Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursday Lay-up Lines: Battle atop the Pac-10, again

Last week, it was Washington playing UCLA on a Thursday. UCLA won, but went on the lose to Wazzu, meaning that tonight's game between Washington (20-7, 11-4) and Arizona State (21-5, 10-4) would be for first place in the Pac-10. The Pac-10 is as muddled as any league in the country. There are four teams within a game (in the loss column) of first place. Washington has three home games, and if they win out they will be the outright Pac-10 regular season champs. Arizona State lost to Washington at home in their first meeting 84-71, but hasn't lost since, winning five straight.

Isaiah Thomas and Justin Dentmon combined for 55 points in the first meeting, so if the Sun Devils want to steal this one on the road, they are going to need slow down the Huskies backcourt.

There are a lot of other key games on tonight as well:

  • 7:00 PM: Minnesota (20-7, 8-7) @ Illinois (22-6, 10-5): Minnesota is probably in the tournament right now, but a win here would likely lock up a bid. Illinois is not only playing for seeding in the NCAA tournament, but the Big Ten tourney as well. A loss would put them just a game up on the four teams vying for the fourth and fifth spots.
  • 7:00 PM: Youngstown State (11-16, 7-9) @ Butler (23-4, 13-3): The Bulldogs avoided dropping out of the top 25 with a convincing win at Davidson. Prior to that, they had lost three of five.
  • 7:00 PM: Xavier (22-5, 10-3) @ St. Joe's (14-12, 7-5): St. Joe's was alone in first place in the A-10 before a recent four game losing streak. The Hawks could give X trouble inside, as Ahmad Nivins might be the best big man you haven't seen play.
  • 7:00 PM: La Salle (14-12, 5-7) @ Temple (17-9, 9-3): Temple looks to keep pace with Xavier atop the A-10 (in the loss column). Both teams are now a game up on Rhode Island and Dayton.
  • 7:00 PM: West Virginia (19-8, 8-6) @ Cincinnati (17-10, 7-7): This is a huge game for Cincinnati. Not only is it a homecoming for Bob Huggins, but it is a game they almost need to win to get into the dance. Winning at Syracuse will be tough, and beating Seton Hall and South Florida to get to .500 in the Big East probably won't cut it, so tonight is probably their best opportunity to play their way in. WVU is a good match-up for them as well. Both teams play a very physical, defensive style of ball where they get a lot of their offensive off of forcing turnovers and crashing the offensive glass.
  • 8:00 PM: NC State (15-10, 5-7) @ Wake Forest (20-5, 7-5): Wake Forest has a bad habit of losing to the bottom of the ACC.
  • 8:00 PM: Miami FL (16-10, 5-8) @ Virginia (9-14, 3-9): Miami needs to win out to have a chance at an at-large.
  • 9:00 PM: Memphis (24-3, 12-0) @ UAB (19-8, 9-3): Remember what happened last time Memphis played at UAB? Chris Douglas-Roberts hit a buzzer beater, and the UAB fans got into it with the Memphis players (video montage here - lyrics very NSFW).
  • 9:00 PM: Purdue (21-6, 10-4) @ Michigan (17-11, 7-8): Purdue is looking to stay within a game of Michigan State atop the Pac-10, while Michigan is simply trying to stay on the bubble.
  • 9:00 PM: Arizona (18-9, 8-6) @ Washington State (14-13, 6-9): Arizona snapped a seven game losing streak when they lost to Arizona State on Sunday. If they can split this weekend, they may have played their way into the tournament, which would be an impressive feat for Russ Pennell's team.
  • 9:05 PM: Hawaii (13-13, 5-8) @ Utah State (25-3, 12-1): The Aggies probably need to win their conference tourney to get into the dance at this point.
  • 10:30 PM: USC (16-10, 7-7) @ Cal (20-7, 9-5): USC might need to win out to earn a bid at this point. Cal, on the other hand, is more than likely in (as long as they avoid a collapse) but with the west seeming very weak this season, winning out for them could earn a top four or five seed.
  • 10:30 PM: UCLA (20-7, 9-5) @ Stanford (15-10, 4-10): UCLA=Cal.
  • 10:30 PM: St. Mary's (22-5, 8-4) @ Pepperdine (8-20, 5-7): What is more disappointing - seeing Patty Mills break his hand, meaning that there is a good chance the Gaels don't make the tourney; or seeing Dom James break his foot and knowing that Marquette probably won't be making a deep run this year?
  • 11:00 PM: Gonzaga (21-5, 12-0) @ Santa Clara (14-15, 6-6): Gonzaga has already locked up the WCC crown, but SC is still playing for tournament seeding. If you are up, be sure to tune in to see SC big man John Bryant, who is another excellent big man that flies under the radar.

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