Games you can’t or won’t watch
Everything you need
to know about this week's upcoming games, including ESPN's Bracket Buster
weekend. Note, this guide is for games not nationally televised on
CBS or ESPN, hence the title "Games you can't or won't watch, but
Don't forget to check out Adam's complete Onions Weekly Review.
Friday, February 17
Providence at Cincinnati.
Dangerous game for the Bearcats after their big win at Syracuse. Friars
have been just good enough to not qualify as a sure win in the Big East.
Albany at Virginia
Commonwealth, Akron at Nevada. Two very interesting Bracket Buster
games. VCU will be a good prep for the Great Danes and what the America
East favorites might face in the postseason. An Akron win at Nevada would
be nice for the MAC but more importantly painful for the Wolf Pack’s
at-large hopes. Great matchup between Romeo Travis and Nick Fazekas.
Saturday, February 18
Czech Republic vs. Finland,
Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey on Saturday.
Have to admit being a big fan of
the Winter Olympics, so the attention is a little divided for these two
weeks in February. (And it’s not just because we like watching females go
fast on speed skates and luge sleds.) Unlike some prominent sports
reporting smart alecks, who would rather talk about Terrell Owens for the
783,936th time than a positive or at least non-American centric
story, this writer has always enjoyed watching the winter sports. All of
them. Well, maybe not snowboarding, which seems like the equivalent of
offering medals for doing tricks with a basketball, but the rest are fun.
Luge, biathlon, ski jumping, and yes, even figure skating, and that is
admitted even though a male revealing such a thing is considered by many a
major faux pas. (Anyone who has lived in a testosterone-filled college
dorm knows this.) Besides, the Olympics gives us Scott Hamilton, the great
figure skating announcer who in his excitement describing elements of a
program to the audience can make Dick Vitale look like he’s on ether
(doesn’t get much better than Hamilton: “Triple LUTZ…TRIPLE TOE LOOP!!!”)
Not a product of the X-Games generation, so I’ll always have more
appreciation for a death spiral than a fakey-to-fakey 900. At the same
time, though, enjoyed the personality displayed and surprising displays of
emotion shown by some of the boarders, and there aren’t many titles that
stack up to “The Flying Tomato,” nickname of gold medal winning halfpipe
snowboarder Shaun White. For some of us at least, the snow and ice sports
and the enthusiasm with which non-mainstream athletes and countries pursue
them is a welcome change from other commercialized and even overexposed
Bucknell at Northern Iowa
George Mason at Wichita State
Missouri State at Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Marist at Old Dominion
Northern Arizona at Western Kentucky
Louisiana Tech at Southern Illinois
Northwestern State at Utah State
Siena at Hofstra
Will never give the Bracket Buster
our full endorsement, but these are its best matchups. Bucknell/UNI will
get the most attention, but the Mason/Wichita game will be almost equally
as important and entertaining. Watch the matchup of Mason’s Jai Lewis
inside against the Shockers’ Paul Miller and Kyle Wilson. UW-Milwaukee
gets its last chance to get something equaling a good win, while a
Missouri State win only reinforced the MVC’s quality in the middle. Marist
is playing exceptionally well right now and could go into ODU and win. SIU
should beat Louisiana Tech if it can control Paul Millsap. Bigs have given
the Salukis trouble at times this year. Glad to see Northwestern State
getting a much deserved TV game. The final game listed (Siena-Hofstra)
gets our vote for best non-TV BB game, with the battle between former Big
West foes New Mexico State-Pacific not far behind.
Connecticut at West Virginia.
The Mountaineers never were as bad as their being out of the top 25 so
long earlier this year showed, and never as good as their undefeated Big
East record looked. Will be fascinating to see how UConn can handle WVU’s
disciplined offense and zone defense.
Tennessee at Alabama. If
the Volunteers really have been more lucky than good this year, as some
have inferred, it will start showing up very soon.
UNC-Charlotte at Fordham.
One of the reasons the Atlantic 10 is struggling to get more than one NCAA
bid this year is teams like the Rams, who performed poorly out of
conference, are near the top of the league standings (surprising 7-4 mark
is tied for fourth). Forget what others say; the 49ers chances of an
at-large bid are next to none, even in this year of mediocre at-large
candidates. Temple’s chances are still far better than UNCC’s.
Temple at Saint Louis. That
last part above said, the Owls NEED to start showing something, anything
on the road. The Liacouras Center will not be hosting NCAA games.
Birmingham Southern at Coastal
Carolina. Underrated coach Duane Reboul and his Panthers need a win to
stay on track for Big South title. Chanticleers have won six in a row.
Vanderbilt at Georgia. Consider
this an NCAA elimination game for two teams with already faint hopes. Even
if neither makes the tourney, though, it should not take away from the
nice season the Bulldogs have had.
Air Force at Utah. Falcons
need a strong finish to the season.
Sunday, February 19
Georgetown at Villanova.
Hoyas’ schedule has toughened up, but G’town should be careful so as not
to lose its momentum heading down the stretch. Don’t want to have peaked
Lafayette at Lehigh. Lehigh
is another of those quiet stories, the should-be Engineers (now Mountain
Hawks) have put together a nice season and remain hot on Bucknell’s trail
in the Patriot League.
Monday, February 20
West Virginia at Syracuse.
The Orangemen need to do something ASAP to make some kind of compelling
argument to put them in the NCAA Tournament.
Fairleigh Dickinson at
Monmouth. The top two in the NEC, and Monmouth’s last chance to chase
down FDU for at least a share of the regular season title.
St. Mary’s at San Diego.
From the Slim Gym, these still look to be the two teams most suited to
cause Gonzaga trouble in the WCC tourney.
Tuesday, February 21
Boston College at Virginia.
This has UVa upset written all over it. BC is good, but more like the 30th
best team in the country than the 15th best.
Seton Hall at St. John’s.
We’re about ready to give up on the schizophrenic Pirates. Especially if
they lose this one, as they may well do.
Xavier at Dayton. Having
likely played their way out of an NCAA at-large bid, Musketeers can focus
on the rest of their season, starting with their second biggest rival
Davidson at Georgia Southern.
High-scoring Elton Nesbitt and the run-and-stun Eagles are
putting together another nice season, but the Wildcats still seem like the
team to fear most in the Southern Conference.
Wednesday, February 22
Texas-El Paso at Memphis.
Rare Conference USA test for the Tigers? Maybe, though with this being at
home, even the chances of that are minimized.
La Salle at George Washington.
A win here would put the cherry on top of the Explorers’ terrific comeback
season. Not liking the look of GW in the last week or so again
Lehigh at Bucknell. Second
straight good test for the Bison, and a particularly good time of year for
it, too, right before the postseason. Don’t sell the Mountain Hawks short
in this one.
North Carolina at N.C. State.
Duke-UNC will always get the press, but when some of us grew up, this
was the rivalry in the state of North Carolina.
Bradley at Northern Iowa.
We’ve been kidded in the past about promoting the Braves possible at-large
hopes, but they have already beaten UNI, Creighton, Southern Illinois,
Missouri State and Western Kentucky, top 50 teams all of them. Senior
Night for Panther seniors Ben Jacobson, Erik Crawford and John Little, who
have seen a program turnaround in their time in Cedar Falls.
San Diego State at BYU. The
Mountain West is hard to handicap this year, but this one could be for the
conference title. Falcons won the first, but the Aztecs are hotter.
Colorado at Nebraska.
Interesting game. Buffaloes likely clinched their at-large bid with win
over overrated Oklahoma; hard to imagine, but a Cornhuskers team with few
notable wins and quite a few ugly losses could still make the NCAAs.
Rhode Island at Saint Louis.
A fair matchup, but we put this one on to make a point about how
mismatched the Billikens are with the rest of the Atlantic 10. This would
be a good intersectional game; as a conference game, it’s lacking
Thursday, February 23
George Mason at Hofstra, UNC-Wilmington
at Virginia Commonwealth. Two grand matchups in the CAA. Three and
maybe four postseason-bound teams. UNCW can tie for the conference lead if
Hofstra beats the Patriots.
Murray State at Tennessee Tech.
How many know that the Camels ranked third in the nation in scoring?
Playing against a Buccaneer team with Tim Smith that also likes to put it
in overdrive, first one to 100 wins this.
Louisiana Tech at New Mexico
State. Do not be surprised if one of these two teams makes a serious
run in the WAC tourney, knocking Nevada or Utah State out of their way in
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complete Onions column.