Friday, January 27, 2012
Katz: Games to track this weekend
By Andy Katz
Harvard at Yale (7 p.m. ET): This is where the real Ivy League season begins for the Crimson. Harvard's run to an undefeated regular season in the league and an Ivy title will go through Yale, and likely Princeton.
West Virginia at Syracuse (ESPNU, 1 p.m. ET): The Mountaineers were taken out by a young St. John's team in what was one of the most surprising Big East results. Syracuse has played one road game without Fab Melo, and has found a new rhythm. Kevin Jones will have to have a monster effort with plenty of help to pull off the upset.
Texas at Baylor (1 p.m. ET): The Longhorns are still maturing and likely will pull off at least one win against the upper-level teams. But it might be hard to get at Baylor after the Bears were beaten by Missouri at home this past Saturday. The Longhorns don't have the size to match Baylor if the Bears use it to their advantage.
Mississippi State at Florida (ESPN3, 1:30 p.m. ET): The Bulldogs have the size, length and depth inside to cause major issues for the Gators. But Florida's guards are playing at a high clip. The Gators' defense was much better in the second half at Ole Miss in the comeback win. It will need to be on for 40 minutes to beat back the Bulldogs. Mississippi State won at Vanderbilt. A win at Florida and the Bulldogs will be a serious threat to challenge Kentucky. Florida needs to win to stay in step.
Kansas at Iowa State (ESPN, 2 p.m. ET): This could be the upset pick of the weekend if the Cyclones' guards win the position battle against Kansas. Royce White must have the game of the season to outplay Thomas Robinson. Hilton Coliseum should be rocking like it once did. Iowa State should knock off someone elite at home. It almost did against Missouri. This could be the one.
Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt (2 p.m. ET): Middle Tennessee and the Sun Belt aren't in BracketBusters. This is the Blue Raiders' chance for a wakeup win. If it occurs, the selection committee will have to take notice. Vandy can pick up power-rating points for a quality win against a team outside the "power six." Vandy beat Tennessee after losing at home to Mississippi State.
Southern Miss at UCF (7 p.m. ET): The winner of this game is in step with Memphis for the C-USA first-place race. Southern Miss coach Larry Eustachy said he'll know a lot about his team after playing UCF and Memphis in the next week. This could end up being the best game of the conference season.
Virginia at NC State (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET): The Cavaliers started slowly against Boston College, then they turned up the defense and the offense started to click at a higher clip. NC State got run at North Carolina. Virginia needs a road win after losing at home to Virginia Tech in its quest to stay in the top three in the ACC.
Saint Mary's at BYU (ESPNU, 9 ET): If BYU is going to be an NCAA at-large team, it must knock off the Gaels and possibly the Zags. Saint Mary's is one of the hottest conference teams in the country after winning at LMU. Saint Mary's blitzed BYU at home to start the WCC. I'd be stunned if the Cougs aren't ready for revenge.
Notre Dame at Connecticut (ESPN3, 12 p.m. ET): The Irish knocked off top-ranked Syracuse at home this past weekend. UConn lost at Tennessee. If the Huskies are ever going to go on a run, they must start by beating the Irish. The Huskies' big men have to win the battle inside against Jack Cooley. This is Andre Drummond's time to finally emerge as a dominant Big East player.
Michigan at Ohio State (1 p.m. ET): The Aaron Craft-Trey Burke matchup will be a good watch. The problem for Michigan is that the Wolverines don't have an answer for Jared Sullinger. Michigan must make the matchups work to its advantage to pull off the upset in Columbus. The Wolverines are a solid top-half Big Ten team. Knocking off OSU would make everyone pause a bit more.
Stanford at California (8:30 p.m. ET): Cal should be the favorite in the Pac-12. But if the Bears are finally going to assert themselves, they must beat their rival at home. Stanford is more than capable of winning this game and causing even more havoc in the Pac-12 race.