are games being played in Chicago. In addition to this being a big rivalry game, the winner will have a leg up on the other if both have similar profiles. Marquette already has a really big win against Duke, so they can play really well when they show up, but they’ve also had some close calls against low caliber teams and even have an upset loss to North Dakota State. Wisconsin has had some close calls as well and just recently had to go to overtime to beat Winthrop.

-TEXAS A&M VS UCLA (***Pod System Implications***) (CBS, 2:30pm, est). Both of these teams are ranked in the top ten. UCLA’s defense has been outstanding and they are unbeaten on the year. TAMU just lost a big game at LSU and still doesn’t have a big win, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue given their conference schedule. Still, they need to knock off some top notch teams if they want a preferable seed and placement, so winning this game on a “neutral” court would really help them out.

-MISSOURI AT PURDUE (ESPN360, 2pm, est). Purdue has just one loss this season and that came in the Maui Invitational. Missouri has not been beaten yet, but they also haven’t left home yet. They do have a big blowout win against Arkansas, but it’s important that they show they can win big games on the road if they want their profile to look impressive. This should be a great game given how well both teams have been playing lately.

-SOUTHERN ILLINOIS AT WESTERN KENTUCKY (***At-Large bid implications***). Both teams have just one loss and are certainly good enough to play their way into the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team, but both need some statement wins. Southern Illinois will get their chance at quality wins in conference play, but Western Kentucky won’t get as many chances, so they really need to take advantage of this. A win will go a long way in boosting their RPI. This also helps their SOS and gives them a win over a good RPI team, so it is a very big game for WKU. It’s also a very interesting matchup on the court. WKU loves to play a transition game, whereas Southern Illinois is known for their strong defense. Unfortunately very few of us will get to see it because it’s not on television.

HIGHLIGHTED MATCHUPS (In alphabetical order via the home team)

-OKLAHOMA STATE AT BALL STATE (DirecTV #785, 7pm, est). Okie State is unbeaten on the year and has two big wins already. This is an usual road game for them. Ball State is just 3-5 and the fact that they’re playing at home isn’t likely to help them out.

-SOUTH CAROLINA AT BAYLOR (DirecTV #643, 6pm, est). Baylor has just one loss, but that came against the only quality team they’ve played in Gonzaga. This would be their biggest win of the season so far. South Carolina is 5-2 and this would look good as a road win on their profile as well. Both teams need to win a few games like this in order to make a case for themselves.

-PITTSBURGH AT BUFFALO (DirecTV #784, 4pm, est). Buffalo is off to a 6-3 start, which isn’t bad, but they haven’t quite faced an opponent like this. This is a huge game for their program, which has built itself up from among the worst in div1 to respectability over the last few seasons. A highly ranked team showing up to play them at their place is a huge opportunity. Still, a win isn’t all that likely. Pitt is playing like a #1 seed. This is a good out of conference road game for them that they should be able to win. Hopefully Buffalo will be able to make some noise in conference play.

-MASSACHUSETTS AT CENTRAL CONNECTICUT. U Mass hasn’t looked like a tournament team yet, but they are 7-2 and are good enough to play their way into the picture.

-XAVIER AT CREIGHTON. Creighton definitely has top 25 potential, but they have yet to play up to it. Still, they are coming off a road loss to Dayton, and the sting from that could easily get their blood flowing. A win against Xavier would jumpstart their season in a hurry. I still feel it’s only a matter of time before they begin playing like a solid tournament caliber team, but they are running out of chances to pick up quality wins out of conference. Xavier, on the other hand, is off to a great start. They already have a good win over Villanova and can pick up their second today. It won’t be easy though, because at this point Creighton is a little more desperate than Xavier is.

-GEORGE MASON AT DUKE (DirecTV #206, 12pm, est). George Mason is a far cry from last year’s Final Four team, but this is still a big game for their program. It’s against Duke and it’s on national television. Duke has struggled this season and really hasn’t looked like the #1 seeded team they normally look like. Still, they aren’t down enough to where it is likely they’ll lose this game at home. It will be a nice win for Duke, who is looking to improve as the season goes on.

-WEST VIRGINIA AT DUQUESNE. If there is any such thing as a reverse Buy Game, I guess this is it. West Virginia just got a big win against NC State and should follow that up with an easy road win today.

-ORAL ROBERTS AT GEORGETOWN. This is technically a Buy Game, but I’m putting it up here because it’s an important game for Georgetown. They are 5-3 without any quality wins and didn’t really even look like a good team until their most recent game against Duke. Oral Roberts surprised Kansas earlier this year, so they are capable of springing the upset if Georgetown overlooks them.

-WASHINGTON STATE AT IDAHO. Wazzu just got a huge win against Gonzaga to improve to 8-1, but the last thing they want is a letdown to a lowly Idaho team on the road.

-ILLINOIS AT ILLINOIS CHICAGO (DirecTV #785, 2pm, est). Illinois Chicago had high expectations this season, but they are just 4-4 and look like they will struggle to finish at the top of the Horizon League. Still, this is a big game for them as Illinois faces them on their court. Illinois can pick up a nice road win and improve to 9-2 overall.

-BUTLER AT INDIANA STATE. Butler is 10-0 and clearly appears to be the superior team, but it’s never easy for a ranked team to play on the road, especially against an in-state rival who has a history of pulling some upsets. This could be a bit of a trap for the Bulldogs.

-INDIANA AT KENTUCKY (CBS, 12pm, est). Both teams really need this win. Both have played well at times early on, but neither have really picked up a big win yet and they may struggle to get them later on. This game is being played at Kentucky, which is the first time this series has been held at a campus site in quite some time. Indiana definitely looks like they’ve improved, but they still don’t have any wins as big as this one on their profile. The same can be said about Kentucky.

-SAINT JOSEPH’S AT LOUISVILLE. Both teams are young and talented, but both are inconsistent and that has definitely been evident early on so far. This is the second game of a round robin tournament at Louisville and they really need to win all three if they want to establish themselves as a solid tournament team early on. At the same time, it’s a chance for Saint Joseph’s to make a case for themselves. Two contrasting styles, so it should be interesting.

-MISSISSIPPI AT MEMPHIS. Mississippi has just one loss, but they’ve been playing against the cupcake special for the most part. They will really be tested today. Memphis was just beaten rather handily by Tennessee in a rivalry game, but this game is also a rivalry. In fact, Memphis and Knoxville are close to 350 miles apart. Memphis and Oxford are just about ninety miles apart. It would be a huge statement win for Ole Miss, and it would be a nice rebound win for Memphis.

-BYU AT MICHIGAN STATE (DirecTV #209, 3pm, est). BYU appears to have a good basketball team, but they really need a big statement win in order to get them into the bracket picture. A win on the road in a game like this would certainly qualify. Michigan State, like BYU has two losses already and although they will have plenty of opportunities down the road they still don’t have a big time win yet. This would really help them out for the time being though.

-FRESNO STATE AT MONTANA STATE. After getting off to a very good start, Fresno State was absolutely blown out in their last game by UC Santa Barbara, which was sort of surprising. Montana State is just 1-7 and Fresno really can’t afford to lose this one.

-UNLV AT NEVADA. This is a big rivalry within the state of Nevada. UNLV is 5-2, but a win against a very good Nevada team on the road would really boost the value of their profile. Nevada is unbeaten and although they have a good win against Cal, they still don’t get a whole lot of chances at statement wins, so this is a big deal for them because in addition to this being a rivalry game, it’s one of the better teams they play this year.

-KANSAS STATE AT NORTH DAKOTA STATE. ND State is not eligible for the NCAA Tournament, but they are still capable of making some noise this season. They already have an upset win over Marquette and will be no easy foe for Kansas State.

-NEBRASKA AT OREGON (DirecTV #620, 3pm, est). This game is really interesting. Nebraska has just one loss and, and with their 3-1 record they have a good win against Creighton. Still, they lost to a horrible Rutgers team in their last game, so if they really need to rebound from that if they want to sustain their profile. This game is a chance for us to get to see how good Nebraska is in a hostile environment. Oregon is unbeaten and already has one good win against Georgetown. This could end up being another good win, but it’s still a little hard to say how good Nebraska is at this point.

-FORDHAM AT PENN. Penn is just 4-3, but they have been playing some very good basketball in their last few outings and probably won’t lose too many more between now and the end. They are coming off a blowout win against Navy, and they hung with Villanova last week, so this is a team that can play.

-RUTGERS AT PRINCETON. Look out, but Princeton can improve to 7-2 with a win in this game. They’ve certainly looked like the best team in New Jersey so far, and this is a chance to continue to lay claim to that. They could turn out to be a dangerous team this March.

-VCU AT RICHMOND. VCU has won four straight, including blowout wins against Houston and Albany, so they could be for real. They face cross-town rival Richmond today and can improve to 7-2 overall.

-ARIZONA AT SAN DIEGO STATE. SDSU lost their last game to Western Michigan, which was very surprising. They’ve had some close calls against low caliber teams, but they’ve also looked very good on other nights. One would expect them to be at the top of their game tonight. Arizona has not lost since their season opener and is coming off of a good win against Louisville. This should be an exciting game with lots of athleticism. It’s also important for both teams. Arizona is trying to make the pod system, so this would certainly help their profile. San Diego State is trying to make a case that they are a tournament team, and a win like this would be a huge statement win.

-PENN STATE AT SETON HALL (DirecTV #784, 1pm, est). Both these teams have good records, but neither have any really good wins yet. Still, they’ve both looked pretty good at times, so winning this game would be a big first step as far as establishing themselves as tournament caliber teams.

-DE PAUL AT UAB. UAB has won three of their last four to improve to 5-3 and could be in the process of really kicking it into gear and ratting off several wins. De Paul got off to a terrible start, but they have won their last two, one of which was an upset over Kansas and the other was a blowout against a fairly talented Chicago State team. Both got off to sluggish starts, but both are playing well now and are looking to continue that momentum.

-MISSOURI STATE AT UNC WILMINGTON. Missouri State has just one loss on the season, but they need to be careful going into this one. UNCW has yet to lose at home. Still, it’s a good chance for them to pick up another road win, and that looks good on their resume and boosts their RPI a little bit.

-GEORGE WASHINGTON VS USC (DirecTV #307, 5pm, est). This game is part of a doubleheader for the John Wooden Classic. It’s also an interesting matchup between two very athletic teams. GW has once again scheduled virtually all cupcakes for out of conference games, so it’s important that they win this one because it’s one of the very few chances they have to beat a decent team. USC appears to be very good and nearly pulled off an upset at Kansas earlier this season. This game will be a nice RPI boost for them early on as well.

-UTAH STATE AT UTAH VALLEY STATE. Utah State just got a nice win over rival Utah and faces another in-state foe today. A win gets them to 8-1, but they still haven’t beaten any high caliber teams so they still have a lot of work to do.

-GEORGIA TECH AT VANDERBILT (DirecTV #209, 5pm, est). Vandy hasn’t looked all that tough this season, but they’ve looked a little better lately. Georgia Tech continues to look like an NCAA Tournament team and can continue to add to their profile with another good road win today.

-DREXEL AT VILLANOVA. Drexel is a talented team that is off to a good 5-2 start. They don't get as much respect as the other Philadelphia schools, but a win in this game against Villanova will not only earn them some bragging rights, but it would be a huge boost to their tourney resume and be a big step as far as getting into the picture. Villanova's only loss on the season came to Xavier and they've been playing excellent basketball since then. They won't be easy to beat. If Drexel keeps winning at the same rate they're winning at now it will really boost Nova's RPI.

-WICHITA STATE AT WYOMING. Wichita State is unbeaten and has proven they can play on the road in hostile environments seeing as how they’ve racked up wins at Syracuse and at LSU. Wyoming is 6-1, but really hasn’t been tested yet. This would really boost them into the bracket picture if they were to win, but winning won’t be easy. Wichita State is a legit top twenty team and has the opportunity to play their way into the pod system.


-COLORADO COLLEGE (nondiv1) AT AIR FORCE. Air Force can improve to 10-1 with a win, though it won’t mean much come Selection Sunday.

-WINSTON SALEM STATE AT AKRON. Winston Salem State is still looking for their first win. Akron can improve to 5-1.

-ALABAMA STATE AT ALABAMA. Alabama should have no problems rebounding from their loss to Notre Dame to improve to 8-1.

-SAN DIEGO OR EASTERN MICHIGAN AT CALIFORNIA. This will likely be the championship game in the Golden Bear Classic. I just love how a high profile team can invite three cupcakes into a tournament and call it a “Classic.” They should improve to 8-2 with a win.

-GRAMBLING AT DAYTON. Dayton has two good wins already. This won’t be a win that will improve their resume, but it will improve their record to 8-1.

-TOLEDO AT KANSAS (DirecTV #209, 1pm, est). Toledo was believed to be one of the better teams in the MAC this year, but they haven’t played like it. Kansas has looked great on some nights and poor on some others. They really need this win to keep pace with other teams competing for a top seed early on.

-LEHIGH AT MIAMI, FL. Miami just won a big game against Georgia Tech and will improve to 6-3 if they win today.

-DELAWARE STATE AT MICHIGAN. Michigan has played cupcakes for the most part, and that isn’t going to change today. A win gets them to 10-1, but they still haven’t done anything impressive yet.

-HIGH POINT AT NORTH CAROLINA. UNC plays some tough teams OOC, but this isn’t one of them. They should win in a route.

-SAVANNAH STATE AT NORTH CAROLINA STATE. NC State should absolutely blow this team out. Savannah State has lost six straight games and that streak isn’t likely to stop any time soon.

-UMKC AT NORTHERN IOWA. Northern Iowa is off to a great start with their only loss so far coming to Washington. That isn’t likely to change today.

-CLEVELAND STATE AT OHIO STATE (DirecTV #637, 4pm, est). The Buckeyes should win this one in a blowout.

-MAINE AT PROVIDENCE. Providence had won five straight, but were beaten handily by Florida in their last game. They shouldn’t have too much trouble winning today at home and improving to 7-2.

-COLGATE AT SYRACUSE. Syracuse has lost two straight, but that streak will likely end today. They should have no trouble improving to 8-2.

-CENTENARY AT TEXAS TECH (DirecTV #786, 1pm, est). Texas Tech has no really good wins yet, but they are 7-3 and Knight is inching closer to being the all time winnings coach in mens’ college basketball.

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