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COLLEGE HOOPS: THE WEEKEND AHEAD
January 20, 2006

SCS.comThough just January and the early part of the conference schedules, it's already getting crunch time for a number of squads all around the country. Teams like Louisville, who hosts Connecticut on Saturday, Kansas, welcoming in Nebraska, and Arkansas, paying a visit to Auburn, all desperately need to pick up big conference wins this weekend if they want to avoid falling even farther behind in their respective conference standings. Each of those three teams has won just a single league game so far. In addition to those matchups, also keep an eye on others like West Virginia's trip to UCLA, Florida's visit to Tennessee, and Syracuse's venture to Villanova over the weekend.

MUST-SEE THIS WEEKEND

Iowa at (#15) Michigan State
Saturday 11:00 AM CDT

The Spartans have recovered from an 0-2 start to Big Ten play, winning their previous two games at home against Indiana and on the road earlier this week at Ohio State. Back even at 2-2, Michigan State is again a favorite in the conference race. And speaking of recovery, Iowa played three overtimes Wednesday in a home win over Minnesota, so how well the Hawkeyes' legs recover will certainly be a concern. Combine that with the fact that MSU is at home, and it looks like the Spartans should be on their way to a third straight win.

(#12) West Virginia at UCLA
Saturday 2:45 PM CDT

After a rough start to the season, WVU has rebounded to win eleven straight games, and the Mountaineers now lead the Big East with a 5-0 conference mark. Included in that streak are road wins at Oklahoma and Villanova, and if the streak is to continue this week, it will obviously have to be done away from home. The Bruins have battled numerous injuries all season but lead the Pac-10 with a 5-2 record in league play and have won a dozen of their last fourteen games. This should be a great cross-country battle.

Syracuse at (#5) Villanova
Saturday 5:00 PM CDT

The Orange picked up big wins on the road at Notre Dame and Cincinnati last week and gained some huge momentum, but all of that came crashing down in a blowout loss to Connecticut at home this past Monday. The Wildcats, meanwhile, continue to be ranked as one of the country's top teams and have lost just twice all season. The senior guard combo of Allan Ray and Randy Foye is perhaps the most deadly in all of America as the pair combines for nearly 40 points per game. A Syracuse win in Philly would be extremely surprising.

(#2) Florida at Tennessee
Saturday 6:00 PM CDT

If the Gators are going to lose anytime soon, this weekend's trip to Tennessee is the game most likely to trip up Billy Donovan's squad. First year head coach Bruce Pearl has the Volunteers sitting at 11-3 overall, and though UT is just a game back of Florida in the SEC East standings, Tennessee has lost two straight games against LSU and Memphis, both away from home. With the Vols returning to Knoxville, the Gators should be tested, but if they pass, they could begin to run away with the SEC East before the month of January is complete.

(#4) Connecticut at Louisville
Saturday 8:00 PM CDT

The Cardinals are one of the most disappointing teams in all of America this season. Rick Pitino's squad is 13-4 overall but just 1-3 in their first year of Big East play. The Cards have played three games against ranked teams this season and lost each by an average of nearly ten points a piece. The Huskies, arguably UL's toughest foe to date, have dropped just one game this season and come in to Louisville ranked by everyone as one of America's top five teams. A Cardinal loss would put a huge damper on their NCAA hopes.

YOU'LL WANT TO CATCH THESE, TOO

Notre Dame at Marquette - Friday 8:00 PM CDT
  An interesting matchup of Big East bubble teams.

Clemson at Georgia Tech - Saturday 11:00 AM CDT
  Like above, a game of bubble teams, though these from the ACC.

(#1) Duke at Georgetown - Saturday 12:30 PM CDT
  Hoyas are improving, but Duke makes most look bad.

Texas A&M at Iowa State - Saturday 12:45 PM CDT
  Aggies' early-season momentum is wearing off quickly.

Northwestern State at Southeast Louisiana - Saturday 1:00 PM CDT
  Demons are leading the Southland and already beat SELA once.

Arkansas at Auburn - Saturday 1:00 PM CDT
  Hogs couldn't hold off Bama on Wednesday, now try luck against Tigers.

George Mason at UNC-Wilmington - Saturday 1:00 PM CDT
  Two of the three favorites in the Colonial meet head-to-head.

Alabama at LSU - Saturday 2:00 PM CDT
  These two have emerged as the favorites in the SEC West race.

Mississippi State at Vanderbilt - Saturday 2:45 PM CDT
  Both lost at home Wednesday and could really use a weekend win.

Wake Forest at (#14) NC State - Saturday 3:00 PM CDT
  Deacons finally got an ACC win, but a second at NCSU won't be easy.

George Washington at Charlotte - Saturday 3:00 PM CDT
  Along with Xavier, look for these two to fight it out in the A-10.

Nebraska at Kansas - Saturday 3:00 PM CDT
  Huskers have been surprisingly good, Jayhawks surprisingly bad.

Colorado at Oklahoma State - Saturday 3:00 PM CDT
  Buffs have rebounded from 0-2 Big XII start. Both are bubble teams.

Illinois at Northwestern - Saturday 3:30 PM CDT
  Illini, 2-2 in the Big Ten, can't afford loss at in-state rival.

Mississippi at Georgia - Saturday 4:00 PM CDT
  A matchup of perhaps the SEC's two most improved teams.

(#9) Gonzaga at San Diego - Saturday 5:00 PM CDT
  Another WCC road trip for the Zags. Toreros are 6-1 at home.

California at Arizona - Saturday 5:00 PM CDT
  Each has struggled in Pac-10 play and could use a big win.

Boston College at Miami - Saturday 7:00 PM CDT
  Hurricanes are as hot as any team in the country right now.

Michigan at Minnesota - Saturday 7:00 PM CDT
  Gophers try to rebound from 3-OT loss at Iowa against 12-3 Wolves.

Western Kentucky at South Alabama - Saturday 7:05 PM CDT
  The top team in the Sun Belt East visits the best squad in the West.

Rutgers at Cincinnati - Sunday 1:00 PM CDT
  Bearcats have lost two straight and now face feisty Scarlet Knights.

Wichita State at Missouri State - Sunday 2:05 PM CDT
  The loser of this one begins to fall to the back of the pack in the MVC.

North Carolina at Florida State - Sunday 5:30 PM CDT
  Young Tar Heels cannot afford to lose ACC games like this one.

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