Men's Basketball Games of the Week 1/2 -1/5

Notre Dame - Maryland Game Action

Men’s Basketball Games of the Week 01/02 – 01/05


Happy New Year, everybody! It may be 2012 on the calendar, but it is still the same college basketball season. It’s been an exciting one so far, and many teams haven’t even started conference seasons yet. The first four days of this week’s schedule are full of strong contests, including two solid Big Ten showdowns and a few high and mid-major matchups.


TEXAS A&M at No. 5 BAYLOR (7 p.m. Monday at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas)

This is the Big 12 Conference opener for both schools, which are having strong seasons. Although Texas A&M is not ranked, it still carries a 9-3 record into the league opener. Elston Turner is on a roll, coming off of 19 points, 15 rebounds and four assists in a 76-58 win over Arkansas Tech. The win broke a two-game losing streak for the Aggies, whose 39.6 rebound average is 27th in the nation in Division I. Texas A&M has lost to Mississippi State, Florida and Rice. Pierre Jackson scored 14 points as Baylor (13-0) barely avoided a huge upset; Mississippi State, which beat Texas A&M, nearly took out the Bears before Baylor recovered for a 54-52 victory. This is Texas week for the Bears, who face A&M and Texas Tech in one week before dates with Kansas State and Oklahoma State.


No. 21 VIRGINIA at LSU (7 p.m. Monday at Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

This ACC-SEC non-conference crossover happens to be the night’s top non-league game and one that could have an impact on RPI ratings and NCAA tournament bids down the road. Virginia (12-1) has a top 50 mark in shooting percentage but largely fails in the other offensive categories. Still, there are four teams unbeaten in the country and Virginia was three points away from potentially making it five. Since a 57-55 loss to TCU, Virginia has won 10 In a row, but strong tests against Miami and Duke open the ACC season in the next week. LSU (10-3) is strong at rebounds with a 20th-ranked 40.1 boards per contest. The Tigers have a seven-game win streak riding on this contest, and LSU’s losses have come against Coastal Carolina, Northwestern and South Alabama.  Jalen Courtney scored 14 points as LSU throttled Grambling State in its last game.


DREXEL at GEORGIA STATE (7 p.m. Monday at GSU Arena in Atlanta, Georgia)

Two of the Colonial Athletic Association’s more successful programs tip off in an early-season CAA contest. Drexel (8-4, 0-1) dropped its league opener to Delaware all the way back in early December, adding to its losses to Norfolk State, Virginia and St. Joseph’s. However, Drexel is on a six-game winning streak since then, helped along by Damion Lee’s 14 points in a 63-42 win over St. Francis. Georgia State (9-3, 1-0) beat Georgia Southern 72-52 behind 18 points and five assists by James Fields. The Panthers have won nine in a row since an 0-3 start to the season. The Panthers have 37.7 rebounds per game, enough to place it in the top quarter in the nation.


BELMONT at NORTH FLORIDA (7:45 p.m. Monday at UNF Arena in Jacksonville, Florida)

Ever since Belmont nearly took down Duke not once but twice (in an NCAA tournament game and this year’s regular-season opener), the Bruins have been a team with higher visibility in college basketball circles. Belmont (9-5, 2-0) is one of the teams atop the Atlantic Sun Conference. Following a 6-2 start Belmont has stumbled a bit with losses to Middle Tennessee State, Miami of Ohio and Marshall. However, Belmont faced Marshall in its last game and won 79-74 behind Scott Saunders’ 23 points and nine rebounds. As for North Florida (7-7, 1-0), the Ospreys have played a tough schedule; their losses include Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Kansas State and Virginia Tech. Parker Smith scored 23 points in North Florida’s last win, an 85-78 victory over Palm Beach Atlantic.


No. 12 MICHIGAN STATE at No. 17 WISCONSIN (7 p.m. Tuesday at Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin)

After an 0-2 start with losses to Duke and North Carolina, Michigan State has rapidly become one of the nation’s top teams. The trouble for the Spartans is they won’t run through the Big Ten, not with how difficult this conference is. Michigan State (13-2, 2-0) has beaten Gonzaga and Indiana and is one of three teams in the league with a 2-0 record. A win here could be huge for the Spartans if Michigan and Purdue both falter in their next games. The Spartans nearly picked up a double-double of 19 points and eight rebounds from Draymond Green in a 68-55 win over Nebraska. Wisconsin (12-3, 1-1) is a much weaker team in terms of scoring and shooting, so Wisconsin could have problems. The Badgers just came off a 72-65 upset loss to Iowa as Jordan Taylor contributed 17 points and four assists.


OKLAHOMA at No. 9 MISSOURI (8 p.m. Tuesday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri)

The Big 12 gets underway Tuesday night as the Sooners travel to unbeaten Missouri in a game that may have title implications on the line even though it’s just the first contest. Oklahoma (10-2) is in the top 50 nationwide in rebounds (fourth, 42.2) and points (41st, 77.1), and that has helped the Sooners to a strong start. Oklahoma, which has lost to Saint Louis and Cincinnati, has ranked games back-to-back against Missouri and Kansas. Romero Osby scored 18 points in an 83-63 win over Northwestern State, giving the Sooners six wins in their last seven games. Missouri (13-0) is the nation’s hottest-shooting team (51.7 percent) and the third-best scoring team (86.2). Marcus Denmon’s 19 points gave Missouri a 75-68 win over Old Dominion in the Tigers’ last game.


No. 24 ALABAMA at GEORGIA TECH (9 p.m. Tuesday at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia)

The second major game in Atlanta this week takes place as the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast Conferences cross over in an interstate game. Alabama (10-3), the SEC representative, is down in scoring and has a decent field goal percentage but is off to a decent start. Following a 7-0 start the Crimson Tide have hit the skids a bit with losses to Georgetown, Dayton and Kansas State. Alabama topped Jacksonville 72-55 in its last game behind 18 points and four assists by Trevor Releford. Georgia Tech (7-6) has struggled in its non-league slate and is on a two-game losing streak (Mercer and Fordham). The next game for Georgia Tech is the ACC opener against Duke.


No. 16 MARQUETTE at No. 8 GEORGETOWN (7 p.m. Wednesday at Verizon Center in Washington D.C.)

A game with early implications in the Big East, not to mention two teams ranked in the top 25… who could ask for anything more? Marquette (12-2, 1-0) is one of the best teams in the nation in assists (11th, 17.4) and points (25th, 78.6), and Darius Johnson-Odom was a big factor with 24 points in the Golden Eagles’ 81-77 win over Villanova. Marquette jumped out to a 10-0 start before going 2-2 with losses to LSU and Vanderbilt thrown in. This is the first of two big games for the Golden Eagles, who face Syracuse on Jan. 7. Georgetown (12-1, 2-0) lost 67-63 to Kansas but has Memphis, Alabama and Louisville among its victories. The Hoyas take a 10-game winning streak into this contest, but Providence held them down scoring-wise although Georgetown won 49-40. Jason Clark had 16 points in that contest.


AUBURN at FLORIDA STATE (7 p.m. Wednesday at Donald Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Florida)

In another SEC/ACC crossover contest, Auburn travels to Tallahassee for another interstate rivalry. Auburn (9-3), which played Bethune-Cookman Monday night and should have 10 wins by the time you read this, has lost to Seton Hall, Long Beach State and Texas-El Paso. The Tigers nearly had problems with Georgia Southern but pulled out a 78-75 win over Georgia Southern behind 21 points from Rob Chubb. Auburn kicks off SEC action against Vanderbilt on Jan. 7. As for Florida State (8-5), the Seminoles have lost their last two games against Florida and Princeton, the latter a heartbreaker in triple overtime. Michael Snaer had 20 points against Princeton.


KANSAS STATE at No. 11 KANSAS (8 p.m. Wednesday at Phog Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas)

Sunflower State bragging rights, anyone? Kansas is usually a basketball powerhouse, but Kansas State has once again grown in stature to the point where these games actually mean something. Kansas State was a perennial powerhouse with 10 trips to the Elite Eight up to 1981, but the Wildcats have only been to the Elite Eight twice since then (1988 and 2010). Kansas State (11-1) heads into the Big 12 opener with only a five-point, double-overtime loss to West Virginia blemishing its record. The Wildcats have a seventh-best 41.8 rebounds per game. Rodney McGruder scored 14 points in the Wildcats’ 82-46 win over Howard. Kansas (10-3) got a dominant performance from Thomas Robinson in its 84-58 win against North Dakota. Robinson scored 30 points and grabbed 21 rebounds. The Jayhawks have losses against Duke, Kentucky and Davidson.


INDIANA STATE at NORTHERN IOWA (8 p.m. Wednesday at McLeod Center in Cedar Falls, Iowa)

These two teams are not among the leaders in the Missouri Valley Conference, but with a little luck and good play they could be. Both the Sycamores and Panthers already have 10 victories, thanks to some good non-conference wins. Indiana State (10-3, 1-1) lost to Minnesota and Boise State outside the MVC and then fell 79-64 to Drake in the league. Jake Odum’s 24 points and four assists helped Indiana State get back to the win column with a 77-66 victory over Bradley. Northern Iowa (10-4, 0-2) is on a three-game losing streak with losses to Ohio, Illinois State and Evansville on the books. Jake Koch’s 10 rebounds and six assists weren’t enough to save the Panthers. It looks like Missouri State and Evansville may be the MVC leaders but stay tuned.


CHARLESTON at WOFFORD (7 p.m. Thursday at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Spartanburg, South Carolina)

The Southern Conference has five teams off to 2-0 starts in the two-division format, and Charleston is one of them. Charleston (10-3, 2-0) is tied atop the South Division with Davidson and Georgia Southern, but the Cougars have dropped two of their last three to Louisville and George Mason. Antwaine Wiggins just missed a double-double with 19 points and nine rebounds in the 84-76 loss to George Mason. Wofford (7-6, 1-1) has a game Monday against Wake Forest before going back into Southern Conference play. Wofford is one game behind the South Division leaders but also has a two-game losing streak to High Point and South Carolina. Karl Cochran scored 12 points against South Carolina in the 57-45 loss.


No. 18 MICHIGAN at No. 15 INDIANA (9 p.m. Thursday at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana)

With a later start to accommodate a national television audience, these two Big Ten teams will get a chance to show off their resurgence. Michigan (12-2, 2-0) started its comeback last season following a few down years, and the Wolverines are on a seven-game winning streak. Trey Burke fired in 27 points and had three assists in the Wolverines’ 61-56 win over Minnesota. Michigan has a 48.1 shooting percentage, good for the top 50 in the nation. Indiana (13-1, 1-1) recovered from a 15-point loss to Michigan State by beating Ohio State 74-70. Jordan Hulls’ 17 points and two assists helped the Hoosiers in this game. Indiana has faced three ranked teams back-to-back-to-back, and the Hoosiers get a small break with Penn State and Minnesota up next.