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By Adam Glatczak

January 28th, 2006

College Basketball: Games to Watch

Games you can’t or won’t watch but should

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 should.."

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 sports.

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 too soon.

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 behind Cincinnati.

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 big-time.


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 the process.

Return to the complete Onions column.




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