Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday's Pregame Beat: Illinois and Seton Hall play must-win games

7:00 pm: No. 10 Michigan State @ Illinois: After winning their first 10 games of the season, the Illini have hit a rough patch. They've lost six of the last 11 games, including three in a row in league play to drop to 4-4. Illinois also has one of the toughest schedules down the stretch of the season. Of their last ten games, six of them come against ranked teams, four of which are on the road. That puts a tremendous amount importance on these home games.

8:00 pm: Seton Hall @ No. 18 Marquette: At one point in the season, Seton Hall was 15-2 and 4-1 in the Big East. But they have lost four in a row since then and are now sitting under .500 in league play. Based on the amount of work that the Pirates did early in the season, they are still very much in bubble contention, but they need to turn their season around. Soon.

9:00 pm: Kansas State @ Iowa State: We all know who the top three teams in the Big 12 are, but who sits in that No. 4 spot? These are probably the two leading contenders. There are some major bubble implications for this game as well.

9:00 pm: Vanderbilt @ Arkansas: Since losing three out of four games back in December, the Commodores have won 10 of their last 11 games. Their only loss in that stretch? In overtime to Mississippi State. Vandy's defense has picked up and they've proven capable of winning on the road. Will that last against the Razorbacks.

The rest of the top 25:

- 7:00 pm: Tennessee @ No. 1 Kentucky: The Vols gave Kentucky a fight in Knoxville, can they do he same in Rupp?

- 9:00 pm: No. 6 UNC @ Wake Forest: Its tough to determine just how good UNC is at this point. They need to make a statement against a team like Wake.

- 7:00 pm: Clemson @ No. 18 Virginia: UVa doesn't play a pretty style of basketball, but this is a team that could win some games. Mike Scott is one of the most efficient players in the country.

- 8:00 pm: No. 20 Wisconsin @ Penn State: The Badgers are actually a better team on the road than they are at home.

Other notable games:

- 8:00 pm: Youngstown State @ Milwaukee
- 8:00 pm: Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech
- 10:00 pm: New Mexico @ Air Force

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