As we welcome in the first few days of 2007, it's also the opening week of conference play all across the country. Though a select few leagues have already played their first in-conference matchups of the year, many will tip their league play off for the first time in the next few days. Among the top showdowns to keep an eye on this week is the Missouri Valley battle between Wichita State and Southern Illinois, as well as the ACC matchup between Clemson and Florida. Also keep an eye on the likes of Winthrop-Texas A&M, Villanova-West Virginia, Arizona-Washington, and much more!
Wichita State at Southern Illinois
There aren't many games you won't want to watch in the Missouri Valley this year, but this is one you'll want to put on your calendar and circle. Though there are a number of great teams in the conference, these two have to be among the top three or four favorites to come out on top in March.
Winthrop at Texas A&M
One of last great non-conference matchups of the season, this one features the 10-win Eagles venturing out on the road once again to take on an Aggie squad that has bounced back from a two-game losing streak by winning four in a row. This one will be a nice, RPI-building win for whoever can claim the victory.
Clemson at Florida State
ACC play is long and hard, and though few expected either of these to contend when the season began, both have shown flashes early in the year, especially the Tigers. Still unbeaten on the season, Clemson will test that record on the road in Tallahassee where the Seminoles have yet to lose this year.
Villanova at West Virginia
The Mountaineers gained a ton of respect with their thrashing of Connecticut last Saturday, but as anyone in the Big East can attest to, there's little time to take a breath once conference play begins. Villanova has quietly gone about their business on a way to a 10-2 record thus far.
Arizona at Washington
UCLA looks to be the favorite in the Pac-10 race this spring, but both of these squads have hopes of challenging the Bruins' prowess. If that's to be the case, they'll need to win games like this to have a chance to stay in the hunt. Can the Huskies bounce back after losing two in southern California last weekend?
OTHER TOP MATCHUPS
New Mexico at Texas Tech
Bobby Knight will try again for his record-clinching victory, but the Lobos, who recently knocked off Wichita State, won't go down easily.
Oklahoma at Alabama
Both teams are still trying to find themselves just a bit, though the Tide has much greater expectations this season.
South Florida at Connecticut
After getting trounced on the road at WVU, how will the Huskies respond at home against a seemingly-improved Bulls squad?
Indiana at Ohio State
Big Ten play gets underway, and new Hoosiers coach Kelvin Sampson gets no easy breaks with the league opener. Buckeyes are the conference favorite heading in.
Mississippi State at Missouri
Both of these teams are on the outside looking in as far as NCAA play goes for now but are capable of making runs between now and March.
Missouri State at Bradley
Yet another interesting matchup in what is sure to be a long two months full of exciting MVC hoops. Each has already picked up a league loss.
Vanderbilt at Rice
The Commodores take one last non-conference trip to test star Morris Almond and his Owls just before league play begins.
Tulsa at Arkansas
This should be a great matchup between two squads with NCAA hopes and potential. They're a combined 19-5 thus far.
Louisville at Notre Dame
Irish have looked impressive as of late but want to avoid a slip-up in their Big East opener against the Cards.
Kansas State at Xavier
Musketeers were impressive in their win over Illinois last weekend. Can Bob Huggins pull the upset against his former cross-town rival?
Northwestern at Penn State
Both teams have won 9 games thus far but may see their success dwindle with the arrival of Big Ten play. Can either make a run at the Dance?
Purdue at Minnesota
After being demolished on the road at Indiana State, can the Boilers bounce back and take care of business against the struggling Gophers?
Illinois at Michigan
Neither squad looked good at all in their most recent outing. Who gets off on the right foot in Big Ten action?
Evansville at Northern Iowa
Both squads have two early MVC wins, including the Panthers' victory on the road in Wichita. Should be a good battle here.
Air Force at Colorado State
The Falcons are a legitimate top 25 team, but the Rams are no slouch themselves, having put together a 10-2 record thus far.
Gonzaga at Virginia
Zags were disappointed at home against Nevada last weekend and now must travel cross-country to take on the 8-3, NCAA-hopeful Cavs.
Pittsburgh at Syracuse
Both were Big East favorites coming into the year, but each has struggled in recent outings. Can the 'Cuse get the win at home?
Creighton at Indiana State
Sycamores are fresh off a thrasing of Purdue and now look to take care of some in-conference business.
Marquette at Providence
This is a game the Eagles should win, though the Friars haven't looked bad thus far.
Southern Illinois at Drake
The only reason this one is worth watching is because the Salukis are away from home. Can Drake pull the upset?
Bradley at Wichita State
Two of the MVC's better squads get together with the Shockers hoping to avoid a second straight home defeat while also dealing with three straight losses overall.
Southern Cal at Oregon
Both teams have had quality seasons thus far and are hoping to stay within breathing distance of UCLA.
Cincinnati at Memphis
Old CUSA rivals meet by the mighty Mississippi in a game the Tigers should be able to win with ease.
Michigan State at Iowa
Will the Hawkeyes be competitive in the Big Ten this year? They get no favors with the tough league opener.
Hawaii at New Mexico State
The WAC is looking pretty strong this season, and both of these teams have eyes on making a conference title and NCAA runs.
UCLA at Oregon State
Top-ranked Bruins venture out on to the road for the first time in conference play.