The Arizona Cardinals will be playing in the Super Bowl this weekend. Yes- you read that correctly. That alone should give you reason enough to stay indoors and keep the TV on all weekend. But in case that’s not enough, here’s a few other things that you might want to watch,
Saturday, Jan. 31
12 p.m. West Virginia at #7 Louisville
The Cards are playing as well as any team in the country right now, led by Terrence Williams and Earl Clark, who fill a stat sheet as well as any two forwards in the country. During their eight-game winning streak, the Cards have been playing suffocating defense, forcing turnovers and sharing the ball on offense, using a multitude of weapons to overwhelm teams. The Mountaineers have been playing well, having won four of their last five, with the only loss coming to Pitt. Forward Da’Sean Butler and guard Alex Ruoff will have to have big games if WVA has any chances of pulling off the upset. The forward match-ups should be fun to watch, with both teams boasting talented forwards who can put the ball on the floor and create for others. In the end, look for the Cards to push their winning streak to nine with a victory here.
12 p.m. ESPN #22 Notre Dame at #3 Pittsburgh
If last week’s games were must-wins for Notre Dame, then this game could be season-making or season-breaking for the Irish. The Irish have lost four in a row, 5 games in the conference and seven overall as they slide closer and closer to being a bubble team. Luke Harangody has been spectacular, even during the recent slide, but he’s had little help. Team have been limiting the perimeter shooting of Kyle McAlarney and Ryan Ayers, and the lack of depth for Notre Dame has hurt them badly. Pitt was stunned by Villanova last time out, but they still enter this game a s legitimate national title contender. DeJuan Blair can bang with Harangody, and the Irish don’t have anyone who can stay with Sam Young. Look for the Irish to drop another one here.
2 p.m. ESPN 360.com #22 Georgetown at #8 Marquette
Like Notre Dame, the Hoyas are quickly finding themselves sliding down the Big East standings, having lost four in a row. The Hoyas aren’t particularly deep, but their slide is perplexing, given the amount of talent they put in the floor with their starting unit. DaJuan Summers has the talent to take over games, while Greg Monroe has a bevy of skills for a big man. Austin Freeman and Chris Wright are solid guards in the backcourt, but the Hoyas haven’t found any consistency. Marquette on the other hand, is quietly climbing the national rankings. Everyone knows about the guard trio of Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews and Dominic James, but very few have been able to stop them. Lazar Haywood is undersized down low, but he doesn’t back down and more than holds own. The Eagles pick up a solid home win here.
3:30 p.m. ABC #6 North Carolina at North Carolina State
The Heels escaped Tallahassee with a victory thank to a running three-pointer by Ty Lawson, but they’ve still looked very beatable at times during their four-game winning streak. However, this is a team that is 18-2, so it’s very possible that we’re just splitting hairs here. The Heels still boast as much talent as any team in the country, with Lawson and Wayne Ellington really coming on to form a great trio with Tyler Hansbrough. They still need to step up their defense, but this is a veteran team that knows how to win. NC State has been up and down this year, but you can guarantee they will be ready for this one. The Wolfpack are led by talented forwards Brandon Costner and Ben McCauley, who pose a ton of problems with their size and ball skills. However, they’ll need better guard play to slow down the Heels, who will look to get this game into the 90s. Look for State to keep it close, but ultimately the Heels just have too much.
5:30 p.m. FSN Washington at #16 Arizona State
The Huskies are surprisingly tied with UCLA for first place in the Pac-10, with a one game lead over ASU, making this a big game for both teams. Washington has been solid all over the floor this year, thanks to the infusion of PG Isaiah Thomas, who has provided a spark. With rugged forward Jon Brockman providing the muscle down low, these Huskies play well together and are playing with a lot of confidence. The Sun Devils boast an All-American in James Harden, yet they’ve been a little up and down in conference play, perhaps not used to playing with a target on their backs. However, with Jeff Pendergraph bringing energy down low, and a solid backcourt tandem of Ty Abbott and Derek Glasser, the Devils should be able to get a big home win here.
9:00 p.m. ESPN Florida at Tennessee
Hard to imagine that neither of these teams are ranked, or that Tennessee is flat out free-falling, having lost 5 of 8. Four of those five losses have come at home, so maybe Pearl and co. wish this game was played in Gainesville instead. Besides the importance of the basketball itself, this is a noteworthy event as UT's Outlive fundraiser takes center stage. The arena will be filled with $15 Outlive t-shirts that go to support cancer research. Bruce Pearl has been heavily involved in this campaign, and personally bought 3,000 of the shirts for students to wear.