Highlighted Games for Saturday, 2/3

Highlighted Games for Saturday, 2/3
Feb 02, 2007, 07:06 pm

-TEXAS A&M AT KANSAS (Big Twelve) (***Pod System Implications***). Both of these teams are in a three way tie atop the Big Twelve Standings. It’s likely that both will make the pod system, and it’s possible that one could end up with a #1 seed, but they’d pretty much need to win out in order to do it. The one thing missing from TAMU’s resume is a big time road win, and winning at Kansas would certainly qualify, but they’re in pretty good shape regardless of what happens. This is the kind of game that will cause the committee to put one team ahead of the other on the S Curve though, so it’s pretty important from that aspect.

-OREGON AT USC (Pac Ten). This conference is nuts. Just one game separates the top five teams in the conference standings, and both of these teams are in the mix. Oregon is coming off a rather decisive loss to UCLA and they have another tough game against a very good USC team that is looking to continue to build up their resume. USC won rather easily against Oregon State the other night. A win for either team keeps them within reach of the conference title, and winning the conference outright would all but assure a team a spot in the pod system. USC doesn’t have much in the way of a good RPI, but that would improve drastically if they won enough games to finish in first place. Oregon still looks like a solid pod team despite the loss the other night. This is their fourth straight road game, so they’ve really been challenged lately.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTED GAMES. They are listed in alphabetical order via the home team, and conferences games are indicated in parenthesis:

-WYOMING AT AIR FORCE (Mountain West). As if this game wasn’t hard enough for Wyoming to win already, they’ll be without some of their better players who were suspended for fighting in their last game against New Mexico. Air Force is 18-3 and appears to be in a position to make the pod system if they can win out or come close to it the rest of the way. They’re in a three way tie for first place with UNLV and BYU, and they probably need to finish first in order to get strong consideration. They will face both teams before the end of the year, but they need to keep taking care of business against the rest of the league.

-SOUTH CAROLINA AT ALABAMA (SEC). Alabama just picked up a much needed road win against LSU. They need to follow that up with another win today because a loss would knock them right back onto and possibly outside of the bubble. They’ve underachieved somewhat this season, but they aren’t entirely healthy so that might have something to do with it. They also have multiple opportunities to build up their resume and get a good seed between now and the end.

-WASHINGTON AT ARIZONA (Pac Ten). Washington has won three games in a row and is beginning to claw their way back into consideration for an at-large. Arizona is having the opposite luck. They’ve now lost six of their last eight games and really need to win this one at home. At one time they looked like a pod system team, and it’s still possible for them to get in, but they’re just 5-5 in conference play and even though none of their losses are particularly bad, it still the fact that there have been so many of them. They just need a win today to stabilize themselves.

-WASHINGTON STATE AT ARIZONA STATE. Washington State knocked off Arizona on the road for a big conference road win, and shouldn’t have too much trouble taking care of an Arizona State team that has just really struggled since entering conference play. Wazzu is in a four way tie for second place, so all games are important. It seems as though just about anyone can win this league.

-KENTUCKY AT ARKANSAS (SEC). Arkansas has lost four of their last six, but they are coming off an impressive road win against Alabama. They are still closer to the bubble than they’d like to be, and winning this game would help them out a lot. Kentucky appears to be a solid team, but there is still room for them to improve their resume and potential seed. This would be a good conference win for them because it’s a road game against a tournament caliber team.

-VIRGINIA TECH AT BOSTON COLLEGE (ACC). Virginia Tech is coming off a surprising home loss to North Carolina State. They’re still a solid tournament team, but that’s going to hurt their chances for making the pod system. In a league like the ACC, you need to take care of business against the bottom of the league because the rest of it is so cutthroat. Boston College could really use a win in this game as well. They’ve lost two of their last three conference games and it’s going to be challenging from here on out. This is a big chance for them to get a quality win at home.

-WISCONSIN MILWAUKEE AT BUTLER (Horizon League). Butler should be able to cruise through this one at home. UWM has been a power in the recent years of this league, but they have a losing record this year. Butler needs to win, stay on top of the standings, and avoid a bad conference loss.

-UNLV AT BYU (Mountain West). UNLV has cracked the rankings, has a solid NCAA Tourney resume, and is in the hunt to finish first in the conference. BYU is right there with them. These two teams are in a three way tie for first place along with Air Force, and a regular season championship all but gurantees a team a spot in the tournament this year. BYU is close to the bubble now, but a win in this game really boosts their resume and moves them inside the bubble for now. UNLV defeated BYU earlier this year, but BYU has not yet lost a home game, so this is a real test for both teams. It would also be a quality win for both teams that could impact who finishes first in the league, so it’s a hugely important game.

-STANFORD AT CALIFORNIA (Pac Ten). This is a huge conference rivalry. Cal managed to win the first battle, but Stanford still has a much better resume. Cal has lost three in a row and is to the point where they need to go on a winning streak just to get themselves onto the bubble. Stanford is playing very well right now despite losing at home to Gonzaga earlier this week. Their last conference game was a home win against UCLA, so they’re sitting pretty comfortably as far as making the dance right now. A win on the road gives them bragging rights, a conference win, and sustains the quality of their resume.

-OKLAHOMA STATE AT COLORADO (Big Twelve). Oklahoma State is a pod system caliber team and should be able to win this one without too much trouble despite being the road team. Colorado has lost seven of their last eight games.

-CREIGHTON AT DRAKE (Missouri Valley). Creighton has won seven out of their last nine games, is tied for first in the conference, and should be able to win against a Drake team that has struggled in league play. They want to win this game to keep pace with Southern Illinois and avoid a poor loss on their resume.

-TOWSON AT DREXEL (Colonial Athletic). Drexel might be down to their last strike. It’s going to be hard for them to finish first in the conference, which will make it more difficult for them to get an at-large. It can still be done, but they’ll probably need to win their Bracket Buster game against Creighton, as well as win out the regular season in conference play. The good news is that other than a road game against Hofstra, the rest of their conference games are games they should win.

-NORTHERN IOWA AT EVANSVILLE (Missouri Valley). Northern Iowa has lost five of their last seven games and needs to string together some wins just to get back onto the bubble. They really need to win this game against a struggling Evansville team.

-TENNESSEE AT FLORIDA (SEC). Tennessee had lost five out of six games, but got a much needed win the other night against Georgia. An upset win in this game would really turn their fortunes around, but loss shouldn’t hurt them too much. Still, it would be six losses in eight games, and they’ll need to turn it around pretty soon. It’s just that winning at Florida, who is still a solid contender for a #1 seed, is a very tall order.

-OLD DOMINION AT GEORGE MASON (Colonial Athletic). Old Dominion is two games out of first place, and if they can finish first in the standings while avoiding any bad losses they should get serious consideration for an at-large. A loss today would be very damaging though. It would drop them another game back in the standings, and although George Mason isn’t a bad team, it’s the kind of team NCAA Tournament teams are expected to beat. ODU just won a big game at Drexel, so they have a lot of momentum coming into this.

-CLEMSON AT GEORGIA TECH (ACC). Both of these teams desperately need to win this game. Georgia Tech has lost five out of seven, and Clemson has lost four out of five. Clemson is still in somewhat better shape due to having more success prior to going into their slump, but even still the longer it goes on the more and more it hurts their resume. Georgia Tech looks like their outside the bubble and probably need to win a few games to get themselves solidly back into the picture.

-MINNESOTA AT ILLINOIS (Big Ten). Illinois has been rather consistent at home, but they’re still outside the bubble and needs to string together some wins to help them out. The good news is that several of their upcoming games appear to be winnable. Minnesota is just 9-13 and Illinois should be able to win a game like this if they’re a tournament caliber team.

-BRADLEY AT ILLINOIS STATE (Missouri Valley). Bradley has lost two straight games and has fallen off the bubble. It’s still doable for them to make the NCAAs, but they need to string together some wins. The road has not been the easiest place for them to win, but they need to be able to beat a non-tournament team like Illinois State if they want to make a case for themselves.

-MISSOURI STATE AT INDIANA STATE (Missouri Valley). After losing three straight games, Missouri State has won two straight games, but they need another one against Indiana State. Indiana State isn’t an NCAA caliber team, but they have been very strong at home, so this might not be so easy for Missouri State.

-INDIANA AT IOWA (Big Ten). Iowa just beat Michigan on the road, which is not an easy place to win. Indiana just had a big upset win against Wisconsin, but they need to be able to come down from that and focus on beating an Iowa team that is at home and very confident. Any conference road win in the Big Ten is helpful. Indiana has really done a lot to improve their resume, and a win in this game sustains that.

-PROVIDENCE AT MARQUETTE (Big East). Providence is on the outside looking in, but a road win against Marquette would go a very long way as far as getting them into striking distance. Marquette is playing for a spot in the pod system, which is important because there are first/second round games in Chicago. They’ve won six games in a row, including a big time road win against Pittsburgh, so they’re pretty hot right now. They’ve still been a little inconsistent as far as their overall quality of play, even in that six game win streak, but they’ve been taking care of business and have a high quality resume. Providence needs this game much more than Marquette.

-SMU AT MEMPHIS (Conference USA). SMU got off to a good start this season, but their momentum died in a big way once conference play began. They’ve lost five of their last seven. Memphis is unbeaten in conference and could end up being seeded #4th or better so long as they win out. They will be favored to win every conference game they play, and this one is no different.

-OHIO STATE AT MICHIGAN STATE (Big Ten). These two teams met a week ago in Columbus, and Ohio State jumped out to a huge early lead, but Michigan State came back and almost won. During the week, Michigan State dropped another game against Illinois. They really could use a big win in order to boost their resume because although they aren’t on the bubble, they’re closer to it than they’d like to be and three straight losses is not a good way to improve their status. Ohio State is still in a position to get a #1 seed, and is tied for first place in the conference standings, so this, along with every other game, is pretty important so far as ending up a #1 is concerned. This would be a very good road win for them in what promises to be a very hostile environment.

-LSU AT MISSISSIPPI STATE (SEC). It’s quite simple as far as LSU is concerned. They must win this game, and win several other games in the near future, just to get themselves onto the bubble. They’ve lost four straight and have just one good win against Texas A&M, so they have some work to do if just to make the NCAA Tournament.

-HAWAII AT NEVADA (WAC). These two met earlier in the year with Nevada pulling out a tough overtime win at Hawaii. They should have an easier time with Hawaii at home. It’s important that they win because they are deadlocked with New Mexico State in the conference standings. They should be okay for a bid even if they don’t win the league, but they have very few chances at quality wins between now and the end so it’s important that they take care of business in all their other games.

-NORTH CAROLINA AT NORTH CAROLINA STATE (ACC). This is a pretty intense in-state rivalry, but this year it looks like somewhat of a mismatch. North Carolina is in a position to win the ACC and earn a #1 seed, and NC State looks like an NIT team that has struggled on the road. They are, however, coming off a big win against Virginia Tech, and pulling off an upset in this game will really turn their season around. It wouldn’t quite put them into the bracket picture, but it would be a huge step in the right direction and give them the opportunity to end up there if they keep it up. That’s easier said than done, though. North Carolina is a #1 seed candidate for a reason.

-TEXAS TECH AT OKLAHOMA (Big Twelve). Texas Tech had been on a roll winning two games against top ten teams, but they’ve lost their last two games and haven’t looked nearly as good on the road as they have at home. They appear to be better than Oklahoma, but Sooners have been tough to beat on their home court. This would be a nice conference road win for Texas Tech, but it may not be so easy for them to obtain.

-PURDUE AT PENN STATE (Big Ten). Purdue has lost three of their last four games, are outside the bubble, and have no true road wins. This is a road game they really need to win, or else they’re going to be further outside the bubble. The Boilermakers need a strong finish if they want to be seriously considered by the committee.

-GONZAGA AT PEPPERDINE (West Coast). Gonzaga just got a huge win on the road against Stanford this week. They’ve been playing well in conference, but it’s never easy for them to go on the road because they are the biggest home game for all of their opponents every time they do it. Pepperdine is just 6-16 against div1 and this would be as bad a loss as beating Stanford was as good a win.

-GEORGE WASHINGTON AT SAINT LOUIS (Atlantic Ten). Despite losing to Dayton earlier in the week, George Washington is still in first place in the Atlantic Ten. They need to remain there and keep their losses to a minimal the rest of the way if they want any serious consideration for an at-large. Saint Louis hasn’t been all that impressive in conference, but this still isn’t an easy game to win. It’s on the road, and if Saint Louis can control the tempo of the game they can be hard to beat. The two styles of play are contrasting. GW likes to push the pace, and SLU likes to slow it down and pack it in. Whoever gets control could play a large factor in who wins. For GW, it’s a big one because they’re running out of strikes.

-WEST VIRGINIA AT SETON HALL (Big East). West Virginia has really struggled away from home this season, and barely defeated a mediocre Rutgers team on the road the other night. This is a chance for them to pick up another conference road win since Seton Hall is also mediocre, but considering how tough it’s been for them on the road it may not be so easy. Not being able to take care of business on the road against teams like this will affect their seed in a negative way.

-NOTRE DAME AT SOUTH FLORIDA (Big East). Notre Dame won a big road game against Syracuse earlier this week, which is important because they had been struggling on the road. They are far superior to South Florida and this is the type of road game they need to win if they’re a solid NCAA Tournament team that’s safely inside the bubble. A win for the Irish would be their fourth in five games.

-DE PAUL AT SYRACUSE (Big East). Syracuse has been inconsistent all season long, and are in the midst of a slump that they really need to slip out of. They had won seven of nine games, but now they’ve lost three straight. They appear to be a better team than De Paul, and they’re at home, so they need to take care of business, pick up a conference win, and end their losing streak. Their profile really needs some improvement, and this is one of a string of winnable games in the near future for Syracuse.

-KANSAS STATE AT TEXAS (Big Twelve). Kansas State is below a lot of peoples’ radars, but they have won six straight games and are just one game out of first place for the conference lead. Texas is coming off a big road win against Texas Tech, which is one of their biggest on the season, so they’re doing pretty well. This would be another big win for them if they pull it off, though. Neither team has all that impressive of an RPI, but both have good records, so it should really boost the RPI of whoever wins this game. Several things on Texas’s resume are impressive, so the RPI isn’t really an issue, especially at this point in the season. It should be a very exciting game because it’s a great opportunity for both teams. It could end up being a big time statement win for Kansas State.

-OREGON STATE AT UCLA (Pac Ten). UCLA handled Oregon the other night, and shouldn’t have all that much trouble beating Oregon State. They have a one game lead for first in the conference standings, and are still on track to end up with a #1 seed. There aren’t many easy games in the Pac Ten, but UCLA shouldn’t have too much trouble beating the Beavers at home.

-GEORGIA AT VANDERBILT (SEC). Both teams are playing pretty well, but both are coming off losses. Vanderbilt’s isn’t so bad since it came at Florida, and Vandy actually played pretty well in that game. Georgia fell to Tennesssee. Both teams appear to be safely inside the bubble for now, but with a lot of basketball left to play they don’t want to get into the habit of losing. It would be a quality conference win for whoever pulls it off, and end up being an asset to their resumes.

-GEORGIA STATE AT VCU (Colonial Athletic). VCU lost their first conference game to Hofstra the other night, but they shouldn’t have much trouble against a rather weak Georgia State team at home. It’s important that they win this because it’s a conference game, and it would be a bad loss on their resume if they can’t take care of business.

-LOUISVILLE AT VILLANOVA (Big East). Louisville is hot right now. They’ve won four straight, improved to 15-6, and with a quality road game today will likely get into the next bracket projections. Their best win so far came against Syracuse at home, so winning this one on the road would definitely be a big boost to their resume. It’s a big game for Villanova as well because despite playing good basketball, they’ve lost their last two games. Neither loss was bad, but they did miss a chance to boost their resume. Beating a hot Louisville team at home would be a nice way for them to rebound. They don’t need this game as bad as Louisville does, but it would be a decent win for them and help them avoid a three game losing streak.

-MIAMI, FL AT VIRGINIA (ACC). Virginia just won a huge game against Duke earlier this week, and is solidly in the bracket picture right now. So long as they don’t lose to a sub par Miami team they should remain there. This is a winnable conference game against a mediocre team, so they need to take advantage of it. A loss would actually be somewhat damaging for UVA given Miami’s poor RPI.

-MARYLAND AT WAKE FOREST (ACC). Maryland is coming off to a loss against Florida State. They’ve struggled in conference play lately, and desperately needs to pull off a win on the road against Wake. They really need to win this game because it is one of the more winnable games they have remaining on their schedule. As it is now, the Terrapins are just 2-5 in league play, and probably need to win at least five more games in order to have a strong enough resume.

-SOUTHERN ILLINOIS AT WICHITA STATE (Missouri Valley). Wichita State has won five of their last seven, and appears to have snapped out of the slump they were in. They got off to a great start to the season by winning several big OOC games, but then fell apart toward the end of December. A win today against Southern Illinois will be a quality conference and should be enough to get them back into the mix. As for Southern Illinois, they’ve won six of seven, have a very strong resume, and are in a tie with Creighton for first place in the league. This is a chance to get another decent conference road win and hold on to their first place spot in the standings.

-NORTHWESTERN AT WISCONSIN (Big Ten). Wisconsin struggled on the road the last time these two met, and given the style of play Northwestern typically runs they could have some trouble again, but it isn’t likely. Despite losing on the road to Indiana earlier this week, Wisconsin is still one of the best teams in the country and is still in the hunt for a #1 seed.

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