If the past week's action on the hardwood is anything like we'll see in the coming week and beyond, college hoops fans are in for a real treat. The second week of conference play has arrived, and it brings us another helping of big-time matchups all across in the country. Among those are a pair of "Big Monday" showdowns, the first between Big East favorites Cincinnati and Connecticut and the second a matchup of Big XII favorites Texas and Iowa State. With games like those and others like Indiana at Michigan State and NC State at Boston College all on the menu this week, look for the pace to again be fast and furious as teams jockey for early season positioning.
MUST-SEE THIS WEEK
(#12) Cincinnati at (#5) Connecticut
The Bearcats are currently leading the way at 2-0 in the Big East, while preseason favorite UConn is 0-1 after dropping their league opener last week at Marquette. Cincinnati has responded in fabulous fashion since an early season slump just after Thanksgiving. Since that time, the 'Cats have won ten straight, including victories over Vanderbilt, LSU, and the aforementioned Eagles. The team who's playing best is away from home, so this one should be interesting.
(#10) Texas at Iowa State
There appears to be three main favorites in the Big XII this year, and two of them meet in Ames Monday evening. The Longhorns have recovered nicely from a late-December slump, winning both on the road at Memphis and at home against Colorado in their conference opener last week. The Cyclones have lost just once since December 3, that to Ohio State by just three points. The highly-ranked Horns are hot, but Curtis Stinson and ISU are at home.
NC State at Boston College
The Wolfpack put in a very disappointing performance on the road at UNC Saturday, so they will surely be looking to rebound in Chestnut Hill. And speaking of needing to rebound, the Eagles have started the ACC season 0-2, though both of those games were on the road. This is their conference home opener, and in addition to needing to snap the losing streak, BC could use the quality win. That won't be easy, though, as NCSU has already won on the road at Notre Dame and Alabama.
(#6) Indiana at Michigan State
The Hoosiers had a fabulous opening week of play in the Big Ten, winning home games over both Michigan and Ohio State. One of the tri-leaders in the league heading into this week's action, IU will be making its first road trip in conference play, though it will be their seventh game away from home in their last nine outings. The Spartans, after losing at both Illinois and Wisconsin last week, desperately need to get back on track. There's no better way to do it than at home and against a league leader.
Georgetown at (#14) West Virginia
This one will sneak under the radar for many people, but these two squads have quietly gone about thier business this season. Much was expected of the Mountaineers, but the squad lost three of its first five and was forgotten by many. Since that time, however, WVU has reeled off eight straight, including a come-from-behind victory on the road at previously-unbeaten and third-ranked Villanova this past Sunday. The Hoyas are unbeaten in league play themselves and winners of seven straight. A victory here puts G'Town in the NCAA mix.
LSU at Arkansas
Things haven't been especially pretty for this pair so far. The Tigers are just 8-5 and have lost four of their last six but did take Connecticut to the wire before losing by one point on the road this past weekend. Arkansas, 11-3 on the season, dropped a heart-breaker on the road at Mississippi State to open SEC play. With Alabama's Chuck Davis out for the season, these two immediately become the front-runners in the SEC West, or so one would think. One of these squads needs to step up.
YOU'LL WANT TO CATCH THESE, TOO
(#8) Gonzaga at Santa Clara - Monday 11:00 PM CDT
(#11) Wisconsin at Minnesota - Tuesday 6:00 PM CDT
North Carolina at Virginia Tech - Tuesday 6:30 PM CDT
Missouri at Oklahoma - Tuesday 7:00 PM CDT
Vanderbilt at Kentucky - Tuesday 8:00 PM CDT
(#3) Villanova at Rutgers - Wednesday 6:00 PM CDT
Syracuse at Notre Dame - Wednesday 6:00 PM CDT
Mississippi State at (#2) Florida - Wednesday 6:00 PM CDT
Marquette at Seton Hall - Wednesday 6:30 PM CDT
Wake Forest at Clemson - Wednesday 6:30 PM CDT
SE Louisiana at Northwestern State - Wednesday 6:30 PM CDT
Georgia at Tennessee - Wednesday 6:30 PM CDT
Baylor at Texas Tech - Wednesday 7:00 PM CDT
Alabama at Auburn - Wednesday 7:00 PM CDT
Creighton at Northern Iowa - Wednesday 7:05 PM CDT
Maryland at (#1) Duke - Wednesday 8:00 PM CDT
Kansas at Colorado - Wednesday 8:00 PM CDT
Texas A&M at Oklahoma State - Wednesday 8:00 PM CDT
Washington at Southern Cal - Thursday 9:30 PM CDT