There are some big games on the schedule Saturday, with the biggest possibly being Ohio State visiting West Virginia in a non-conference game that could have major implications come March in regards to seeding. Outside of the Buckeyes' Dallas Lauderdale you won't see big men on the floor, with both teams possessing a number of versatile players in the 6-5 to 6-9 range. The two best players on the floor: Ohio State's Evan Turner and West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler, both of whom are looked to as catalysts of their team's offense.
The Pac-10 usually takes center stage on Thursday nights, and even with the league's struggles there is some intrigue. Washington State visits USC in a game they need to win in order to enhance their chances of getting to the NCAA Tournament. In Klay Thompson the Cougars have one of the early favorites to win Pac-10 Player of the Year, but with USC being one of the best defensive teams in the conference what Reggie Moore and DeAngelo Casto get done could be the difference at the Galen Center.
Wednesday sets up to be an intriguing day in college basketball given some of the matchups. Connecticut and North Carolina set out to stop the bleeding with conference home games and the Huskies will be without head coach Jim Calhoun against St. John's. George Blaney, who has plenty of head coaching experience, will take over until Coach Calhoun returns and the Huskies need a win going into their game against Texas on Saturday. But the Red Storm can be a dangerous foe given their depth and willingness to compete for forty minutes.
Tuesday lacks a marquee matchup the caliber of Monday's Texas/Kansas State game but there are some interesting games that could have an impact come Selection Sunday. Purdue hits the road with hopes of ending their three-game losing streak and they'll take on an Illinois squad that saw its' undefeated conference start come to a screeching halt. The big men will likely tell the tale of this contest; JaJuan Johnson's play of late has been well-documented and the Illini look to Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis for their interior baskets.
Big Monday delivers one of the best matchups of the week when top-ranked Texas visits the Little Apple to take on Kansas State. Frank Martin's Wildcats could be the team with the best chance to break through the Kansas/Texas tag team atop the Big 12 thanks in large part to guards Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente. These two have accounted for just over 42% of the team's points and 49% of the team's assists so far and when they get rolling KSU is a tough team to slow down.
One of the biggest games of the day tips at high noon in Morgantown when West Virginia hosts Syracuse in a matchup of Top 10 teams. Both are coming off of routine victories over teams expected to finish in the bottom portion of the Big East standings, avoiding the pitfall of looking past the task at hand. The Orange are one of the nation's best offensive teams, leading the country in field goal percentage and assists per game. Wesley Johnson received a good deal of praise for their early start but truth be told Jim Boeheim's got weapons throughout the rotation.
Thursday's schedule may be lacking in regards to "marquee" games but there are important conference games to check out. Louisiana Tech hosts Fresno State in a matchup of the WAC's only two undefeated and there will be plenty of offensive talent on display. Kyle Gibson currently leads the conference in scoring and teammate Magnum Rolle has played the way people expected the LSU transfer to play when his career began. But on the other end, Louisiana Tech will have to account for Paul George and Sylvester Seay, two wings with the ability to light up the scoreboard.
Wednesday night doesn't lack for appealing matchups on the hardwood, with one of the best rivalries in the Big East last decade sharing the stage with key games in the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 ad Mountain West. Connecticut, who can use a "big" win this season, hosts a resurgent Pittsburgh squad that is one of two Big East teams still undefeated in conference play. Ashton Gibbs has stepped up in recent weeks and the return of Gilbert Brown and Jermaine Dixon has given Jamie Dixon's team more depth on the perimeter.
While the overall schedule on Tuesday is a bit lean there are some important games to keep an eye on. Texas A&M hits the road to take on Kansas State, who should still be upset about their game at Missouri ended on Saturday. In Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen K-State has one of the best backcourt tandems you'll see. As for the Aggies they tend to play a bit more deliberate offensively with Donald Sloan leading the way. But what could work against A&M is the Big 12's dominance in home games. Member schools are a staggering 112-1 at home to this point in the season.
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