Saturday, January 19th Highlighted Match-ups

Saturday, January 19th Highlighted Match-ups
Jan 19, 2008, 03:30 am

-ILLINOIS STATE AT DRAKE (Missouri Valley). These are two of the better teams in the Missouri Valley, and both are fighting for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Drake only has one loss on the season, but up to this point they really don’t have any outstanding wins. I wouldn’t say a loss in this game would be all that damaging, but a few good wins in conference play wouldn’t hurt. Illinois State is 13-3 and probably needs this one a little more than Drake. This would be a huge road win for them that would get the attention of the committee and make a huge difference if they’re on the bubble. In addition to both teams trying to add some credentials to their resumes, both are 6-0 in league play, so the winner will be all by themselves in first place.

-CLEMSON AT DUKE (ACC). Clemson appears to be back on track and beat North Carolina State rather handily in their last game. The heartbreaking overtime loss to North Carolina stung, but they appear to be over it and would really be over it if they can pull the upset on the road against Duke. Duke has just one loss on the season and just defeated Florida State on the road in what was a very intense environment. With first/second round games in Raleigh, and a regional in Charlotte, they are going to have to beat out North Carolina if they want to get a #1 seed and get those placements. That means that every game is big for the Blue Devils.


-MISSISSIPPI STATE AT ALABAMA (SEC). Mississippi State’s winning streak is now at seven games, and a win in this one on the road will give their RPI another nice boost. Alabama has lost three in a row and is slipping out of the picture.

-SOUTH ALABAMA AT ARKANSAS LITTLE ROCK (Sun Belt). South Alabama has won ten in a row and remains unbeaten in conference play. Their RPI is in the 30s, but it will likely slide down even if they continue to win. They should be able to beat UALR on the road, and remain in the discussion for an at-large, though. If they win out or come close to it they should get serious consideration.

-MISSISSIPPI AT AUBURN (SEC). Ole Miss is coming off a big win against Florida, and at 15-1 on the season they’re continuing to make a very strong case that they deserve a good seed. Auburn has played well, but injuries have effected them and they’ve just run out of gas a few times down the stretch. They did manage to pick up their first conference win at LSU in their last game, though.

-ARIZONA AT CALIFORNIA (Pac Ten). California is coming off a double overtime loss to Arizona State, and they really need to string together some wins if they want to avoid going into a slump. The same can be said about Arizona. They’re coming off a close loss at Stanford and have actually lost three of their last four. They only have one conference win so far, and a loss in this means that Zona will fall to 1-4 in the standings. Finishing low in the standings isn’t going to impress the committee, so this is a game that both teams need.

-PITTSBURGH AT CINCINNATI (Big East). Cincinnati played great for about thirty minutes in their last game at Notre Dame, but ended up being blown out in the final ten. Pittsburgh looked great in their last game, which was a home win against Georgetown, and appears to be able to play at a high level despite their injuries. It’s never easy to win on the road in this conference, and now that Cincinnati has been playing better, this is by no means an easy for Pitt. Cincinnati has already strung together some impressive wins, but they’ll need to string together quite a few more if they want to make the NCAAs. They’re still way out of the picture, but they do appear to be dangerous.

-VALPARAISO AT CLEVELAND STATE (Horizon League). Cleveland State managed a win against Butler the other night, and is now 5-0 in the conference with a two game lead over Butler. With a current RPI in the 50s, a first place finish will have them in the NCAA Tournament discussion, but it would also earn them home court advantage in the conference tournament. Valpo has played pretty well this season as well, and only has one conference loss to Butler. A win in this game will put them in a tie for first place.

-INDIANA STATE AT CREIGHTON (Missouri Valley). Creighton is 12-3 and has won their last four. With an RPI in the 40s, they should be able to make the NCAA Tournament if they can avoid stubbing their toes too many times between now and the end. Indiana State did beat them earlier this season, but the Bluejays should have the advantage in this one considering that they’re back home.

-KENTUCKY AT FLORIDA (SEC). Kentucky looks like they’re playing a little better, but they still aren’t playing anywhere close to well enough to be considered an NCAA team. Florida is coming off a loss at Ole Miss where they nearly came back in the final minutes to win. The Gators have a good record and now look like they may be good enough to get the good wins they need. Still, their margin for error is somewhat small despite having a good record because their OOC schedule was so weak. They can’t afford too many losses in games like this.

-DUQUESNE AT FORDHAM (Atlantic Ten). With so much craziness in the first week of conference play, Duquesne could find themselves in a multi-way tie for first place if they can win this one. At 11-4 and an RPI in the 40s, the Dukes could play their way into the picture with a strong showing in conference. They lost their opener to Rhode Island, but barely. Considering it was a road loss to one of the conference favorites, I’d say it’s a sign that Duquesne could be a factor in the league this year.

-XAVIER AT GEORGE WASHINGTON (Atlantic Ten). Xavier was blown out of the gym in the final ten minutes of their game against Temple. One would expect them to be undermatched in this game, but then again they haven’t been nearly as tough on the road as they are at home. GW is just 5-7 on the year and is coming off a rather disappointing loss to Fordham, a team that Xavier beat rather handily just a week ago. The Musketeers took a hit with the Temple loss, but they’ll really take a hit if they don’t take care of business in this one.

-NOTRE DAME AT GEORGETOWN (Big East). Last year Notre Dame was one of those teams that looked great at home, but could never win on the road. Seeing as how they were blown out in their only true road game of the season so far, it’s possible that they’ll have the same problems this year. They really need to win at least a few road games if they want to solidify their spot. The more they win, the better their seed will be. Georgetown is coming off a road loss to Pittsburgh, and although they’ve looked fairly decent this year, they haven’t looked like the Final Four caliber team that many thought they would be…at least not yet.

-ARKANSAS AT GEORGIA (SEC). Arkansas is coming off a rather surprising home loss to South Carolina, and really needs to rebound. Georgia is a modest 9-5 on the year and just won at Alabama, but still has quite a bit of work to do.

-SAN DIEGO AT GONZAGA (West Coast). Gonzaga usually gets a fight in conference road games, but they blew out both Pepperdine and LMU in their first two road games. This is their conference home opener, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this one ended up as a blowout as well.

-UTEP AT HOUSTON (Conference USA). Both teams have good records, but poor RPIs due to playing what were generally poor out of conference schedules. The winner of this game should get a much needed RPI boost, but they’ll need to finish near the top of the standings, and perhaps even knock off Memphis in the process, in order to get any serious consideration.

-TEXAS A&M AT KANSAS STATE (Big Twelve). Texas A&M was blown out of the place in their last game as Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight picked up his 900th career win. TAMU hasn’t done much on the road prior to now, and that will effect their seeding if they continue to struggle. Kansas State has won six of their last seven, including an impressive win at Oklahoma in their last game. A win in this one would really boost their RPI, keep them unbeaten in conference play, and go a long way toward boosting their NCAA Tournament resume in general.

-CHARLOTTE AT MASSACHUSETTS (Atlantic Ten). UMass is coming off a very impressive and decisive win at Dayton, and they can build on that even more if they manage a win in this one. Charlotte has won five of their last six, including wins against Saint Joseph’s and Clemson, and is the only Atlantic Ten team without a conference loss. They were very inconsistent out of conference and still have some ground to make up, but they’re making it up pretty quickly and a win in this one would really get the committee’s attention.

-SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI AT MEMPHIS (Conference USA). Not too many C-USA teams will challenge Memphis, and Southern Miss probably isn’t one of them. Memphis should win and improve to 17-0 on the season.

-KANSAS AT MISSOURI (Big Twelve). It’s the first edition of the Border War. Mizzou has played well at times this season, but they’re inconsistent and has also played poorly at other times. That being said, the Mizzou team and fans will really be jacked for this one. Kansas is unbeaten and clearly looks to be the better team. They’ve also controlled this rivalry for the past several seasons, but Mizzou generally plays them very close and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen again tonight. Mizzou needs to string some big wins together just to get into the picture, whereas Kansas is a solid contender for a #1 seed.

-BAYLOR AT NEBRASKA (Big Twelve). Nebraska got off to a 13-2 start, but with a blowout loss at home to Kansas and another loss to Colorado, it’s looking like their record may have been fools gold. If they want any chance at all to get into the NCAA Tournament, they need to start winning in conference. Baylor is 13-2 and is off to a 2-0 start in conference, but both wins were at home. This may be a slightly tougher challenge. The Bears will make it into the field if they don’t go into the tank between now and the end of the year.

-MARYLAND AT NORTH CAROLINA (ACC). Maryland really struggled at the beginning of the year, and they still have quite a bit of work to do, but they have won five of their last six with their only loss being a close one to Virginia Tech. Still, this is a much tougher assignment than any they faced in their last six games, or for that matter the whole year. North Carolina has been blowing teams out at home, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened again in this one.

-MIAMI, FL AT NORTH CAROLINA STATE (ACC). NC State has really been unimpressive since conference play began. They’re 0-2 and have been blown out in both games. They really need to turn it around because right now they appear to be right on the bubble, if not outside of it. Miami is 13-2, which is one of their best starts in quite some time, but they are coming off a loss to Boston College. Miami looks to be pretty good, but the conference games aren’t going to be nearly as winnable as those they played OOC. Playing at NC State isn’t one of the easiest, but it isn’t one of the hardest either.

-KENT STATE AT OHIO (Mid American). Ohio lost a heartbreaker to Akron in their last game, and has another very tough assignment tonight. Kent State is still unbeaten in MAC play, and has a solid RPI in the 30s. If they keep it up they should finish in the 30s and make the NCAA Tournament even if they fail to win the conference tournament. They will play in the Bracket Buster and face Akron before it’s over, which should help stabilize their RPI. They do have some margin for error, but not much.

-TEXAS TECH AT OKLAHOMA (Big Twelve). Texas Tech has been very inconsistent this season, but they have won four of their last five and blew out Texas A&M in their last game, so they may finally be settling into a groove. Oklahoma is having a good year, but has dropped their last two games, the most recent of which was a blowout loss to Kansas. They really need to rebound from that because starting off 0-3 in the league could be tough to recover from, especially with two of those losses coming at home.

-VCU AT OLD DOMINION (Colonial). This rivalry is always fun, but Old Dominion is having a down year so it doesn’t have the implications to the standings it has had in the past. VCU has won nine of their last ten, and appears to be the frontrunner in the league right now. If they can finish first in the conference standings and avoid too many losses to teams with poor RPIs, they may be okay. That’s easier said than done, though. Old Dominion has been playing better and they will be way up for this one.

-SAINT JOSEPH’S AT PENN. Saint Joe’s is coming off a loss to Charlotte, but they’ve still been playing really well lately. Penn is just 5-10 on the year and appears to be struggling with so many young players. Saint Joe’s should be able to win this one without too much trouble.

-ILLINOIS AT PURDUE (Big Ten). Illinois has been very disappointing this season and with just a 9-9 record it’s almost time to write them off. Purdue has won five of six with the only loss in that stretch being a close one at Michigan State, so they appear to be getting better and better as the season goes on. This is a chance for them to improve to 3-1 in the league, and seeing as how they face Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan State all at home this year, they may have a chance to become a dark horse within the league. The Boilers are a young team that appear to be hitting their stride.

-WYOMING AT SAN DIEGO STATE (Mountain West). SDSU has won four of their last five, including wins against both New Mexico and Utah, who appeared to be two of the better teams in the league, so one has to think of them as being in the drivers seat. With an RPI in the 40s, their resume isn’t too bad as far as earning an at-large is concerned, but they do have a shockingly bad loss to Northern Colorado. Still, They should be able to take care of this one and remain unbeaten in league play when they go to face BYU later this week.

-LOUISVILLE AT SETON HALL (Big East). Louisville has really improved since conference play began and they’re coming off a blowout win against Marquette. It’s obviously harder to win on the road, but the Cardinals have passed one conference road test already. Seton Hall is better than Rutgers, but Louisville should be ready. They’ve won eight of their last nine and are in a multi-way tie for first place. A win today would allow them to continue to build momentum.

-PEPPERDINE AT SAINT MARY’S (West Coast). Saint Mary’s blew out Santa Clara in their conference opener to improve to 13-2. They are very safely in the NCAA Tournament picture right now and should remain there unless they go into the tank and drop several conference games to poor RPI teams. They should also challenge Gonzaga for the league title seeing as how both teams appear to be undermatched by the rest of the league.

-ARIZONA STATE AT STANFORD (Pac Ten). Arizona State has been one of the surprise teams of the season so far, and they just passed a big road test with a double overtime win against Cal. Stanford knocked off Arizona in a close game as well, which was one of their better wins of the season so far. This may be hard to believe, but Arizona State will be in a tie for first place if they’re able to pull off the win. Both teams are playing well, but neither have put enough big wins on their resume to where they can just put it in cruise control, so this is still a big game for both teams.

-VILLANOVA AT SYRACUSE (Big East). Syracuse had been slumping, but they blew out Rutgers in their last game, so perhaps they’re coming out of it. Villanova got a fight from De Paul, but managed to win. Nova’s only true road win of the season came against Temple, which really wasn’t much of a road game since it was right across town and both fan bases were pretty well represented. They could really help themselves out with a win in this one. It would certainly make their resume look a lot better. Syracuse has been streaky, so it’s hard to say what they’re ever going to do.

-OHIO STATE AT TENNESSEE. The last time these two met was in the Sweet Sixteen last year, and Tennessee had their hearts broken after leading the whole game, but then falling behind and having a last second shot attempt blocked. Tennessee looked really impressive against Vanderbilt, and looks to be getting better and better as the season goes on. Ohio State has played pretty well, but they’ve yet to win a game against a team that’s as good as Tennessee, much less do it on the road. I can see them really struggling with Tennessee’s athleticism and they could end up getting worn down. It would be a huge resume win for the Bucks if they pull it off and it would really impress the committee, but it certainly won’t be easy.

-COLORADO AT TEXAS (Big Twelve). Texas’s depth has been an issue, but it shouldn’t be today. This is a big mismatch and the Longhorns should win it rather handily. Colorado is coming off a win against Nebraska, so they have a little momentum, but they’re still way overmatched.

-USC AT UCLA (Pac Ten). This has been an entertaining rivalry over the past few seasons since USC has built their program up. USC is young and talented, but they don’t appear to be anywhere nearly as good as UCLA. A win for the Trojans would be huge. Not only would it give them bragging rights, but it would give them the top notch road win they need in order to make a strong case to the selection committee. USC has some decent wins, but they also have some questionable losses right now, which is typical of a talented team that’s young. UCLA is a legitimate contender for a #1 seed and will likely get it if they can finish first in the conference standings.

-BYU AT UTAH (Mountain West). This is a huge rivalry, and once again it has big implications. Both teams appear to be near the bubble and need to fight their way in. BYU started off the season strong, but has been somewhat disappointing lately. They were blown out by UNLV in their last game and other than a win against Louisville nothing on their profile really jumps out at you. Utah has been much more consistent, but lost in overtime to San Diego State in their last game. Their margin for error is small as well.

-LSU AT VANDERBILT (SEC). Vandy is 16-2, but they’ve yet to win a conference game. They are at home for the first time, though, and LSU is very beatable. They may have been exposed somewhat in their last two games, but they still have a strong team and should take care of business in this one.

-BOSTON COLLEGE AT VIRGINIA (ACC). Virginia has lost three straight and needs to right their ship quickly. Two of those losses were blowouts, and their most recent loss was at the buzzer to rival Virginia Tech. BC is 12-4 and is coming off a rather impressive win against Miami. They could really use this win as well because right now they appear to be closer to the bubble than they’d like to be.

-NORTHWESTERN AT WISCONSIN (Big Ten). It’s not often you see a game this winnable in conference play, but Wisconsin, who has been playing very well lately, should win this one rather easily. Northwestern is just 5-8 and is way overmatched.

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