Tag:Today's Specials
Posted on: January 12, 2012 1:10 pm
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Today's Specials: Gaels & Zags renew rivalry



By
Jeff Borzello

Several important games highlight the docket on Thursday, including one of the best conference games every year.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: No. 21 Gonzaga at Saint Mary’s (11 p.m., ESPN2): Always one of the best battles of the conference season, these two have had some excellent tilts for conference supremacy in the past few years. The matchup to watch will be Gonzaga’s Elias Harris vs. Rob Jones of Saint Mary’s at the forward spot. Jones is extremely versatile, while Harris is tough to stop down low. Matthew Dellavedova has to knock down shots from the perimeter for the Gaels. No team has gotten closer than 15 points on the Gaels’ home court this season.

Second-best game: No. 16 Virginia at No. 8 Duke (9 p.m., ESPN). This is the game Virginia can use to prove it is for real this season. The Cavaliers have won 12 in a row since a two-point loss to TCU, but they haven’t been tested a ton on the road. Duke has had several close calls recently, including a loss to Temple last week. If Tony Bennett’s troops are going to pull off the road upset, Mike Scott needs to dominate inside and the Cavaliers’ guards have to take advantage of Duke’s mediocre perimeter defense.

Another one to watch: Wisconsin at Purdue (7 p.m., ESPN). What is going on with the Badgers? They have lost three in a row, including Sunday’s 18-point defeat at Wisconsin. Will they bounce back on the road against a Boilermakers team that has lost 0 home games since Feb. 28, 2010.  If Lewis Jackson or Kelsey Barlow can contain Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin’s offense becomes non-existent. On the other side, Robbie Hummel creates a matchup problem for Wisconsin.

Guaranteed win: No. 15 Murray State looks to stay undefeated against Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks are just 1-4 in Ohio Valley play and 4-12 against Division-I opponents this season. They also haven’t won a road game in almost a year. Murray State should stay unblemished for another day.

Potential upset: Oral Roberts is sitting at 6-0 in the Summit right now, but its road trip to Western Illinois won’t be a walk in the park. The Leathernecks have won three in a row and are 9-3 since dropping their opening two games. Terell Parks has to step up down low against Dominique Morrison.

Three things to keep an eye on:

  • Minnesota is 0-4 in the Big Ten after going 12-1 in non-league play. The Gophers look for a win at No. 7 Indiana (8 p.m., Big Ten Network).
  • The two best teams in the Big South battle for first place, as 5-0 UNC-Asheville takes on 4-1 Campbell.
  • Colorado looks to stay unbeaten in Pac-12 play against California (11 p.m., CSN California), while Oregon State and Arizona also go head-to-head (10:30 p.m., FSN).

Photo: US Presswire

More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 11, 2012 12:03 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 2:04 pm
 

Today's Specials: Missouri heads back on the road



By
Jeff Borzello

Tuesday was packed with action, with Louisville and Ohio State both losing on the road, and Baylor escaping at Kansas State. Who’s next to fall victim away from home?

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP Poll. 

Best game: No. 9 Missouri at Iowa State (8 p.m., ESPN3/Big 12 affiliates). This is a proving ground for both teams. Missouri, coming off its blowout loss at Kansas State, needs to show it can win on the road – something it couldn’t do last season. On the other side, Iowa State dominated Texas A&M over the weekend, but are the Cyclones a real threat in the Big 12? Iowa State needs to take care of the ball and not let Phil Pressey dictate the game, while the Tigers have to handle Royce White down low.

Second-best game: Temple at Saint Louis (9 p.m., CBS Sports). The Atlantic-10 has five NCAA-worthy teams right now, but it seems like they’re going to beat up on each other throughout the conference season. This is one of those games. Saint Louis has lost two of three since starting out 12-1, but the Billikens remain undefeated at home. Temple had a strange week: the Owls beat Duke then followed that up with a 10-point home loss to Dayton. Brian Conklin is one of the most underrated players in the A-10; he could have a big day against Temple’s front line.

Another one to watch: Southern Miss at Memphis (7 p.m., CSS). Is Southern Miss for real? The Golden Eagles are 15-2 and have won 11 in a row since a double-overtime loss to Murray State. But no one is sure what to think of this team; their best wins are over Colorado State and a sweep of New Mexico State. A win at Memphis would solidify their standing. Tempo could be key in this game; Memphis would prefer to get up and down, while Southern Miss slows it down.

Guaranteed win: I’m putting this out there right now – Pittsburgh will NOT lose to Rutgers on Wednesday night (7 p.m., ESPN3, Big East affiliates). The Panthers are at home, have lost four in a row and absolutely need a win. Moreover, Rutgers has not won a road game this season and could struggle to keep Pittsburgh off the offensive glass. If you want another one, go with Western Michigan over winless (in D-I games) Northern Illinois at home.

Potential upset: With all of the top-15 teams losing on the road the past few days, is No. 1 Syracuse next? The Orange head to Villanova (7 p.m., ESPN2) in a game the Wildcats would love to have. In order to win, Villanova needs to take care of the ball and knock down the outside shots that Syracuse is willing to give the Wildcats. Defensively, they have to keep the Orange off the glass and limit the transition baskets.

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. Northwestern needs some quality wins if it wants to make the NCAA tournament. After losing three of its four, a road victory over No. 13 Michigan (6:30 p.m., Big Ten Network) would do wonders for the Wildcats’ resume.
  2. Is either Texas A&M or Texas a potential Big 12 threat? The Longhorns have lost two of their last four, while A&M is a complete disaster right now. One team gets a much-needed win Wednesday night (9 p.m., ESPN2).
  3. Is North Carolina State really a potential bubble team? The Wolfpack have done it by beating the teams they’re supposed to; they face Georgia Tech in Raleigh (9 p.m., ESPN3/FSN affiliates).

Photo: US Presswire

More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:42 pm
 

Today's Specials: Is Baylor's first loss coming?



By
Jeff Borzello

After a mundane Monday in college basketball because of the BCS title game, Tuesday has some good ones on tap.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to our Top 25 (and one.)

Best game: No. 4 Baylor at No. 13 Kansas State (8 p.m., FSN Regional/ESPN3). Missouri had its unbeaten season ended when it visited Manhattan over the weekend; will Baylor suffer the same fate? Expect a defensive battle, with both teams ranking in the top 15 nationally in defensive efficiency. Can Jamar Samuels and Jordan Henriquez handle the likes of Perry Jones and Quincy Acy down low? On the other side, Baylor needs to take care of the ball against an opportunistic Kansas State defense that can force turnovers.

Second-best game: No. 7 Ohio State at Illinois (9 p.m., ESPN). This could be the game that Meyers Leonard shows whether he is a future lottery pick. He will be matched up with Jared Sullinger, and has to deal with his physicality. Illinois has been playing a ton of close games lately, but has emerged 3-1 in the Big Ten so far. The offense has been inconsistent, which could be a problem against Ohio State’s defense, which ranks No. 1 nationally in defensive efficiency. Brandon Paul needs to take care of the ball.

Another one to watch: Northern Iowa at No. 17 Creighton (9 p.m., ESPN3). The first task for Northern Iowa will be to slow down Doug McDermott, who is coming off a 44-point outing against Bradley over the weekend. The Panthers have won two in a row since dropping three in late December and early January. UNI needs to get out on Creighton’s 3-point shooters; the Panthers have been allowing too many open shots.

Guaranteed win: No. 18 San Diego State hasn’t played a Division-I team since December 22, and Tuesday’s meeting with 0-15 Chicago State (10 p.m., Mountain) will feel like more of the same. We’re assuming Chase Tapley, Jamaal Franklin and Co. won’t have much trouble dispatching of the Cougars.

Potential upset: South Carolina has won six of its last eight games, with the only losses coming to Ohio State and Kentucky. Vanderbilt comes into Columbia next (9 p.m., ESPNU). While the Commodores are won five in a row, if South Carolina can get the game at its pace and also get second chances offensively, the Gamecocks have a chance.

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. Right now, the ACC is looking like a three-bid league. Florida State and Virginia Tech have underwhelming profiles at this point, but the two face off on Tuesday (7 p.m., ESPNU). The winner gets the early edge in the at-large race.
  2. Louisville has lost three of its last four, but needs to bounce back when it trips to Providence (7 p.m., ESPN2), Rick Pitino’s old stomping grounds.
  3. The Missouri Valley is jumbled at the top right now, but Illinois State or Wichita State could create some separation when they battle tonight (8 p.m., COX-Kansas).

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 9, 2012 12:47 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 12:54 pm
 

Today's Specials: UConn looks to bounce back



By
Jeff Borzello

With the number of important games increasing on a nightly basis during conference play, we’ve decided to start a new daily feature: “Today’s Specials.” (Matt Norlander came up with the name, so if you hate it, hate him. I like it, personally.)

It will be a preview of the upcoming games that night, with a look at the top games and then a couple of lines about the rest of the contests to watch. Moreover, it will include television information for each game, so it’s your essential viewer’s guide. Be sure to add it to your daily schedule around 1 p.m.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to our Top 25 (and one.)

Best game: No. 26 West Virginia at Connecticut (7:00 p.m., ESPN2). It’s a light slate tonight because of the BCS title game, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to this Big East clash. West Virginia is coming off a 12-point win over Georgetown on Saturday, after winning at Rutgers by 21 earlier in the week. Connecticut is mired in a slump, going 0-2 against Seton Hall and Rutgers. Shabazz Napier’s comments about the team’s leadership are somewhat troubling. It will be interesting to watch Kevin Jones go against the big men of UConn.

Second-best game: Cincinnati at No. 12 Georgetown (9:00 p.m., ESPNU). Some of the luster of this game was lost when both teams were dropped on Saturday, as they were two of the hottest teams in the conference heading into the weekend. Cincinnati fell on a last-second tip-in by Moe Harkless of St. John’s, while Georgetown was a victim of 22 points and 16 rebounds from West Virginia’s Kevin Jones. Will Cincinnati continue to go with its four-guard lineup? Can the Bearcats guard Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson on the wings?

Another one to watch: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (7:00 p.m., ESPNU): Oklahoma tries to bounce back after two straight losses to open conference play. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have been very inconsistent this season, and the schedule only gets more difficult after this in-state rivalry.

Guaranteed win: Idaho State is 1-7 on the road with just two Division-I wins all season. The Bengals also had their head coach resign after 10 games this season. Wyoming, meanwhile, is 10-0 at home and play lockdown defense. I’d be optimistic if I were the Cowboys (9:00 p.m.)

Potential upset: I’m stretching here, but I couldn’t leave a category empty for its first edition. Southern is 6-10 and playing at home, while Jackson State is only 3-12. Jenirro Bush and Kelsey Howard are a tough duo to stop, though. The Tigers could get a key road win early in SWAC play (5:30 p.m.). 

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. Morgan State head coach Todd Bozeman was suspended Sunday night after an incident involving senior guard Larry Bastfield. The Bears play at Savannah State (8:30 p.m.).
  2. Bethune-Cookman is atop the MEAC at 2-0, but North Carolina Central might be the most talented team in the league. They face off tonight (8:00 p.m.).
  3. San Francisco had a good non-conference stretch, but the Dons have struggled to open West Coast play. A trip to Saint Mary’s tonight (10:00 p.m., CSN California) is not the recipe for a bounce-back win.

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com