Saturday, January 5th Highlighted Match-ups

Saturday, January 5th Highlighted Match-ups
Jan 05, 2008, 02:05 am

-SAINT MARY’S AT TEXAS. Saint Mary’s is 11-1 and has managed some big wins already. They haven’t played quite as well on the road, but they still appear to have a very solid team and could give Texas a big fight. The Longhorns just ended a two game losing streak, but did so against TCU which isn’t anywhere close to being on the same level as Saint Mary’s. The Longhorns do have some big wins, but haven’t been playing quite as well lately. This should be a game that helps out the RPIs of both teams, and turn out to be a quality win for whoever pulls it off.

-MASSACHUSETTS AT VANDERBILT. Vandy is unbeaten, but they’ve really struggled against some lower level teams. UMass is not a low level team, and is very capable of pulling the upset despite being away from home. UMass just won a close, hard fought game against Houston and has other notable wins against Syracuse and Boston College. They have been playing very well lately and will give the Commodores all they want.

HIGHLIGHTED MATCH-UPS (Games are listed alphabetically via the home team, and conference games are listed in parenthesis)

-MIAMI, OH AT AKRON (Mid American). These appear to be two of the better teams in the MAC. Akron has a good record, but other than playing at Dayton (a game they lost in double overtime) they haven’t really played anyone all that good. Miami’s schedule has been very tough and they’ve racked up some pretty good wins. It’s possible for both of these teams to get an at-large bid, but they’d need to post an impressive conference record in order to do it. That’s what makes this game so important.

-OREGON AT ARIZONA (Pac Ten). Oregon has not been playing well at all lately, especially on the road, and is coming off a loss to Arizona State. They will have quite a bit of ground to make up if they end up losing this game as well. Arizona didn’t have too much trouble with Oregon State in their league opener and appears to be a very solid team.

-OREGON STATE AT ARIZONA STATE (Pac Ten). Arizona State can improve to a surprising 12-2, and get to 2-0 in the conference with a win today, which is a fantastic turnaround from where they were a year ago. They should be able to beat Oregon State at home, who will struggle all season long in conference play.

-ARKANSAS AT BAYLOR. Arkansas could really use a big road win right now, and this would certainly qualify if they can pull it off. Both teams appear to be pretty good, but Baylor’s credentials are better at the moment. Arkansas is one of the better teams they’ve faced up to this point, though, so it will give us a better idea of where they currently stand. For Arkansas, it would be their biggest win of the season up to this point.

-KANSAS AT BOSTON COLLEGE. Kansas has had a great year so far, and already has notable road wins against USC and Georgia Tech. They’ll be tested in this game today. Boston College is 10-2, but doesn’t have a win like this on their resume yet, so it’s a big opportunity to boost their credentials. It’s also probably one of the more hostile environments Kansas has played in so far. They’ll have to play well if they want to remain undefeated.

-VALPARAISO AT BUTLER (Horizon League). These appear to be the two best teams in the Horizon League, which makes this a huge game because home court advantage in the conference tournament is determined by the regular season standings. It’s also a chance for Valpo to pick up their first quality road win, which would go a long way toward helping them get in as an at-large. Butler has some big wins already, but can’t afford to fall apart in conference play. Valpo’s credentials aren’t there yet, but they do have a good team. I’m really looking forward to this one.

-UCLA AT CALIFORNIA (Pac Ten). Both teams managed to pick up big wins the other night, especially Cal, who needed a quality win against a team like USC. UCLA beat a very good Stanford team on the road. Both team’s credentials should continue to improve as they go through conference play, but this is another chance for one of these teams to add another big conference win to their profile. UCLA proved they could play on the road the other night, so Cal will really have to play well in this one if they want to pull the upset.

-MARYLAND AT CHARLOTTE. Both of these teams are outside looking in, but both appear to have potential. The sooner they can turn it around the better, which is what makes this such a big game for both teams.

-PROVIDENCE AT DE PAUL (Big East). De Paul picked up a shocking win the other night against Villanova, whereas Providence lost their league opener to Marquette. Providence would be starting off in a hole if they were to drop this one and fall to 0-2. De Paul hasn’t played all that well either with the exception of their win earlier this week, so the loss would look kind of bad right now. As for De Paul, they still wouldn’t be in the projections just yet if they win this game, but starting off 2-0 with two quality wins in conference is a great way to quickly make up some ground.

-TOWSON AT GEORGE MASON (Colonial). George Mason is coming off a very damaging loss to Georgia State, which means their margin for error has shrunk down to about zero. A loss in this one would be very devastating, and it could mean they’d have to virtually win out to overcome it.

-GEORGIA AT GONZAGA. Gonzaga is coming off a win against Utah, which is one of their better ones up to this point. Georgia has had a great year, but is still untested for the most part. A win for Georgia would be huge because it would be a statement that they can play with and beat quality opponents on the road. Gonzaga’s resume could use a little upgrade as well, and a win in this one should boost their RPI and give them another notable win.

-JAMES MADISON AT HOFSTRA (Colonial). James Madison is 9-3 and just picked up a good win against VCU the other night. They’ll have to dominate this league if they want to make the NCAAs as an at-large. They have one good win already, though, and shouldn’t have too much trouble in this one.

-SOUTHERN ILLINOIS AT ILLINOIS STATE (Missouri Valley). The Redbirds are off to a 9-3 start and have already managed to pick up two road wins in conference. This game appeared like it would be a war early in the year, but Southern Illinois has really struggled away from home and with just a 6-7 record they’ll have to turn it around big time just to be in the discussion for an NCAA bid. Illinois State can put themselves in the picture if they can do well in conference, and with two road wins already I’d say they’re off to a good start.

-NORTHERN IOWA AT INDIANA STATE (Missouri Valley). Northern Iowa is 9-3 against div1 teams, but really only has one notable win (Massachusetts) and has some pretty bad losses. They could still turn out to be a force in the league, but they’ll need to finish at or near the top of they want to seriously be considered.

-LOUISVILLE AT KENTUCKY. This is a big rivalry, but it seems to have gotten less and less interesting over the past few years (at least outside of the state). Kentucky has been a tremendous disappointment and has an RPI of just 244 right now. Sometimes a win in a big rivalry game can turn a season around, but that doesn’t look all that likely. Louisville hasn’t been outstanding, but they’ve been much better than Kentucky. They’re coming off a loss in their conference opener to an unimpressive Cincinnati team, so they need to improve quite a bit if they want to safely make it to the dance as well.

-MINNESOTA AT MICHIGAN STATE (Big Ten). Minnesota has a pretty good record, but they haven’t really played too many tough teams, so their record could take a dive now that conference play is beginning. This would be a hugely impressive win if they can upset Michigan State, but that isn’t too likely. The Spartans look like they’ll end up with a very good seed in the NCAA Tournament, and look to be as good as anyone in the Big Ten.

-CREIGHTON AT MISSOURI STATE (Missouri Valley). Creighton has lost two in a row to fall to 8-3, and with no real good wins out of conference to fall back on, their chances at an at-large bid could be slipping away. They really need to win this game and avoid falling to 0-3 in the league.

-CONNECTICUT AT NOTRE DAME (Big East). Notre Dame played a weak out of conference schedule, but looked great at home against West Virginia the other night, so they are capable of playing well against quality competition. Connecticut doesn’t have many quality wins either after a weak out of conference schedule, and could really use a few big wins on the road. This would boost the quality of their resume quite a bit.

-MICHIGAN AT PURDUE (Big Ten). Purdue has been inconsistent all year and really needs a strong showing in conference if they want to make the dance. They should be able to take care of business in this one because Michigan has really struggled. The Boilers have won two in a row, but need to string together a lot more wins than that.

-GEORGETOWN AT RUTGERS (Big East). Rutgers got off to a good start, but their record began to slip when they started to play some quality competition. Georgetown doesn’t have any big time wins other than Alabama yet, but they still appear to be an excellent team and are capable of dominating this match-up despite being on the road.

-UCF AT SAM HOUSTON. This is an interesting game. Sam Houston has just one loss, and it was to San Diego State in a very close game. UCF is better than most of the teams they’ve faced, but still isn’t outstanding. Still, Sam Houston is a team to keep an eye on. They’re in the same conference as Stephen F Austin, who upset Oklahoma at Oklahoma a few weeks ago.

-WESTERN KENTUCKY AT SOUTH ALABAMA (Sun Belt). These appear to be two of the better teams in the Sun Belt. I’d say both are long shots for at-larges right now, but South Alabama has lost just three games, two of which were close ones to Mississippi and Vanderbilt. If they can dominate the league and beat a good team in the Bracket Buster they may have a chance.

-USC AT STANFORD (Pac Ten). Both teams suffered disappointing losses in their conference openers and are looking to rebound. Stanford really doesn’t have any wins that would jump out at the committee just yet, so this is their chance to pick up what would be their best win of the season up to this point. USC has been somewhat inconsistent, but for the most part they’ve played very well. They came up just short against Memphis and Kansas, and lost to Cal last night, so this is a chance for them to pick up a big quality road win.

-SOUTH FLORIDA AT SYRACUSE (Big East). South Florida has been playing outstanding basketball since dropping their first three games. They’ve only lost one since and beat Rutgers handily the other night. This is a big time assignment, but if they can pull off a win it would be a huge statement. Syracuse has been inconsistent, but appears to be getting better. They don’t want to overlook what is a very tough South Florida team, though. This game should really be interesting.

-LSU AT TEXAS A&M. LSU has played some decent basketball at times this year, but doesn’t appear to be much of a match for TAMU on the road. The Aggies could end up winning this one going away, and improving to 13-1 on the season.

-UTEP AT TEXAS TECH. UTEP is coming off a heartbreaking loss to New Mexico that would have really helped them out, but they still appear to have a strong team and will most likely end up making some noise in Conference USA. Texas Tech has been very inconsistent, at least when I’ve watched them. They’ve looked great on some nights and awful on others. It would be a nice road win for UTEP if they can pull it off, and depending on which Texas Tech team shows up they should have a pretty good chance.

-CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE AT UC SANTA BARBARA (Big West). These are two of the best teams in the Big West. Both are long shots for at-large bids, but they could get into the discussion if they can dominate the league. With as weak as the conference is, this is pretty much a must win in terms of either team trying to get onto and/or inside of the bubble come March.

-VCU AT UNC WILMINGTON (Colonial). VCU is coming off a rather disappointing loss and their margin for error isn’t all that big. They need to take care of business on the road in this game. UNCW has dropped three of their last four and doesn’t appear to be playing all that well right now.

-AIR FORCE AT UTAH (Mountain West). The Utes are coming off a rather disappointing loss to Gonzaga, but the MWC appears to be strong and if they can do well in league play they should be in the mix for the NCAA Tournament. They need to take care of business in games like this at home, though.

-WASHINGTON STATE AT WASHINGTON. Wazzu has actually won the last five games in this rivalry, and could be well on their way to winning their sixth straight. Washington has played some pretty good basketball, but could really use a big win to jumpstart their season. This would certainly qualify. Wazzu is undefeated and has notable road wins against Gonzaga and Baylor, so they have been tested this year. They could be in for another fight today.

-IOWA AT WISCONSIN (Big Ten). Iowa had an exciting game in their conference opener against Indiana where they came from behind late, but also came up just short. Wisconsin is playing their best basketball of the season right now, and appears to be getting better. I don’t expect them to drop this one at home.

-NEW MEXICO AT WYOMING (Mountain West). New Mexico is an impressive 13-2 on the year and just won a big road game against UTEP. They appear to be much better than Wyoming, but it’s never easy to win on the road in this conference. The Lobos will be in the NCAA picture if they can do well in league play, which means taking care of business in games like this.


-LA SALLE AT FLORIDA STATE. Florida State picked up a big win against Georgia Tech in their last game, and shouldn’t have too much trouble defeating La Salle in this one.

-PEPPERDINE AT MEMPHIS. This game looks like a huge mismatch and it should end up in a blowout.

-RICE AT OKLAHOMA. The Sooners are playing very good basketball, and shouldn’t have any trouble improving to 10-3.

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