Saturday, January 03, 2009

B101's 12 Games To Watch This Weekend

A look at the 12 biggest games on this weekend's loaded schedule:

Saturday's Games
Pittsburgh at Georgetown
The Hoyas pulled off the first "upset" of the Big East season by winning at UConn on Monday. Their reward? A visit by from the unbeaten Panthers followed by a trip to South Bend to face the hot-shooting Irish - all in a span of three days. (Ouch.) If they are going to go 2-0 in conference play, they'll need Greg Monroe (who badly outplayed Hasheem Thabeet Monday) and DaJuan Summers to dominate the way they did on both ends against the Huskies. That won't be easy against the most physical frontcourt in the country.

Wake Forest at BYU
The Cougars have won 53 straight games at the Marriott Center (the longest home win streak in the country), but have beaten only one ranked team in that stretch (No. 16 Air Force in 2007). Now they welcome the unbeaten and sixth-ranked Demon Deacons to Provo in what should be high-scoring, back-and-forth affair. Jeff Teague and Co. are the favorites on paper, but a closer look at the Wake resume shows they haven't faced a real quality opponent yet. Lee Cummard, Jonathan Tavernari, and Jimmer Fredette are certainly quality - and they should get enough help from the home crowd to hand Wake its first L.

Ohio State at Minnesota
The previously-unbeaten Gophers got a little reality check from Michigan State last time out, but they get another chance at a resume-building win today as Ohio State visits Williams Arena. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, may want to take advantage of a beatable Minnesota team while they can - their early conference schedule is rough (with road games at Michigan State, at Illinois, and at Michigan upcoming) and in the loaded Big Ten, a slow start isn't recommended.

Tennessee at Kansas
The defending champs are clinging to a spot in our latest bracket, and the only reason they are clinging to a spot is the name across the front of their jerseys. With teams like Arkansas and South Carolina lurking (and sporting a big OOC win - something Kansas doesn't have), the Jayhawks might want to pull off an upset here if they don't to fall off the mid-season bubble. The Vols, meanwhile, begin a huge week that features this game (they could use a good OOC road win) and a rematch against free-falling Gonzaga. Good thing Wayne Chism is OK.

Creighton at Illinois State
The two best teams in the (not-so-great) MVC battle it out at Redbird Arena, with Illinois State's still-perfect record on the line. If the Valley is going to be a two-bid league, it may be best served to have the Redbirds win this one (and sweep the Bluejays for that matter) and then have someone else (maybe Creighton) win the conference tourney. Neither team has an at-large worthy OOC resume (Creighton did until some other big conference teams recently jumped over them), and there aren't many big wins to be had in conference play.

New Mexico at UNLV
The Rebels finished off a huge non-conference season with by stunning Louisville in the final seconds on Wednesday. UNLV won all four of its OOC road games (UTEP, Fresno State, Nevada, and Louisville) to go along with a home victory over Arizona. They open conference play tonight against New Mexico, who isn't very dangerous away from The Pit. The Rebels also welcome leading-scorer Wink Adams back tonight; he'll come off the bench after missing the Louisville game with an abdonimal strain.

West Virginia at Seton Hall
The Mountaineers have been able to bask in the glow if their beatdown of Ohio State for more than a week; now they return to the court and open their Big East season at Seton Hall. If the Pirates are going to have any chance in this one, they might want to key on Mountaineers sharp-shooter Alex Ruoff, who has scored 70 points over his last three games.

Also receiving votes: North Carolina State at Florida, Xavier at Virginia, Penn State at Wisconsin, Michigan State at Northwestern, East Carolina at Clemson, Rutgers at Connecticut, Arkansas-Little Rock at Western Kentucky

Sunday's Games
Illinois at Michigan
The Illini proved they were for real in their Big Ten opener by shocking Purdue in West Lafayette in OT. The Wolverines, meanwhile, laid an egg in their first conference game, losing by double-digits at home to Wisconsin. If Illinois can play they same kind of defense they did on Robbie Hummel (Chester Frazier held him to just 11 points on seven field goal attempts) on Michigan's Manny Harris, they have a very good chance at picking up another huge conference road win.

Arizona at Stanford
The Wildcats are one loss away from falling out of our bracket, and if past history means anything, there's a good chance that loss comes tonight against the Cardinal. Arizona has yet to win a road game (they're 0-3), and they looked awful at Cal on Friday night, losing by 14. Wildcat fans can easily point to Stanford's disgusting performance in their Pac-10 opener as a sign of hope, but if Chase Budinger doesn't wake up soon (he's 8-for-39 shooting over his last three) even the Cardinal's inferior talent might not matter in this one.

Arizona State at California
Maybe UCLA isn't the best team in the Pac-10 after all. The streaking Sun Devils have won eight in a row, and they were nothing short of dominant the last time out against Stanford. Even with James Harden struggling (for once), ASU won by 30 on the strength of a career-high 31 points by Jeff Pendergraph. Harden and Pendergraph won't have an easy time against a Cal team that plays sough pretty stingy defense, but in the end, the Sun Devils should have enough firepower on the offensive end to pull out a narrow victory.

Kentucky at Louisville
The only thing more volitile than the housing market right now is the Cardinals' seed in our Field of 65. A case could be made that they need to win this game to even stay in the bracket, and even if they do beat Kentucky, their inexplicable home loss to UNLV (after a dominant performance against UAB the game before that) may land them in the 8-9 game - not good for a team that started the year on the two line. The Cardinals have a long way to go to get back to respectability, and the first step in that process will be finding a way to contain Kentucky's Jodie Meeks, who is fifth in the country in scoring.

Boston College at North Carolina
We'll go out on a limb and say the Eagles lose this one, but that won't take away from what has been a solid start by Al Skinner's crew. Picked to finish 11th in the ACC, BC is 12-2 and senior Tyrese Rice (who's averaging almost 20 points and nine assists in his last three games) has been one of the conference's best players. In what is shaping up to be a very hard-to-figure ACC bubble, the Eagles will likely be in play for a tourney bid all season.

Also receiving votes: Virginia Tech at Duke, UCLA at Oregon, USC at Oregon State

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Vols,GW2 Gold meanwhile, begin a huge week that features this game (they could use a good OOC road win) and a rematch against D3 Items free-falling Gonzaga. Good thing Wayne Chism is OK.