Wednesday, January 16th Highlighted Match-ups

Wednesday, January 16th Highlighted Match-ups
Jan 16, 2008, 09:17 am

-FLORIDA AT MISSISSIPPI. Florida has really improved since conference play began. They’re 15-2 on the year so their record may not show how much they’ve improved, but they’re playing better teams now and looking a lot better against them. This is a very tall order, though. It is clearly the toughest test for the Gators so far. A win will give their RPI a huge boost, which is something they really need. It would also give them a very high quality conference road win which could turn out to be their most impressive of the season. Ole Miss is red hot this year and can even contend for the conference title. They can’t afford too many slip-ups if they want to remain in the race, though. I’d say their place in the NCAA Tourney is secure barring a major collapse, but they’re good enough to do a lot more than just make the NCAAs.

-DUKE AT FLORIDA STATE (ACC). Florida State is coming off a heartbreaking double overtime loss to Clemson. The Seminoles have played well for the most part, but they don’t have anything on their resume that would jump out at the selection committee just yet. That would certainly change if they’re able to win this one. The match-ups over the past two seasons between these two have been fantastic. Last year, FSU won by just one point, and the year before that Duke won one of the games in overtime, and Florida State won the other in a close one at home. Duke has just one loss on the year and can contend for a #1 seed if they finish at the top of the league standings. Still, this would be one of their more impressive road wins up to this point if they can pull it off.


-SOUTH CAROLINA AT ARKANSAS (SEC). Arkansas is 13-3 on the year with four straight wins, three of which were against Baylor, Auburn and Alabama, so they’ve been playing fairly well. South Carolina has lost three straight and is still looking for their first conference win. Arkansas shouldn’t have too much trouble considering that they’re at home.

-DRAKE AT BRADLEY (Missouri Valley). Drake continues to impress, and has picked up some conference road wins prior to now. Bradley has been disappointing this year with just an 8-9 record. They did just snap a three game losing streak with a win at Northern Iowa, but have a much tougher assignment tonight against what appears to be one of the best teams in the conference.

-SAINT JOSEPH’S AT CHARLOTTE (Atlantic Ten). Saint Joseph’s is one of the hottest teams in the league right now and is currently in my bracket projection. Charlotte has been very inconsistent this season, but has played well at home and seeing as how they’ve won four of their last five they may be hitting their stride. SJU won’t have an easy time winning this one. If they do win, it will be another decent conference road win, which is standard for teams who make the NCAAs. If they lose, it will be a setback, but it shouldn’t hurt them too badly. They’ll have other opportunities.

-MASSACHUSETTS AT DAYTON (Atlantic Ten). Dayton is in great shape, and this would be yet another notable win to add to their resume if they can pull it off. UMass needs this much more than the Flyers. Dayton is playing for seeding, whereas UMass is playing in the hopes of adding a huge win to their resume and helping to solidify their case. This would clearly be their biggest win of the year up to this point if they’re able to pull it off.

-ALABAMA AT GEORGIA (SEC). Both of these teams are on the outside looking in. They’ve shown signs of being tournament caliber teams, but haven’t really produced the results and will be left out if they don’t start producing them soon. We still have a ways to go, but I get the sense that this is a game that neither team can afford to lose.

-NORTH CAROLINA AT GEORGIA TECH (ACC). With the exception of a close one at Clemson, North Carolina has been blowing everyone out lately. They haven’t been quite as impressive on the road as they’ve been at home, but they’ve still passed every road test they’ve faced, and will likely pass another one tonight.

-PURDUE AT IOWA (Big Ten). Iowa just won a big game against Michigan State at home, which proves that they can at least play with the big teams, at least at home, but they’re still too far back to even be considered a postseason team at this point. Purdue’s RPI is very poor, but it should get better if they continue to play up to their potential. They just picked up a big win against Ohio State, and should be able to pick up a conference road game in this one tonight.

-MISSOURI AT IOWA STATE (Big Twelve). Both teams have gone through some slumps lately, but both have also played well lately. Iowa State did lose to Baylor over the weekend, but had looked much better prior to that. Missouri is coming off a big win against Texas, but needs to build on that if they want to get any serious consideration. Both are still outside the bubble right now.

-MEMPHIS AT RICE (Conference USA). In the event that I fall asleep, wake me up when this one is over. Memphis should blow this team out and remain undefeated on the season.

-UTAH AT SAN DIEGO STATE (Mountain West). These are two teams that look to be contenders to win the league title, which is why this is such a big game. Assuming the league doesn’t beat up on itself too much, the regular season champion should go. It isn’t likely the conference will have too many more teams other than the regular season champ in position to get an at-large. San Diego State has a pretty bad loss to Northern Colorado on their resume, so their margin for error is even smaller. Utah has been playing well, but winning on the road against what is usually a pretty good San Diego State team is no easy assignment.

-FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL AT SOUTH ALABAMA (Sun Belt). It’s the same story for South Alabama. If they dominate the league then they should be in the discussion. The problem is that they have no chances to really prove themselves, and just about any loss would be considered a bad one.

-RUTGERS AT SYRACUSE (Big East). Syracuse has really hit the skids and was blown out in their last game at West Virginia. They’re back at home for this one in what looks to be a very winnable game. A loss here would be very damaging. They have a few good wins, but not enough to save them if they go into the tank.

-XAVIER AT TEMPLE (Atlantic Ten). Xavier is 14-3 and are legitimate contenders to win the conference, but they need to take care of business in games like this. Only one of those 14 wins was a true road game, so they need to show that they can beat non-tournament teams on the road in order to keep their resume up to par. Temple is 6-8 with three straight losses, but did come close to winning at Charlotte in their last game.

-TEXAS A&M AT TEXAS TECH (Big Twelve). This looks like a big mismatch, but one never knows with Texas Tech. Some nights they’re great, and other nights they’re terrible. TAMU has just one loss on the year, but believe it or not they’ve only played one true road game (Arizona) and that’s the one they lost, so we don’t know for sure just how good they are yet. Expect a big crowd for this one, because Bobby Knight’s next win will be his 900th. Fans tend to get excited whenever a coach hits a round number, especially one as high as that.

-DELAWARE AT VCU (Colonial). Delaware has won five straight after looking very unimpressive out of conference. They are the only team in the Colonial that hasn’t lost a conference game yet, and if they win this one then one would have to acknowledge that they are contenders to win it. VCU has four losses and I don’t see them getting an at-large bid unless they dominate the league and finish first. That means they need to win games like this one if they even want to be in the discussion.

-DE PAUL AT VILLANOVA (Big East). These teams met less than two weeks ago, and De Paul actually won. They weren’t impressive at all out of conference and have quite a bit of work to do (probably too much) if they want to make the NCAAs, but they are now 3-1 in league play and can remain in first place if they pull off the upset here. Villanova has some work to do as well if they want to improve their resume, and losing at home to De Paul won’t help their cause. I expect that they’ll play much better tonight than they did two weeks ago.

-VIRGINIA TECH AT VIRGINIA (ACC). Virginia has been blown out in their last two games, but can improve their morale with a win over their arch rival. It’s also a chance for them even their conference record at 1-1. A loss could potentially be damaging. Virginia Tech was great last year, but they are rebuilding and just don’t appear to have it this year. Still, strange things can happen in rivalry games.

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