Games you can’t or won’t watch
A quick refresher on this
section (see today's complete Onions column), for those who didn’t see the column a few years ago. This list is
meant to focus on games that would fall under this exact heading: games
that either aren’t on TV or that might be but will go unseen by most.
Those games are focused on because, odds are, if a game is on CBS or ESPN,
you already know about it and thus don’t need to be reminded or prepped
for it here. The goal here is to balance the overload coverage of the top
25 with some exposure of other teams, players or matchups that would be
worthwhile viewing, and to encourage people to watch more than just the
games that make Sportscenter highlights. Of course, we also occasionally
interject some of those biggies, or even some games that we just find fun,
even if they look to be downright terrible games.
Also, an honorary mention to
last night’s Crosstown Shootout between Xavier and Cincinnati, which
missed the list by a day and is the rivalry that always gets our vote as
the best in the country. It has just as many great finishes as Duke-UNC or
any other series, and no series is more intense. Every year, it seems a
fight could break out at any time during the game.
Friday, January 20
Lipscomb at Belmont.
Long-time Tennessee rivals go back to their days in the NAIA together.
Bisons (yes, it’s plural) and Bruins are also lurking just behind the Owl
Alliance of Florida Atlantic and Kennesaw State at the top of the Atlantic
Saturday, January 21
Florida at Tennessee. One
wonders how long the Gators can keep up the streak. Their schedule has
been Charmin-soft, but the SEC isn’t that great this year, either. Much
like Pitt, maybe Florida is just good enough to keep getting by. Or maybe
they lose today.
Purdue at Indiana. College
basketball will be a better game when this rivalry regains some national
luster. In the meantime we tip our hats to it and to the state that IS
West Virginia at UCLA.
Sometimes CBS seems like its trying too hard when it puts together its
schedule. This one, though, is genius, WVU’s terrific offensive philosophy
(“Play off us, we shoot the 3; play up, we cut for a lay-up”) against
UCLA’s defense and Aaron Afflalo.
George Washington at UNC-Charlotte.
As noted last week, the 49ers aren’t finished yet. Let’s see how their
muscle counters GW’s athleticism.
Delaware State at Hampton.
Two top MEAC contenders, and a rematch of last year’s terrific conference
final where the Hornets trailed most of the way but won at the buzzer.
Northwestern State at SE
Louisiana. Good chance to finally check out the Demons on your DirecTV
(Fox Sports-SW, 1 p.m. Central). Despite playing so well out of
conference, NW State is finding the rest of the Southland is no slouch,
Longwood at Savannah State.
Ummm…well, we’ll give the Lancers this much; they have improved from last
year, when they went 1-30. This was best evidenced when Longwood gave
Villanova a mild tussle earlier this year. Savannah State, sadly,
continues to operate at status quo, which is to say the Tigers (who
feature the rather interesting color of Reflex Blue in their uniforms)
continue to lose.
Duke at Georgetown. Hoyas,
we’re waiting for some statement wins…
Houston at Alabama-Birmingham.
The Cougars have proven not ready to consistently play like they did
against LSU and Arizona. UAB ought to be in the top 25 soon. Great matchup
on CSTV between two teams who put the pedal to the floor.
Western Kentucky at South
Alabama. Power to the old guard in the Sun Belt. How do the
Hilltoppers lose by 27 at Troy?
Wright State at
Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Still surprised the Raiders are right with UWM in
the Horizon standings. Say one thing about embattled WSU coach Paul
Biancardi; he has done a tremendous job getting his team to focus as
rumors about his job security almost perpetually swirl.
Missouri at Kansas State,
Colorado at Oklahoma State. Two important games in the Big 12. In
reality, all four could be NIT bound, but someone has to win in the Big
12, which means all four individually have at least a fair chance of
making the NCAAs. We’re thinking Colorado is the best of the bunch, if the
Buffs can ever win some road games, but we’re more excited by the Mizzou-K
Air Force at New Mexico.
Not to put down the Mountain West this year, but one of the rare games in
this league this year that looks good on paper.
Long Beach State at UC
Riverside. Neither team is all that great, though the 49ers are
showing signs of life. We pick this one, though, because scoring should be
Montana at Sacramento State.
Big one in the Big Sky. Along with Northern Arizona, should be fighting
for the league title-and homecourt advantage in the conference tourney-the
rest of the year.
Portland at San Francisco.
Two West Coast teams underrated in their entertainment value.
Sunday, January 22
New Hampshire at Albany.
We’ll give a call again to the Wildcats here as they take on the A-East
leaders. Great Danes guard Jon Iati is Gerry McNamara minus about 10%.
Grambling at Jackson State.
JSU guard Trey Johnson is averaging over 24 points per game and is a
rarity: a guard who shoots over 50%. Maybe the best kept secret in the
country right now, catch him in this game on ESPNU.
Wichita State at Missouri
State. Rematch of game eight days earlier when the Shockers whipped
the Bears. Another critical game for both teams’ postseason hopes.
Saint Louis at Xavier. Old
Midwestern Collegiate Conference rivals meet, now both as Atlantic 10
Monday, January 23
Syracuse at Pittsburgh. Is
this the night the Panthers finally lose?
Towson at Drexel. Let’s see
how Gary Neal and the Tigers do against the enigmatic Dragons, a team with
front-line size that many teams in this country could be proud of.
Furman at Elon. Quietly,
Furman is developing into one of the favorites in the Southern Conference.
Elon seems to have been kick-started by the win at Clemson.
Gonzaga at San Francisco.
Many forget the Bulldogs lost at USF’s Memorial Gym last year. The Dons
aren’t as good this year and don’t have John Cox anymore, but still a
difficult place to play.
Utah State at Nevada. One
of the most eagerly anticipated games since the Aggies joined the WAC has
lost some of its glitter. USU is down just a shade from its level of
recent seasons, and the Wolf Pack is picking up some klutzy road losses.
Tuesday, January 24
Miami (Florida) at Virginia.
The type of game that will tell us how real the Hurricanes really are
right now. NCAA-bound teams need to win games like this.
Akron at Ohio. The MAC
standings are getting back to their ultra-competitive, almost
cannibal-like norm. Potentially the two best teams in the league, though
the way this league annually plays out, it may be impossible to ever
determine that definitively.
Creighton at Southern Illinois.
The Missouri Valley’s signature series over the past five years. After a
relatively easy early MVC schedule, now the Salukis are hitting the
Wednesday, January 25
Michigan State at Michigan.
Another bow to a rivalry. Wolverines need this one badly.
Cincinnati at Louisville.
Who would’ve believed it at the beginning of the year if someone told you
this game might be more important for Louisville’s postseason chances than
Marshall at West Virginia.
Thundering Herd aren’t particularly good, but were worse last year and
beat their in-state rivals. Like many good rivalries, prior results this
season don’t mean much when this one tips.
Xavier at Temple. Owls look
prepared to make a run. If Xavier sweeps this week and isn’t ranked the
following week, NCAA investigators should step in.
Marist at St. Peter’s.
Slick backcourt matchup: Will Whittington and Jared Jordan of the Red
Foxes against scoring machine Keydren Clark.
Kennesaw State at East
Tennessee State. Owls are a terrific story in their first year in D-I.
Missouri State at Bradley.
Another key game for the Bears in their quest to string together some
impressive wins. Though they can drive one mad with their inconsistent
play, Braves do play hard and their MVC schedule is prime for them to
still make a run at the first division.
Kansas at Texas A&M. Aggies
needed some key wins, like, yesterday.
Thursday, January 26
Memphis. On paper, one of the best games of the week. One wonders if
the Blazers’ frantic style will work against a team as athletic as the
Monmouth at Robert Morris.
The Hawks are finally getting everything together after injuries and
suspensions ruined their non-conference season.
Drexel at Old Dominion.
Reminiscent of some Wyoming teams from a few years ago, little is coming
easy for the Monarchs this year. Payback for a bad loss earlier to the
Dragons will be the goal here.
Duke at Virginia Tech.
Another rematch game, and we’re curious to see if the Hokies can hang with
the Devils again.
Ohio at Buffalo. Expect
Alumni Arena to be packed for this rematch of a classic 2005 MAC tourney
Washington at California.
Just not sure what to make of the Pac-10, particularly the Golden Bears,
who post some good wins and then do just enough to cast doubt on them
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complete Onions column.