Saturday, December 1st Highlighted Match-ups

Saturday, December 1st Highlighted Match-ups
Dec 01, 2007, 01:45 am

-DUKE VS DAVIDSON. This game is being played in Charlotte and the crowd should be split right down the middle. It’s the second game in Charlotte for Davidson, who nearly upset North Carolina in their season opener. Davidson needs this one more than Duke because they already have two losses and are still looking for a big statement win that will impress the selection committee. Duke has one against Marquette, and because they are a good team that plays in the ACC one can only assume that many more are to come. Davidson doesn’t have that many opportunities, and has a rather distressing loss to Western Michigan, which could end up dragging the resume down if they can’t get at least one big win. It should be a great game. Even though it’s early, there is a lot on the line, especially for Davidson.

-NORTH CAROLINA AT KENTUCKY. Kentucky has looked decent at a few points this season, but worse at more points. They looked like they were sleepwalking against Stony Brook in their last game and would have likely lost had they not been playing one of the worst teams in div1. If they play like that in this game they’ll get blown off of their own home floor. There has been quite a bit of grumbling from the Wildcat fans, and Kentucky has yet to play a decent opponent, so this is their first real test despite the fact that they already have a loss. One can only assume that they’ll improve as the year goes on, but they haven’t shown too many signs of life yet. A win in this game may give their season the jumpstart it needs. North Carolina has already played and won away from home. They beat Davidson on a neutral floor and took care of Ohio State on the road last night. This would be their third quality win away from home if they pull it off.

-INDIANA AT SOUTHERN ILLINOIS. Indiana is ranked high, but I don’t believe they’re as good as they’re ranking, at least not yet. They should improve as the season goes on and be in the mix to get a very good seed by the time March rolls around. Southern Illinois is in the rankings as well, but didn’t look like a ranked team against USC last week. They were blown out of the arena by the Trojans. They’re at home tonight and the crowd, which is always lively, will be fired up big time for this one. It isn’t often that a major team from a major conference sacks up and plays a team like Southern Illinois on the road. Both teams look like solid tournament teams and should end up with good seeds, so this would be a quality win for whoever pulls it off.

-SETON HALL AT SAINT MARY’S. This one is going to be fun and educational. Both teams are undefeated. Both teams have quality wins with Saint Mary’s having knocked off Oregon and Seton Hall having blown out Virginia last week. Neither team is getting all that much national attention yet, but both teams are good enough to get more than they’re share if they keep playing the way that they have been. Both teams appear to be good enough to end up in position to get an at-large, and this would be another quality win for whoever pulls it off. Saint Mary’s doesn’t have quite as many opportunities as Seton Hall, so it probably means a little more to them, but a loss wouldn’t hurt them too badly. The same can be said for Seton Hall. It’s just a good chance for one of these teams to add a good win to their resume.

HIGHLIGHTED MATCH-UPS In alphabetical order via the home team

-PROVIDENCE AT BOSTON COLLEGE. This is an old Big East rivalry. BC isn’t in the Big East anymore, but it’s still a good rivalry. Both teams are off to good starts. Providence is 4-1 and Boston College is unbeaten with a decent win against Rhode Island. This would be the biggest win of the season for either team so far. For Providence, it’s a chance to pick up a quality road win. They’ll get plenty of chances for that later on as well, but the more road wins they get the better off their profile will be. As for BC, it’s hard to tell how good a year they are going to have, but we should have a better indication of it after today.

-OHIO STATE AT BUTLER. Ohio State head coach Thad Matta spent six years as an assistant at Butler, and one as a head coach. It’s great that he’s going back to play Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse. The scene should be incredible. Butler is unbeaten with some good wins under their belt already, but they still don’t have the tradition and brand name of Ohio State so this game is a very big deal to them. For Ohio State, they really don’t have any big time wins yet. They’re off to a decent 4-2 start, but this would be a huge road win that would boost the quality of their resume and possibly jumpstart their season.

-MISSOURI AT CALIFORNIA (Big Twelve-Pac Ten Challenge). California is unbeaten on the year and just knocked off a fairly decent San Diego State team. Missouri has two losses, but both were against top notch teams and both were by slim margins, so the Tigers are a good basketball team. They have a win against Maryland, but a road win against what looks to be a good California team will give them the credentials to back up that fact. Both teams will get multiple opportunities at quality wins between now and the end, but the sooner a team can establish themselves and the more they do it, the better off they are.

-TEXAS TECH AT CENTENARY. Texas Tech is playing some unusual road games this year. They’ve already played and lost at Sam Houston, and now they’re traveling to Centenary. RPI wise, winning these games on the road is better than winning at home, and I guess it looks a little better to the selection committee as well. Centenary has been one of the worst in div1 over the past few seasons, but they’re off to a 3-3 start this year. A win in this game would be a huge step forward for them. It wouldn’t be enough to consider them as at-large candidates yet, but for a program that’s trying to build itself up from nothing it would be a big deal.

-SOUTH CAROLINA AT CLEMSON. This is a big rivalry, but it looks to be a mismatch this year. South Carolina is 4-2 and hasn’t looked nearly as impressive as undefeated Clemson, who has a road win against Mississippi State and another big win against Purdue on their profile already. This could be the kind of win that could turn South Carolina’s season around, and at the very least allow them to beat their chests a little bit, but it won’t be easy. Clemson has looked very good thus far.

-CREIGHTON AT DREXEL. Drexel got off to a decent 5-1 start, but racked up that record against weak competition. Last night they were exposed as they were blown out in their conference opener by George Mason. Drexel is a team that has a history of being inconsistent, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they were blown out on one day and played lights out in their next game. This game is the return game from last year’s Bracket Buster, which Drexel won. Creighton is unbeaten on the season, but it’s still hard to tell how good they are. This is their first road game, and one of their toughest tests so far, so we should learn a little more about them.

-CONNECTICUT VS GONZAGA (from Boston). Connecticut has already been tested in the Preseason NIT. This would be a big time win for UConn if they could pull this off. Remember, they missed the NCAA Tournament last year and haven’t won too many games against a quality opponent for quite some time. Gonzaga jumped out to an early lead at Saint Joseph’s the other night, but needed overtime to finish them off. It should be a good one. Gonzaga is looking to make the pod system, and needs several wins in games like this in order to do it.

-DAYTON AT HOLY CROSS. These are two teams that are off to terrific starts. Neither is expected to make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large, but if they continue to win at the rate that they have been one or both of them will certainly be in the mix. Dayton struggled on the road all last season and fell behind big time to a good Miami, OH team the other night, but came back and ended up winning in very exciting fashion. Hopefully that snapped them out of their road slump. Holy Cross is undefeated on the year, and Dayton’s only loss was on the road against George Mason. This would be one of the better wins on the season for whichever team pulls it off, which is important if both are trying to establish themselves as NCAA Tournament teams and continue building on the momentum they have coming into this game.

-MASSACHUSETTS AT IUPUI. UMass just chalked up a huge road win against Syracuse, which boosts the hell out of their profile. UMass doesn’t just look good on paper, at 5-1 they look good on the court. They have been somewhat inconsistent, but hopefully the win at Syracuse is a sign that they’ve ironed a lot of that out. IUPUI is 2-2 against div1 teams and this is a big game for them to be hosting. They didn’t play too badly against Marquette, and the fact that they are at home may enable them to compete, but it would still be a huge upset if they were to pull it off. It would also be disastrous for UMass because it would sort of offset their big win against Syracuse.

-MIAMI, OH AT LOUISVILLE. Miami was off to a great start with wins over Xavier and Mississippi State, and appeared to be on cruise control in their last game against Dayton, but blew a 19 point second half lead and ended up losing their second game of the season. That killed some of their momentum, especially considering that they appeared to be racking up the kind of wins that would get them to the NCAA Tournament, but they have a chance to get all of that back and then some if they can beat Louisville on the road. Louisville looks like they could contend for a #1 seed if they can get everyone healthy, but they already have one loss on the year to BYU, and don’t want to overlook what is a very good Miami team. Louisville appears to be better, but Miami will win if Louisville overlooks them. The styles are also different. Louisville has athleticism whereas Miami relies on perfection when it comes to execution, so it should be a fun game to watch.

-UC SANTA BARBARA AT LMU. UCSB doesn’t have any big time wins yet, but they did just knock off UNLV they can improve to 6-1 on the year, which keeps them on the pace they need to be on to play their way into at-large consideration. They'll be traveling to North Carolina later this year and will also play in the Bracket Buster. They don’t have too many chances, but they have a few. They need to take care of business in games like this and beat one of the quality opponents they play later on if they want to have a chance at an at-large.

-NEW MEXICO AT MISSISSIPPI. These are two undefeated teams that are looking for a statement win. Both racked up their records against poor competition, but they appear to have some talent and should be able to compete against a few of the heavyweights once they get the chance to face them. This is the first real test for either team, and it will be interesting to see how both sides will respond.

-WESTERN KENTUCKY AT NORTHERN ARIZONA. WKU is 5-1 on the year with the only loss being a close one to Gonzaga. They’re good enough to get into the mix, but they need to take care of business in just about all of their winnable games because their margin for error is small.

-WASHINGTON AT OKLAHOMA STATE (Big Twelve-Pac Ten Challenge). Oklahoma State has been unimpressive on the year. Washington is just 3-2, but they have played against better competition and have a somewhat decent win against Utah. As tough as the Pac Ten appears to be, some teams are going to struggle, so it’s important that they can establish themselves as NCAA Tournament teams outside of conference play.

-BYU AT PORTLAND. BYU is off to a tremendous start, but it’s never easy to go on the road and win on someone else’s floor. They don’t want to let their guard down in this one. A win can get the Cougars to 6-1 and sustain a very impressive early season resume.

-PENN STATE AT SAINT JOSEPH’S. Both of Saint Joseph’s losses have been heartbreakers. One was a close one to Syracuse and the other was in overtime to Gonzaga the other night. They are a much better team than what their current resume indicates, but that’s true for a lot of teams this early. They should be able to win this one at home rather handily.

-WESTERN MICHIGAN AT SAN DIEGO STATE. Western Michigan has shown signs of life this season, and has a big home win over Davidson. They’re just 4-3 on the year, though, and are coming off of a road loss to Valparaiso. They need to start playing consistently well or their at-large chances will go from slim to none. San Diego State has just one loss on the season, and that is to California, so they’re a pretty tough team that has a shot at crashing the dance themselves. They need to take care of business at home in games like this because it doesn’t take too many losses to knock a non-major conference team with limited quality wins out of the picture.

-TULANE AT SYRACUSE. Tulane has played well at times this year, but has lost their last two games to fall to 3-2. Syracuse needs to rebound from the loss against UMass. If Syracuse can start playing better defense, which is something head coach Jim Boeheim is known for, they’d be having a much better year. As of now, it seems to be ineffective against everyone they’ve faced.

-CINCINNATI AT UAB. Both teams are way outside looking in right now, and I get the feeling that this is a game where both teams need to be feeling a sense of urgency. It’s early in the year, but once a team slips off the radar it’s generally difficult to play their way back on.

-KENT STATE AT UNC GREENSBORO. UNCG looks to be one of the better teams in the Southern Conference, but having to contend with Davidson won’t be easy, so it will be hard for them to get all that much consideration unless they can post a very impressive record. They’re 3-1 on the year right now. Kent State is 5-2, and just got done beating the snot out of Saint Louis. Their losses were in their opener to Detroit (a game I do not believe they’d lose now) and against Xavier. They have a good chance at playing their way into consideration for an at-large and can pick up a decent road win today, which would certainly help.

-UTEP AT UNLV. Both teams are young and have been inconsistent, but both appear to have quite a bit of potential. Neither team has strong NCAA Tournament credentials yet, but it looks as if both will go on to have good years. A win in this game could go a long way toward jumpstarting either team’s season and really give them something to build on. UNLV is coming off a loss to UC Santa Barbara and needs to rebound from that.

-GEORGIA TECH AT VANDERBILT. Vanderbilt is undefeated, but really struggled in their last game against South Alabama and needed overtime to win it. Georgia Tech is just 3-3 on the season and could really use a big time win right about now. They played really well in their last game against Indiana despite the fact that they lost, and look to be much better now than they were in their opener, but this would be their most impressive win so far if they’re able to pull it off.

-PENN AT VILLANOVA. Penn is just 2-5 on the year, but could pull it together by the time Ivy League play begins. Villanova is clearly the superior team and should win this one going away despite the fact that it’s part of the Big Five rivalry.

-WINTHROP AT WEST VIRGINIA. Winthrop is just 3-2, but they’ve played some pretty good basketball despite the fact that they’re a young team. West Virginia doesn’t have any big time wins yet, but they really played well against Tennessee and nearly pulled the upset. They could turn out to be a very dangerous team that wins a lot of big games this season. They don’t face any really tough opponents until the end of the month, so it could be awhile before they add any real credentials to their NCAA Tourney resume, but a win against Winthrop would be pretty decent.

-BELMONT AT XAVIER. Belmont is 5-2 on the year and has already racked up road wins against Cincinnati and Alabama. Xavier should be able to win this game, but Belmont will pull the upset if XU overlooks them. Belmont appears to be one of the better teams in the Atlantic Sun, and with five wins already it is a nice RPI opponent for Xavier, but it’s also a game that they really don’t want to lose. For Belmont, the brunt of their schedule is over because the majority of their games from here on out look to be winnable. If they pull the upset here and don’t stub their toes too many times between now and the end they could find themselves in consideration for an at-large. It would be their second big time quality road win.

BUY GAMES In alphabetical order via the home team

-SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA AT ALABAMA. Alabama played pretty well against Texas A&M despite the fact that they lost. At the very least it’s a sign that they’re good enough to have a big year. They should be able to improve to 4-2 today.

-ORAL ROBERTS AT ARKANSAS. Arkansas just had an exciting win over Missouri, which is one of their best of the season so far. They’re improving more and more as the season progresses, and shouldn’t have any trouble winning this one.

-SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE AT BRADLEY. Bradley is off to a modest 5-2 start, but with no real big time wins yet. They don’t want to slip up and lose a game like this.

-FAIRFIELD AT GEORGETOWN. Georgetown looked impressive in their last game where they won on the road against a decent Old Dominion team. They’re undefeated and shouldn’t have too much trouble remaining that way after today.

-MIDDLE TENNESSEE AT HOUSTON. This is another game in which Houston is undermatched. They can improve to 7-1 with a win, but they’ve obtained that record via a steady diet of cupcakes.

-WEBER STATE AT ILLINOIS. Illinois hasn’t looked too bad this year, but there is still room for them to improve. A win will get them to 5-2.

-JACKSONVILLE AT MICHIGAN STATE. Michigan State struggled against Oakland, but rebounded with a big blowout win against NC State in their last game. They shouldn’t have too much trouble with Jacksonville today.

-UC RIVERSIDE AT MINNESOTA. Minnesota fell to Florida State in their last game, but the team looks much better than it did a year ago. They can get to 4-1 with a win today.

-MURRAY STATE AT MISSISSIPPI STATE. Mississippi State has big expectations this year and they can still meet all of them, but right now they are just 3-3. Dropping a game like this would be pretty damaging, at least for right now.

-NICHOLLS STATE AT NEW ORLEANS. New Orleans is off to a great start at 4-0 with a road win over NC State. Nicholls State’s next win will be their first and it probably won’t come today.

-LOYOLA, IL AT NORTHERN IOWA. Northern Iowa is off to an impressive start, but have a really puzzling lost to South Dakota State on their resume. Still, a win in this game gets them to 6-1.

-EASTERN MICHIGAN AT NOTRE DAME. The Irish have won two straight since losing a heartbreaker in the third place game of the Paradise Jam. A win in this game will get them to 5-2.

-TOLEDO AT PITTSBURGH. Pitt really hasn’t been tested yet and probably won’t be by Toledo. A win gets them to 6-0.

-INDIANA STATE AT PURDUE. Purdue played very well against Clemson in their last game, but came up just short. Still, they showed that they have the makings of a good team and can end up having a good year. Unless Indiana State has a much better year than expected, this isn’t the kind of win that will impress the committee all that much, but Purdue will get their chances later on.

-NEW HAMPSHIRE AT RHODE ISLAND. This is Rhode Island’s ninth game of the year, and they can improve to 8-1 with a win. They’re off to a good start, but don’t have too many impressive wins. They do have Syracuse and Providence coming up and need to avoid looking ahead to those games.

-WESTERN ILLINOIS AT TEXAS ARLINGTON. They don’t have any impressive wins yet, but Texas Arlington is 6-0 on the year (4-0 against div1) and has been blowing teams out. They may be a team to keep an eye on.

-UC IRVINE AT UTAH. Utah isn’t off to a great start, but they’re not off to a bad one either. They need to win this game and improve to 4-2.

-SOUTH CAROLINA UPSTATE AT WAKE FOREST. Wake is off to a decent start, but lost on the road to Charlotte the other night and needs to rebound from that. When a team needs a bounce back game, South Carolina Upstate is a good opponent to have. They’re 0-6 on the year and will likely be blown out in this one.

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