The Days Before Bracket Busters

13 Feb

Monday:

Syracuse at Louisville: It seems as though every week we are asking, “who is the 2nd best team in the Big East?”  One week it’s Georgetown, then Marquette, then Notre Dame. Well now Rick Pitino’s Cardinals have won six straight and have a chance to stake claim to that position when they Welcome Syracuse to the KFC Yum! Center.

Speaking of the Orange, remember when some wondered aloud if they had a true go-to-guy?  Much like the revolving door behind them in the conference, they don’t have one guy they can rely on, they have multiple.  It could be Fab Melo, Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph, Dion Waiters or C.J. Fair among others.  No Syracuse doesn’t have a go-to-guy, they have go to-guys.

Iowa State at Baylor: Baylor has struggled of late going just 4-4 in their last 8 games.  Granted the four losses came at the hands of Kansas and Missouri but now the Bears find themselves 2 games behind the conference co-leaders and in a third place tie with Iowa State.

The Cyclones have won 4 of 5 since beating Kansas in late January.  Now they head into Waco to a Baylor team that could be ripe for the picking, giving Royce White and crew the chance to leapfrog Baylor in the standings with a win Monday night.

Tuesday:

Virginia Commonwealth at George Mason: There is currently a 3-way tie for first place in the Colonial between Drexel, Virginia Commonwealth and George Mason all sitting at 13-2.  The latter 2 face-off for the first time this season when GMU hosts VCU.  Shaka  Smart’s VCU squad is rounding into form at the right time and are currently riding an 11-game winning streak.

The Patriots have been riding a hot streak of their own, having won 13 of their last 15 coming into Tuesday’s battle.  Something has to give with 1st place in the conference on the line, at least for the night.

Wednesday:

Tulsa at Southern Mississippi: There may not be a hotter team in the country getting as little publicity as the Conference USA co-leader Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles.  Larry Eustachy’s team has gone 17-2 in its last 19 games.  Southern Miss welcomes the team that sits just a half game behind them, Tulsa Golden Hurricane to Hattiesburg on Wednesday.

Tulsa is looking to crash the part in C-USA and make it a 3-team race down the stretch, and they have their chance.  They also host co-leader Memphis in the regular season finale.

North Carolina at Miami Fl: All of the Sudden Miami is in the at-large discussion in the ACC.  Sitting at 6-4 in the conference and even though they have an overtime victory over Duke in Cameron, the rest of their wins have come against the conference bottom feeders (their best win is a double OT win over 4-6 Maryland).  The Hurricanes could use another resume boosting win, and welcome UNC to the BankUnited Center, a place Miami has only lost twice all season.

The Tar Heels bounced back from the stunning loss to Duke by handling Virginia by 18.  The UNC front line of Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes have been a force in the last 2 games combing for 109 points and 61 rebounds.

Thursday:

Wisconsin at Michigan State: Fresh off a 10-point upset of Ohio State on the road to pull into a 1st place tie in the Big Ten, now must defend that spot at home as Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin Badgers come to town.

Wisconsin, winners of 7 of 8 (the only loss to Ohio State) would like to join the conversation as to who is the best team in the Big Ten, and at the same time solidify their top 4 spot in the conference tournament, earning themselves a bye.

Oregon at California: For all the talk of how bad the PAC-12 has been all season, and it has, you look at the standings there are 5 teams within a game of each other at the top.  Thursday co-leader California (10-3) welcomes one of those in the pack chasing them 9-4 Oregon to Berkeley.

The Bears defeated Oregon by 17 in Eugene thanks to 26 points from Allen Crabbe, the defense held Oregon star E.J. Singler to just 12 points.  Will Cal be able to hold the Ducks back or will Oregon grab a road win and further muddy the waters out west?

College Hoop Haven

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