Saturday, January 06, 2007

Looking Forward to Today's Action

The first big Saturday of the new year, and you've got to be excited. Games are on all over the place, and it's tough to figure out what to watch. A few games going on now or later this afternoon, with some thoughts:

Notre Dame at Georgetown (on ESPN plus now - if you live in the northeast or have satellite tv you're probably getting it now on MSG): Right now, Georgetown is just dominating. Their defense has played well, but Notre Dame also can't hit a thing. For Notre Dame, a win here would mean a lot of legitimacy for a team fairly new to the Top 25. For Georgetown, a win like this is exactly the kind of win they need all year. The kind of win that is a resume builder, but eminently winnable. They had to go in feeling they should win. Anything is possible, but right now Notre Dame has dug themselves quite a hole. It's hard to overcome double-digit second-half deficits.

Southern Illinois at Northern Iowa (ESPNU, 1pm): A huge battle for supremacy in the Missouri Valley. Both teams are 3-0, and the winner will open up a very important lead in the standings. Northern Iowa is looking like a likely Tournament team, and is mostly worried about seeding. Southern Illinois, on the other hand, is right on the bubble. A win here would most likely move them back into the BP65 tomorrow.

Oklahoma at Texas Tech (ESPN Plus, 1pm): Almost a must-win game for both teams. Both are squarely on the bubble and need good performances in the Big 12. This is the conference opener for both teams, and an important harbinger if nothing else.

Ohio State at Illinois (ESPN, 2pm): If Ohio State wants a #1 seed they need to win the Big 10. If they get a split from Wisconsin then every other game will be huge. They just need to win every game. And it probably won't get any harder than a game at Illinois. Wisconsin gets their shot at Illinois two Saturdays from now. And, of course, Illinois is a lot more than a spoiler. They might be the third best team in the Big 10, and they have a shot at a pretty good seed in March.

UCLA at Oregon (2pm): Sooner or later, people are going to make a big deal out of the fact that UCLA is undefeated. Of course, if they're going to lose a game, a trip to 17th ranked Oregon is a very likely possibility. If, in fact, UCLA loses this one they will still be a #1 seed in tomorrow's BP65. They just won't be #1 in the nation anymore. Remember, there's a difference between being the best #1 seed and the worst #1 seed. You get an easier 3rd round opponent.

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