Highlighted Games for Saturday, 2/10

Highlighted Games for Saturday, 2/10
Feb 09, 2007, 09:24 pm

-FLORIDA AT KENTUCKY (SEC) (***Pod System Implications***). This is a huge game for many reasons. Florida appears to be a solid #1 seed right now, but they don’t have a big time road win yet. This would certainly qualify if they could pull this off in Lexington. Kentucky has been playing very well recently, but they don’t have a win that is anywhere close to the quality that this one would be. It would make them very solid contenders for the pod system, which is important given that there are first/second round games being played in Columbus (Kentucky can’t be placed in Lexington). A loss for Florida doesn’t take them out of contention for a #1 seed, but getting a big road win like this would really help them out.

-VCU AT OLD DOMINION (Colonial Athletic) (***Bubble Implications***). Both these teams are on the bubble. VCU is in better shape right now, but that could easily change between now and the end of the year. Old Dominion has not lost at home all year. VCU won the first game, but will have a tougher time winning this one. However, it’s a great opportunity for them to pick up an impressive win, put some distance between themselves and the rest of the league, and come one step closer to being able to receive an at-large if they were to need it. Old Dominion can get within one game of first place with a win. It will also improve their RPI and give them one of the better wins they’ve had all year. The margin for both of these teams is pretty small, and this is one of the few chances they have remaining to obtain a quality win during the regular season. This is also a huge rivalry, so expect a fantastic and intense atmosphere for this one.

-CREIGHTON AT SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (Missouri Valley). This is the second meeting between these two teams. Southern Illinois won the first at Creighton in the final seconds of the game. Both teams are 11-3 in conference play, and have a two game lead over the next team, so this is a hugely important game that will affect the regular season championship in the MVC. Southern Illinois has a shot at making the pod system, but they probably need to win out and rack up some more quality wins in order to get there. Winning against Creighton would certainly qualify. Creighton has a little more to gain from this simply because their resume isn’t quite as good as Southern Illinois’. Creighton has won five in a row and SIU has won six in a row, so both teams have quite a bit of momentum coming into this one. Creighton has struggled on the road somewhat, but they’ve still managed to take care of business. This one should be fun.

-VIRGINIA AT VIRGINIA TECH (ACC). This is the first of to hugely important games between these two conference rivals. Virginia is inching closer and closer to the pod system, and a road win in this game could get them in it for the next bracket projection. Virginia Tech has lost their last two games, including a surprising loss to NC State and another blowout loss to Boston College, but they’ve still had a great season so far, are a solid NCAA Tournament team, and the fans should really be up for this one. Another reason this is big is that Virginia is tied for first place in the ACC, and Virginia Tech is just one game behind them, so this is hugely important as far as that goes.

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

-OKLAHOMA AT BAYLOR (Big Twelve). Oklahoma has won five of their last seven games, and their next two games are very winnable. They’ll need to go on a streak to get themselves into consideration, but if they keep improving they have a chance to do it. Baylor is just 2-7 in league play, and has lost five of their last six.

-DRAKE AT BRADLEY (Missouri Valley). Bradley’s last four league games are against Drake, Evansville, Northern Iowa and Indiana State. They also have a Bracket Buster game mixed in with that. If they can win all four conference games, which they are good enough to do, they will get consideration from the committee.

-SAN DIEGO STATE AT COLORADO STATE (Mountain West). San Diego State has won three straight games, including a blowout win against Air Force in their last game. They’re at home against UNLV next week, but they need to take care of business on the road today. They can play their way into consideration for an at-large, but they need to finish strong in order to do it.

-DELAWARE AT DREXEL (Colonial Athletic). Drexel is coming off a very tough and gritty win against Hofstra, where they had to come from behind and win in overtime. Their final conference games are against Delaware, @ William & Mary, William & Mary and @ Towson. They can win them all, and need to win them all in order to be seriously considered for an at-large. They also have a hugely important Bracket Buster game at Creighton mixed in with that.

-XAVIER AT GEORGE WASHINGTON (Atlantic Ten). Xavier most likely needs to win out in order to be seriously considered. They’ve looked really impressive in their last two games, but both of those were at home against teams that aren’t exactly at the top of the league. This will be a very difficult game to win. GW can still get some consideration as well, but like Xavier are pretty close to their last strike. They probably need to win out and avoid any poor losses in the conference tournament in order to be seriously considered, so this is a big game for both teams. Both of these teams have been inconsistent this year, so it’s hard to say what will happen today.

-MARQUETTE AT GEORGETOWN (Big East). Marquette has won their last eight games, and Georgetown has won their last six. Both teams have looked very good in their last couple games as well. Marquette is on the brink of making the Pod System, which is important because they could really benefit from being placed in Chicago. Georgetown is a solid team, but only have one RPI top fifty win, and that was very early in the year against a Vanderbilt team that was struggling at the time, so a win in this game would go a long way toward improving their resume. Both teams are also just one game behind Pittsburgh in the Big East, so this game will have an affect on the regular season Big East title as well.

-SAINT MARY’S AT GONZAGA (West Coast). Saint Mary’s defeated Gonzaga earlier this year, but they were at home for that win. Gonzaga is coming off a conference loss, which is their second of the year. Another loss would be damaging for several reasons. For starters, they could potentially fall behind Santa Clara in the conference standings, and not being able to win this league will look bad on their resume. It would also be their third loss to a sub 100 RPI team, which wouldn’t look good on their resume either.

-ILLINOIS AT INDIANA (Big Ten). This has always been a big rivalry, but the recent feud between Bruce Webber and Kelvin Sampson has made it even more interesting. Illinois has some pretty good wins, but hasn’t done much on the road and a quality road win would go a very long way in improving their resume. Indiana has struggled on the road as well and is coming off a loss to Iowa, but still has some nice wins and is in better overall shape than Illinois. Illinois won the first meeting between the two in a defensive struggle, but they were at home for that one. They’ll have a tougher time winning this one on the road.

-COLORADO AT KANSAS STATE (Big Twelve). Kansas State had a seven game win streak snapped in a blowout loss at Kansas earlier this week. Up until then the Wildcats had been playing very well, and should be able to rebound from that with a win at home against a struggling Colorado team who is just 6-13 on the season. This would be a bad loss on Kansas State’s record, so they need this win in order to avoid that.

-SOUTH FLORIDA AT LOUISVILLE (Big East). Louisville is still on the outside looking in and can’t afford a loss to a sub par South Florida team if they want to be able to play their way onto the bubble. They’ve lost two straight games and although both losses came against tough opponents, they need some big time wins. They also can’t afford to lose at home to non-tournament teams at this point.

-ARKANSAS AT LSU (SEC). LSU is a talented team that had a lot of potential, and could still be dangerous between now and the end, but the way things are now they’ll need to go on a winning streak just to get back in the mix of teams being considered. Arkansas is also closer to the bubble than they’d like to be, although they’ve done much better than LSU up to this point. They could really use a conference road win in a game like this in order to keep their momentum going. Three of Arkansas’s next four games are on the road, but none are against NCAA Tourney teams, so they need to take care of business in order to improve their resume.

-TULANE AT MEMPHIS (Conference USA). Memphis is looking for their 13th straight win. They’re facing a very poor RPI team in Tulane, and although a loss won’t knock them out of the field, it could be damaging to their chances of making the pod system. Memphis won rather handily against UAB the other night, and shouldn’t have too much trouble tonight.

-MINNESOTA AT MICHIGAN (Big Ten). Michigan is on the outside looking in. They still have a chance to get onto and inside of the bubble, but they need to win some games on the road, and avoid home losses to sub par teams such as Minnesota in order to make it.

-ALABAMA AT MISSISSIPPI (SEC). Mississippi doesn’t look like an NCAA Tournament team, but they are a team that is in the process of building up their program under new coach Andy Kennedy, and has gotten better throughout the year. They’ve won three of their last four games and are remarkably just one game behind Alabama for first place in the SEC West. Alabama has won their last three games, including a somewhat impressive win at LSU, but all the wins were struggles and none were against NCAA Tournament teams. A win here should be enough to get them into the next projection, but they are pretty close to the bubble given the fact that their only current RPI top 50 win came against Xavier. They also have another decent win against Georgia and have been battling injuries, so the committee will give them some leeway for that. This isn’t going to be an easy game for them to win, though.

-KANSAS AT MISSOURI (Big Twelve). The first meeting between these two ended up with Kansas winning a thriller in overtime. This is an intense rivalry, and it seems as though it’s a close game no matter how much better one teams appears to be than the other. Kansas really needs to be on upset alert. They are one game behind Texas A&M in the conference standings, and have just a one game lead over Kansas State, so it’s a pivotal game as far as the Big Twelve is concerned. A loss would probably make it impossible for them to end up as a #1 seed, but Kansas is still a very solid candidate for the pod system. Missouri is just 3-7 in their last ten games and is nowhere near the NCAA Tournament right now, but they could end up giving Kansas quite a scare.

-TEXAS A&M AT NEBRASKA (Big Twelve). TAMU is in first place in the conference right now, and has been playing as well as anyone in the country right now. A #1 seed is not out of the quesiton. Nebraska is a team that appears to be getting better. Although they aren’t in a position to get an at-large right now, they’ve won two straight road games, including an exciting finish against Texas Tech in their last game. The fans should be up for this one, so it won’t necessarily be an easy game for TAMU to win.

-AIR FORCE AT NEW MEXICO (Mountain West). Air Force was blown out by San Diego State in their last game, and really struggled against New Mexico the last time these two met. They have a chance to get into the pod system, but they can’t afford to go into a slump. New Mexico has won their last two games and should come into this with a lot of confidence.

-WAKE FOREST AT NORTH CAROLINA (ACC). This is a traditional conference rivalry, but this season it is a huge mismatch. North Carolina won in a blowout the first time these two met, and that could very well be the result again today. UNC is coming off an emotional win at rival Duke, so they may be a little starry eyed, but even that shouldn’t prevent them from beating Wake rather handily.

-MISSOURI STATE AT NORTHERN IOWA (Missouri Valley). Missouri State has won four straight games, which has really helped solidify their profile and place them safely inside the bubble. They should stay there if they can avoid going into a slump. They’ve been playing very well in their last few games. Northern Iowa is having the opposite sort of luck. After an impressive start to the season, they’ve lost five of their last six and seven of their last ten to drop out of the at-large picture. They need to turn it around and most likely win out in order to get any serious consideration.

-PURDUE AT OHIO STATE (Big Ten). Ohio State is still within reach of a #1 seed, but they need to keep pace with Wisconsin and win nearly all their games the rest of the way in order to get it. Either way they’re a very solid pod system team. Purdue is on the bubble, and could really improve their profile and make themselves a solid candidate if they can pull off a win like this. They’ve struggled on the road and need some decent wins between now and the end. This, of course, would be a much better than decent road win, and it would do wonders for Purdue.

-TEXAS TECH AT OKLAHOMA STATE (Big Twelve). Both of these teams have been struggling lately, and need to turn their season around in order to keep their resumes from taking any more damage. Texas Tech has lost four straight games, and hasn’t played all that well on the road all season long. A win for them in this game would really help them out. Five in a row is never good. Oklahoma State has lost two in a row and three of their last five. Each of their last two losses came to non-tournament caliber teams. They also don’t have a true road win at all this season, which is not helpful toward their resume. They’re at home, and have been a much better team at home than on the road, so they really need to win this game if they want to turn it around and keep their status from dropping even further.

-ARIZONA AT OREGON (Pac Ten). Arizona’s last win at Oregon State was somewhat of an unexpected struggle, but it was their second straight win, which is an improvement they needed after losing five of six. A road win in this one would really help out Arizona’s resume since it would be such a quality road win. Oregon is still very solidly in contention for making the pod system. They’re just one game out of second place in the Pac Ten standings, but are in a three way tie for third, so every game is somewhat pivotal for them. This is a chance for them to pick up another quality RPI win, as well as get another big time conference win.

-PROVIDENCE AT PITTSBURGH (Big East). Providence is on the outside looking in, but it is still within reach. They just need a very strong finish. Winning this game would be a huge step in the right direction as far as making it to the NCAA Tournament. Pittsburgh is looking like a solid #2 seed and appears to be the best in the Big East. They are coming into this one having won back to back road games against Villanova and West Virginia, which is as impressive as anything they’ve done all year. They clearly look like the better team and should be able to win this one at home, and sustain their very impressive resume.

-VILLANOVA AT SETON HALL (Big East). Villanova has won their last two games and has a pretty good resume overall. One thing that does look bad is that they’re just 4-5 in Big East play. This is a chance for them to even it up against a very beatable opponent on the road. A loss like this hurts them because the committee would view it as a bad loss, and it’s one of the more winnable games they have. Their next game is at home against Cincinnati, and Villanova really needs to take care of business in both games.

-GEORGIA AT SOUTH CAROLINA (SEC). Georgia is right on the bubble. Their record is 12-9, but given the difficulty of their schedule they’re still in a position to where they’d get consideration. They really need to win this game though. South Carolina is not a tournament caliber team, and given the fact that Georgia is right on the bubble this is the kind of game they’re expected to win if they want to make a statement that they belong in the dance. Like all games involving bubble teams, this is a pivotal game for Georgia.

-BYU AT TCU (Mountain West). BYU is looking for their sixth straight win. They’ve suddenly become a very strong at-large candidate, and just keep playing their way further and further inside the bubble. They need a win in this game because TCU is a low quality team, and the committee would look at this as a bad loss. BYU also has a one game lead in the conference standings, and that could knock them out. With so many tough games remaining, they need to take care of business in games like this one.

-VANDERBILT AT TENNESSEE (SEC). Vanderbilt has won seven of their last nine, and has a home win over Tennessee in that stretch. They’re 6-3 in the conference, and even though their RPI is just 49 they still have a very solid NCAA Tournament resume. Their RPI will obviously improve if they keep playing and winning at the rate they have been. Tennessee got a much needed win against LSU in their last game, but needs some more because they’ve still lost six of their last nine. They’re just 4-5 in league play, and picking up a quality win at home would be a big step in turning around their resume and help them obtain a solid seed. This is also a big in-state rivalry, so this one means a lot on and off paper.

-IOWA STATE AT TEXAS (Big Twelve). Texas has lost two straight, and does not want a third loss, especially at home against a non-tournament team. Texas’s RPI is still rather poor (57), but their resume appears to be solid other than that. If they win the games they should win between now and the end, the RPI should improve. They have a big home game against Oklahoma State on Monday night and don’t want to get caught looking ahead to that.

-WYOMING AT UNLV (Mountain West). UNLV is a solid NCAA Tournament team who is looking at getting a very good seed. They’re in a tie for second place and are just one game behind BYU in the league standings. UNLV does have some tough games coming up, so they need to take care of business at home against a team like Wyoming. Wyoming did win this game in overtime the first time these two met, but they had home court advantage. UNLV needs to take care of business today in order to stay in the conference race and avoid another sub 100 RPI loss on their resume.

-CALIFORNIA AT WASHINGTON STATE (Pac Ten). California has lost five straight, and it will likely be six straight after today. Wazzu has looked incredible lately, and won decisively over a very good Stanford team the other night. Wazzu is also in position to make the pod system. Unfortunately for them they cannot be placed in Spokane since they’re hosting those games, but they can still get a very good seed and some pretty favorable match-ups in the NCAAs if they keep it up. They’re also just one game behind UCLA in the standings, which is a team they nearly beat earlier this year, and will be hosting between now and the end of the season, so they have a chance to finish first in the standings.

-UCLA AT WEST VIRGINIA. This is a tough out of conference road test for UCLA. They have a very impressive resume, and are still strong contenders for a #1 seed, but this would actually end up being one of their more impressive road wins on the year. West Virginia has struggled on the road, but they did win back to back road games before losing at home to Pittsburgh in their last game. UCLA, like Pitt, will be a very tough challenge for them, but if West Virginia could pull it off it would be a huge quality win that will boost the value of their resume.

-RADFORD AT WINTHROP (Big South). Winthrop looks to remain unbeaten in conference play, and should have little trouble doing that at home against one of the weakest teams in the country. If they win out and win their Bracket Buster game, they could be in a position to be seriously considered for an at-large.

-IOWA AT WISCONSIN. Iowa has won four of their last five and been playing well lately, but they still have a ton of work to do before they’re considered an NCAA caliber team. Wisconsin is still in a tie for first place in the Big Ten and on pace to receive a #1 seed, but they need to take care of business in games like this if they want to do it. They’re still a very strong pod team even if they do stumble a time or two between now and the end, though.

-BUTLER AT WRIGHT STATE (Horizon League). The first time these two teams met, Butler won in a blowout, but Wright State has won nine of ten since then, and has gotten better and better with every game. They’re at home for this one, and have a chance to tie Butler in the standings, which is a huge deal because the regular season champion byes into the semifinals and gets the conference tournament on their floor, so it’s a tremendous opportunity for Wright State. A win for Butler gives them a two game lead, and the way they’ve been playing that would almost be insurmountable. They’re coming off of a 42 point road win against Cleveland State where they hit 20 threes. A win keeps them in very strong contention for a spot in the pod system, which would likely place them in Columbus for the first/second round, so Butler has a lot to play for in this one as well.

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