Thursday, March 8, 2007

Thursday Express Preview

Wednesday Bracket Changes: My projected field remains the same. West Virginia improved its tournament position with a top 100 win against Providence, but they still have work to do.

Must See Full Court Games:
Kentucky vs Alabama: Kentucky has won the SEC championship game in 10 of the last 15 seasons. But this year, they enter the tournament having lost three straight games and five of the last nine. Meanwhile, Alabama has been ranked much of the season, but will be NIT bound with a loss. Now that’s what you call a tournament opening game.

Clemson vs Florida St.: Another important tournament opener. The loser is definitely eliminated from NCAA consideration because of a poor last 10.

Games on ESPN:
Georgetown vs Villanova: Big East Player-of-the-Year Jeff Green takes on Big East Rookie-of-the-Year Scottie Reynolds. Reynolds wanted to go to Georgetown, but John Thompson did not have a scholarship to offer. Reynolds has played well in the two previous meetings. Villanova has done a tremendous job of denying Hibbert the ball in the paint in the first two meetings. Villanova also employed a full court press very effectively, but with the ankle injury to Mike Nardi that limited him to 3 minutes Wednesday, and a Wednesday ankle tweak to Reggie Redding, that may not be an option.

Michigan vs Minnesota: It’s like Deja Vu all over again. Last year Michigan finished 8-8 and faced Minnesota in the first round. Minnesota pulled the upset and ended Michigan’s NCAA hopes. Michigan hopes history does not repeat itself.

Syracuse vs Notre Dame: In the first meeting of the season, Syracuse played zone and was shredded by Notre Dame’s outside shooting as Notre Dame scored 103 points. Will Syracuse play man-to-man defense this time around?

Michigan St. vs Northwestern: If Michigan St. loses they’ll be 4-6 in their last 10, 3-10 on the road, and 8-8 in the conference. Despite a stronger overall profile than Purdue and Illinois, they cannot afford a loss here.

Illinois vs Penn St.: Illinois cannot afford a loss obviously.

Louisville vs West Virginia: A loss eliminates West Virginia too. Notice a pattern here?

Duke vs NC State: Apparently one of the Duke Players was suspended for some sort of altercation. Did anyone hear about it? Wednesday, Sean McDonough joked that from Duke’s point of view, Hansbrough should have been called for an offensive foul for attacking Henderson’s elbow with his nose.

Pittsburgh vs Marquette: Tom Crean refuses to say whether Jerel McNeal will return for this game. McNeal sat out last night's game against St. John's. Marquette beat Pittsburgh at home without McNeal, but they may need him to beat Pittsburgh three times in the same season.

Missouri vs Baylor: Really? Of all the games on Thursday Night, this one is on TV? Couldn’t we get LSU vs Tennessee and one last chance to see Big Baby?

Watch the Ticker:
Xavier vs Dayton: Bad draw for Xavier because Dayton is a rivalry game. Dayton also has the 3rd highest RPI in the Atlantic 10. Bubble teams should be nervous because if Xavier loses, another bubble bid disappears. Xavier is a lock for the tournament.

UMass vs St. Louis: UMass can earn another top 100 win here and get closer to at-large consideration.

Air Force vs Wyoming: Most people think Air Force is a lock, but if they lose here they’ll be 4-6 in the last 10 and may be out.