News, Notes and Highlighted Games for 1/18

News, Notes and Highlighted Games for 1/18
Jan 17, 2007, 11:48 pm

There were some surprises last night. Lots of tournament caliber teams fell on the road against sub par opponents.

-Old Dominion, who had been playing very well in the Colonial, lost on the road to James Madison 72-65. I’ve been saying that I believed the regular season champion out of the Colonial would be okay for an NCAA Tournament bid, but if the top three teams in the league keep losing to the teams toward the bottom of the league, it won’t happen. Northeastern took down Hofstra earlier this year, and now Old Dominion falls to James Madison, who was just 4-12 coming into this game. This is the kind of loss that could end up being so bad that it’s nearly impossible to recover from given the lack of top notch competition on Old Dominion’s schedule. ODU faces bitter rival VCU this weekend. Perhaps they were looking ahead, but even then they shouldn’t have fallen to a 4-12 James Madison team.

-Tennessee led Auburn the whole way and appeared to have the game wrapped up, but Auburn got hot down the stretch and ended up winning 82-80. During one sequence late in the game, Auburn missed three consecutive shots, but managed to get the ball back after each one, and call timeout during a loose ball struggle. Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl then drew a technical foul, which gave Auburn two freethrows. Tennessee couldn’t catch up after that. It is the third straight game Tennessee has lost by two points or less.

-Syracuse jumped out big on Cincinnati early on and led the whole way, but almost lost it at the end. Cincinnati actually had a lead in the final minute, but missed the front end of a one-and-one, and then committed a foul on the defensive end which gave Syracuse two freethrows. They hit both and won the game 77-76 avoiding the near upset at home.

-Southern Illinois fell on the road to Evansville, who had five straight losses coming into this game. It was a win Southern Illinois really needed considering it was a road game against a very beatable opponent. SIU falls to 13-5 and although they have plenty of chances to win some big games between now and the end, this will hurt their resume somewhat. As of now though, the Salukis still appear to be okay for a bid.

-Villanova beat Notre Dame rather handily 102-87. Pittsburgh is dominating this league, but there isn’t a whole lot of separation between the second place team and eighth place team in the Big East right now.

-Clemson was blown out by North Carolina 77-55. It’s not surprising that North Carolina won, but it is surprising they blew them out that badly on Clemson’s home floor. Clemson is a good team that should make the tournament, but they don’t look like a team that will end up with a very high seed.

-Providence fell to Seton Hall 69-68 on the road. Seton Hall is not a tournament caliber team by any stretch of the imagination and is the kind of team Providence must be able to beat on the road. Providence has some good wins, but has done little impress when playing on the road, and that could keep them out of the dance if it keeps up.

-Vanderbilt blew out Alabama 94-73. Alabama is ranked in the top ten, but doesn’t even play like a top 50 team on the road. Vanderbilt, on the other hand, is a tough team to figure out. They’ve lost to some poor opponents, but have big wins against Georgia Tech, Tennessee and now Alabama.

-Georgia hit a last second three pointer to get a huge road win at Arkansas. Not many people have taken notice of Georgia, but this is their third straight win and they are now 3-1 in the SEC with their only loss being on the road to Florida. They had lost four straight before winning three straight, but all were against top 25 teams and Georgia played well in all the games, so they could be better than what most people realize.


-BRADLEY AT CREIGHTON (Missouri Valley). Creighton has done well in conference, but is coming off a loss to Wichita State and needs to rebound from that. The pressure is on for them to do well in this league due to how they struggled somewhat out of conference. Bradley is having a good year as well, and although they still have some work to do they could end up in the tournament mix, especially if they can pull off a win in this game today. The Braves are 12-6 on the year and have won three in a row, including decent wins against Southern Illinois and Indiana State.

-INDIANA STATE AT DRAKE (Missouri Valley). Indiana State has some big wins this year and is currently on the bubble of my bracket projections. The one area where they need some work is winning on the road. This game is important because it is one of the more winnable road games they have remaining on their schedule. It is also a conference game, so it’s important in that aspect as well.

-WAKE FOREST AT DUKE (ACC). Wake Forest is having a rough year, and Duke is off to a 1-2 start in league play. They are still one of the best teams in the conference, though and should be able to win this game at home rather handily. Wake has lost back to back home games against lower level teams, so the chances of them winning tonight aren’t all that good.

-WICHITA STATE AT ILLINOIS STATE (Missouri Valley). Wichita State has won two in a row, which may mean they are beginning to climb their way out of the tank after going on sort of a midseason slump. They have some big OOC wins, so if they can right their ship they should be fine. This is another winnable conference road game, and it’s important they continue their winning ways.

-NORTHERN IOWA AT MISSOURI STATE (Missouri Valley). Northern Iowa was really rolling up until a few games ago, but they’ve lost two straight and their resume has slipped a little bit. This would be a big road win that would help out their conference standing, RPI, SOS and road wins, so it is as good an opportunity as they’ll have to turn it around. Missouri State has a huge win against Wisconsin and is playing well in conference. This would be another good win for them and get them to 6-2 in conference play.

-FRESNO STATE AT NEVADA (WAC). This is a hugely important game for Fresno State. They have a good record, but don’t have any quality wins. Beating Nevada on the road could very easily make the difference of whether or not they get into the tournament. This is the best chance at a quality road win that they are going to get. Nevada has a solid profile, but this game would help them out as well because like Fresno, their schedule has been rather weak. At least they’ve played some decent teams, though. This game will help the RPI of both teams since both have good records, so it’s important in that aspect as well.

-STANFORD AT OREGON (Pac Ten). Stanford has won three in a row, and is really playing well right now. They are on the bubble in my bracket projections, but a win in this game would certainly up their status quite a bit. Oregon is a solid pod team, and with just one loss on the season could challenge for a #1 seed, especially if they end up finishing first in this league. That’s not going to be easy to do though. A win sustains Oregon’s status and a loss won’t hurt Stanford too much. A win for Stanford, however, will help them out a ton. It’s always a rowdy atmosphere at Oregon home games and tonight should be no different.

-CALIFORNIA AT OREGON STATE (Pac Ten). California has won three of their last four and is actually just one game out of first place in the conference standings. This is a big game because the top seven teams are separated by just one game, and a loss could plummet them rather quickly, especially if it comes to a beatable team like Oregon State. Nothing on Cal’s resume is overly impressive, but if they can finish well in the conference standings and beat some good teams along the way they will certainly be in the mix.

-ARIZONA AT USC (Pac Ten). Another great game in the Pac Ten. What else is new?? Arizona is still a solid pod team, and could very well end up a #1 seed, but this is the kind of game they need to win in bulk in order to do it. USC is very good, and it won’t be easy to beat them at home. The crowd will be psyched, and USC also realizes what a tremendous gain it would be to them if they could knock off a team like Arizona. Their resume is pretty good already, but a win like this would make it even better. On the flip side, a loss wouldn’t hurt all that much, but it would be their second in a row.

-ARIZONA STATE AT UCLA. UCLA just won a big game against rival USC, and has another one coming up at home against Arizona this weekend. This is sort of a sandwich game and they don’t want to get caught looking ahead, but they’d have to really be asleep at the wheel to drop this game. Arizona State is just 5-11 on the season and has lost seven straight games.

-MASSACHUSETTS AT XAVIER (Atlantic Ten). Massachusetts is unbeaten in the Atlantic Ten, but this is their biggest conference challenge so far. It would be a decent win for them, which is something they need because more than three regular season conference losses might be too many. The same can be said for Xavier. They already have one loss to Saint Louis and probably can’t afford more than two more, so it’s a big game for both teams. It’s an interesting matchup from the standpoint of Massachusetts’s strong front court and Xavier’s strong back court. It’s also interesting because both teams need this. This isn’t a strong league and the second place team may be left out if they don’t win the conference tournament.

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