February 11, 2009: The Greatest Regular Season College Basketball TV Watching Night Ever
By Jeff Falconio
How great is Wednesday night going to be if you're a college basketball fan? Way back in September we at WSW proclaimed September 13 to be a great football watching day. There was Ohio State-USC and Wisconsin-Fresno State among others on the schedule and it was the perfect time to lounge on the couch, ingest an assortment of grilled meat and salty snacks and take in the college football action.
But Wednesday's college basketball schedule might be even better. Here's what is on the docket:
5:30 p.m. Penn State at Purdue. Who do you root for if you're a Badgers fan? Wisconsin beat Penn State over the weekend and at this point, you want every vanquished foe to finish with the best record possible. On the other hand, Penn State is a bubble team in need of a quality win. Will the selection committee take six teams or more from the Big Ten? The recent slide of both PSU and Michigan has opened the door for the Badgers.
6 p.m. Syracuse at Connecticut. Outstanding Big East matchup. Both teams are holding a ticket to the big dance but where will they land? UConn wants the #1 seed in the East with the regionals held in Boston. Syracuse has solid credentials but beating UConn could put the Orange into a #5 seed or better. A UConn loss also helps Marquette in the bid for the Big East regular season title.
Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech. The Jackets are at the bottom of the ACC and simply cannot buy a break. Georgia Tech has lost two conference games in overtime and the last two games by a combined five points. Again it's a dilemma for Badgers fans. Wisconsin beat Virginia Tech but the Hokies are a bubble team and right now the ACC is gearing up to take as many at large spots as possible.
Xavier at Dayton. Two of the top teams in the Atlantic 10 battle here. Xavier will make the tournament for sure but a weekend loss to Duquense opened up the A-10 for either Dayton or St. Joseph's. The Musketeers get some breathing room with a win and are looking at maybe grabbing a #3 seed in the tourney. Dayton is a bubble team with typical non-power conference credentials: a solid RPI but a lousy strength of schedule. But with a quality win against Marquette already on the books, a second quality win over 14th ranked Xavier makes the Flyers legitimate.
7 p.m. Tulsa at Memphis. The top two of Conference USA do battle. Tulsa is on the outside looking in but a road win against Memphis puts the Golden Hurricane in the discussion. Meanwhile, Memphis is quietly putting together another solid year as evidenced by last weekend's win at Gonzaga. Up by two games in the conference, a win virtually delivers the regular season title to the Tigers just as Memphis starts to eye up a #2 seed in the tournament.
7:30 p.m. Iowa at Wisconsin. A win puts the Badgers at .500 in the conference and could put their tourney hopes off life support for the time being. Furthermore, it'd be Wisconsin's third straight win which should serve as a shot of confidence before Saturday's matchup with Ohio State. The Badgers know Iowa can be pesky. The Hawkeyes beat Wisconsin in overtime on January 21.
8 p.m. Texas Tech at Kansas State. Winners of five in a row, Kansas State has blown past several teams to put themselves in the tournament for now. This is the first of three games at home for the Wildcats and up next is in-state rival Kansas. Win both and you can remove the "for now" tag. Don't miss the last two minutes, three of K State's five wins have been by a combined 11 points.
Oklahoma at Baylor. The Sooners have the easiest path to a #1 seed of all the top teams but this is a trap game for OU. Oklahoma looked sluggish in two previous wins and Baylor is itching to end a five game losing streak. The Bears are currently NIT bound but there's plenty of room on the bubble if Baylor pulls off the upset.
North Carolina at Duke. This game needs no hype but there's more at stake than just bragging rights, first place in the ACC and the inside track to a #1 seed. It's possible both teams get a top seed but one will have to be sent to either the Midwest or West Region assuming UConn is the #1 in the East. Would either team want the road to the Final Four to possibly go through Phoenix?
8:30 p.m. New Mexico at Air Force. Okay, this game is both last and least but there's nothing better than staying up late, watching some Mountain West hoops and eating Hormel chili. It's a personal tradition that dates back to the college days for me. No need for snickering though, the MWC is solid and could put as many as four teams in the tourney. But right now the Lobos are the odd man out. A loss to last place Air Force would be lethal.