Kansas, Purdue Look To Stay Undefeated on the Road This Weekend
Games You Need to Watch
(1) Kansas at (15) Tennessee, 4:30 Sunday on CBS
In a year where it seems like every notable non-conference opponent on Kansas' schedule doesn't live up to expectations, it should be no surprise that the Volunteers will host the Jayhawks without four of their players, including NBA prospect Tyler Smith.
Tennessee managed to hold off a tough Charlotte team after jumping out to a large first half lead in its first game. Even without the team's most efficient offensive player, Smith, the Volunteers still exploded for 88 points in a moderately paced game.
The offense didn't miss a beat against the 49ers which will be absolutely necessary to do against Kansas. The Jayhawks third ranked defense has kept every team its played from scoring at least a point per possession.
Tennessee needs to stay in this game or else the Volunteers will look like they've taken a serious step back and won't be able to challenge Kentucky in the SEC. If UT does keep it close, it will mean for Kansas that maybe the Jayhawks' struggles against Cornell were indicative of a team not ready to hold down the top spot.
My pick: Kansas 79, Tennessee 66
(4) Purdue at (20) Wisconsin, 1:30 Saturday on the Big Ten Network
The chances of either team breaking 60 points in this game aren't very good, especially after the Badgers' brutal slugfest with Michigan State Wednesday night. Combine the fact that Wisconsin plays one of the slowest brands of basketball in the country with Purdue and Wisconsin ranking ninth and 10th in the country in defensive efficiency and a low scoring affair is bound to follow.
If Purdue can replicate Michigan State's defensive intensity, the Badgers will be in serious trouble on Saturday. Throughout Wisconsin's game against MSU, Bo Ryan's offense would work 25 to 30 seconds into the shot clock, but not come away with a decent look.
The results were ugly.
The Badgers only converted at a season low .8 points per possession.
Michigan State also beat Wisconsin on the boards by grabbing 36 percent of its misses, making the Spartans only the fourth team to reach the 30 percent mark against Wisconsin all year.
The Badgers' defensive rebounding should be no surprise. The slow tempo means Bo Ryan commits extra guards to rebounding and doesn't let his players leak out into the break. If Purdue can grab a few extra misses to combat Wisconsin's 43.2 percent field goal defense, then the Boilermakers should gain the edge needed to hold off one of the nation's more surprising teams.
My pick: Purdue 58, Wisconsin 52
Mid-Major Battle of the Week
(23) BYU at UTEP, 9:00 Saturday
There's some decent mid-major conference games out there (Gonzaga at Portland, UNLV at New Mexico), but this is one of the last major non-conference games against mid-majors so it gets the spotlight.
The Cougars can afford a non-conference loss to UTEP, but a victory against the Miners would only help boost their seed come March.
BYU should deliver a win as Dave Rose's shut-down defense should have no problem stopping a UTEP team that scored a mere 49 points against Southern Methodist.
UTEP's great size with Derrick Caracter and Arnett Moultrie should test BYU who will see teams of their stature in league games against Utah and Wyoming.
The Miners absolutely need this game before they enter their conference schedule. If UTEP cannot come away with a victory at home against a ranked team, there's little chance even with a nearly unblemished run through Conference USA that UTEP will receive an at-large bid in March.
My pick: Brigham Young 75, UTEP 66
The Upset You Should Not Be Shocked About
Last week I picked Marquette to take down Villanova which nearly happened. This weekend the two teams play again, but I'll take a different upset because what fun is picking the same upset twice?
(8) West Virginia at Notre Dame, 8:00 Saturday on ESPNU
During Luke Harangody's time in South Bend, the Irish have been nearly unbeatable in the Joyce Center. Harangody's size and range gives West Virginia a challenge it hasn't faced this season. The Mountaineers don't have one player that can guard 'Gody as WVU's talented frontcourt is made up of over-sized wings.
If WVU is forced to double-team Harangody, head coach MikeBrey has multiple shooting and scoring options to complement Harangody. Tim Abromaitis, Ben Hansbrough, and Jonathan Peoples have all been reliable scorers for the Irish.
My pick: Notre Dame 88, West Virginia 85
Upset Special Sunday
So West Virginia and Notre Dame isn't the only thing headed towards an upset this weekend. On Sunday, there are seven games that feature at least one ranked team. In six of those games, a ranked team has a legitimate chance of losing.
Kansas and Tennessee automatically means a ranked team will go down and with the way the Pac-10 is going, does anyone really expect Washington to win on the road against Arizona?
Virginia Tech who only has one loss (granted the Hokies haven't really beaten anyone) go on the road against a North Carolina team that just lost to the College of Charleston.
Three more top-25 teams go on the road Sunday as well as Florida State visits a decent Maryland team, Butler, whose top-25 ranking is questionable, plays a tough Detroit team, and Temple must face a one-loss Rhode Island squad.
Other Significant Games
(5) Duke at (17) Georgia Tech, 2:00 Saturday on ESPN
The Yellow Jackets just inexplicably lost to Georgia, and Duke is on an absolute roll since losing an early season game to Wisconsin. The Ramblin' Wreck's homecourt advantage should help keep this game close.
Marquette at (7) Villanova, 2:00 Saturday on ESPN360.com
This potential upset was alluded to earlier, but it likely won't happen this week. If Marquette couldn't beat Villanova on its home court, there isn't a great chance the Golden Eagles can pull it off on the road.
(13) Connecticut at (12) Georgetown, 12:00 Saturday on ESPN
Raise your hand if either of these teams deserve their rankings. Not even UConn and Georgetown homers should have their hands up as the Huskies have beaten no one this year and the Hoyas just lost to Marquette.
UNLV at (17) New Mexico, 4:00 Saturday
Both teams had fantastic non-conference results, but both faltered in their conference openers. The Pit is one difficult place to play and should be the deciding factor in this game.
Mississippi State at (16) Mississippi, 1:30 Saturday on ESPN360
This heated football rivalry transitions to the hardwood as Mississippi could supplant Tennessee as the second best team in the SEC with a victory at home against Mississippi State.
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