Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Four Pack For (A Historic) Tuesday

We remind you, basketball fans: "Ask not what your bubble team has done to you...ask what you can do for your bubble team..."

Ohio State at Illinois
Shouldn't Illinois - on the strength of Obama karma alone - be able win this game? It's a nice thought, but it might not be that easy, as the Illini face an Ohio State team that is coming off a huge road win at Michigan on Saturday. That win (and a solid OOC resume) bumped the Buckeyes all the way up to a four seed in our latest Field of 65, behind only Michigan State in the loaded Big Ten. The Illini also beat the Wolverines last week (albeit at home) to move up to six seed. With Wisconsin visting this weekend and then a trip to Minnesota ahead next week, Illinois has a huge opportunity to make the "second best Big Ten team" claim itself.

Michigan at Penn State
Two-loss weeks can send a team tumbling down the crowded Big Ten standings - and down a few seed lines in our Field of 65 - in a hurry. Michigan found that out the hard way last week, and now they'll have to win a difficult road game if they want to see their mini-skid come to an end. Penn State doesn't have a real eye-popping resume, but the Nittany Lions have been a tough team to beat at home - they knocked off Purdue two weeks ago and gave Michigan State all it could handle this past Wednesday. On paper, the Wolverines are deeper and more talented, but Penn State has a big-in-big-game guard in Talor Battle, and they're more desperate for a big win. A two-win week will have the Nittany Lions knocking pretty loudly on the Field of 65 door.

Virginia at Maryland
Maryland first landed on the bubble following their infamous Morgan State loss, and that bubble finally burst this week after the Terps blew a 17-point second half lead in a loss to Miami (FL) and then fell at FSU in OT in the only meeting between the two teams this season. It's those bubble vs. bubble match-ups that Maryland needed to win to stay afloat in the loaded ACC, and now at 1-2, getting to 8-8 or 9-7 in conference got that much harder. Despite two solid OOC wins, Maryland is probably going to have to find a way to knock off a couple of the ACC's Big Four to eventually get a bid. They'll also need to avoid any slip-ups in games like this one - at home against the easily-beatable Cavaliers.

Tennessee at Vanderbilt
It's hard to believe, but at this point in the season, Tennessee is the third best team in the SEC and is getting zero votes in the latest coaches' poll (yikes). The Vols, who opened up the year with great OOC wins over Georgetown and Marquette, have plummeted in the rankings and in our bracket ever since. They check in at a season-low nine seed in this week's Field of 65, after getting single-handedly destroyed by Jodie Meeks on Monday and then eeking out a win over South Carolina at home on Saturday. Their biggest culprit in those two games - and over the last month for that matter - has been an atrocious defense that currently ranks last in the SEC, allowing opponents over 76 points per game. The Vols better win this one and not look ahead to Saturday's game with Memphis; if they do and lose to the disappointing Commodores, they'll fall into a 2.5 game hole in the SEC East.

Also receiving votes: North Carolina State at Duke


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