NEWS AND NOTES
-Last week Air Force fell behind early in the game to New Mexico, but still managed to come back and win. Last night, they fell behind big early on to Utah, and could not make up the difference. The Utes upset the Falcons 85-79. Utah shot an amazing 71% from the floor. This is surprising seeing as how Air Force had one of the nations longest winning streaks, and had beaten some good teams during that winning streak. In contrast, Utah had a six game losing streak coming into this game and had not really looked like an NIT for the better part of the season, much less a team that could beat a ranked opponent as hot as Air Force. The loss hurts the Falcons, but not to the point to where they wont be considered a strong tournament team. It is the second time in less than a week that a ranked team has lost to a team with a losing record. Bulter fell to Illinois Chicago last week.
-The game of the night, and perhaps the entire season, was Oklahoma States triple overtime win against Texas. The game was just a heavyweight fight. They both just kept going back and forth and every time you thought one of the teams was down for the count, theyd come back with a big shot or a big steal and get themselves back in it. ESPN, for whatever reason, showed the final minutes of the last overtime via a camera that was placed in the corner of the upper bowl, which gave us viewers the worst possible view of the court. I can only assume that something happened to their main camera at center court and they had no other option. Its a big win for Oklahoma State, especially after being blown out by Kansas. As far as Texas goes, the loss doesnt hurt them that much. A win against a top ten team on the road would have really been impressive on their resume, but this is not a damaging loss by any stretch of the imagination.
-Kentuckys winning streak is now at eleven games. They blew out South Carolina last night. I know that it has been mentioned by many others before now, but it is worth mentioning again. Kentucky is not ranked in the Coaches Poll and barely ranked in the A.P. Poll (#25). Did anyone ever think it was possible for Kentucky to be on an eleven game win streak and not be ranked??
-NORTH CAROLINA AT CLEMSON (***Pod System Implications***). Clemson suffered their first loss of the season at Maryland over the weekend, so that might take some of the electricity out of this game, but Clemsons fans should still be very pumped for this one. North Carolina is also coming off a loss to Virginia Tech, and is in danger of making it two in a row. That could affect their chances at a #1 seed, but even if they do lose theyll have their chances to recover from it, and they look like theyll be in the pod system barring some sort of unexpected collapse. Still, a good game between two teams who are fighting for a spot in the Pod System, as well as a first/second round placement in Winston Salem. It would also be Clemsons most impressive win of the year up until now. They do have an advantage playing at home, but theyll still receive quite a bit of credit for it.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTED GAMES
-GEORGIA AT ARKANSAS (SEC). After losing four straight games to four of the better teams in college hoops, Georgia has won two straight. They didnt play poorly at all in any of those four losses, so it could be that theyre better than most of us realize. This would be a huge road win for them against a fairly solid, but inconsistent Arkansas team, and really help out their resume. Arkansas has lost two in a row, but one was a hard fought game at Florida. Still, they need a win if they want to keep their resume from declining too much.
-TENNESSEE AT AUBURN (SEC). Tennessee has lost two straight games, but one of those was at Ohio State, so they are still in pretty good shape. They do need a win today in order to keep their resume where it needs to be in order to make the pod system though. With first/second round games in Lexington they have quite a bit to play for between now and the end, and this is the type of game they really need to win.
-YOUNGSTOWN STATE AT BUTLER (Horizon League). Butler should roll over Youngstown State at home. In fact this would be a damaging loss for Butler if they cant pull it off. It wont drop them out of tournament consideration, but it will affect their seeding.
-DAYTON AT CHARLOTTE (Atlantic Ten). Dayton is still very much in the mix for the regular season title, and could play their way into an at-large spot, but theyll need to rack up a big record to do it. They certainly need to be able to win in games like this.
-NORTHEASTERN AT DREXEL (Colonial Athletic). Drexel has lost two in a row, and desperately needs to take care of business at home against a rather weak Northeastern team. Northeastern is coming off a surprising win against Hofstra, and Drexel is coming off a blowout loss to a pretty good Old Dominion team, so it isnt unthinkable for Northeastern to pull this off. Drexel has taken quite a hit as it is, and this loss could be sort of a knockout blow as far as them being in position to get an at-large.
-VIRGINIA TECH AT FLORIDA STATE (ACC). These two teams are headed in opposite directions. Virginia Tech had about as good a week as anyone could have with wins against Duke and North Carolina. Florida State has struggled mightily on the road, and has lost three straight. They really need a win in order to right the ship. They have not yet won a conference game and are in the process of playing their way out of the bracket picture. They have a tough assignment tonight, but that also means that a win will really help them out, so this is somewhat of a pivotal game for the Noles at this point in the year.
-OLD DOMINION AT JAMES MADISON (Colonial Athletic). Old Dominion has won four out of five and has a big game coming up against VCU, but they really need to take care of business today. If they finish at or near the top of this league with an impressive record they will be in the mix for an at-large bid, but a loss like this would really stick out as a poor loss on their resume. They really need to take care of business and not be looking ahead to VCU.
-BAYLOR AT KANSAS STATE (Big Twelve). Both these teams are on the outside looking in right now, and Kansas State really hasnt done anything impressive since losing Bill Walker
for the year, so both teams need this win if they want to work on building themselves back up. Baylor just got a big home win against Texas Tech, but still has some work to do if they want to play their way into the bracket picture. Right now theyre still pretty far off the bubble. The same can be said about Kansas State.
-NEW MEXICO STATE AT LOUISIANA TECH (WAC). New Mexico State has won twelve straight div1 games, and should be able to make it thirteen today. Louisiana Tech is not a strong team. The only problem for NMSU is that the majority of those wins have come against weak teams. That is why their margin for error is so small. One or two losses in games like this may be too many.
-MISSISSIPPI AT LSU (SEC). Ole Miss just got a big win against Arkansas, but they still dont have enough good things on their profile to be considered a tournament team. A win here would go a long way though. LSU needs some quality wins of their own. They are a good team, but as of now they havent accomplished much as far as big wins go. More opportunities are coming, but in the mean time they cant afford to slip up in too many games such as this one. They do have home wins against Texas A&M and Connecticut, but the win against Connecticut may turn out to not be as good as it looked at the time.
-ILLINOIS AT MINNESOTA (Big Ten). Illinois has really gone down the crapper lately. Theyve lost four out of their last five and dont really have a big time win on their resume this season. They really need to win on the road today to avoid falling further off the bubble.
-NORTHWESTERN AT OHIO STATE (Big Ten). Northwestern played very well against Wisconsin over the weekend and nearly pulled the upset, but that was on their home floor. Winning at Ohio State will be much more difficult. Ohio State is coming off their best win of the season, which came against Tennessee. They appear to be one of the best teams in the Big Ten, and a win in this game sustains them as a solid pod system team who could end up with a #1 seed.
-NEBRASKA AT OKLAHOMA (Big Twelve). Nebraskas last game against Oklahoma State was cancelled due to bad weather. They are 9-4 and arent currently in the bracket picture, but can get there with some big wins. They really need to win this game today if they want to indicate that they can be a tournament caliber team. Oklahoma doesnt necessarily look like an NCAA team right now either, but it would be a nice road win for the Huskers.
-GEORGETOWN AT RUTGERS (Big East). Georgetown really needs to string together some wins. They are a talented team with some potential, but theyve lost two in a row and dont appear to be all that solid right now as far as making the dance. Rutgers isnt necessarily an easy place to play, but a tournament team should be able to win there more times than not, so this is yet another test for the Hoyas.
-PROVIDENCE AT SETON HALL (Big East). Providence is off to a pretty good start, but is coming off a road loss to Louisville and needs to take care of business against a relatively mediocre Seton Hall team. Right now it looks as if theyre hovering around the bubble.
-CINCINNATI AT SYRACUSE (Big East). Syracuse has been playing much better lately and have won five of their last six, including a big road win against Marquette and another home win against Villanova. Cincinnati has really been struggling, and all indications are that that will continue tonight. Syracuse should be able to pick up another conference win and continue to build up their resume.
-ALABAMA AT VANDERBILT (SEC). Alabama has a very impressive record, but still doesnt have any big time wins, so it is important that they keep taking care of business in games like this. Vanderbilt doesnt have the overall credentials to be an NCAA Tournament team at the moment, but they have managed big upset wins against Tennessee and Georgia Tech, so they are certainly capable of doing it again tonight against Alabama, especially considering that Bama has had some close calls on the road this season.
-UNC WILMINGTON AT VCU (Colonial Athletic). VCU remains unbeaten in conference play and has a huge game coming up against rival Old Dominion, but they need to take care of business at home against a weak UNC Wilmington team. They have just three losses on the season, but most of their wins came against weak teams, so any loss at this point would be damaging as far as getting an at-large goes. If they can finish first, they should be okay for a bid barring any losses in games such as this one.
-NOTRE DAME AT VILLANOVA (Big East). Villanova really needs this more than Notre Dame does. They are so on and off this year. They looked good in their win at Georgetown, but theyve lost three out of their last four games and dont look like a solid tournament team right now. Notre Dame could use some road wins to improve their resume, but other than that theyve looked very good and have some good wins on their profile to help improve their resume even more. If they continue to struggle on the road like they have, it will be reflected in their seed.
-SOUTH FLORIDA AT WEST VIRGINIA (Big East). West Virginia has been almost unstoppable on their home court, and should have little trouble with South Florida tonight. USF is coming off a win against Cincinnati, which is their first Big East win since joining the league last year. West Virginia is much better than Cincinnati, though.
-PURDUE AT WISCONSIN (Big Ten). The biggest black mark about Purdue is their lack of road wins. A win on the road against a team like Wisconsin would really be a huge boost to their resume, and would greatly improve their chances of making the NCAA Tournament. They can get in without winning this game because losing on the road against Wisconsin is hardly damaging, but theyll need to put together some true road wins at some point. Wisconsin continues to win both on the road and at home, and is in contention for a #1 seed.