Highlighted Games for Saturday, Dec 29th

-KENTUCKY AT LOUISVILLE. This is huge and bitter rivalry game. It’s an out of conference game, but it’s as intense as just about any conference rivalry you’ll come across. Louisville is now back at full strength and is aiming at a #1 seed, whereas Kentucky is just looking for a big win on their profile. Their most notable win to date was the season opener against Maryland, and with the SEC being weak, they’re not going to get too many shots at quality wins in conference down the stretch, so they should have a sense of urgency in this one. The last time these two teams met, it was in the Final Four. There’s not quite as much on the line today, but it is still a big game.

-UNLV AT NORTH CAROLINA. North Carolina is 9-3 on the year, but has no big wins to speak of and could be in some trouble as they head into conference play. UNLV has looked solid, but a road win such as this would help build their resume even more.

-SANTA CLARA AT DUKE. At 11-2, Santa Clara appears to be a solid team and if they could pull the upset it would really cement them onto the national scene. As good as they are, they’re probably way overmatched in this one, though.

-AIR FORCE AT FLORIDA. Air Force is 8-2, but has managed that record against an atrociously weak schedule. If they want to be taken seriously, they need a win in a game like this. It’s also a very big game for Florida who has dropped their last couple of games and suddenly doesn’t appear to have any major wins on their profile.

-VIRGINIA TECH AT BYU. Both of these teams have good records along with a decent win or two, but both have also struggled lately and could use another good solid win on their profile as they head into conference play.

-DAVIDSON AT RICHMOND. This looked like it would be a big game coming into the year, but now it just looks like two teams that are grasping at straws and trying to keep their heads above water.

-XAVIER AT TENNESSEE. Xavier has lost two straight, including a boneheaded loss to Wofford in their last game, and just doesn’t seem to have it this year. Tennessee is a modest 7-3 and is looking to build up their profile. This is the kind of game they really can’t afford to lose.

-SOUTH DAKOTA STATE AT NORTH DAKOTA STATE (Summit League). This is perhaps South Dakota State’s biggest remaining challenge on the year, and if they can win this they stand a very good chance at running the table in the Summit and landing close to, or even inside of, the bubble. North Dakota State is unbeaten at home, and isn’t likely to lose too many of their remaining games, so it would be a notable road win for SDSU.

-EVANSVILLE AT CREIGHTON (Missouri Valley). The conference opener for both teams. Creighton is in good shape to not only make the field, but earn a very good seed, if they can take care of business in conference play.

-GEORGE MASON AT SOUTH FLORIDA. These two teams have put up decent resumes so far, but both still have a lot of work to do. This is a big game for George Mason in particular since they will have limited opportunities in conference.

-LOYOLA, IL AT DEPAUL. This is an intriguing match up between two teams who each have just three losses. Neither have any real big wins and both have a ton of work to do to play their way into the NCAA discussion, but a win today would be a nice start.

-BUTLER AT VANDERBILT. Vandy is 5-5, and quite honestly it’s amazing their record is even that good. Butler is on the road, and at this point only has one true road win, but they shouldn’t have too much trouble in this one.

-AUBURN AT ILLINOIS. This is a rather big mismatch and the Illini shouldn’t have too much trouble winning it.

-BELMONT AT UCF. Both teams are 8-3 and Belmont already has a nice road win at Stanford. If they can pick up another win in this one and then blow through conference play they could land near the bubble.

-WASHINGTON AT CONNECTICUT. Washington is a very modest 8-4 and needs a big win to have any chance at all.

-OHIO AT OKLAHOMA. Ohio, a Sweet Sixteen team from a year ago that returned all their starters, doesn’t have a true road win yet, and would essentially have to win out to get any real consideration for an at-large bid. Oklahoma has been somewhat impressive. A win today gets them to 8-3 and puts them in pretty decent position heading into conference play.

-HARVARD AT CALIFORNIA. A win for Cal gets them to a respectable 9-3, and gives them pretty solid footing heading into conference play.

-VALPARAISO AT MURRAY STATE. At 9-4, Valpo could end up in the RPI top 100, which may be one of the few, if not only, RPI top 100 wins Murray State manages. They lost a big one at Dayton last week and must win this week.

-CENTRAL MICHIGAN AT MICHIGAN. Michigan is unbeaten and should roll through this one.

-UMKC AT KANSAS STATE. Kansas State is in the rankings with some decent wins and shouldn’t have too much trouble winning this one today.

-FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON AT VCU. VCU shouldn’t have too much trouble picking up their seventh straight win and improving to 10-3.

-FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL AT MIDDLE TENNESSEE (Sun Belt). A win gets MTSU to 10-3 and if they can run through the Sun Belt I think they’ll get a serious look.

-UTAH STATE AT TX SAN ANTONIO. They’ve done it against a weak schedule, but Utah State only has one loss and should get a look if they can avoid stubbing their toes.

-DENVER AT LOUISIANA TECH (WAC). LA Tech enters conference play with a 9-3 record and although they don’t have quality wins, they should be in okay shape if they’re able to blow through the league. That would also mean blowing through Utah State.

-FORDHAM AT GEORGIA TECH. As someone who really dogged Georgia Tech early, I’m actually starting to like this team. A win gets them to 9-2.

-TOWSON AT OREGON STATE. A win for Oregon State improves them to 10-2.

-CHICAGO STATE AT OHIO STATE. Ohio State should sleepwalk and still be able to win this one.

-DELAWARE STATE AT MARYLAND. Maryland hasn’t lost since the season opener against Kentucky and shouldn’t have any trouble winning today.

-WESTERN MICHIGAN AT NC STATE. NC State continues to play well and can improve to 10-2 with a win.

-HARTFORD AT COLORADO. A win gets the Buffs to 10-2.

-ALCORN STATE AT SYRACUSE. The Orange have just one loss on the year and shouldn’t have any trouble today.

-LA SALLE AT SIENA. With just two losses, La Salle could be a dark horse in the Atlantic Ten. People are so used to them being bad that no one has started paying attention to them yet.

-COPPIN STATE AT ARIZONA STATE. Arizona State is largely untested, but a win gets them to 11-2.

-BRYANT AT LEHIGH. A win for the Mountainhawks gets them to 10-2.

-SAMFORD AT WISCONSIN. Wiscy has a lot of work to do. A win in this game gets them to 9-4.

-PRESBYTERIAN AT SOUTH CAROLINA. A win will get SC to 9-3, but they’ve racked up that record against a weak schedule.

-NC CENTRAL AT MARQUETTE. A win for Marquette gets them to 9-3, but they’re struggling when it comes to big wins.

Griggs

Griggs’s Seed List/S Curve “Rankings” (Thurs, Dec 27th

-The rankings are very scattershot and very loosely put together. This is more about getting in the habit of evaluating teams than it is giving precise and accurate rankings for this point in time. All of the data is very incomplete, so it is a fool’s errand to be overly concerned about precision at this point in time.

-Duke is by far the most accomplished team. I’m not convinced that they’re the best team, but they are without question the most accomplished team.

-Louisville’s only loss is to Duke, and it was without Deng, who is now back, but they still don’t have nearly as much in the way of quality wins as some of the teams ahead of them.

-Ohio State currently does not have a top 100 win, which is why they are currently much lower than what their national ranking indicates.  Obviously, if they’re as good as their ranking, they’ll prove it in conference play and move up the seed list.

-Memphis doesn’t have any quality wins either, and although they will likely coast through Conference USA, they won’t get a chance to really boost their resume. They didn’t like their seed last year, and may not like it again this year, if they get in at all.

-Kentucky, at this moment, has no big wins. Their best win was in the opener against Maryland, and although that is currently Maryland’s only loss, it’s hard to say whether or not that’s a win that indicates they belong on the top three or four lines. With a weakened SEC, they’re running out of chances.

-Florida is a good team, but with losses to Kansas State and to Arizona, suddenly they’re looking a little thin in regards to quality wins.

-The Mountain West is good again. It is currently second in overall conference RPI (albeit it is still early) and has the second overall winning percentage (78.4%) behind the Big East (82.0%). The league sent four teams last year, which was half of its lineup. Expect that many, or more to get in this year. Seven teams have just two losses or fewer, and the only team that isn’t way above .500 is Fresno State, who is 4-7.

-Bucknell has one bad loss, but it is their only loss. They’ve got a smattering of decent wins, but aren’t getting much love. If they run through the Patriot League, you have to consider them as an at-large.

-South Dakota State earns the award for the most scattershot profile of the year, at least at this point. They have four losses, but they were without Nate Wolters for a few of those. However, for their loss against Hofstra, which is probably the worst loss of anyone who is currently on this list as an at-large contender, they had him. They also have a win at New Mexico, which is one of the more impressive road wins anyone has managed this season. So, they have a very good win, a horrific loss, and were without their best player for a spell. Good luck digesting that.

-Murray State is in trouble. Their loss at Dayton was their last best shot at a good win. Winning at Dayton doesn’t completely knock your socks off and scream #1 seed, but it does perhaps scream bubble, and that was Murray’s last chance. Other than Belmont, it doesn’t appear as though they’ll face another top 100 team, and if Western KY drops out of the RPI top 100, which they very easily could, they could end the regular season without an RPI top 100 win.

-Georgia Tech does is low on the list, but they are a good team that I believe is capable of competing with most of the ACC. That’s a commentary on how bad the ACC is just as much as it is on how good Georgia Tech is, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them play their way into the discussion.

Projected conference champions are current first place teams, or teams that appear to be the most deserving among those that are tied for first, and are indicated by ALL CAPS.

1. DUKE
2. MICHIGAN
3. KANSAS
4. Illinois
5. LOUISVILLE
6. BUTLER
7. Syracuse
8. Indiana
9. Arizona
10. CREIGHTON
11. MISSOURI (SEC)
12. GONZAGA
13. Colorado
14. UNLV
15. Oklahoma State
16. Georgetown
17. NC State
18. Florida
19. Temple
20. Wichita State
21. Minnesota
22. Cincinnati
23. Michigan State
24. Miami, FL
25. Ohio State
26. Vcu
27. Baylor
28. Notre Dame
29. Boise State
30. Pittsburgh
31. Oregon
32. Wyoming
33. New Mexico
34. San Diego State
35. Kansas State
36. BUCKNELL
37. North Carolina
38. Tennessee
39. Illinois State
40. Dayton
41. STEPHEN F AUSTIN
42. BELMONT
43. Kentucky
44. SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
45. UTAH STATE
46. Iowa
47. Iowa State
48. CANISIUS
49. MIDDLE TENNESSEE
50. Charlotte
51. Byu
52. Maryland
53. ILLINOIS CHICAGO
54. Oklahoma
55. Murray State
56. Xavier
57. Ucla
58. SOUTHERN MISS
59. DAVIDSON
60. KENT STATE
61. GEORGE MASON
62. Louisiana Tech
63. La Salle
64. California
65. Colorado State
66. Lsu
67. ROBERT MORRIS
68. Stanford
69. Saint Mary’s
70. WEBER STATE
71. Lehigh
72. Arizona State
73. Saint Louis
74. Georgia Tech
75. Indiana State
76. North Dakota State
77. UMass
78. Seton Hall
79. STONY BROOK
80. HARVARD
81. CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
82. GARDNER WEBB
83. Nebraska
84. FLORIDA GULF COAST
85. NORFOLK STATE
86. PRARIE VIEW

Automatic Bid Primer

As we head into the start of regular season conference play in the next few weeks, it is time to start thinking about the Field of 68 teams for the NCAA Tournament.  31 of those teams are the automatic qualifiers from the 32 conferences (the Great West does not receive an automatic bid).  Here is a quick primer on which teams will be competing for these 31 Automatic Bids:

AMERICA EAST:  While the conference has 9 teams, Boston University is ineligible for the conference tournament due to their announcement that they are leaving the league at the end of the season, though they are eligible for at-large selection.  The other 8 teams will all qualify into the conference tournament.

ACC:  All 12 teams qualify for the conference tournament.

ATLANTIC SUN:  Northern Kentucky is in its first of four years transitioning to Division I and is ineligible for both the NCAA tournament as well as the conference tournament.  Of the remaining 9 eligible teams, the top 8 qualify into the conference tournament field.

ATLANTIC TEN:  While the conference has expanded to 16 teams this season, the conference tournament field remains at 12, meaning the bottom 4 teams will be eliminated.

BIG 12:  All 10 teams qualify for the conference tournament.

BIG EAST:  Connecticut is ineligible due to their postseason ban.  The remaining 14 teams all qualify for the conference tournament.

BIG SKY:  This conference expanded out to 11 members this season, with the top 7 teams qualifying for the conference tournament.  The bottom 4 teams will be eliminated.

BIG SOUTH:  All 12 teams qualify for the conference tournament.

BIG TEN: All 12 teams qualify for the conference tournament.

BIG WEST:  UC-Riverside is ineligible due to a postseason ban.  Of the remaining 9 members, the top 8 qualify into the conference tournament.

COLONIAL:  While the conference has 11 members, Towson and UNC-Wilmington are both ineligible due to postseason bans.  In addition, Old Dominion and Georgia State have announced their intention to leave the conference after this season and are therefore barred from the conference tournament (though Old Dominion and Georgia state are both eligible for at-large selection into the NCAA tournament).  This leaves 7 teams eligible for the automatic bid, all of whom will be in the conference tournament.

CONFERENCE USA:  Central Florida is ineligible for postseason play and will not participate.  The 11 remaining members all qualify for the conference tournament.

GREAT WEST:  All 5 members of this conference qualify for its tournament, though this league does not have an automatic bid (though the 5 members are eligible for at-large bids).  2013 will be the final season for the Great West as all members other than NJIT have already accepted invitations to other conferences starting next season.

HORIZON:  All 9 teams qualify for the conference tournament.

IVY:  The Ivy League does not have a conference tournament.  Its automatic bid is awarded to the regular season champion.  In the event of a tie for first place, a single elimination playoff will take place between all teams tied for first to determine the winner of the automatic bid.

METRO ATLANTIC:  All 10 teams qualify for the conference tournament.

MID-AMERICAN:  Toledo is ineligible due to a postseason ban.  The remaining 11 teams all qualify for the conference tournament.

MEAC:  All 13 teams qualify for the conference tournament.

MISSOURI VALLEY:  All 10 teams qualify for the conference tournament.

MOUNTAIN WEST:  All 9 teams qualify for the conference tournament.

NORTHEAST:  The top 8 finishers in this 12 team league qualify for the conference tournament, while the bottom 4 teams are eliminated.

OHIO VALLEY:  Jacksonville State is ineligible due to a postseason ban.  Of the remaining 11 teams, the top 8 finishers qualify for the conference tournament.

PAC TWELVE:  All 12 teams qualify for the conference tournament.

PATRIOT:  All 8 teams qualify for the conference tournament.

SEC:  All 14 teams qualify for the conference tournament.

SOUTHERN:  All 12 teams qualify for the conference tournament.

SOUTHLAND:  Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is ineligible due to a postseason ban.  Of the remaining 9 teams, the top 8 qualify for the conference tournament, while the last place team is eliminated.

SWAC:  Mississippi Valley State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Texas Southern are all ineligible due to postseason bans.  The remaining 7 teams all qualify for the conference tournament.

SUMMIT:  Nebraska-Omaha is in its second of four years transitioning up to Division I and as such is ineligible for postseason play and the conference tournament.  The remaining 8 teams all qualify for the conference tournament.

SUN BELT:  All 11 teams qualify for the conference tournament.

WEST COAST:  All 9 teams qualify for the conference tournament.

WAC:  All 10 teams qualify for the conference tournament.

INDEPENDENTS:  While there is no conference tournament for the 2 independents (Cal State-Bakersfield and New Orleans), they are both technically eligible for at-large selection.

Highlighted Games for Saturday, December 22nd

-KANSAS AT OHIO STATE. This is a showcase game between two teams that could end up as #1 seeds. Kansas has a loss to Michigan State, but they have been absolutely blowing out people lately. They haven’t beaten any heavyweights, but Belmont and Richmond are decent teams, and Kansas just clobbered them. It should be an electric atmosphere in Columbus today as these two go at it.

-ILLINOIS VS MISSOURI (Braggin’ Rights!!). It’s one of the bigger and better out of conference rivalries, and it is seemingly always an exciting game. This year, the only loss between the two teams is Missouri’s loss to Louisville back in November. Both teams are ranked, both are playing for a shot at a good seed, and both are looking for a quality win away from home. Oh yea, and both are looking for the bragging rights.

-FLORIDA VS KANSAS STATE. This game is being played in Kansas City. Florida is looking to rebound from what would have been a big win at Arizona had they not folded in the final minute of each half. K State could use a big win on their profile as well.

-TEMPLE VS SYRACUSE. Temple is coming off a loss to a Canisius team that has been a surprise this year and is looking to rebound from that. The Owls got off to a great start, but they’ve struggled a little lately. Syracuse continues to look like a #1 seed whenever they play.

-MURRAY STATE AT DAYTON. Dayton will be at home, but they will be without Kevin Dillard. It’s one of Murray State’s toughest remaining games, and with so few opportunities to impress the selection committee, their margin for error is small. It’s not a win that will blow the committee away, but it is likely to be one of the better wins on their profile if they pull it off.

-LSU AT MARQUETTE. Both teams have respectable records and are looking to build their resume. This is a chance for us to learn something about both teams. LSU lost badly at Boise State, which up until now has been their only real test of the season. Marquette’s record is good, but they don’t have any huge wins yet and are coming off a somewhat surprising loss to Green Bay.

-SOUTH DAKOTA STATE AT NEW MEXICO. New Mexico is unbeaten and appears to be playing for a protected seed. South Dakota State is back at full strength, and if they want any shot at all at being considered for an at-large bid then they need a win like this on their profile.

-SAINT BONAVENTURE AT NC STATE. Saint Bonaventure has not played well on the road so far, and needs some big road wins if they want to get the committee’s attention. NC State hasn’t looked like the #6 team in the country, which is where they were ranked to start the year, but they do have just two losses and are unbeaten at home.

-BRADLEY AT VIRGINIA TECH. Both teams are 8-2 and could use a good win.

-LOUISVILLE VS WESTERN KENTUCKY. This game is being played down in Nashville. It is somewhat of a rivalry game. WKU has played them tough, and even beaten them in the past when it appeared that Louisville was the superior team, so it will be interesting to see how it goes tonight.

-SOUTHERN MISS AT WICHITA STATE. Southern Miss has a good record, but isn’t nearly as proven as Wichita is. Like a lot of MVC teams, they have a good record with some good wins and are set up nicely to make the NCAAs if they can do well in conference.

-EVANSVILLE AT BUTLER. Butler is having a big year. Evansville has been respectable, and it is somewhat of a rivalry game, but they’re nowhere near as accomplished as Butler is at this point in time.

-TEXAS AT MICHIGAN STATE. Texas has played away from home, but this is their first true road game of the year. They need some big wins at some point if they want to be taken seriously. Right now, the loss to Chaminade is still a very big black mark.

-FLORIDA STATE AT CHARLOTTE. Florida State has talent and should be better, but right now they’re just 6-4 and don’t have much in the way of impressiveness on their profile. Charlotte is off to a good 11-1 start, but still hasn’t had too many tests, so it’s an important game for them as well. They do have some enthusiasm around their program, and beating a team like Florida State at home will help them build on that.

-PRINCETON AT BUCKNELL. I keep insisting that Bucknell is an NCAA Tournament caliber team. A win gets them to 12-1, but almost no one has noticed them or acknowledged them.

-CANISIUS AT UNLV. With just two losses on the year and a win over Temple, Canisius has a chance to really make a name for themselves. UNLV is good, but they haven’t always looked as good as their talent indicates they should be, and perhaps they need to be on upset alert in this one.

-SOUTHERN ILLINOIS AT UTAH STATE. Another game that is under the radar, but could turn out to be very important. Utah State has just one loss on the year, and Southern Illinois comes in with a decent record.

-OLE MISS AT INDIANA STATE. Both teams have potential, and both have good records, but both need quality wins on their resume.

-MARSHALL AT KENTUCKY. Marshall has been somewhat underwhelming this year. Kentucky has three losses, but has looked solid lately and should be able to get it done at home.

-WRIGHT STATE AT CINCINNATI. Cincinnati can get to 12-0 with a win. Wright State is a modest 8-3, which is much better than what was expected out of them, but they appear to be way overmatched today.

-SAN DIEGO STATE AT SAN FRANCISCO. San Francisco is a modest 5-4, but has just lost one game at home, so it won’t be a cakewalk for SDSU.

-EAST CAROLINA AT UMASS. Both teams have respectable records, but neither team appears to have a whole lot of strength on their resumes, and could really use this win today.

-VIRGINIA VS OLD DOMINION. Old Dominion is shockingly bad at 1-10 this year, which makes this in-state match up a lot less appealing than it originally looked like it would be when it was scheduled. A win gets the Cavs to 10-2.

-WOFFORD AT XAVIER. Xavier has a nice win against Butler and no real bad losses other than Vanderbilt. They cannot afford to lose games such as this one if they want to remain in the discussion, though.

-RICHMOND AT GEORGE MASON. After getting stomped by Kansas, it is hard to say whether or not Richmond is good enough to build the resume they need. These are two teams that have looked good at times, but still have a lot of work to do.

-ARIZONA STATE AT TEXAS TECH. Arizona State is 9-2 on the year, but this is their first true road game.

-SAN DIEGO AT OREGON STATE. A win gets the Beavers to 9-2.

-ILLINOIS CHICAGO AT MIAMI, OH. A win gets UIC to 10-2. They should make quite a bit of noise in the Horizon League and are worth paying attention to.

-AMERICAN AT GEORGETOWN. Two DC teams going at it, but Georgetown is clearly superior.

-AUSTIN PEAY AT ILLINOIS STATE. A win for Illinois State gets them to 9-3. A strong showing in conference should get them in a good position.

-TENNESSEE TECH AT OKLAHOMA STATE. Oklahoma State can get to 10-1 with a win.

-MCNEESE STATE AT NORTH CAROLINA. A win gets the Heels to 9-3.

-COPPIN STATE AT IOWA. The Hawkeyes are off to a good start and can get to 11-2 with a win. Their real tests will come during conference play, though.

-ARIZONA VS EAST TENNESSEE STATE (Diamond Head Classic). Arizona could be tested in this tournament, but not today.

-MIAMI, FL AT HAWAII (Diamond Head Classic). Hawaii is tough to beat at home, and Miami has just one loss on the year, along with some pretty good wins, so this game is worth tuning in to.

-UMBC AT DEPAUL. I don’t know how long this will last, but a win will get DePaul to a very respectable 9-3.

-HOUSTON BAPTIST AT OREGON. A win gets the Ducks to 10-2.

-LMU AT SAINT LOUIS. A win gets the Billikins to a respectable 8-3.

-THE CITADEL AT GEORGIA TECH. I wasn’t big on Georgia Tech at all, but a win gets them to 8-2 on the year, and they have looked solid when I’ve watched them play.

-LAFAYETTE AT MINNESOTA. A win gets the Gophers to 12-1.

Highlighted Games for Saturday, Dec 15!!!

SHOWCASE GAMES

-FLORIDA AT ARIZONA. Both teams are unbeaten and highly ranked. Florida is the more tested and proven team, but Arizona is at home. Both teams will likely end up as protected seeds, and as long as you’re unbeaten and beating good teams, you’re in the discussion for a #1 seed. This is more of a litmus test to see how good each team is right now than it is a do-or-die situation, but it’s still a great game.

-BUTLER VS INDIANA. Butler already has some big wins, but none are as big as knocking off the #1 team would be. This game is part of a double header in Indianapolis, and it should have the atmosphere that resembles an NCAA Tournament game. I think we’ll see both teams in the NCAAs. This is just a matter of getting a win that looks good on the resume.

-LOUISVILLE AT MEMPHIS. A rivalry renewed that will once again be a conference rivalry when Memphis joins the Big East, but that will immediately be suspended again when Louisville leaves the Big East to join the ACC. This isn’t a game that resonates nationally, but it is a rivalry that both fanbases remember. They do not like each other, Memphis resents Louisville for getting into the Big East when they didn’t, and blames them for not keeping the rivalry going after the Cardinals left the old Conference USA. The fans in Memphis will be ready for this one. Memphis really needs a big win on their profile, and if Louisville has aspirations of a #1 seed, this is the kind of game they need to win. It should be fun.

-LA SALLE AT BUCKNELL (***At-Large Implications***). This is a good game and an important game that is probably under the radar. It’s probably early to be talking about do or die at-large implications, but when you look at the limited chances Bucknell has at big wins, you just get the sense that this is hugely important. Both teams have just one loss, both are good, both are trying to build up their NCAA Tournament profiles, and this would be a big win for whoever ends up winning it.

 

OTHER HIGHLIGHTED GAMES

-KANSAS STATE VS GONZAGA. The game is in Seattle as Gonzaga’s annual “Battle in Seattle,” so it will likely be a pro-Gonzaga crowd. Both these teams have just one loss. We know how good Gonzaga is, but I’m not entirely sure how good Kansas State is. This is their toughest test, and we should learn quite a bit about them.

-IOWA AT NORTHERN IOWA. This series was in danger of coming to an end, but I’m glad it was kept alive. As programs, both are trending up. On the season, both have good records, both are NCAA contenders, and this is a big game both on and off paper. Should be fun.

-ALABAMA AT VCU. This is Bama’s second very tough out of conference road game of the year. I think Alabama needs this a little more than VCU, but both could use a big win on their profile right now.

-BELMONT AT KANSAS. Belmont is a good team who has wins at Stanford and against Middle Tennessee, and came close to winning at VCU. They’re probably in over their heads tonight, but if they were to pull this off, it does wonders for their NCAA credentials. You don’t often see Ohio Valley teams in the at-large discussion (albeit Murray State has been recently), but that’s because you don’t often see Ohio Valley teams with the kind of resume Belmont will have if they pull off the upset.

-MICHIGAN AT WEST VIRGINIA. West Virginia pulled off a huge home win last week, but at 4-4 they still have a ton of work to do. Seeing as how their former coach is in the house, the fans should be jacked to the roof for this one.

-PURDUE VS NOTRE DAME. This is the other game of the double-header in Indianapolis. Notre Dame has looked solid, whereas Purdue has been rather disappointing. Still, it’s good to see these two face each other because they do not regularly play in basketball.

-CINCINNATI AT MARSHALL. Marshall is a modest 6-4, and I think we were expecting more out of them this year than what they’ve shown, but they are 5-0 at home and I think they’re capable of being better than what their record shows, so it will be a test for the unbeaten Bearcats.

-CANISIUS AT SYRACUSE. This is probably a mismatch, but Canisius is 6-1 and this is one of those New York match-ups. I’ve been very impressed with Syracuse this year, and it will be interesting to see what Canisius can do against them.

-BYU AT WEBER STATE. Really good-in state match-up here. Weber has a nice win at Dayton and is likely to be one of the dominant teams in the Big Sky. There really isn’t anyone remaining on their schedule after this one that they won’t likely to be favored against. It’s one of the better home games they’ve had in a while so it should be a good one. BYU, on the other hand, could really use a road win like this on their profile as well.

-CREIGHTON AT CALIFORNIA. This is a good team, but this is just their second true road game and they need notable road wins if they want to end up with a really good seed in the NCAAs. Cal has a good record, but this would be their best win on the season so far if they were to pull it off.

-NEBRASKA AT OREGON. The best thing about Nebraska is their 6-2 record, but they’ve built it against weak teams. Oregon, on the other hand, has looked strong all year with just one loss on the season.

-CLEVELAND STATE AT SAINT BONAVENTURE. Both of these teams have a lot of work to do in terms of building up their profiles.

-EAST CAROLINA AT NORTH CAROLINA. East Carolina has just one loss on the year, but no big wins. We’ll see what they can do today.

-TULSA AT UALR. Tulsa is a Modest 6-3, and although UALR isn’t a huge win, they are unbeaten at home so it will be a win that’s at least worth noting.

-TEXAS A&M AT OKLAHOMA. The hardwood version of the Cotton Bowl!! Both teams have good records, but neither have any really big wins on their profile yet.

-EASTERN MICHIGAN AT ILLINOIS CHICAGO. Both these teams have good records, but nothing in the way of quality wins. Still, it’s interesting that they’re playing each other and it will be interesting to see how things shake out for them throughout the year.

-WINTHROP AT OHIO. Ohio still has a strong team, but at 7-2 they have a very small margin for error the rest of the year.

-SANTA CLARA AT PACIFIC. This is another game that’s under the radar, but worth keeping an eye on. Santa Clara is 7-2 and could be a dark horse in the WCC. Pacific will likely be a Big West frontrunner and already has some notable wins against Saint Mary’s and Xavier.

-SAN DIEGO AT SAN DIEGO STATE. Geography says this is a rivalry. As far as how good the teams are, it appears to be a big mismatch.

-DRAKE AT IOWA STATE. Still lots of question marks about Iowa State, but a win gets them to 8-3

-SMU AT RHODE ISLAND. The only reason I mention this is because a win gets SMU to 9-1.

-SOUTH DAKOTA STATE AT MONTANA. South Dakota State needs to get healthy, and they need road wins, if they want to get any one’s attention.

-SAVANNAH STATE AT MARQUETTE. Savannah State will be a force in the MEAC, but I believe they’re overmatched in this one.

-GEORGIA SOUTHERN AT VIRGINIA TECH. Virginia Tech has just one loss on the year, and that was to rival West Virginia last week.

-WESTERN CAROLINA AT GEORGETOWN. Georgetown has struggled in their last few games, but has still won. A win today gets them to 9-1.

-UNC ASHEVILLE AT OHIO STATE. The Buckeyes shouldn’t have much trouble in this one.

-LIPSCOMBE AT KENTUCKY. Kentucky will improve to 7-3 with a win.

-SFNY AT SAINT JOHN’S. A win gets the Johnnies to 8-3.

-UC DAVIS AT STANFORD. A win gets Stanford to 7-3, but are they for real??

-STETSON AT RICHMOND. A win gets the Spiders to an impressive 9-2.

-NORFOLK STATE AT NC STATE. NC State can get to 7-2, but they still haven’t been as good as many were expecting.

-FLORIDA ATLANTIC AT DAYTON. Dayton can get to 8-2 with a win.

Highlighted Games for Saturday, December 8th

FRIDAY NIGHT

-VCU knocked off their old rivals Old Dominion to improve to 6-3. Iowa State vs Iowa was also a good game, and for the first time in a long time, it may turn out to be a meaningful game for both teams. Iowa led most of the game, but Iowa State did make several runs to keep themselves in it.

 

SATURDAY’S ACTION

 

SPOTLIGHT GAMES

-TEMPLE AT DUKE. Both teams are unbeaten. Duke has played a killer schedule, and while Temple’s has been tough, it hasn’t been nearly as tough as Duke’s. We should know a lot more about how good Temple really is when we see how they do on the road against what is currently the most accomplished team in the country.

-ILLINOIS AT GONZAGA. A great match up between two unbeaten teams who are high in the rankings. Both teams have been tested, but this is still probably the biggest test for either of them. If Gonzaga wants a #1 seed, they probably need this one because they don’t go through a gauntlet in conference play the way Illinois does. Having said that, though, if the Zags do get the win, you have to think that they’re good enough to win out the regular season. That would definitely get them on the #1 line. They’ve got one really tough test after this, and it’s at Oklahoma State.

-COLORADO AT KANSAS. Colorado has looked great this season, but this is just their second true road game. They lost their only other one at Wyoming. Colorado already looks like a tournament team, but this is the kind of win that can help make a case that they are a protected seed. As for Kansas, despite being the home team, it would probably be their best win on the season to date.

-BUTLER AT NORTHWESTERN. We at Hoops HD are constantly on this bandwagon, and have vowed to not get on it this year. Having said that, if Northwestern can manage a win in this game and improve to 7-2, it looks like this could be the year Northwestern finally dances. For Butler, it would be their best true road win to date, so there is a lot to gain for both these teams.

 

OTHER ACTION

-ARKANSAS AT MICHIGAN. I was expecting Arkansas to have a big year, and I guess they still could, but they’re just 4-3 on the year, they lack big wins, and this is their first true road game. Michigan, on the other hand, looked to me to be overrated at the start of the season, but they’ve proven me wrong. They’re currently #3, and they’re playing like it.

-MURRAY STATE AT EVANSVILLE. Evansville is perhaps a dark horse in the Missouri Valley, and is tough to beat at home. It won’t likely turn out to be a huge quality win, but it will still likely be one of the better road wins Murray is able to manage, if they’re able to manage it.

-VIRGINIA TECH AT WEST VIRGINIA. It’s good to see these teams play in basketball, and the atmosphere should be electric as VA Tech comes in unbeaten. This is an old football rivalry that has been put on hold, and the feelings of dislike are still very apparent and it should be an intense atmosphere and a fun game to watch.

-WISCONSIN AT MARQUETTE. Big rivalry game between two teams that look to have potential and that are trying to establish their profiles. This one is important both on and off paper.

-UTAH AT BYU. This is another big rivalry game between two teams that have shown promise, but need to build up their profiles.

-ARIZONA AT CLEMSON. Arizona is high in the rankings, but really hasn’t had a tough test yet, so we should learn something about them today. Clemson has just two losses on the year, and this is only their third home game of the year. It’s a chance for them to get a momentum building win.

-NORTHERN IOWA AT GEORGE MASON. Both teams are good, but both teams need credentials on their profile and it is still too early in the season to say for certain if one or both of them is good enough to be in the discussion.

-MISSISSIPPI AT MIDDLE TENNESSEE. Ole Miss is 6-0 on the year, but this is by far their toughest test. Middle Tennessee is 6-2 and is good enough to be in the at-large discussion, but their margin for error is razor thin, so this is a high stakes game for them, as well as a test for Ole Miss.

-LOUISIANA TECH AT SOUTHERN MISS. Both teams have good records, but still have a lot of question marks and need some credentials. A lot of the time you can’t tell how big or important a game will end up being. This is one of those times. Will they both be inside the bubble, or will they both be irrelevant??

-WESTERN MICHIGAN AT ILLINOIS STATE. Similar story as above, although Illinois State has looked very good in games against Northwestern and Louisville. The problem is that they didn’t win either.

-COLORADO STATE AT ILLINOIS-CHICAGO. Again, similar story as above. This is a curious game because both teams have just one loss, but it’s hard to say for certain how good they actually are at this point.

-UCLA AT TEXAS. You get the sense that both these teams are trying to stay relevant, and losing this game will not help that cause.

-VALPO AT NEW MEXICO. Valpo is off to a 6-2 start and looks to be among the best in the Horizon League, but they are probably in way over their heads in this one.

-LOYOLA, IL AT MICHIGAN STATE. Loyola is off to a 6-2 start, but has no big quality wins to speak of. If they’re able to pull off the upset in this one it would certainly help boost their profile.

-KANSAS STATE AT GEORGE WASHINGTON. Kansas State is a quiet 6-1 on the year so far, but doesn’t have any notable wins. This would be their biggest so far.

-CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE AT ARIZONA STATE. With CS Northridge at 7-2 and Arizona State at 7-1, this is an early season game to keep an eye on.

-CLEVELAND STATE AT NC STATE. I’m not going to predict an upset, but I will say that Cleveland State is a decent team at 6—2 and NC State needs to be on upset alert.

-INDIANA STATE AT MOREHEAD STATE. Indiana State is 4-2 on the season and can pick up another road win today.

-AUSTIN PEAY AT MEMPHIS. Memphis has won three straight since struggling down in the Paradise Jam, and blew out a good Ohio team in their last game. A win in this will get them to 6-2.

-TOWSON AT GEORGETOWN. Towson won just one game a year ago, and is 4-4 on this season. I don’t see any way they win this one, though. The Hoyas have looked as good as anyone this season.

-TCU AT TULSA. Both teams have good records, but not much on their profiles as far as quality wins go.

-LONG BEACH STATE AT OHIO STATE. LBSU should make quite a bit of noise in the Big West, but they’re way overmatched today.

-CENTRAL MICHIGAN AT CHARLOTTE. Charlotte just picked up a big road win at Davidson and can stay unbeaten on the year if they can take care of business at home.

-PURDUE AT EASTERN MICHIGAN. Odd road game for Purdue, and at 4-4, it’s one they need if they want to resuscitate their profile. EMU is 5-2 on the year and unbeaten at home, so it won’t be a cakewalk.

-OAKLAND AT OHIO. Ohio has lost two straight, and needs to right their ship in a hurry if they want to be in the discussion for a tournament spot. Oakland should make quite a bit of noise in Summit League play, but it’s been a rough out of conference for them.

-LA SALLE AT NORTHEASTERN. La Salle hasn’t had a truly big test yet, but a win will get them to 6-1.

-RICHMOND AT JAMES MADISON. Richmond still likes to play many of their old CAA rivals. A win in this one will get them to an impressive 8-2.

-EASTERN KENTUCKY AT CHATTANOOGA. EKU is definitely untested, but a win does get them to 9-0.

-MISSOURI STATE AT OKLAHOMA STATE. Oklahoma State has just one loss on the year and shouldn’t have too much trouble in this one.

-MINNESOTA AT USC. Minnesota has been a surprise this year. Their only loss came to Duke, and they have really shot up the rankings.

-WOFFORD AT DAVIDSON (SoCon). Davidson’s margin for error is razor thin for the rest of the year if they want to be in the at-large discussion.

-UNC WILMINGTON AT GEORGIA TECH. A win will get the Jackets to a respectable 6-2.

-EAST TENNESSEE STATE AT NORTH CAROLINA. A win for the Tarheels will get them to 7-2.

-PORTLAND AT KENTUCKY. Portland’s program is improving, but they’re most likely in over their heads in this one.

-MIAMI, OH AT DAYTON. Dayton just got a big win at Alabama, but this Miami team is a team they historically struggle with. They appear to be superior, but don’t be surprised if it isn’t a cakewalk.

-UMKC AT LOUISVILLE. Louisville has just one loss on the year and shouldn’t have too much trouble picking up this one.

-MONMOUTH AT SYRACUSE. Syracuse shouldn’t have any trouble staying unbeaten.

-NORTH FLORIDA AT PITT. Pitt has been very solid this year and a win will get them to 9-1.

-NORTHERN COLORADO AT WICHITA STATE. Wichita State is unbeaten and will likely stay that way.

-BROWN AT NOTRE DAME. The Irish has been better than expected and can improve to 8-1 with a win in this one.

-UMES AT CINCINNATI. UMES has not won, and Cincinnati has not lost.

-SOUTH CAROLINA STATE AT MARYLAND. Maryland can get to 8-1 with a win.

-LEHIGH AT SAINT FRANCIS, PA. Lehigh is lacking notable wins, but they can get to 8-2 on the year.

-MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE AT VIRGINIA. Virginia is off to a quiet 7-2 start and shouldn’t have too much trouble winning today. They haven’t done much away from home yet, though, so it’s hard to get too excited about them just yet.

-GRAMBLING STATE AT OREGON STATE. A win gets Oregon State to 5-2. I think they have a lot of potential this year.

-IDAHO STATE AT OREGON. A win gets the Ducks to 8-1.

-IUPUI AT WESTERN KENTUCKY. A win gets WKU to 8-2 on the season.

-CENTRAL CONNECTICUT AT INDIANA. IU is unbeaten, ranked #1, and that is not likely to change.

-TULANE AT SAN DIEGO. As usual, Tulane is off to a big start, but as usual, they are completely untested. A win gets them to 8-2.

-IONA AT RUTGERS. Is Rutgers relevant?? Not sure, and winning today will hardly substantiate them as relevant, but they’re still worth keeping an eye on for now.