Raphielle Johnson's Blog
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.
Monday's rivalry game between Georgetown and Syracuse didn't get off to the best of starts for the home team, who fell behind 14-0 before the game was even three minutes old thanks primarily to the shooting of Austin Freeman (3-3 from deep during that sequence) with a Jason Clark trey being the final salvo in that outburst. The outside shots were coming easily for the Hoyas, something that actually make the Syracuse zone more effective especially if you don't commit to getting the ball inside.
Tuesday's a big day for teams in need to resume-building wins with many games providing teams the opportunity to further their causes. Rhode Island, who fell victim to Jordan Crawford in the second half of their loss at Xavier, could really use a win at Dayton to help their at-large chances. The same goes for the Flyers, who have lost two of their past three (both defeats came on the road). Losing to the Musketeers is by no means a bad thing but the 60-59 loss at St. Joseph's could be one that comes back to haunt Brian Gregory's squad if they don't pick up a few more quality wins.