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January 31, 2011


Texas at Texas A&M
Monday 8 p.m.

Two weeks ago, these teams met on national television in Austin—and it wasn’t pretty. Since that 81-60 victory at home, Texas became the first opposing team to win at Allen Fieldhouse in four years, it won at Oklahoma State and then dispatched of Missouri at home. That leaves the Longhorns undefeated at 6-0 in the league and eyeing an outright Big 12 championship.

Rick Barnes’ team is clearly nothing like the squad that collapsed last year. With improved guard play and one of the nation’s top defenses, Texas has become a physical, imposing force in the Big 12. The Longhorns will run into another team that likes to play rough tonight. Since the Billy Gillispie days, Texas A&M has won with defense, rebounding and toughness. Mark Turgeon’s 2010-11 team is no different. Despite a setback at Nebraska this weekend, the Aggies are just two games out of first place. They’ve got to find a way to slow Texas’ Jordan Hamilton, who scored 27 points in the first meeting. Texas won at the Phog—so Reed Arena doesn’t seem so scary anymore-- but this team has to lose eventually. Why not in a rivalry game against a team that wants blood from an earlier 21-point loss?

BEST INDIVIDUAL MATCH-UP: Jordan Hamilton (Texas) vs. Khris Middleton (Texas A&M)
Whether or not they guard each other, these two scorers are the offensive leaders for their respective teams. Both players are enjoying surprising breakout seasons at the win position, and that goes double for Middleton. He’s been a little less consistent than Hamilton, and A&M counts on him for production. In a loss to Nebraska on Saturday, Middleton took just nine shots and scored 12 points.

BEST STORYLINE: Rivalry and Revenge
Anyone who’s watched college basketball for more than five minutes knows that the dynamics of a game completely shift depending on the home court. In a rivalry game, it’s silly to compare the result of one game to the return game. Reed Arena will be rocking tonight despite the 21-point loss two weeks ago, and Texas will need to match A&M’s home-court intensity.

HOW THE GAME WILL BE WON: Toughness and Physicality
These are two squads that pride themselves on toughness. Texas’ defense-first approach is a new look for Rick Barnes, but A&M’s played this way since Billy Gillispie. Texas out-rebounded and out-toughed Texas A&M two weeks ago and won the rebounding battle by eight boards. That will need to change at Reed Arena this time around for A&M to knock off Texas.

Prediction: Texas A&M 66, Texas 64


Louisville at Georgetown
Monday 6 p.m.

Not even Rick Pitino thought Louisville would be this good. He referred to this year’s team as the “bridge” to next year, when a stellar recruiting class arrives. Forget about a bridge. The Cardinals are in the thick of the Big East race behind Pittsburgh, a team they haven’t faced yet. After a three-game losing streak, Georgetown has won four in a row and righted itself with an upset win at Villanova this weekend.

Prediction: Louisville 77, Georgetown 72

Purdue at Wisconsin
Tuesday 6 p.m.

Two Big Ten Player of the Year candidates in JuJuan Johnson and Jon Leuer go head-to-head in this Big Ten tilt at the Kohl Center, where Wisconsin’s nearly automatic. The last time Purdue went on the road, it embarrassed itself in Columbus. Good thing Wisconsin’s not Ohio State.

Prediction: Wisconsin 57, Purdue 56

Syracuse at Connecticut
Wednesday 6 p.m.

Things are falling apart at Syracuse. A four-game slump could turn into a five-game losing streak Wednesday night if the Orange don’t pull a shocker at the XL Center.

Prediction: Connecticut 80, Syracuse 66

Ohio State at Minnesota
Saturday 1 p.m.

Every time you think OSU’s going down, the Buckeyes keep on chugging. They passed a test at Illinois. They avoided an upset at Northwestern. And now, they’ll look to stay undefeated the Barn.

Prediction: Ohio State 69, Minnesota 55


San Diego State at Colorado State
Wednesday 8 p.m.

It’s not that San Diego State is a fraud after losing one game at the Marriot Center to BYU. Far from it. But SDSU makes the Upset Watch this week simply because Colorado State is good enough to pull one. Tim Miles’ program is finally having a breakout year, and forwards Andy Ogide and Travis Frankin make-up the second-best frontcourt in the MWC; second to San Diego State. It’ll be a battle in the paint Wednesday night, and that’s where the game will be won.

Prediction: Colorado State 75, San Diego State 72


Wichita State at Indiana State
Tuesday 6 p.m.

Folks, we’ve got a race in the Missouri Valley. Northern Iowa won at Missouri State last night, which means there’s a logjam at the top of the conference. Wichita State at 9-2 is tied with MSU—although it did lose at home to the Bears earlier this month—and Indiana State is a game behind UNI at 7-4. This is a game ISU must have to convince the league its hot start wasn’t a fluke.

Prediction: Wichita State 70, Indiana State 60

Hofstra at George Mason
Wednesday 6 p.m.

For much of January, Hofstra and star Charles Jenkins looked like the CAA favorite—a team that would bust brackets in March. Then, VCU took out the darling Pride last week, and Hofstra has now lost two straight.

Prediction: George Mason 67, Hofstra 61

Harvard at Princeton
Friday 6 p.m.

There’s no conference tournament in the Ivy League, so we may look back at this game as the conference’s championship game when March rolls around. The two teams we expected to compete for this league are both undefeated, but one will have to lose Friday. It doesn’t take an Ivy League kid to figure that out.

Prediction: Harvard 73, Princeton 66

Last week’s prediction record: N/A
Overall record: 56-31

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