The showcase game on Saturday tips off at high noon, with Georgetown hosting Villanova in a rematch of their meeting back on January 17th. John Thompson III's team has lost three of their last six and could use a win here to both get back on the right track and improve their resume in regards to possible NCAA Tournament seeding. Both Greg Monroe and Austin Freeman had quiet second halves in their 72-64 loss to USF on Wednesday night, and on a team with four consistent scoring options (Chris Wright and Jason Clark complete the quartet) that can't happen if Georgetown is to be successful.
To this point in the season it looks as if the ACC's hoops teams have taken a similar approach to determining who controls the title race that the football teams have in recent years. In other words, there's order in disorder as eight teams are within two games of each other atop the standings. Three games for the conference involve five of those eight teams with the other (North Carolina) desperately needing a win on the road in order to right the ship. The best matchup of those three: Duke hosting Georgia Tech, who won the first meeting in Atlanta 71-67 back on January 9th.
With the bubble looking rather pedestrian at this early stage no team can afford to pass up opportunities to bolster their tournament resumes. And with the top six teams in Conference USA playing each other on Wednesday night they'll all have a chance to do just that. Two of the games (Houston/UTEP and Marshall/Tulsa) feature home teams who haven't lost at home while the third (UAB/Memphis) features a team that has yet to lose on the road.
Michigan State takes on Madison and the Grateful Red on Tuesday night, and with a win the Spartans take another step towards their goal of winning the Big Ten title. Winners of ten straight, Tom Izzo's team has gotten the job done thanks to four players averaging in at least ten points per game. Point guard Kalin Lucas has played better basketball since being benched earlier in the season due to leadership issues, and forwards Raymar Morgan and Draymond Green have been essential pieces to the puzzle as has Durrell Summers.
If either Connecticut or Louisville shows up at Freedom Hall not understanding the magnitude of the game they should be eliminated from at-large consideration. Hate to be so harsh but both teams are essentially at the point where they need to go on a run if they're to make the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies, who have been without head coach Jim Calhoun for the last four games due to health reasons, own just one Top 25 win (Texas) and they've yet to beat anyone of consequence on the road (as a matter of fact they've yet to win a true road game).
Two big games in the ACC and another in the Big Ten highlight Thursday's schedule. Wake Forest visits Atlanta in a homecoming game for Al-Farouq Aminu, but he and the rest of the Demon Deacon frontcourt will have their hands full. Derrick Favors, Gani Lawal and Zachary Peacock make up one of the more talented frontcourt trios in the nation and lead a Yellow Jacket squad that can expect multiple NBA scouts every night. But that has little bearing on whether or not Paul Hewitt's team wins games, with the backcourt being the key.
An in-state rivalry will be one of the top matchups on Wednesday night with Vanderbilt heading east to take on Tennessee in Knoxville. Thanks to South Carolina knocking off Kentucky the Commodores lead the SEC East with a 4-0 league record but they could have some company after Wednesday night. Kevin Stallings' team has won nine straight but this will be their toughest challenge by far, especially considering their tendency to struggle away from Memorial Gym in big games.