GAME OF THE WEEK...
(1) Illinois at Michigan State
Top-ranked Illinois survived a huge road test at Wisconsin last week and will try to do the same on Tuesday night. That's when the Illini pay a visit to Michigan State to take on the Spartans. MSU is currently in second place in the Big Ten, the only team in the conference with one league loss. Illinois is one of just two remaining unbeatens in the country.
After a 3-2 start, Michigan State has won eleven of their last twelve games. The lone loss since early December came a couple weeks ago on the road at Wisconsin. Though the Badgers are one of the Big Ten's better clubs, this will clearly be Coach Tom Izzo's toughest test since a seven-point defeat at Duke in late November. MSU is 12-0 at home this season and has won three Big Ten home games by an average of 16 points each. Five Spartans score in double figures, led by junior guard Maurice Ager with nearly 15 a night. Center Paul Davis contributes 13, while Alan Anderson, Shannon Brown, Kelvin Tolbert, and Chris Hill all add between 9 and 11 per contest.
Illinois has proven they can win anywhere. The Illini has won on the road at places like Georgetown and Wisconsin, at neutral sites over opponents like Arkansas, Gonzaga, Cincinnati, and Missouri, and at home against the likes of Wake Forest and Iowa. Senior guard Luther Head is the Big Ten's fifth-leading scorer at nearly 17 per game. Deron Williams, Roger Powell, and Dee Brown each add about 13 per contest, while forward James Augustine contributes 10.
Four of the Illini's last six games have been decided by 10 points or less, so one would expect Tuesday's showdown in East Lansing to be close as well. With hoops experts like ESPN's Dick Vitale saying this game is the last one standing between Illionis and an unblemished regular season record, the pressure is on Coach Bruce Webber and his squad. The Izzone will be rocking on Tuesday night, but Illinois shows once again that they are physically and mentally tough...and the nation's best team.
The Editor Says: Illinois
THE WEEK'S OTHER TOP MATCHUPS...
Cincinnati at (10) Louisville
Round one of this showdown went to Pitino's Cardinals just a little over two weeks ago. Each squad currently boasts a 6-1 CUSA record, so the winner moves into first place heading into the second half of conference play. If UL can win on the Bearcats' floor, they can do it in Freedom Hall.
The Editor Says: Louisville
(8) Duke at (7) Wake Forest
ACC preseason favorite Wake Forest has already lost two league games and cannot afford to drop another at this point, especially at home. Both squads have lost games they feel should have been won, but a victory in this in-state rivalry will erase some of those feelings. Round one to Wake.
The Editor Says: Wake Forest
St. Mary's at Gonzaga
This Thursday evening showdown matches the top two teams in the West Coast Conference. The Gaels are currently leading the way with a 5-1 record, including a victory over the Zags by eight in early January. A GU win could create a four-way conference tie heading into the weekend.
The Editor Says: Gonzaga
Stanford at (11) Arizona
The Cardinal is perhaps the hottest team in the PAC 10, winners of their last six games since the second week of January. Arizona picked up a huge win over Washington last Thursday but was then upset on Saturday by Washington State. Expect a battle, but the 'Cats get back on track.
The Editor Says: Arizona
(13) Alabama at Florida
After a sluggish pre-conference run, Billy Donovan's club has won five of their first six SEC contests. Like the Gators, Alabama has lost just once in league play, but this is probably their toughest road contest since the new year began. UF improves to 11-3 in the O-Dome this season.
The Editor Says: Florida
BEST OF THE REST...
Missouri at (3) Kansas - Monday
Providence at Pittsburgh - Monday
(15) Utah at BYU - Monday
Maryland at Clemson - Tuesday
West Virginia at (4) Boston College - Tuesday
Florida at Mississippi State - Tuesday
Wichita State at Creighton - Tuesday
TCU at DePaul - Tuesday
Kansas State at (14) Oklahoma State - Wednesday
Villanova at Connecticut - Wednesday
Florida State at Georgia Tech - Wednesday
Arkansas at South Carolina - Wednesday
LSU at Georgia - Wednesday
Virginia Tech at Miami - Wednesday
Virginia at Providence - Wednesday
Seton Hall at Georgetown - Wednesday
Texas A&M at Oklahoma - Wednesday
Tennessee at Vanderbilt - Wednesday
Northwestern at (12) Wisconsin - Wednesday
Minnesota at Michigan - Wednesday
UAB at Marquette - Wednesday
Colorado at Texas Tech - Wednesday
Southern Illinois at Bradley - Wednesday
NC State at (2) North Carolina - Thursday
Akron at Bowling Green - Thursday
Stanford at Arizona State - Thursday
California at (11) Arizona - Thursday
(3) Kansas at Nebraska - Saturday
(12) Wisconsin at Minnesota - Saturday
Michigan at Ohio State - Saturday
Georgia Tech at (8) Duke - Saturday
Mississippi State at Auburn - Saturday
George Washington at Temple - Saturday
Michigan State at Iowa - Saturday
Memphis at Houston - Saturday
Maryland at Miami - Saturday
(6) Kentucky at Vanderbilt - Saturday
(7) Wake Forest at Virginia Tech - Saturday
Cincinnati at Charlotte - Saturday
Old Dominion at UNC-Wilmington - Saturday
Arkansas at Mississippi - Saturday
UCLA at (9) Washington - Saturday
Santa Clara at Gonzaga - Saturday
Pittsburgh at West Virginia - Saturday
Missouri at Texas A&M - Saturday
LSU at Tennessee - Saturday
California at Arizona State - Saturday
Oregon at Oregon State - Saturday
(4) Boston College at Seton Hall - Saturday
Providence at Villanova - Saturday
Virginia at NC State - Saturday
(10) Louisville at UAB - Saturday
Southern Illinois at Northern Iowa - Saturday
Notre Dame at (5) Syracuse - Saturday
Texas Tech at Oklahoma - Saturday
Indiana at (1) Illinois - Sunday
(2) North Carolina at Florida State - Sunday
The Editor's CBB Records:
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