Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wednesday Lay-up Lines: UConn-Marquette Highlights A Night Full Of Games With Bubble Implications

UConn (25-2, 13-2) will travel to Marquette (23-4, 12-2) in a showdown for first place in the Big East. Marquette is currently a half-game behind UConn and Louisville in the Big East standings (and a half game up on Pitt), but the Golden Eagles will play each of those three teams in the next ten days. This is going to be a very interesting match-up to watch. Marquette has no big men. At all. But they have one of the best backcourts in the country (especially when you add in Lazar Hayward to the mix). UConn, on the other hand, has a big front line, but is hurting for depth at the guard position with Jerome Dyson out for the season. This game is going to come down to one simple thing - who can take advantage of the mismatch. Will UConn beat Marquette on the interior, or will the Marquette's guards be too much for UConn to handle defensively? I think the latter will be true, as Marquette will almost assuredly go small, forcing Thabeet to come out and guard a perimeter player (or forcing Calhoun to go zone, which he never wants to do). For all you NBA scouts out there, be ready to watch Thabeet go against a pick-and-roll.

While a battle atop the Big East is almost common place at this point, there is a ton of other good basketball on the schedule for tonight:

  • 7:00 PM: Rutgers (10-17, 1-13) @ Notre Dame (15-11, 6-8): The Irish absolutely cannot lose this one.
  • 7:00 PM: Dayton (23-4, 9-3) @ Rhode Island (20-8, 9-4): Rhode Island is in fourth in the A-10, but just a game out of first place behind Xavier.
  • 7:00 PM: Kentucky (19-8, 8-4) @ South Carolina (19-6, 8-4): The top of the SEC plays each other quite a bit over the last two weeks of the season. With no team really asserting themselves as a lock (aside from LSU), look for someone to drop out of the bubble picture.
  • 7:30 PM: Virginia Tech (16-10, 6-6) @ Clemson (22-4, 8-4): Virginia Tech might be playing their way off of the bubble after losing three in a row and five of seven. They do get some chances at statement games as they have Duke, UNC, and Florida State after Clemson, although at this point in the season, wins may be more important for Va Tech than game against the top of the ACC.
  • 8:00 PM: Villanova (22-5, 10-4) @ DePaul (8-19, 0-14): Will DePaul get a win in the Big East?
  • 8:30 PM: Iowa (14-13, 4-10) @ Michigan State (21-5, 11-3): The Spartans are clinging to a one game lead in the Big Ten.
  • 9:00 PM: Duke (22-5, 8-4) @ Maryland (17-9, 6-6): Maryland may have played their way into the tournament, but a win tonight against Duke or next week Clemson could help ensure their standing on the right side of the bubble.
  • 9:00 PM: Mississippi State (17-10, 7-5) @ Tennessee (16-10, 7-5): Even with a mediocre record playing in a mediocre conference, most pundits have Tennessee easily in the tourney because of the difficulty of their schedule. The story will be different if they keep losing.
  • 9:00 PM: Kansas State (19-8, 7-5) @ Missouri (23-4, 10-2): Missouri will win the Big XII if they win out. That will be tough, as they still play Kansas and Oklahoma after KSU, but the Tigers hold their destiny in their hands. Kansas State, on the other hand, has won seven of eight in the Big XII. They have two excellent scoring guards in Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen, but those two have a tendency to turn to ball over. They cannot afford to against Missouri's press.
  • 9:30 PM: Texas Tech (12-15, 2-10) @ Texas (18-8, 7-5): The Longhorns still have some work to do to ensure a berth in the tourney, although playing the Pat Knight-less Red Raiders shouldn't pose too much of a challenge.
  • 10:00 PM: UNLV (20-7, 8-5) @ Utah (19-7, 10-2): Big game out in the MWC, especially for UNLV, who needs a couple wins to improve their tournament stock.
  • 10:30 PM: Oklahoma State (17-9, 6-6) @ Colorado (9-17, 1-11): The Cowboys can not afford to lose this one.
There is also some good mid-major action tonight:
  • 7:00 PM: UNC Greensboro (4-23, 3-15) @ Davidson (22-6, 15-2): Davidson probably needs to win the SoCon tourney at this point, so it is a moot point saying that this is a must win game.
  • 7:00 PM: VCU (19-9, 12-4) @ James Madison (18-11, 9-7); William & Mary (9-18, 4-12) @ Old Dominion (18-9, 10-6); 7:00 PM: George Mason (18-9, 11-5) @ UNC Wilmington (7-23, 3-13); Northeastern (17-10, 11-5) @ Drexel (15-11, 10-6); 7:30 PM: Hofstra (19-9, 10-6), Georgia State (10-18, 7-9): The CAA winner is going to come from one of the team's playing here.
  • 8:00 PM: Navy (18-9, 7-5) @ American (19-7, 11-1)

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