Thursday, February 21st Highligthed Match-ups

Thursday, February 21st Highligthed Match-ups
Feb 21, 2008, 09:29 am

-Duke’s loss to Miami, FL last night was their second straight. The Blue Devils trailed by as much as 20 in the second half, but came charging back to get themselves back into the game and ended losing by just one point. As a result, Duke and North Carolina are dead even in the conference standings, and probably more importantly dead even in the race to earn the #1 seed in the Charlotte region.

-The Tarheels beat NC State to death last night. The first half was close. The second half was not. NC State is a team that isn’t all that safe and really needs a big win between now and the end. A win for them last night would have been enormous.

-Baylor and Oklahoma was crazy the previous night. Baylor had two players foul out, another two ejected and the trainer was ejected for leaving the bench during an altercation. (I can’t help but wonder how things would have played out had someone been injured after that) Cooler heads prevailed, and Baylor actually came back to force overtime against Oklahoma. Once the overtime tipped off it looked as though the Bears were going to run away with it, but then it was Oklahoma who came back. A Baylor foul during a made three point shot gave Oklahoma a four point play, and a one point lead in the final seconds. Baylor managed to get to the line, but missed both freethrows and Oklahoma escaped. It’s the sixth loss in seven games for the Bears. They really need to right that ship if they want to make the NCAA Tournament.


-PITTSBURGH AT NOTRE DAME (Big East). Both teams are virtual locks for the NCAA Tournament, but this is still a big game in regards to seeding. Given Notre Dame’s long home winning streak a win for Pitt would be among their most impressive of the year. As for the Irish, they are still in the hunt to finish first in the Big East. In fact, the top four is pretty log jammed, so one game could mean the difference between receiving a bye in the Big East Tournament or not. The Big East has been one of the most exciting conferences to watch this year, and hopefully this game won’t be any different.

-OREGON AT USC (Pac Ten). Oregon appears to be safely inside the bubble for now, but they need a strong finish in order to stay there. USC has dealt with injuries, and although they played UCLA tough in their last game they are in a bit of a slump and need to prove they can win games like this at home even when they’re not at full strength. This is a high stakes Pac Ten game between two teams who are looking to build on their credentials.

-SAM HOUSTON AT STEPHEN F AUSTIN (Southland). Neither team is in position to get an at-large, but these are two of the better teams from the Southland Conference. S F Austin already has a big win this season at Oklahoma and given how solid they’ve been playing since then it wasn’t THAT much of an aberration. If either of these teams wins the automatic bid they will likely be a very tough first round opponent for whoever they face.

-OREGON STATE AT UCLA (Pac Ten). UCLA is one of the best teams in the conference taking on what is clearly the worst. UCLA should win this game rather easily and remain on pace to finish first in the league and earn a #1 seed.

-ARIZONA AT WASHINGTON (Pac Ten). Arizona has played a tough schedule, so they’re among the most battletested teams in the country. Although this is a road game, it’s one of the more winnable road games they have and seeing as how they’ve lost three of their last four and dropped in the standings a little bit they really need to take advantage of it.

-DUQUESNE AT XAVIER (Atlantic Ten). Xavier pulled off a huge road win against Rhode Island in their last game, which ranks among one of their most impressive wins of the year. Duquesne is in the process of building up their program, but they’ve made quite a bit of progress this year, especially considering they haven’t had much to celebrate in the past decade or so. They’re out of the NCAA Tournament picture barring winning the A-10 Tourney, but they could still turn out to be a dangerous opponent if Xavier overlooks them.


-DAYTON AT LA SALLE (Atlantic Ten). Dayton picked up a huge win in their last game against Temple. It’s not so much that Temple is an NCAA caliber team as it is that the ground has been falling out from underneath Dayton’s feet. This is a game that UD really can’t afford to lose, especially when you consider how poor La Salle’s RPI is. As a team, La Salle is young, but is playing better now than they have at any point in the season and recently upset crosstown rival Saint Joseph’s. They should enter this game with quite a bit of confidence against a struggling Dayton team.

-MASSACHUSETTS AT RHODE ISLAND (Atlantic Ten). Rhode Island’s resume is fairly impressive for the most part, but they are just 6-5 in the conference and a loss in this game would put them in a position to where they really needed to finish strong in order to feel safe. UMass, on the other hand, is right on the bubble. They’ve been inconsistent this season, and have struggled on the road as of late. If they can’t pull out of it then they won’t make the NCAAs. This is a pivotal game for both teams, but especially for the Minutemen.

-ARIZONA STATE AT WASHINGTON STATE (Pac Ten). Arizona State has been somewhat inconsistent this year, which isn’t surprising considering how young they are, but they’ve also shown that they are a good team on several occasions. I have them inside the bubble for now, but they’re still pretty close to it. A win in this game would really jump out at the committee and be a huge step forward toward solidifying a bid. As for Wazzu, They’ve won three straight and are trying to build up their resume in regards to seeding. They’re currently in 3rd place in the conference standings, but the middle of the pack is jammed. They’re just one game ahead of ASU in the loss column, and since conference standings is one of the ways the committee measures the teams these last few games are hugely important for everyone involved. The first time these two met it was a classic with Wazzu pulling out a close one. Hopefully we’re in for another exciting game tonight.

-SOUTH ALABAMA AT WESTERN KENTUCKY (Sun Belt). It’s very possible we’ll see these two meet again for the Sun Belt Championship, but as for now they’re both outside the bubble looking in. If both finish the season strong they should get some consideration for an at-large, but they absolutely must have a win like this on their profile just to be in the discussion. Both teams are good. Even if they don’t have the credentials for an at-large, I personally would argue that both are good enough to beat several teams who are. If one or both of these teams make the dance they will be a very tough first round opponent.

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