The top game of the week isn't one that's on national television. But Pitt-Georgetown on Wednesday is a crucial game in the Big East as everyone is suddenly looking for a candidate to stop the Panthers from running away and hiding before the groundhog takes a peek outside. The Hoyas have the horses to go to the Steel City and get a W, but Greg Monroe must stand up and play big at both ends of the floor. Georgetown needs his points in the post, and he must also hit double-digits in rebounding and use his shotblocking skills to neutralize Nasir Mitchell, who ate up Louisville this weekend. For their part, because of Monroe, Pitt can't count on enjoying a big edge inside again and need big games from Brad Wanamker and Ashton Gibbs in the backcourt.
Syracuse will watch this game with great interest. They are one game back of Pitt right now, and hope that's
still the case when the Panthers tip off. The 'Cuse plays tonight on Big Monday against Notre Dame. Though it's in South Bend, I like the Orange in this one. Notre Dame can get its points from Luke Harangody, but they aren't going to neutralize Syracuse up front. To win, they need turnovers in the backcourt and they aren't good enough defensively to get them.
The other half of Big Monday is Texas-Kansas State in the late window. The Wildcats are fired up for the Longhorns' arrival in Manhattan. But if Texas is ready to play I see this as one big mismatch. K-State's got a nice team and they get the most of their ability. But Texas can score outside with Avery Bradley and inside with Dexter Pittman and all over with Damion James. They've got depth and they hit the boards. If the overtime scare against A&M this weekend woke them up, this one will be over by halftime.
No, the best game in the Big 12 is on ESPN 2 at 9 PM ET on Wednesday.
Baylor goes into Kansas. As much as I'm smitten with the Bears right now, I can't see them actually winning in Phog Allen. But if this is a tight game, it means Baylor will be in the hunt all year long. There are two issues Baylor must confront. One is that their splending backcourt of LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter gets rattled by a Rock Chalk Jayhawk crowd and the biggest stage of their careers. The other is less intangible. They need to match up with Kansas inside and a big game from Ekpe Udoh is a most. He can't let Cole Aldrich and Marcus Morris have their way and he needs help from his mates.
Clemson's got a big week ahead of them and it starts Tuesday against Georgia Tech. This is two teams looking to make their way in the open ACC. North Carolina tries to get back on track against Wake Forest. Don't write the Tar Heels off to quickly. They've started slow two straight years in league play and rebounded to win going away both times.
This Carolina team has a lot more problems, but the competition is also weaker. Duke is a good example of that. The Blue Devils are now rebounding well, after a December of doing poorly in this area. Which suggests to me a change in opposition rather than a change in quality. Duke takes on N.C. State on Wednesday.
Finally, Tennessee takes on Alabama on Tuesday (7 ET, ESPN). The Vols were one of the teams I cited in the post below as a possible challenger to Kentucky. They need to take care of business on the road here. Wayne Chism gives them an edge inside and they have the better team. 'Bama needs a big game from guard Mikhail Torrance and to get pushed along by the home crowd to pull an upset.