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Monday, January 24, 2011

Can Buckeyes, Aztecs Remain Unbeaten?

After seeing one of three unbeatens fall last week, will this be the week that one more -- or both -- join the ranks of the beaten? Also, Kansas State is running out of chances; Duke has an intriguing road trip; and Purdue has a couple of tough matchups.

10. No. 16 Minnesota (14-4, 3-3) at No. 12 Purdue (17-3, 6-1), Saturday, 1 p.m., CBS

Two weeks ago, Minnesota beat Purdue behind 26 points from Blake Hoffarber and some stingy defense. A late Al Nolen three was the difference, but the Gophers will be without Nolen for the rematch due to foot surgery. Purdue is in the middle of a four-game stretch against ranked teams, including a duel with top-ranked Ohio State in Columbus.

9. No. 21 Georgetown (14-5, 3-4) at No. 8 Villanova (17-2, 5-1), Saturday, noon, ESPN

Georgetown has struggled in conference play, but a few bunnies have them creeping back towards .500. If the Hoyas convert Wednesday against St. John's in a certainly winnable game, they will be back to even and riding a three-game winning streak when they roll into Philly. Villanova, on the other hand, bounced back nicely after falling to UConn with an impressive win over Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.            

8. Kansas State (13-7, 1-4) at No. 6 Kansas (18-1, 3-1), Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN

After losing consecutive games to Oklahoma State and Colorado, Kansas State guard Jacob Pullen decreed that, given the option, he would not play in the NIT. His team responded by dropping two of its next three. The losses were respectable -- both coming away from home against ranked teams -- but if the Wildcats expect to make the big dance, they'll need some help given their recent performances. It may not come in Lawrence, but they will need a few impressive wins for their resume.

7. No. 3 Duke (18-1, 5-1) at St. John's (11-7, 4-4), Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

After an impressive start for Steve Lavin at St. John's, the Red Storm have slipped quite a bit for most of the Big East conference season. Still, they have not had an easy road by any stretch, and an upset over Duke in the Garden would certainly reignite the Johnnie faithful. Duke has looked good, even if somewhat vulnerable, after being upset by Florida State. The Blue Devils faced a couple of early deficits, but nothing that would suggest any danger.

6. Georgia (14-4, 3-2) at No. 14 Kentucky (15-4, 3-2), Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN

Kentucky's conference road woes began in Athens, where the Bulldogs upset the young Wildcats earlier in the month. The 'Cats exorcised some of those demons Saturday, winning over South Carolina in Columbia. Both teams are very much in the hunt for the SEC East title, and a sweep of UK would greatly increase Georgia's chances. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Kentucky has yet to lose a home game under John Calipari.
5. No. 23 Louisville (15-4, 4-2) at No. 5 Connecticut (16-2, 4-2), Saturday, noon
Louisville had it all going. After being drubbed by Kentucky at home, the Cards had ripped off four of five, including some pretty impressive shooting performances. That all ended Saturday, when Louisville fell to the lowly Providence Friars. Preston Knowles only scored two points in that game, and Rick Pitino's team failed to make a three in the second half. UConn star Kemba Walker also had a tough game Saturday, but unlike Knowles and Louisville, his teammates were able to pick up the slack. It should be noted that, also unlike Knowles, Walker had 16 points.

4. No. 15 Notre Dame (16-4, 5-3) at No. 2 Pittsburgh (19-1, 7-0), Monday, 7 p.m., ESPN

Of all the strength present in the Big East, Pittsburgh has taken an early season lead. If anyone is going to go on the road and beat the Panthers, it's ... probably not Notre Dame. The Irish have been awful away from home, but they've yet to lose in South Bend. They'll need to be lights-out to even have a chance in this one, especially since they're facing the nation's best rebounding team. No misses!

3. No. 11 Missouri (17-3, 3-2) at No. 7 Texas (16-3, 4-0), Saturday, 9 p.m., ESPNU

An impressive team thus far in the season, Texas vaulted itself to top-tier status with its victory over previously unbeaten Kansas in Lawrence -- where the Jayhawks hadn't lost in their past 69 games. Missouri, also trending upward, will have a full week to prepare for the Longhorns.

2. No. 12 Purdue (17-3, 6-1) at No. 1 Ohio State (20-0, 7-0), Tuesday, 9 p.m., ESPN

On Saturday, the Buckeyes seemed bound for a loss when they traveled to Champaign to face Illinois. Jared Sullinger, however, went nuts and Ohio State stayed undefeated. The task will be taller for Purdue, which must travel to Columbus, but the Boilermakers have proven to be a bit more potent than expected after Robbie Hummel went down. Still, E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson will have to be very big in order for Purdue to pull the upset.

1. No. 4 San Diego State (20-0, 5-0) at No. 9 BYU (19-1, 5-0), Wednesday, 10 p.m., CBS College

In perhaps one of the most anticipated games of the regular season, Jimmer Fredette and the Cougars will welcome unbeaten San Diego State. If Fredette hasn't caught your eye (which seems impossible), this will be his biggest stage. If BYU doesn't upend the Aztecs and Purdue beats Ohio State -- a very unlikely scenario -- it would be likely that San Diego State would be the number one team in the nation. San Diego State.

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