Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Six Pack For Wednesday

A look at the six most notable games on Wednesday's schedule:

Syracuse at Georgetown
It's about time Syracuse had to play a decent Big East team. While all the other ranked teams in the league have been beating each other up, the Orange have polished off the likes of Seton Hall, South Florida, DePaul, and Rutgers. Those four wins have Syracuse on the three line in our latest bracket, but they might be hard pressed to stay there much longer. They face Georgetown at the Verizon Center tonight, host Notre Dame Saturday, play at Pitt next Monday, and then host Louisville next Sunday. They'd probably sign for a split in the those four games right now, especially considering the defenses they're going to face against the Hoyas and Panthers. Against Georgetown, their biggest worry should be Greg Monroe, who is coming off a huge game against Providence last time out. A few threes from Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf would help neutralize Monroe a bit, but in the end, the Hoyas' D and depth on the perimeter should be enough to pull out a narrow win.

Wake Forest at Boston College
The Eagles have officially hit the skids since their upset of North Carolina, and now we get to see how the Demon Deacons respond after an emotional victory over those same Tar Heels. That win shot Wake up to the one line in our latest bracket, and showed the country just how good Jeff Teague really is. On a court full of stars, Teague was the best player on the floor by far on Sunday night, scoring 34 points and adding six rebounds and four assists. It was Teague's second straight 30-point outing, and Wake will need him to continue his stellar play this week, as they hit the road for two tough games - this one and then at Clemson on Saturday. An upset wouldn't be shocking here - the Demon Deacons could experience a letdown and BC is desperate for another win - but considering how well Wake played at BYU (a lot tougher place to play than Conte Forum), it's tough to see them falling from the ranks of the unbeaten tonight.

Michigan State at Penn State
Penn State crept its way onto the Next Four Out list this week thanks to a win over Purdue on Tuesday. After a road loss to Minnesota over the weekend, and the Nittany Lions return home to the Bryce Jordan Center tonight (where they’ve won seven straight Big Ten games) to face the red-hot Spartans. Michigan State has won each of its first three Big Ten games pretty handily, but given the venue, this could be their toughest conference test yet. Penn State point guard Talor Battle has been on fire over his last two games, averaging 20 points and nine assists; if he puts up those numbers again, the Nittany Lions should be able to hang around well into the second half. They probably won’t win in the end, but if they do (and don’t trip up at Indiana on Saturday), they'll make their bracket debut and knock one of the other seven Big Ten teams out.

Baylor at Texas A&M
The Aggies didn't fare too well in their Big XII opener at Oklahoma State on Saturday, shooting 38 percent from the field and losing by 11. That loss didn't knock them out of the bracket, but two losses this week - even against two tough teams - would. First up for A&M is Baylor, the "easy" game of the week, before the Sooners come calling this weekend. The Bears don't have a quality win to speak of since beating Arizona State in late November and they need a win here just as bad as the Aggies do considering their upcoming schedule. If they're going to pull the win on the road, Curtis Jerrells will have shoot a lot better than he has in Baylor's other games against quality opponents.

Maryland at Miami (FL)
The Hurricanes picked up a nice under-the-radar win at Boston College last weekend to move up to the eight line in our latest bracket. If they want to stay there, they'll need to defend their home floor against a Maryland team that recovered well from its head-scratcher against Morgan State by beating Georgia Tech at home in their ACC opener. The Terps haven't played a true road game yet this season (they've played four neutral site games), and it'll be interesting to see how they fare on the road this week against Miami and FSU - the two ACC bubble teams they are most closely competing against. Two losses and they'll be clinging to a bid.

Michigan at Illinois
The middle of the Big Ten is a muddled mess right now, with six teams spread out along the 5-8 lines. The Wolverines are near the top of that mess thanks to to their solid OOC resume and a home win against these Illini two weekends back. Manny Harris led five Michigan players in double figures with 16 points in that game, and he and his teammates will need some more of that balanced scoring attack if they are going to knock off an Illini team that has since won eight of nine. After this game, Illinois continues a brutal stretch of games (at Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, at Minnesota) that will show where they really belong on the Big Ten ladder.

Also receiving votes: Duke at Georgia Tech, South Florida at Pittsburgh, Arkansas at Mississippi, Florida at Auburn, South Carolina at LSU, UNLV at Colorado State, San Diego State at Wyoming, Drake at Illinois State, "Friday Night Lights" Season 3 (and series??) finale on DirecTV

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