Monday, February 09, 2009

A Two Pack For Monday

A look at the two most notable games on Monday's schedule:

West Virginia at Pittsburgh
Pitt was the biggest beneficiary of Duke's loss to Clemson this week, as the Panthers moved back up to the 1 line after a one-week absence. They are coming off a week that saw them blow out Robert Morris and DePaul, and saw DeJuan Blair continue his recent Blake Griffin impression. Blair had 32 points and 14 rebounds against the Blue Demons on Saturday, and he's averaging 24 points and almost 15 boards over his last three. Tonight they return home to the Peterson Events Center - where they haven't lost this season - to face West Virginia. The Mountaineers split their two games last week, losing at Syracuse and beating Providence at home, and check in at an 8 seed in this week's bracket. Overall, the Mountaineers have a nice looking record and are a respectable 5-5 in the Big East, but they are far from safe in terms of getting a bid. They have no bad losses (all of their losses are to teams currently in the field), but they also have a grand total of one quality win (at Ohio State), and they've been milking that win for a while now. They have not beaten a Big East team that is bracket-worthy right now (their best conference win was at Georgetown), and if they go 0-2 this week (they host Villanova on Friday), there's a good chance they'll be on the wrong side of the bubble come Sunday night.

Kansas at Missouri
As if Kansas-Missouri rivalry needed any more intensity, both teams enter this game on fire. The Jayhawks beat Baylor and Oklahoma State last week to stay unbeaten in conference and move up to a 4 seed in our latest bracket. Missouri, meanwhile, has won seven of its last eight, including a ginormous win at Texas last week, to move up all the way up to the 5 line. Kansas has won the last five games in this series, but they're facing a Missouri team tonight that has been dominant at home this season. The Tigers are 14-0 in Colombia, a record that includes blowout wins over Cal and Baylor, and in those 14 wins, they are averaging over 90 points per game. If they are going to keep that streak alive, they'll need another big night out of the red-hot DeMarre Carroll and they'll have to find a way to contain Cole Aldrich, who picked up his 13th double-double of the season with a 12-point, 18-rebound performance against the Cowboys on Saturday. Looking ahead, Missouri plays three of its next four at home, and the road game is a gimme at Colorado. Kansas plays three of its next five on the road, including a game at Kansas State this weekend. Two road wins will bump them up to the top of the 4 line next week (or higher if they get some help). If Missouri wins, and then takes care of suddenly bubble-worthy Nebraska at home this weekend, they'll be a 4 and probably be a seed line ahead of the Jayhawks.

Also receiving votes: Loyola (MD) at Siena


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