Saturday, February 13, 2010
Five things I'm looking for Saturday
By Pat Forde
Today is post-up-in-front-of-the-TV time for me. And since there is nobody around to call me for three seconds, I could be here all day.
Let's start the basketball marathon by throwing out five things I'll be looking for today:
1) Does the upset rash spread? Friday night was crazy: Penn shocking Cornell, Niagara shocking Siena and Pittsburgh coming back late to tie West Virginia in regulation and then win in triple overtime. Common denominator: Home underdogs ruled the day. With that in mind, here are some potential home-cooked upsets for Saturday: Cleveland State over Butler; Bradley over Northern Iowa; Stanford over Washington; Utah over New Mexico.
2) Do we get any clarity in the Atlantic Coast Conference? It's been a scrambled season in the ACC, but we might have a more defined pecking order after this weekend. Duke and Maryland, co-leaders in the loss column, play at 1 p.m. ET in Durham. Virginia (5-3 in the league) visits rival Virginia Tech (6-3) at 8 p.m. ET. Georgia Tech (5-5) tries to rebound from a bad loss to Miami by knocking off Wake Forest (7-3) in Winston-Salem, also at 8 p.m. ET. Clemson (5-5) tries to win two games in a row for the first time since mid-January against the Hurricanes at noon. And in what might be a sign of the apocalypse, North Carolina and North Carolina State have a 4 p.m. ET pillow fight in Raleigh for sole possession of last place.
3) Will anyone kill their resume? Few teams can win their way into the NCAAs today, but some could pull a Louisville vs. St. John's and play their way out of it. Borderline teams that need to avoid damaging losses today include: Richmond at St. Bonaventure; Dayton at Saint Louis; Marquette at home against South Florida; Mississippi State at home against Auburn; and staggering Texas at home against Nebraska.
4) Will Jim Calhoun's return revive Connecticut? The Huskies slid into NIT range by losing seven of their last 10 -- most of those losses coming without their Hall of Fame coach, who was on medical leave. He returns today when UConn hosts similarly desperate Cincinnati. If the Huskies are going to 180 their way back into the Big Dance, it must start today.
5) How does it go when Bruce Pearl and John Calipari reacquaint, this time as league rivals? The two had some bitter battles when Calipari was at Memphis, both on the court and in recruiting. Now that Cal has moved north to Kentucky and added clout, how will Pearl and his Tennessee Volunteers respond today in Rupp Arena? Tennessee was smoked twice last year by a dreadful UK team; this one is clearly much better.