February 10, 2007

Weekend Samurai Shodown!!!

Yes, it is misspelled on purpose, giving props to a great arcade game back in my teens. However, the notion fits that this weekend is filled with teams going against each other with plenty of importance.

Without further adieu...

(31) Virginia at (36) Virginia Tech, 84-57 Virginia Tech
(137) Wake Forest at (2) North Carolina, 104-67 UNC
(27) Boston College at (18) Florida State - 68-67 BC
(90) Connecticut at (56) Georgia Tech - 65-52 Tech
(13) Duke at (37) Maryland - 72-60 Maryland

Interesting that UVA-Va.Tech is for the ACC lead whereas Duke-Maryland is an NCAA Tournament bubble game on Sunday. North Carolina will look to get back on track after an emotion win at Cameron on Wednesday. Boston College, co-leaders of the ACC, head to the snake pit that is Florida State, while Georgia Tech steps out of conference against Connecticut, needing the win to get some momentum for their fading hopes of an NCAA berth.

Virginia Tech comes through with the hammer at home, ditto for UNC, honoring their 1982 national championship team at halftime. Sunday's results produced a nice win for BC on the road, winning their second last-gasp game against Florida State. Duke now is completely on the bubble in the conference at 5-6. The Devils still travel to BC, Clemson, and Chapel Hill with home games against Georgia Tech and Maryland. They also head back to MSG to face St. John's. A 7-9 conference record will probably give the Devils their due. Anything less than that would be blatant favortism.

Big Ten
(42) Illinois at (15) Indiana, 65-61 Indiana
(83) Iowa at (6) Wisconsin, 74-62 Wisconsin
(180) Minnesota at (57) Michigan, Michigan 82-80
(38) Purdue at (4) Ohio State, 63-56 Ohio State

Illinois and Purdue could make a big jump with road wins, but all four home teams should hold serve. Four home games, four wins.

(216) Colorado at (43) Kansas State, 78-59 K-State
(129) Iowa State at (55) Texas, 77-68 Texas
(19) Kansas at (84) Missouri, 92-74 Kansas
(70) Oklahoma at (143) Baylor, 68-64 Oklahoma
(12) Texas A&M at (82) Nebraska, 66-55 A&M
(41) Texas Tech at (26) Oklahoma State, 93-91 OSU (2 ot's)

Gary Parrish of CBS Sportsline accurately states the stakes at hand for the Texas Tech-Oklahoma State game. The winner gets back into the NCAA talk, the loser is on the outside looking in. Kansas has a serious trap game in Columbia. Kansas State needs to keep this roll by locking up home court, ditto for Texas. A&M heads to Nebraska as conference leaders, and Oklahoma needs to prove that they belong after a win over OK State last week put them above .500 for the conference.

The Kings of Overtime (OSU) prevail again, erasing a six-point lead in the first overtime to get the win. Oklahoma gets themselves fully into the picture, while A&M and Kansas were road warriors.

Big East
(21) Marquette at (32) Georgetown, 76-58 Georgetown
(52) Providence at (3) Pittsburgh, 74-68 Pittsburgh
(152) South Florida at (72) Louisville, 83-63 Louisville
(1) UCLA at (46) West Virginia, 70-65 West Virginia
(17) Villanova at (118) Seton Hall, 78-69 Villanova
(90) Connecticut at (56) Georgia Tech - 65-52 Ga. Tech
(132) St. John's at (62) Syracuse - 76-74 Syracuse

The bottom five games involve higher ranked Big East teams that all need wins. West Virginia would force the country to look up their roster if they upset UCLA. Marquette and Georgetown is about conference tournament positioning. Providence could make a big splash but their 1-5 record in road and neutral games suggests they won't.

West Virginia got their tournament resume win over UCLA. Villanova avoided the stumble, while Georgetown continues their rise in my bracket with a strong win over Marquette. Georgia Tech hurts UConn's bounce back opportunity while Syracuse stays alive with the win.

Missouri Valley
(25) Creighton at (11) Southern Illinois, 72-68 Southern Illinois
(34) Missouri State at (81) Northern Iowa, 62-58 Missouri State

If Kentucky-Florida at 9:00 p.m. is the main course for today, then the heavy appetizer comes in the form of Creighton at Southern Illinois at 6:05 on ESPN 2. Enjoy. Missouri State could become lock city with a win over Northern Iowa, who themselves are trying to play their way back into consideration.

SIU goes to 52-1 on their homecourt since 2002 while Missouri State gets a strong road win. The Mo Valley has three teams clear at the top, locks for NCAA bids.

Mountain West
(14) Air Force at (110) New Mexico, 60-51 USAFA
(23) BYU at (189) Texas Christian, 85-72 BYU
(124) Wyoming at (10) UNLV, 80-70 UNLV

BYU leads the conference at 8-2 and needs to maintain focus on the road at TCU. UNLV comes home after a 90-63 loss at BYU earlier in the week. Air Force last went on the road earlier in the week and lost by 21 at San Diego State. The Pit is not a great place to be needing a bounce back win.

Air Force goes to the Pit and survives. BYU and UNLV survive and advance.

Pacific 10
(7) Arizona at (20) Oregon, 77-74 Arizona
(66) California at (28) Washington State, 59-46 Wazzu
(1) UCLA at (46) West Virginia, 70-65 West Virginia
(35) Stanford at (78) Washington - 64-52 Washington

The RPI says Arizona is a good to great team. I earlier called them elite. They need this game at Oregon to avoid negative perception that is starting to form that the Wildcats are good - on paper. Washington State needs to hold home court while UCLA runs into a trap at West Virginia. The Bruins could lose their #1 seed if they lose. Washington is trying to make a late run, so they need this game, but Stanford isn't a lock either. Both scenarios provide for a good game.

Arizona rises from the ashes to bury Oregon. Now its the Ducks who are slipping on perception. Washington State held serve at home, while UCLA will never again travel east for a 10 a.m. (PST) game. The Huskies have held serve at home pulling themselves back on the bubble with a 6-7 conference record. Washington can get in by beating Washington State and UCLA at home in the coming weeks while finding a road win either in-conference against Oregon or out-of-conference against Pittsburgh.

(9) Florida at (5) Kentucky, 64-61 Florida
(29) Alabama at (68) Mississippi, 75-69 Ole Miss
(33) Arkansas at (88) LSU, 71-67 LSU
(51) Georgia at (79) South Carolina, 73-54 Georgia
(48) Vanderbilt at (16) Tennessee, 84-57 Tennessee

Florida's chance at an undefeated SEC season vs. Kentucky's claim to legitimacy is at stake in Lexington. Mississippi is quietly moving up the standings while Alabama can't win away from Tuscaloosa. LSU is only a spoiler now and Arkansas is hanging by a thread. Georgia and South Carolina has the exact storyline. Tennessee, with Chris Lofton, needs to show the world that they can get it back on track. Vanderbilt is 6-3 in the SEC and they would make themselves a lock with a season sweep over the Vols.

Kentucky missed their chance, literally, going 4-of-22 from three-point land. Florida is beatable, but they will now run the table in the SEC regular season. Ole Miss is quietly a bubble team, while Alabama continues to lose on the road. LSU ends Arkansas' hopes of a bid and Tennessee gets back to life with Chris Lofton. Oh, and Georgia did the job over the Gamecocks.

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Heavenly time period: College football season until the championship game of March Madness.