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Highlighted Games for Saturday, Dec 16
by: Drew Barnette - Staff Writer
December 15, 2006
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SPOTLIGHTED GAMES

-PITTSBURGH AT WISCONSIN (***Pod System Implications***) (DirecTV #206, 12pm, est). Wisconsin would love to be placed in Chicago whereas Pitt is looking to get into Buffalo. The only game either of these teams have lost was Wisconsin, who fell to Missouri State earlier this year. These teams are trying to play their way into different regions, so having a leg up isnít AS important, but itís still a big time win that would look good on any resume. For Pitt, they really havenít played in a big time game like this yet. They did struggle to get past Buffalo a week ago, so it will be interesting to see how they do on the road in this game. Wisconsin, on the other hand, just won a huge road game against Marquette.

-WESTERN KENTUCKY AT TENNESSEE (DirecTV #784, 4pm, est). Western KY dropped a big game to Southern Illinois last week, but can rebound from that in a big way with a win in this game. Tennessee is really on fire though, so it wonít be easy. Both teams love to use their guard play, so this should be a very fast paced and entertaining game. Western Kentucky is pretty much undermatched the rest of the season, but the best opponent they have remaining on their schedule is Nebraska, so their margin for error is very small. A win here would be huge because itís a quality road win on their resume, plus it gives them some breathing room, but a loss means that three more losses overall between now and the end could be too many for the Hilltoppers if they fail to win their conference tournament.

-PURDUE VS BUTLER (DirecTV #307, 1pm, est). This game is being played in Indianapolis as part of the Wooden Tradition. Purdue has been playing outstanding basketball since their loss to Georgia Tech back in the Maui. They have some impressive wins against Missouri and Virginia, but both of those came at home, so this could be a little tougher. Still, it isnít on Butlerís campus, so the Boilers should have some fans there. Other than the Bracket Buster, this is Butlerís last chance at a big time win, so it is important. However, even if they lose they still appear to be in very good shape so long as they donít fall apart in conference play. They have some pretty big wins already.

-CINCINNATI VS OHIO STATE (CBS, 3:30pm, est). This is the second game in the Wooden Tradition doubleheader. Cincinnati just got a decent win against Xavier, but this would really propel them into the NCAA Tournament picture if they can pull this off. Ohio State has played well, but other than North Carolina they havenít played many top level teams, so this would be nice for them. Itís also interesting because despite the fact that these are two major programs that are about 100 miles apart, itís the first time theyíve met since the 1962 National Championship game. Cincinnati ended up winning that one.



OTHER HIGHLIGHTED MATCHUPS

-TEXAS TECH AT ARKANSAS (DirecTV #206, 2pm, est). Bobby Knight is inching closer and closer to becoming the all time winningest coach, but theyíve been doing most of that against teams that arenít as good as Arkansas. The Razorbacks are very tough to beat at home this year. One is getting a sense that Texas Tech really needs a big quality win such as this one to help out their profile. Up until now they really donít have any.

-UTAH STATE AT BYU. Utah State has won eight straight games since losing their season opener. BYU appeared to be a very good team in their first game against UCLA, but are just 5-4 on the season. A win in a game like this over an in-state rival will help both their RPI and give them some bragging rights. BYU really needs to turn it around soon though, because they are running out of chances to make a strong case for themselves. Utah State doesnít have many strong opponents in conference, but they will face Nevada, which was their signature win last year. A road win like this would really help them out.

-CREIGHTON AT FRESNO STATE. Fresno State has looked like a top 25 team when theyíve played at home, but has struggled big time on the road. They have just one loss on the season, but it was a 70-42 pasting on the road at UC Santa Barbara. They also struggled to beat Montana State on the road. This is a big game because itís a rare chance for Fresno State to get a statement win out of conference. Creighton has looked sluggish at times this season, but they just had a big win against Xavier and that could have really boosted them into gear. A win on the road against a team who plays very well at home would be an impressive addition to their resume.

-GONZAGA VS GEORGIA (DirecTV #209, 5pm, est). This game is being played in Diluth, but it will still be a very pro Georgia crowd. Georgia is 5-1 on the year with their only loss coming to a pretty good Western Kentucky team. Still, up until now they donít have any impressive wins. Even if they fail to pick one up today theyíll have ample chances to impress the committee in conference play, but we still really havenít learned how good of a team Georgia is. Gonzaga is off to a great start with three big wins already. Another on the road would be yet another nice addition to their NCAA Tournament resume. Georgia plays some pretty tough defense, so it should be a fun match-up to watch.

-BRADLEY AT IOWA STATE (DirecTV #209, 3pm). Bradley got off to a very good start, but has struggled somewhat lately. Iowa State has struggled as well. Both will need to improve in order to get the attention of the committee.

-KENTUCKY AT LOUISVILLE (CBS, 1:30pm, est). In recent years this was a big game as far as the pod system was concerned. This year itís a game between two teams that might both struggle to make the tournament. Thatís hard to believe, but itís true. Kentucky does have a decent win against Indiana and got another against De Paul, but Louisville doesnít really have any significant wins. This is a high stakes game in the sense that itís between two teams who could end up fighting for a spot, and if both end up with similar profiles the winner gets the upper hand, but itís not a clash between two potential pod teams like many weíve seen in the past. A win in this game would go a long way in turning either teamís season around.

-NORTHERN IOWA AT LOYOLA, IL. Loyola is a pretty good team despite having it somewhat handed to them against Purdue here recently. Still, this is one of their best chances to pick up a quality out of conference win. Northern Iowaís only loss came to Washington at Washington in a preseason tournament. They are having a good year and will be a force in the Missouri Valley. Although Loyola is by no means a powerhouse, winning on the road against good teams always looks impressive.

-INDIANA STATE AT MISSOURI STATE (Missouri Valley). Indiana State has a big win against Butler, but hasnít played all that well on the road. Sometimes conference play can be a different animal though. Missouri State is off to a great start this season. Their only loss was in overtime against Oklahoma State. This is the conference opener for both teams, and the standings are important so itís a big game.

-DE PAUL AT RHODE ISLAND. De Paul has won three of their last four, including a big win against Kansas, and can improve to 5-5 against div1 teams with a win today. They still have a ways to go, but they are definitely moving in the right direction as far as building up a tournament resume is concerned.

-LMU AT SAN DIEGO STATE. SDSU has two losses on the season, but has a nice win against Cal. It will take a long string of wins to get them any consideration, but they appear to be good enough to do it depending on what night you happen to catch them. LMU has played some pretty good ball this season as well, but not so much on the road.

-MISSISSIPPI AT SOUTH ALABAMA. Ole Missís only two losses came against Memphis and Connecticut, but they donít have any real good wins yet. We wonít get a chance to really check them out until conference play begins.

-ALABAMA VS SOUTHERN MISS. Southern Miss is 4-0 against div1 and unbeaten overall on the year, but they have done nothing to indicate that they are even an NIT team, much less an NCAA team yet. This is their first real test and although a win would be huge, chances are they are going to get beaten rather easily. Bama continues to look like a pod team.

-BAYLOR AT SYRACUSE. Both teams have just two losses on the year, but Baylorís most recent loss came at home to South Carolina. Syracuseís have come against much tougher competition. The Orange clearly look like a tournament team, but they havenít had any big time wins yet so a loss here would damage their profile for the time being. Either way theyíll have more than their opportunity at big wins in conference play.

-NEW MEXICO STATE AT UTEP. UTEP is very tough to beat at home. At this point in time it doesnít look as if either team would be in the tournament picture, but both are good enough to possibly play their way into it. A win in this game would go a long way. New Mexico State has won five straight, including a home game against UTEP, but none of those were on the road.

-UAB AT VCU. Both of these teams are hot. VCU has won five straight and looked rather impressive in those games. UAB got off to a sluggish start, but has won four out of their last five, including close games against De Paul and Cincinnati. When Mike Davis was at Indiana it seemed as though he could never win a close game. Now, his team is managing to find a way to win down the stretch. It wonít be easy pulling this one off at VCU though. VCU is under everyoneís radar right now. People are still celebrating George Masonís Final Four run and Hofstra was a team that was hyped up this preseason, but they look to be one of the better teams in the Colonial this year.

-ARIZONA STATE AT XAVIER (DirecTV #609, 6pm, est). Xavier has lost two straight and really canít afford to make this #3. Arizona State doesnít appear to be all that strong, which means this would be a fairly damaging loss. The Sun Devils have not played in two weeks. Their last game was a loss to Minnesota on the road, so they could be a bit rusty in this one.



BUY GAMES

-WESTERN CAROLINA AT DAYTON. Dayton is off to a fantastic 8-1 start this year. They should have little trouble winning this one today.

-WINSTON SALEM STATE AT GEORGETOWN (DirecTV #626, 7:30pm, est). Winston Salem State is 0-12 on the year. Georgetown has struggled at times, but has won two in a row since losing to Duke and will likely win their next three games before heading into Michigan.

-UMBC AT MARQUETTE. Marquette has struggled at times, but has just two losses on the season. A win gets them to 9-2.

-STETSON AT MIAMI, FL (DirecTV #634, 4pm, est). Miami is one of these teams that is unbelievably inconsistent. They have a big win against Georgia Tech, which is a conference win, but then they follow that up with a blowout loss to Mississippi State. They have more bad losses than they do good wins right now. A win gets them to 7-4.

-NORTHERN ILLINOIS AT MICHIGAN (DirecTV #783, 2pm, est). Michigan continues their Hostess Cupcake sponsored out of conference schedule. A win gets them to 11-1, but we still donít know much about how good a team they really are.

-CHICAGO STATE AT MICHIGAN STATE (DirecTV #783, 7pm, est). A win for Michigan State gets them to 10-2.

-PACIFIC AT NEVADA. Pacific has been the dominant team in the Big West for the past three years, but this year they are just 2-7. Nevada is looking to rebound from a blowout loss to rival UNLV and should be able to do that in a big way.

-UNC ASHEVILLE AT NORTH CAROLINA (DirecTV #647, 2pm, est). An in-state game that will most likely be a complete blowout. North Carolina should role and improve to 8-1.

-MOUNT SAINT MARYíS AT NORTH CAROLINA STATE. NC State can improve to 7-2 with a win in this game.

-ELON AT NOTRE DAME. Notre Dame has some big wins, but they also have some major drags on their RPI. Elon, Winston Salem State and The Citadel are all without wins and that will be a drag on their RPI later on.

-TENNESSEE MARTIN AT SAINT LOUIS. Saint Louis was blown out by Texas A&M, but they have just two losses on the season. Obviously if they keep winning like that it will be enough to get them into the tournament picture.

-TEXAS STATE AT TEXAS (DirecTV #643, 4pm, est). Texas can improve to 6-2 on the year with a win.

-JACKSONVILLE AT TEXAS A&M. A win for TAMU will improve them to 9-2.

-PRARIE VIEW A&M AT TULSA. Tulsa has played a bunch of cupcakes, but they are doing what they have to in order to rebuild. A win gets them to 6-1.

-OAKLAND AT UCLA. A win for UCLA will keep them undefeated on the year and in strong contention for a #1 seed.

-NICHOLLS STATE AT VANDERBILT. After a poor start to the season, Vandy has won four straight, including a big one against Georgia Tech. A win today gets them to 6-3.

-HAMPTON AT VIRGINIA. A win for Virginia gets them to 6-1.

-PORTLAND STATE AT WASHINGTON (DirecTV #651, 10pm, est). Portland State is one of the better teams in the Big Sky, but they donít appear to be much of a match for Washington. A win for the Huskies gets them to 8-1 on the year.

-CS NORTHRIDGE AT WASHINGTON STATE. Wazzu can improve to 10-1, but most of those wins were against weak opponents. They do have a big win against Gonzaga, and will get their chance at some statement wins in conference play.

-SAVANNAH STATE AT WEST VIRGINIA. A win for West Virginia improves them to 7-1.
 


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