-NORTHERN IOWA AT CREIGHTON (Missouri Valley). Creighton lost to Southern Illinois for the second time over the weekend, but they played very tough on the road and are still an excellent team. Theyre also just one game out of first place in the conference standings, so theyre still very much in the race. They also appear to be a very solid NCAA Tournament team. Northern Iowa has lost six of seven and I believe is to the point of needing the automatic bid from the conference tournament to get them in. They certainly havent looked like an NCAA team in quite some time.
-GEORGIA TECH AT FLORIDA STATE (ACC). Important game for both teams here, especially Georgia Tech who has not won a true road game all season long. They have won their last three games, but still have quite a bit of work to do. A win in this game really jumpstarts their resume and puts them squarely back into the picture. As for Florida State, they are looking at about a #7 seed right now, and can improve on that with every conference game they win. Theyve lost two in a row, including a heartbreaker to Boston College in their last game, so theyll be looking to rebound from that and pick up another conference win.
-OKLAHOMA AT IOWA STATE (Big Twelve). Oklahoma has won four in a row, and has two RPI top 50 wins in that stretch. Can they keep it up?? Theyre hosting Texas A&M this weekend, and if they can get by Iowa State today theyll be in a position to where they can play their way onto the bubble. This is a team that is really hitting its stride.
-MICHIGAN AT MICHIGAN STATE (Big Ten). This is one of those important rivalry games. Both teams are on the outside looking in, and Michigan State has lost four in a row. Michigan actually is a game up on them in the conference standings, and if they can win this game on the road it would make them the more attractive team to the selection committee if both end up on the bubble. Michigan just ended a four game losing streak with a win against Minnesota, so these look like two teams on the decline rather than on the rise.
-SOUTHERN ILLINOIS AT MISSOURI STATE (Missouri Valley). Southern Illinois is one of the hottest teams in the country, and just got a big win against a very good Creighton team over the weekend. Missouri State is playing some excellent basketball as well right now having won five in a row, and three of those on the road. The joint should be jumping for this one. Its a chance for Missouri State to pull within a game of first place. Its also a chance for them to knock off a high quality opponent, which will look good on their already solid resume. As for Southern Illinois, it looks as though they might be able to sneak into the pod system. A win today would really help their cause as far as thats concerned.
-KANSAS STATE AT NEBRASKA (Big Twelve). Kansas State rebounded from their loss to Kansas State rather nicely with a blowout win of their own against Colorado. Today, they face a Nebraska team that has played pretty well at home despite the fact that they havent won many games in the league. They arent the kind of team Kansas State needs to overlook. A win for the Wildcats sustains their status as a fairly solid NCAA team.
-VIRGINIA TECH AT NORTH CAROLINA (ACC). Virginia Tech won the first meeting between these two, and is coming off a big win against rival Virginia Tech, but they arent going to have the home court advantage this time around. North Carolina might be out for blood. They are on pace to get a #1 seed, are in a tight race for the regular season ACC title, and arent going to take this one lightly. A loss wont hurt Virginia Tech too much, although it would be their third loss in four games. A win would really boost their resume through the roof, but I for one dont see it happening. It would be a tremendous upset.
-HOFSTRA AT OLD DOMINION (Colonial Athletic). Old Dominion has played their way onto the bubble, but they need to keep winning in order to stay there. Hofstra is a very talented team that exhibits good guard play who beat ODU the first time these two met. Old Dominion has not lost at home all season, though, and is coming off a big win against rival VCU, which was their seventh straight. Old Dominion shouldnt have trouble winning their final two conference games, which is why this is so important. A win keeps them near the top of the standings with a good record, which is where they need to be to get a good look from the committee.
-UNLV AT SAN DIEGO STATE (Mountain West). UNLV really needs to be on upset alert, because SDSU is one of the hottest teams in the country that no one is talking about. They have certainly been defending their home court pretty well, and destroyed Air Force last week. They followed that up with a decisive win at Colorado State. San Diego State is not quite on the bubble, but they are certainly moving in the right direction. This would be their fifth straight win if they could pull it off, and it would be their second RPI top 25 win in that stretch. As for UNLV, theyre a solid NCAA team and a loss today isnt going to change that, but it could knock their potential seeding down a bit. A win would actually look rather impressive considering how good SDSU has been playing lately. A win for SDSU also gets them into a tie for second place in the league.
-KENTUCKY AT TENNESSEE (SEC). Kentucky won the first meeting between these two in a blowout, but that was at Kentucky and it was played at a time when Tennessee was going through a slump. Id say the Vols have snapped out of it. Theyve won three of their last four, and that includes an absolute blowout against rival Vanderbilt. Kentucky is coming off a close loss to Florida in a game they would have won had they not shot so much below their average from the outside. They need to get over it quick, because they have another big game in a tough environment tonight. Kentucky still has a good chance of making the pod system, and a win in this game will do a lot to help their cause.
-TEXAS TECH AT TEXAS A&M. It was just over two weeks ago when Texas Tech knocked off Texas A&M at home, which was their second win against a top ten team in a row. Everything seemed to be on the upswing for Texas Tech. Unfortunatley, they havent won since. They played well enough to win their last game against Oklahoma State, but couldnt get it done. Unfortnately, they could play a great game again tonight against TAMU, and end up losing this one as well. On the flip side, Texas A&M has not lost since Texas Tech beat them, and are looking like a very solid #2 seed right now. Theyre also all by themselves in first place of the Big Twelve. A win today sustains all that, and even keeps them in the discussion for a #1 seed.
-FLORIDA GULF COAST AT BUTLER. I dont know what Butler was thinking when they scheduled this game. It should be an easy way to rebound from their loss to Wright State.
-LONGWOOD AT VIRGINIA. Virginia was just blown out by Virginia Tech, and this is a good chance for them to recover from that. Actually, as rough as the ACC is, this may not be that bad of a game to schedule. They just need to make sure they win it.
NEWS AND NOTES
-The most recent bracket projection is posted below. Be sure and check it out if you haven't already.
-Louisville won convincingly at Pittsburgh last night. Louisvilles shooting this season has ranged between awful and mediocre, but last night it rated somewhere around decent. As a result, they beat the #5 team in the nation on their home court. That is no small feat. No team ranked ahead of them has lost a home game yet, so this ranks up there as one of the most impressive road wins of the year, not just by Louisville, but by anyone. The Cardinals have catapulted themselves into the mix for NCAA Tournament consideration.
-Gonzagas first real test without Josh Heytvelt
didnt go so well. They were beaten rather decisively by Santa Clara on their own floor. Santa Clara jumped out to an 11-0 lead, and Gonzaga never really got back into the game after that. Santa Clara is actually ahead of Gonzaga in the conference standings, which could really impact the at-large chances of the Zags if they cant pull even by the end of the season.
-West Virginia followed up their big home win against UCLA with a big blowout road loss to Georgetown. It is Georgetowns second blowout in a row against a quality team. Granted, both were at home, but the Hoyas arent a team Id like to be facing anytime soon.