College Hoops Tuesday: Your Commentary

    
December 29th, 2009

Tuesday sets up to be an intriguing evening, complete with some important non-conference games along with conference play in some leagues getting underway. The Big Ten will have its first conference games on Tuesday with title contender Purdue visiting an Iowa team that looks to be the worst in the conference. But Iowa City is a dangerous place to visit so expect Matt Painter's squad to be completely focused on this one instead of looking ahead to their home game against West Virginia on Friday. And speaking of the Moutaineers, they'll be back home in Morgantown looking to move to 2-0 in Big East play against a Marquette squad that can surprise some people this season. 

The Missouri Valley also begins league play on Tuesday and there are some very good games on that slate. Illinois State host Wichita State in a game matching two preseason contenders while early-season surprise Indiana State heads to Carbondale to take on Southern Illinois. And Northern Iowa will visit a Creighton squad that hasn't lived up to expectations thus far. But the start of league play can serve as a revival of sorts; the slate is wiped clean at this point and you never know what can happen once the foes become all the more familiar. 

As for non-conference games that may have an impact down the line, look no further than Xavier hosting LSU and Texas Tech visiting New Mexico. The Lobos really could use another good non-conference victory before they begin Mountain West play but given the overall start of the conference Steve Alford's crew may not be in serious trouble provided they take care of business within the league. But the Musketeers and Tigers will engage in a game that could me a lot more come March; both teams need a quality win on their resumes but at least Chris Mack's squad has one Top 25 scalp (Cincinnati) to its credit. These kinds of opportunities are the ones that can push over the top on Selection Sunday...or be the losses that you point to after not seeing your name on the TV screen. 

TV GAMES

7p ESPN2 Hartford at Kentucky
7p ESPNU LSU at Xavier
7p BTN Purdue at Iowa
9p ESPN2 Penn State at Minnesota
9p ESPNU Belmont at Kansas
9p CBS-College Texas Tech at New Mexico 

OTHER GAMES

4p Cornell at La Salle
6p Morgan St at Eastern Kentucky
7p Marquette at West Virginia
7p Long Beach St at Duke
7:30p Air Force at UTEP
8p Pacific at Oklahoma St
8p Louisiana Tech at Houston
8:05p Indiana St at Southern Illinois
8:05p Wichita St at Illinois St
9p Syracuse at Seton Hall

ONE PREDICTION

Xavier over LSU: LSU has a solid trio in Bo Spencer, Tasmin Mitchell and Storm Warren but the Musketeers can counter that with their own solid rotation. Dante Jackson and Jason Love have been solid, and if Jordan Crawford can make plays without forcing the issue Xavier is a tough team to knock off. Look for that team to show up at the Cintas Center, which is one of the toughest places in which to win a road game.