Friday, January 16, 2009

B101's 12 Games To Watch This Weekend

A look at the 12 most notable games on this weekend's loaded schedule...(Could all four one seeds lose in one day?):

Saturday's Games
Pittsburgh at Louisville
You know a league is deep when the undefeated, top-ranked team in the country is barely favored heading into a road game against a five seed that has been ridiculously inconsistent this season. That's the case as Louisville welcomes Pitt today in the biggest Big East game of the weekend. After a bumpy few weeks, the Cardinals have won four straight - a stretch that includes victories over Kentucky, Villanova (at 'Nova) and Monday's impressive OT win over Notre Dame - and they have a great shot to make five against the Panthers. Pitt has performed well on the road this season (just ask Georgetown), but they haven't played a team nearly as talented offensively as Louisville yet. Plus, with Earl Clark and Samardo Samuels inside, the Cardinals won't be as overmatched as most teams are against the Hoyas' front line. If Louisville gets the win here, it would jump them up to a 3 seed next week and knock Pitt down, but not off, of the one line.

Wake Forest at Clemson
How good is the top of the ACC? If unbeaten Clemson wins this game and hands Wake its first loss of the year, they might become the fourth ACC team to be a one seed in our Field of 65. (We say "might" because the Tigers' less-than-stellar OOC resume could keep them on the two line even with a victory.) Even with the home court edge, though, it's tough to like Clemson in this game. The Tigers are 2-12 in their last 14 games against ranked opponents, and 1-34 over the last 12 years against teams ranked in the top five (yikes). Plus, they're facing a team whose best player, Jeff Teague, couldn't be any hotter right now - he's averaging 31 points per game over his last three. No matter where the location, these teams always seem to play tight games, and we think this one will be tight for a while, too. In the end, though, we think Clemson will be the team waving good-bye to its spotless record.

Georgetown at Duke
After Duke's beatdown of Georgia Tech on Wednesday, Mike Krzyzewski said that, in his mind, the ACC "is the best conference in the country" and said that the league shouldn't be punished bid-wise down the road just because it only has 12 teams. We'll see if his team can back up those fighting words today in a bragging rights game against one of the Big East's youngest but most dangerous teams. If there's any Big East team that won't be intimidated by Cameron Indoor, it's the battled-tested Hoyas, who have already faced six ranked opponents this season, have a win at Connecticut, and who enter today's game with the nation's No. 1 SOS. The Hoyas, fresh off a convincing win over Syracuse themselves on Wednesday, would be at worst a two seed on Monday with a win.

Oklahoma at Texas A&M
Thanks to their win over Baylor on Wednesday, the Aggies probably secured a spot in the 8-9 game in our next bracket, and they can move up a couple of more seed lines with a win here against the Sooners. Oklahoma is probably feeling pretty good about itself after finally getting the monkey off of their backs against Texas on Monday night, and they have to like their chances in this one given their edge inside and at the point guard spot. The big bracket question here is what to do with Oklahoma if they lose. Do they stay on the one line, or get bumped in favor of UConn or Michigan State (or someone else)?

Ohio State at Michigan
Michigan's loss at Illinois on Wednesday wasn't all that shocking, but the final score (66-51) certainly was a little alarming, considering the Wolverines beat the Illini by double-digits just 10 days earlier. That game will knock them off the five line come Monday, and they'll fall a line or two more if they cant beat the Buckeyes at home today. Ohio State has lost both of its Big Ten road games so far this season and hasn't played well at all against big-time opponents since their impressive stretch in early to mid-December. A 2-3 start in the Big Ten could quickly turn into 2-5 given the Buckeyes' upcoming schedule.

Maryland at Florida State
The Terrapins finish up their Florida road trip and try to rebound from Wednesday's second half collapse at Miami. They were unable to pick up their first road win of the season as they blew a 17-point second half lead against the Hurricanes. That puts even more pressure on Maryland to win in Tallahasee, especially since this is their only regular season meeting against the Seminoles, a team they are fighting with - right now at least - for the final ACC bid. This game gets the B101 stamp as bubble matchup of the weekend.

Notre Dame at Syracuse
The Orange didn't fare too well against their first quality Big East opponent of the season, losing by 14 at Georgetown on Wednesday night. Their biggest culprit in that game was their defense, which allowed 12 threes on 21 attempts. That's not good news considering the sharp-shooting Irish come to town today. These teams were right next to each other on the three line in last week's Field of 65, and the winner of this game will stay there. The loser will get bumped down to a four or maybe be the top five.

Oklahoma State at Baylor
The Bears couldn't caplitalize on a chance at quality road win on Wednesday, losing by double-digits at A&M. If they lose this game - to a Cowboys team that is currently our last team out - they will fall dangerously close to the bubble. Baylor hasn't had a marquee win since late November (vs. ASU) and they've lost two of three; Oklahoma State, meanwhile, has won eight of nine and could make the Big XII a six-bid league with a victory.

Arkansas at Florida
The Razorbacks may the best team in the the Big XII, but unfortunately, they're also the worst team in the SEC. A bad road loss at Mississippi on Wednesday dropped Arkansas to 0-2 in conference, and made today's game in Gainesville that much more important. A loss would send their seed plummeting, maybe into the double-digits. Even at 2-0 in the SEC, the Gators could really use a win here, too. They have only one win over a tourney team on their resume (Washington) and they have two road games coming up next week - at South Carolina and at Vandy.

Arizona State at UCLA
A well-defended James Harden, who was held without a field goal and finished with a career-low four points, and the rest of the Sun Devils blew a seven point halftime lead to USC Thursday night and lost by 12. Now they're very much in danger of going oh-for-the weekend as they visit the Bruins - fresh off their dismantling of Arizona - at Pauley Pavilion tonight. A loss would knock ASU down a seed line (maybe two) and a UCLA win could jump the Bruins up to the three line alongside their fellow Pac-10 frontrunner, Cal.

Arizona at USC
The Wildcats certainly didn't play like a team worthy of an at-large on Thursday night, and if they lose this game, they'll be out of the bracket discussion for a while. If they win, which won't be easy against a USC team that has played well over its last two, it could be the mometum boost they need as they head into a pretty soft part of their schedule. After tonight, Arizona has four very winnable home games in a row, and then an easy trip to the Oregon schools after that.

Boise State at Utah State
Is it crazy to think the WAC could end up a two-bid league? Imagine this scenario: Utah State, which already has a win over Utah and a close loss to BYU on its resume, and according to all of those weird efficiency numbers is one of the best teams in the country, goes through its conference season with 2-3 losses, but loses in the finals of the WAC tourney (most likely to Boise State or Nevada). The Aggies would deserve a bid, and they'd almost certainly get one. Consider yourselves warned, Bubbleville...

Also receiving votes: Cal at Stanford, Washington at Oregon State, Illinois at Michigan State, Minnesota at Northwestern (Sunday), Jodie Meeks at Georgia (Sunday), South Carolina at Tennessee, Miami (FL) at North Carolina, Boston College at Virginia Tech, Marquette at Providence, Seton Hall at Connecticut (Sunday), BYU at New Mexico, Missouri State at Illinois State (Sunday)


Bryan said...

Very important win by FSU today over Maryland in overtime. FSU seems to be finding a way to win the close games this year, and that is a definite improvement over years past. I am still concerned with FSU's inability to put points on the board against teams that match up with zone defenses.. FSU tends to throw the ball around the perimeter and not get the ball inside to break the zone. FSU will have to find a way to do this soon, as much tougher ACC competition is coming soon. If they can find a way to win at Miami and UVA this upcoming week, will set up a great matchup at home vs. UNC with FSU potentially being near the top of the ACC standings at 4-1 should they pull off their next two games. Will be a good test for a young team. Very impressed with how FSU has handled themselves to this point in the season though.

Eric J. said...

I'm worried about the game at Miami. I think FSU could pull off one big surprise win at home this year ... wouldn't it be great if it came against UNC?

Anonymous said...

When did B101 become "FSU Bracketology 101"?

Eric J. said...

Anonymous: Are you a VMI fan?

Anonymous said...

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