Saturday, March 1, 2008

What to Watch

West Virginia (20-8) at #16 Connecticut (22-6) – Saturday Noon – This won’t be an easy task for Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers, but a road win here you would have to think would lock them in a bid.

#10 Georgetown (23-4) at #21 Marquette (21-6) – Saturday 2 PM – Here’s a chance for Marquette to jump up and get into that top four in the Big East tournament where the first round bye is so important. The Hoyas still have to show us they can beat a decent team on the road.

#22 Washington State (22-6) at #8 Stanford (23-4) – Saturday 4 PM – The Cougars will be out for revenge after the Cardinal stole one in OT in Pullman a month ago. They also are trying to distinguish themselves from the seven teams bunching up in the middle of the conference.

Kansas State (18-9) at #7 Kansas (25-3) – Saturday 9 PM – The Jayhawks will be out for blood after the Wildcats ended the 26 year losing streak in Manhattan in January. There are two questions that will make all of the difference in this one: 1. Can Kansas figure out how to stop Michael Beasley? 2. Can Darrell Arthur stay out of foul trouble? Tune into ESPN to watch this one as you won’t see a more hyped up crowd that the one inside Allen Fieldhouse. Included in that crowd will be yours truly.

Pittsburgh (20-8) at Syracuse (17-11) – Saturday Noon – The Orange must have this one at home as they sit squarely on the bubble. The Panthers are still trying to find themselves now that Levance Fields is back.

Texas A&M (21-7) at Oklahoma (18-10) – Saturday 2 PM – This could be a play-in game for the sixth Big 12 spot in the tournament, though the Aggies have to feel a little more safe than the Sooners do. Blake Griffin will go off in the post for OU. You will see.

USC (18-9) at Arizona State (17-10) – Saturday 3 PM – Another battle of the middling Pac-10 teams who are looking for their dance ticket. Southern Cal has grabbed the #4 spot after their huge road win at Arizona and are now looking for the state sweep. ASU needs this one desperately.

#23 St. Mary’s (24-4) at Gonzaga (22-6) – Saturday 8 PM – This one is for all the marbles in the WCC. The winner gets the regular season title and the #1 seed in the conference tournament. These are both NCAA Tournament locks, but interestingly it’s been St. Mary’s who’s spent the season in and out of the top 25, not the Zags.

Kentucky (16-10) at #1 Tennessee (25-3) – Sunday Noon – The Vols will have revenge on their mind after UK handed them a loss earlier in conference play. Not to mention they are coming off the tough loss at Vandy. This one is in Knoxviile. Not a great recipe for a Wildcats upset win.

#12 Indiana (24-4) at #15 Michigan State (22-6) – Sunday 2 PM – Boy have the Spartans gone south of late, but they a much different team at home. The Hoosiers meanwhile have been dealing with their own turmoil, but just keep on winning. That said, they are so due for a loss and Spartans PG Drew Neitzel is even more due for a big game.

#4 UCLA (25-3) at Arizona (17-11) – Sunday 4 PM – This is danger time for the Wildcats who were dominated at home by USC Thursday night and now have to see the best team in America (by our standards) come to town; the same UCLA club that thrashed them a month ago in Westwood. The Cats need PG Nic Wise back badly.

Clemson (20-7) at Maryland (17-11) - Sunday 7:30 PM
– Maryland may have saved their season with the win at Wake Thursday night, but it is of the utmost importance that they hold serve over the third best team in the ACC if they want that fourth ACC bid.

Pittsburgh (20-8) at West Virginia (20-8) – Monday 7 PM – The Backyard Brawl Part II. Round one went to Pitt as Ronald Ramon’s buzzer-beating three sunk the Mountaineers earlier this season.

#19 Purdue (22-6) at Ohio State (17-11) – Tuesday 7 PM – Here is the Buckeyes last chance to make a statement to the committee on a resume that really lacks quality wins. Purdue needs this one to stay with Indiana and Wisconsin in the race for the Big Ten title.

UNLV (21-6) at New Mexico (22-7) – Tuesday 9 PM – The Rebels are quietly putting together another solid season. If the Mountain West is going to get two bids, its BYU and one of these two teams. Watch out for the Lobos J.R. Giddens who is reborn in his fifth year.

Mississippi State (19-8) at #14 Vanderbilt (24-4)– Wednesday 8 PM – Everyone is loving the Commodores again right now, but do not sleep on the Bulldogs who have stars in Jamont Gordon in the backcourt and Charles Rhodes up front. Watch Jarvis Varnado D-up Vandy’s AJ Ogilvy all night long.

#1 Tennessee (25-3) at Florida (21-7) – Wednesday 9 PM – A brutal stretch continues for the Vols who played at Memphis, at Vandy, home to Kentucky, and now at Florida. Winning three of four here would be extremely impressive to us. Florida is squarely on the bubble and a win over a top three team would go a long way with the committee.

Texas A&M (21-7) at Baylor (19-8) – Wednesday 9 PM – The Big 12 deserves 12 teams, but like A&M’s game against Oklahoma, the winner here gets a big push from a resume standpoint. Baylor’s four guard attack will give the big time Aggies trouble. Acie Law ain’t walkin’ through that door.

#11 Xavier (24-4) at St. Joseph’s (17-8) – Thursday 9 PM – The Red Hawks are another bubble team who could use a win over one of the hottest teams in the country to improve their standing. Not likely. Xavier is supremely talented.

#8 Stanford (23-4) at #4 UCLA (25-3) – Thursday 11 PM – In a conference full of great games, this would be the game of the year. UCLA took down Cardinal in January in Palo Alto, but Brook Lopez and company matchup about as well as anyone does against the Bruins. We salivate at the thought of the Lopez/Kevin Love low post matchup. Too bad this one starts at 11 PM and nobody East of the Mississippi will see it.

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