Games I'm looking forward to seeing this weekend:
Georgetown at Kansas: The Hoyas havenít lost since being upset by Northeastern in Puerto Rico. They seem to be getting it together, which would be confirmed with a victory at Allen Fieldhouse.
Belmont at Kentucky: Belmont won at North Carolina, so they can win at Rupp, right? Maybe not after an ill-fated road trip that saw the Bruins lose to South Dakota State and Denver. The Lexington, Ky. AAU Playaz should prevail.
East Carolina at NC State: This is a hidden rivalry of sorts. The East Carolina people despise the other Carolina schools and wins are cherished. NC State (and the other Triangle schools) sort of ignore East Carolina. The Pirates arenít bad at 9-2 but NC State has won six straight and has the home-court advantage.
Tulsa at TCU: The Horned Frogs are improved and should win this home game; I want to see how improved.
UMass vs. Florida State in Sunrise, Fla.: This is part of doubleheader loosely connected to the Orange Bowl. The Minutemen are 10-0, but if they win their 11th straight here, it will be the most meaningful. I think they will.
Gonzaga vs. Kansas State in Wichita, Kan.: For a mid-major honk (A Dan Shaughnessy term for an advocate) like me, itís disgrace I havenít seen a Gonzaga game. This isnít really a neutral court, by the way.
Michigan State at Texas: Texas is one of the most surprising teams in the country and just beat North Carolina in Chapel Hill. I donít think theyíre good enough to beat the Spartans, but Rick Barnes has taken himself off the hot seat because the Longhorns are an NCAA team.
Rice vs. Houston at the Toyota Center: A neutral court for an intra-city meeting (itís the opener of a doubleheader also featuring Texas A&M-Oklahoma). This is class warfare between elite Rice and common-man Houston; both teams really need the win. Iím thinking Houston.
Illinois vs. Missouri in St. Louis: Great rivalry always played in St. Louis. Both teams are off to great starts so it should be an intense game that hopefully will be well played. Iíll take the Illini.
VCU vs. Virginia Tech at the Richmond Coliseum: This used to be VCUís homecourt, but not anymore. Any time an Atlantic 10 team can beat an ACC team, itís a good night for the undervalued A10. The only thing I know for sure is that VCU will win the band competition. VCU's havoc style has had its problems; this is a good night to straighten things out.
Texas Tech at Arizona State: I havenít seen either and both are off to good starts. Tech nearly beat LSU the other night. Arizona State should be able to protect home court.
Notre Dame at Ohio State: Ohio State is amazing. At least I think so, since theyíre ranked third in the country. Who expected that? Notre Dame is capable of presenting a good challenge, but itís not guaranteed. A big win here would have me really believing in the Buckeyes.
Towson at North Dakota State: What a great matchup of two of the best lower majors in the country. Must see for me, The Honk.
Michigan vs. Stanford in Brooklyn: This is a rare East Coast trip for Stanford, which beat UConn in Hartford Wednesday. Michigan played well recently, but couldnít beat No. 1 Arizona in Ann Arbor, plus center Mitch McGary isnít 100 percent. Bound to be a close game, but that could tip it in Stanfordís favor.
Marquette vs. New Mexico in Las Vegas: All of Marquetteís four losses have been to good teams and this will be another tough game. New Mexico is on a two-game losing streak, falling to Kansas and New Mexico State. Could be some NCAA implications with this one.
Oklahoma Sate vs. Colorado in Las Vegas: Colorado has won 10 in a row and this is the Buffsí chance to establish a national identity by beating what should be a Final four team. I still like Okie State.
Ohio at Richmond: I like these unusual matchups between two teams that donít know how good they are yet.
Boston College at Auburn: Sure would like to see the Eagles play well. I think theyíll win this one.
Southern Cal at Dayton: I find it amazing that Southern Cal would travel to Dayton (to get beat badly, too). Trojans may not recognize whatís in the stands: FANS. The best college basketball fans in the nation. At least I think a conflict with the Bengals wonít reduce attendance.
UConn at Washington: The Huskies just lost to Stanford and now travel across the country to play another Pac 12 team. Theyíre better than Washington, but will the travel have an effect is the question.
Iowa State vs. George Mason in Honolulu: A first-round game in the Diamond Head Classic. Iowa State should win this eight-team tournament, but theyíve got to be paying attention. Many a team has been distracted in Hawaii. Itís a good tournament without a marquee team with a field of Oregon State, Akron, South Carolina, Saint Maryís, Boise State and, of course, the Rainbows of Hawaii. Iíll have to save the late games on my DVR.
Cal at Creighton: Cal is 8-3 with three ďgood losses.íí This will probably be a fourth ďgood loss,íí but itís also an opportunity for the Bears to mark themselves as Pac 12 contenders.
- Michael Vega
- Mark Blaudschun
- Nancy Marrapese-Burrell