Monday, November 05, 2007

Opening Night

Opening night is here! I know I'm excited for, um... well, not for any of the games today. Or tomorrow. Or the next day. But the season is here, which is exciting enough. While I wouldn't recommend adjusting your daily schedule around any of the games this week, the weekend brings some intriguing action. The games to look forward to on Friday are highlighted by:

Vermont at George Mason
Expect George Mason to be an outstanding team this year, maybe nearly as good as the team that had the miracle run in '06. If they want to think about an at-large bid, it's imperative to get off on the right foot, and a loss to Vermont would qualify as a "bad" loss on Selection Sunday. Of course, Vermont is thinking Tournament as well, though most likely they'll need the automatic bid to get there. A win here would certainly help get a decent seed and give them the possibility of a first round upset.

Drexel at Pennsylvania
A rivalry game on opening night? Seems a bit early for the Philly teams to start their annual round robin, but it's certainly a good development. Drexel is going into this season thinking about the at-large bid that wasn't last season. If they want to think about an at-large bid this season they can't afford losses to Ivy League teams. Meanwhile, this game will be intriguing for fans of the Ivy League. UPenn was very Senior-heavy last year, and there are a lot of questions about this year's team. With Princeton down, will the dominance of the Killer P's end this season? A win over Drexel would re-affirm Penn as the favorites to win another Ivy crown. A bad loss will give hope all over the league.

Butler at Ball State
Another case of a mid-major team needing to get an early start on their Tournament resume. When you're in a smaller conference, it's just impossible to build a case for an at-large bid while playing in conference. So, these early out-of-season games carry far more weight than they do for the bigger schools. A win over Ball State won't blow anyone away, but it will be a good start. The Cardinals aren't pushovers.

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