|Without Fab Melo for the second game in a row, Syracuse will look to bounce back on the road at Cincinnati. (US Presswire)|
Luckily we had enough action over the weekend to carry us until Tuesday, because tonight’s action is a little light for the most part.
Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.
Best game: No. 3 Syracuse at Cincinnati (7 p.m., ESPN). The Orange no longer have a “1” next to their name after losing to Notre Dame on Saturday. Cincinnati is now 10-2 since the brawl with Xavier, including road wins at Georgetown and Connecticut. Syracuse will not have Fab Melo on the inside, which will enable Cincinnati to go with its four-guard lineup more consistently. Cashmere Wright has to take care of the ball, and the Bearcats need to win the battle on the boards.
Second-best game: Belmont at East Tennessee State (7 p.m.). Belmont was expected to cruise through the Atlantic Sun this season, but the Bruins have struggled somewhat in conference play. They dropped a home battle to Lipscomb two weeks ago, then lost at South Carolina Upstate over the weekend. East Tennessee State had won five in a row before losing to Lipscomb on Saturday. Belmont is simply not defending like it did last season, when it forced turnovers at a high rate.
Another one to watch: Mississippi Valley State at Texas Southern (9 p.m., ESPNU). It’s a battle for first place in the SWAC. (Like I said, it’s a light day.) MVSU is 6-0 in the conference, since going 1-11 in non-conference play. Texas Southern has just one loss in the SWAC, last week at Jackson State. The Tigers also went 1-11 in non-league play, coincidentally. MVSU pushes the tempo, but Texas Southern’s defense is the best unit in this game.
Guaranteed win: Since we’ve already talked some Atlantic Sun, co-leader Mercer has an easy game on its schedule with 4-15 Jacksonville (7 p.m.). Mercer has already beaten Georgia Tech this season, and is 6-2 in the league. Jacksonville has won two in a row, but it was on a 13-game losing streak prior to last week. Mercer should get the win and keep pace at the top of the standings.
Potential upset: I think Cincinnati will beat Syracuse, but we have already discussed that game above. Outside of that, there’s not a lot on the schedule that looks like an upset, but I’ll go with North Carolina Central over Morgan State in MEAC play (7:30 p.m.). With Todd Bozeman back as head coach at Morgan, the Bears should be tough at home again. But NC-Central is the most talented team in the MEAC and could hit its stride soon.
Three things to keep an eye on:
- Lots of good CAA hoops tonight. Surprise Northeastern takes on Old Dominion (7 p.m., ESPN3); George Mason hosts UNC-Wilmington (9 p.m.); and Hofstra travels to VCU (7 p.m.). Also, Towson tries to get its first win, at Delaware (7 p.m., ESPN3).
- More Atlantic Sun fun. Lipscomb and USC Upstate (7 p.m.) are both one game out of first place in the conference; they battle to keep pace tonight.
- Texas A&M is not a very good team, but maybe the Aggies will catch No. 5 Kansas looking ahead or taking a break tonight (9 p.m., ESPN). It's not likely, though.
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