Highlighted Games for Wed, 1/31

Highlighted Games for Wed, 1/31
Jan 31, 2007, 12:37 am
HIGHLIGHTED GAMES. Sorted in alphabetical order via the home team, with conference match-ups indicated in parenthesis.

-CREIGHTON AT BRADLEY (Missouri Valley). This conference is as competitive as any in the country. Creighton is in a tie for first place, but just one loss could knock them down to fourth. Creighton is a solid tournament team for now, but that could quickly change. It seems like every game is pivotal and this one is no different. Bradley is on the outside looking in, but if they can win a few games in a row suddenly they’re at the top of the league and a good distance inside the bubble. They’re at home in a very important game. This one, like many MVC games, will be interesting.

-LOUISVILLE AT CINCINNATI (Big East). Louisville is still outside the bubble, but they are gaining ground pretty quick despite struggling from the field. A win here gets them to 6-2 in the Big East, 15-6 overall, and 11-2 in their last thirteen games. They only have two wins away from home on the season, and Cincinnati is a very gritty team despite not being that talented, so this is a big game for them. A loss would be rather damaging for Louisville, especially considering they’re trying to play their way into the picture.

-GEORGE WASHINGTON AT DAYTON (Atlantic Ten). Dayton has yet to lose at home, and have looked pretty good. Unfortunately they have yet to win on the road, and have looked pretty bad. They don’t have much of a chance of making the NCAAs without winning the conference tournament, but given how well they’ve been playing at home GW needs to be on upset alert. George Washington is all by themselves in first place in the Atlantic Ten, have played pretty well overall, and have a very impressive 15-4 record. Things that aren’t so impressive is their SOS (164), RPI (63), and just one quality win, which came against Virginia Tech. This game will boost both of those a little bit if GW can pull off the win. GW needs to remain in first place and avoid bad losses. More than two losses the rest of the way, or failing to finish first, and they’ll be sweating it out on Selection Sunday.

-MISSOURI STATE AT DRAKE (Missouri Valley). Missouri State ended a three game losing streak when they got a much needed win against Bradley over the weekend. They need to follow that up with a road win against Drake. It keeps them in the mix of teams toward the top of the conference standings, as well as avoids a bad loss on their resume.

-XAVIER AT DUQUESNE (Atlantic Ten). Duquesne has won two straight to improve to 7-11, which may not sound like much but it’s the best they’ve done in several years. Xavier is just one game out of first in the conference standings and needs to finish first while avoiding any poor losses along the way in order to be in decent shape for an at-large. A loss today would all but end it because it would be their third bad loss of the season. They better watch out. They don’t play well on the road, and Duquesne is a confident team with nothing to lose.

-VANDERBILT AT FLORIDA (SEC). Vanderbilt has won five of their last six, and three of those were quality wins. That stretch has put them solidly into the current bracket projections. A win on the road against a heavyweight like Florida would really jack up their profile. It would probably move them up several lines and get them so far inside the bubble that only a complete collapse would cause them to miss the dance. Easier said than done, though. Florida has gotten in the habit of blowing teams out, and is a very solid candidate for a #1 seed. This would be another good win on their already excellent resume.

-VCU AT HOFSTRA (Colonial Athletic). VCU just keeps getting better and better. They’re unbeaten in league play, 19-3 overall, and currently appear to be in a position to receive an at-large in the event that they fail to win the conference tournament. This is a hugely important game, though. Hofstra had won 15 of 17 and appeared to be on pace to get back into the at-large pool of candidates, but then they lost to Delaware their last time out. How that happens I don’t know. Still, they are a very dangerous team that is capable of winning this game and winning the conference tournament so long as they show up. VCU can afford a loss or two and still make it, but no more than that. They are close to the bubble, and this win will put them a little further inside of it.

-WISCONSIN AT INDIANA (Big Ten). This game is going to be fun. Indiana is playing excellent basketball at home and is a very solid tournament team. Wisconsin is a strong candidate for a #1 seed, and even a loss in this game doesn’t change that, but a win gives the Badgers yet another quality road win, which improves their resume even more and gets them closer to wrapping it up. A win for Indiana would easily be their most impressive on the season so far, despite this being a home game. It would boost their profile quite a bit and even set them up for making a possible run at the pod system. Both teams play great defense, and I really expect them both to get after it in this one.

-MISSOURI AT KANSAS STATE (Big Twelve). Both these teams are on the outside looking in right now, but Kansas State has won five in a row and can get back into the bracket mix if they keep it up. They have a winnable game here against a pretty decent Missouri team. Missouri has snapped a four game losing streak by winning their last two, but they still have some work to do. A win in this game would go a long way in helping their cause, but they’ve struggled on the road all season long, so it won’t be easy.

-NEVADA AT LOUISIANA TECH (WAC). Nevada continues to be one of the dominant teams in the WAC, and is very secure for an NCAA Tournament bid barring a collapse. Collapsing in the WAC is especially dangerous. They don’t want to rack up losses to teams like Louisiana State, San Jose State, Boise State, etc. They just need to take care of business today.

-ALABAMA AT LSU (SEC). This is a game that both of these teams desperately need to win. At one time it looked like both were headed toward the pod system. The way it looks now is that both are on the bubble, and probably need to win a few games just to get inside of it. Other than LSU’s win against Texas A&M, neither one of them have done anything that is particularly impressive. They are in the same division, and are both on the bubble, so two things the committee will look at when picking one or the other is head to head competition and conference standings. Both of these teams should have a sense of urgency for this one.

-IOWA AT MICHIGAN (Big Ten). Michigan is still in the hunt for an NCAA berth at 16-6, but they’ve lost their last two games, both of which were on the road. It’s the road results that are killing Michigan, and that’s the biggest thing they need to fix if they want to go dancing. In the meantime, they need to take care of business at home against Iowa.

-BOISE STATE AT NEW MEXICO STATE (WAC). Potentially dangerous game for New Mexico State. Boise has won three in a row, and have looked pretty good recently. New Mexico State still appears to be one of the best teams in the league, but their margin for error is basically zero from here on out, and they can’t afford to let a team like this sneak up on them. They have a big road game against Utah State this weekend, and they can’t get caught looking ahead. New Mexico State is 16-4 on the year, and are winners of 15 of their last 16, but their schedule has been weak (SOS = 262) and their RPI is still in the 80s. Their next four games are against tougher competition, and three of those are on the road, so we’ll see very soon whether or not NMSU is a legit tournament team.

-MIAMI, FL AT NORTH CAROLINA (ACC). Relatively big mismatch here. Miami, FL is fighting for a spot in the NIT, whereas North Carolina is looking for a #1 seed. The Tarheels should win this one by quite a bit at home and remain atop the projected S Curve.

-OHIO STATE AT PURDUE (Big Ten). Ohio State appears to be a solid pod system team with a chance at a #1 seed. They could be in for a battle tonight against a Purdue team that has played well at home. Purdue has done nothing on the road, and that hurts them, but they’re still in the mix for a spot in the NCAAs, and if they’re able to beat Ohio State it will really boost their resume, seeing as how it’s a big quality win. They’ll need to win a road game or two eventually, but this would be a major statement win as well.

-WEST VIRGINIA AT RUTGERS (Big East). West Virginia still only has one true road win, and that came against Duquesne. They’re 15-4 overall with some decent wins, but they’re closer to the bubble than they’d like to be and a road loss to a non-tournament team such as Rutgers would be damaging. West Virginia needs to take care of business and win this game if they want to stabilize their resume.

-INDIANA STATE AT SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (Missouri Valley). Southern Illinois has won five of their last six, and appears to be doing something that no one else in the Valley can seem to do, and that’s string together some conference wins. They have another winnable game at home today against a team that has some decent wins and has played well at points, but has lost five in a row and not done much on the road. A win for SIU keeps them at the top of the standings.

-GONZAGA AT STANFORD. This is a huge OOC game for both teams, especially Gonzaga who is hurting for quality wins right now. They have two big ones against North Carolina and Texas, but their resume could still use some work in order for them to be solidly in the picture. A road win at Stanford would be one of their bigger wins of the season. As for Stanford, they are really hot right now and have come to life in conference play. They’ve won six of their last seven, and have some nice quality wins during that stretch. A win here would boost their resume a little more. Stanford appears to be in better shape than Gonzaga right now. They also have more chances at big wins between now and the end. Gonzaga hasn’t looked as solid as they did early in the year and it will be interesting to see what they do against a quality team like Stanford at this juncture in the season.

-GEORGIA AT TENNESSEE (SEC). These are two teams that are going in different directions. Georgia has won five of their last six and racked up some quality wins in the process, whereas Tennessee has lost five of their last six and their resume has taken quite a hit. Their RPI is still 18th, and they do have some good wins from early on in the season, but they need to turn it around quick or they’ll play their way out of the bracket. The Vols are just 2-4 in conference play and desperately need a quality win at home. Georgia is 5-2 and in a three way tie for second place in the East. If they keep it up they could end up with a fantastic seed.

-IOWA STATE AT TEXAS A&M (Big Twelve). Texas A&M had some trouble against Oklahoma in their last game, but managed to pull off the win. They should be able to take care of business in this one as well and remain solidly in the hunt for the pod system. TAMU has a huge game at Kansas coming up this weekend, and don’t want to be caught looking ahead.

-TEXAS AT TEXAS TECH (Big Twelve). Texas needs a big win. Texas Tech appears to be one of the toughest teams to beat on their home court. They’ve beaten two top ten teams in their last two home games, and will face another good team in Texas tonight. Texas looks really good, but their profile could use some work, and a road win against a quality Texas Tech team would go a long way in boosting their resume and improving their potential seed. Their RPI is still in the 50s and their best win was a home game against Arkansas, so they need to do some more work, and winning this would help them out a lot.

-MEMPHIS AT UCF (Conference USA). Memphis really struggled to win their last game against Southern Miss, and that may be a sign of them becoming bored with their season since they are so commonly undermatched. They need to keep winning, though. If they win out they have a very good chance at making the pod system. A loss doesn’t hurt them too badly as far as missing the dance, but a bad loss or two on their resume would likely remove them from the pod system. They need to get it done tonight against a UCF team that’s having a pretty good season at 13-5.

-BYU AT UTAH (Mountain West). This is a huge rivalry, so this one is big on and off the court for BYU. They are right on the bubble, and just won a big game against Air Force, but their biggest problem is a lack of production on the road. A loss to Utah would probably knock them right back out of my bracket projection. This is a tough game for them because not only is it on the road, but it’s against a bitter rival, so it’s a true test for BYU, but if they’re a tournament caliber team than they should be able to win.

-NORTH CAROLINA STATE AT VIRGINIA TECH (ACC). Virginia Tech is on cruise control having won seven of their last eight and racking up some big quality wins. They are in a position to make the pod system, which no one really expected when the season began. NC State isn’t as fortunate. This would actually go down as a bad loss for VA Tech if they don’t get it done.


-HARTFORD AT BOSTON COLLEGE. This is a very unusual game for this part of the season. A win for BC gets them to 15-6 on the season.


-WINTHROP AT VMI (Big South). This one will likely be a fun one. VMI has scored more than 100 points in their last four games, and has broken the century mark 11 times this season, including scoring 156, 144 and 135 against three nondiv1 teams. Unfortunately they have just six div1 wins, but the one problem they don’t have is pushing the pace and scoring points. Winthrop is another story in this game. They’re sitting with an RPI of 70, no bad losses, and a chance to add a quality win to their resume in a few weeks at the Bracket Buster. Believe it or not, they may get a chance to get an at-large bid after all if they run the table, but fail to win their conference tournament. One thing that should improve in tonight’s game, if not their RPI, is their offensive statistics

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