Highlighted Matchups, News, Notes and More...

Highlighted Matchups, News, Notes and More...
Nov 28, 2006, 01:35 am

-COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON AT KENTUCKY. This is probably technically a Buy Game, but it is also an interesting matchup. Charleston is one of the best teams in the Southern Conference and they face a Kentucky team that is coming off two straight decisive losses in the Maui Invitational and needs to rebound. If Kentucky overlooks CofC, they could be beaten again. It is a nice RPI game for the Wildcats. Not that they need one, but they can never have too many. Most importantly I think they need to win this game for their mental health.

-MARYLAND AT ILLINOIS. This game is part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Both teams are unbeaten, but Maryland appears to be much better. They have looked impressive every time they’ve taken the floor. Illinois has in their last two games beating Miami, OH by just two and Bradley by just four, neither of which appear to be strong NCAA Tournament teams right now. They will really be tested tonight against a very good Maryland team.

-WISCONSIN AT FLORIDA STATE. Florida State was blown out against Pitt, which is the only good team they’ve played so far this year. Wisconsin is very tough and only has one loss to Missouri State. This would be a nice road win for the Badgers, who are trying to make it into the pod system this year.

-PENN STATE AT GEORGIA TECH. Penn State has just one loss and just got a big win over a pretty good Saint Joseph’s team, but they still don’t appear to be on the same level as Georgia Tech. This one could get ugly. It would be a major surprise and a statement win for Penn State if they pull it off, but it won’t be easy to beat Tech, who is trying to earn a spot in the Pod System.

-INDIANA AT DUKE. This appears to be a huge mismatch, but suddenly Indiana’s loss to Butler isn’t looking so bad. Still, they also struggled against Indiana State this season as well, so it could be that the Hoosiers are way overmatched. Duke has one loss to Marquette, but they’ve still played good ball all year and should be able to win this one at home. Duke is trying to make the pod system whereas Indiana is simply trying to get into the bracket picture at all. An upset would go a long way as far as helping them.

-NEW MEXICO STATE AT NEW MEXICO. New Mexico State is a very talented team, but they’ve lost their last two games and their margin for error is getting smaller and smaller as far as earning an at large bid. A win in this one could turn out to be extremely helpful. New Mexico is unbeaten and has blown pretty much everyone off the court that they’ve faced. This is a rivalry game that means a lot to both teams both on and off paper, especially since both are trying to make a case that they are tournament worthy.

-UNLV AT ARIZONA. UNLV has just one loss, but they really have their work cut out for them against a very good Arizona team who has blown out pretty much everyone since their season opening loss to Virginia. It would be a huge and much needed win for UNLV and would go a long way in building up their NCAA Tournament resume. Arizona is a solid team that appears to be working toward the pod system.

-UAB AT WESTERN KENTUCKY. Western Kentucky’s only loss so far has come to Florida. Granted, it was a blowout, but that really doesn’t mean anything and they have some pretty good wins so far. They need to rebound from that and get a win against UAB. In order for them to be in position to get an at-large if they need it, they cannot afford to lose too many games like this one. It would be a big road win for UAB as well, who has won three of their last four and is playing some pretty good ball.

-ORAL ROBERTS AT TULSA. This is a crosstown rivalry that is fairly interesting this year. Oral Roberts lost their opener, but I’m sure you remember how they followed that up by beating Kansas on the road and haven’t lost since. Tulsa is also 3-1 on the year. It’s not likely that both will be able to keep winning at that clip all season long, but they have played good ball early and the longer they keep it up the more likely it is that one or both will be dancing this March. A win for either team keeps that momentum going.

-MASSACHUSETTS AT SAVANNAH STATE. U Mass is 5-1 on the year with their only loss coming to Pitt. Savannah State is much improved and this is a big home game for them, but they still appear to be extremely overmatched. U Mass should role.

-LONG BEACH STATE AT UCLA. UCLA is on fire right now after winning the Maui Invitational and should win this one in a landslide.

BUY GAMES (Brought to you by Hostess)

-SOUTHERN AT FLORIDA. Southern is 0-5 and should be 0-6 by the end of the night. This is a huge mismatch.

-SOUTH CAROLINA STATE AT DAYTON. Dayton just got a big win against Louisville and can improve to 5-1 with a win today. SC State has yet to win a game this year.

-LOUISIANA MONROE AT ALABAMA. Look for Bama to improve to 6-0.

-DARTMOUTH AT KANSAS. Kansas just got a big win over top ranked Florida. They now take on Dartmouth, who is one of the bottom ranked teams and should win in a landslide.

-TEXAS SOUTHERN AT TEXAS. Texas improves to 5-1 with a win.

-UC DAVIS AT STANFORD. Stanford’s only loss this season was a blowout to Air Force. UC Davis is 0-5, but they did shock Stanford in an upset last season. That isn’t likely to happen again though.


-Congratulations to Butler, who is now ranked #19 in the A.P. poll and #18 in the coaches’ poll. Wichita State is also ranked after their big win against LSU.

-Jay Bilas said something interesting tonight. The media (and everyone else) are quick to give credit to “mid-majors” for their wins against major programs, but don’t give enough credit to the majors when they knock off a mid-major. When writing here I personally try to do my best to look at all teams the same way and avoid using terms like “major” or “mid-major,” but I also think he does have a point. Oklahoma State’s win over Missouri State was a big win for them on a neutral floor, yet they aren’t getting a whole lot of credit for it. We gave them a little bit of a shout out yesterday, but that was really about it as far as the credit they got. Fortunately, the committee will give them credit for it if they are consistent with the way they’ve done things in the past. It will also help boost their RPI.

Maybe the success of the so-called “mid-majors” recently isn’t so much of a coincidence. Last year the Missouri Valley got four bids, the Colonial received two bids, the Mountain West received two bids (which isn’t unusual), the Atlantic ten got two (which also isn’t unusual), the WAC got two (not unusual) and Conference USA got two, one of which was Memphis. The only thing that was really unusual was the four that came out of the Missouri Valley. All the other “mid-major” leagues such as the Atlantic ten, WAC, MWC, etc send two teams more often than they send one. The Colonial getting two is more than they usually get, but then again we normally see at least one conference get two bids that generally only gets one. For example, the Big West got two bids the year before last year.

When the best teams from Conference USA left to join the Big East, it sort of opened the door for someone to step into their place as the best “non-major” conference. C-USA, although not a major conference, had major teams in it such as Marquette, Louisville and Cincinnati. Now that they are all in the Big East, only so many of them can rise to the top each year because every time a game is played someone is going to lose. If the conferences were still the same before the Big East had sixteen teams and C-USA gotten four bids, and the Missouri Valley just two or three, no one would have thought that unusual. I just think that now the MVC is where C-USA used to be and will probably be getting about three or four bids on a regular basis and could get even more than that if they are having an “up” year. One must also give them credit. They've managed to win some big games and have done a lot to earn the distinction of the best "non-major" conference.

-The new bracket projection should be posted late tonight/early tomorrow, along with my top 25.

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