Big Monday goes tonight with UConn-Villanova and Kansas-Texas A&M. The latter in particular is an interesting test, as the Jayhawks go on the road to face an Aggie team that's been playing pretty well. If I were in Las Vegas that (+7) you get with A&M looks awfully enticing, and I think this one's coming down to the wire. But for real impact in the race for conference championships and NCAA bids, the best games come Tuesday through Thursday.
Wake Forest goes to Virginia Tech (7 ET, ESPN2). This is an elimination game in the ACC between two of the three teams (including Maryland) who are a game back of Duke. Wake has been one of the good overachieving teams this year, with no real star performers, yet somehow finding ways to win and staying afloat. The Hokies have homecourt advantage and genuine explosive power in the backcourt
with Dorenzo Hudson and Malcolm Delaney. They aren't soft at forward either with Jeff Allen, and I don't think Wake has enough to win in Blacksburg.
Another showdown game in the Big Ten race. This one's in Columbus with Purdue visiting Ohio State. I really like both of these teams, both their talent and how well-coached they are. . They are complete inside and out. The Boilermakers have a game-changer in the middle with JaJuan Johnson. The Buckeyes have the conference's most complete player in swingman Evan Turner. Ohio State has a better three-point shooting team with Jon Diebler leading it up. Purdue has a top inside-out force in Robbie Hummel. If OSU is hitting from downtown, they'll win it, but in the end I think Purdue has the superior game manager in E'Twaun Moore at the point and they will solidify themselves as a real threat to cut down the nets in April by winning this one on the road. It's on the Big Ten Network at
6:30 EST, and it's the best game of the week.
The Big East battle on the bubble has a major showdown in Freedom Hall when Notre Dame visits Louisville (7 ET, ESPN2). Luke Harangody's health is everything here. ND still gets inside production from Tim Abromitis, but the backcourt just doesn't get enough done, Louisville's combination of Jerry Smith and Edgar Sosa can give them the advantage, with Samardo Samuels negating Abromaitis up front. Throw in homecourt advantage and it all adds up to a key win for Rick Pitino. The only caveat is how inconsistent the 'Ville has been, but I'm not ready to see them losing to a Luke-less Irish team.
The top of the Big East swings into action with Syracuse suddenly facing a must-win trip to Georgetown or potentially fall two games back of Villanova. The Orangemen won their earlier meeting in the Carrier Dome decisively. They bring four quality frontline players, led by Wesley Johnson,
to counteract Georgetown's Greg Monroe. If Andy Rautins and Brandon Triche can handle the Hoya defense, they should be able to win. But we can't underestimate the power of the homecourt in a old conference rivalry like this, and Georgetown's backcourt, led by Austin Freeman is potentially lethal. Both teams will be nursing their wounds after their respective upset losses on Sunday and a lot of passion should be poured out in this one. I'm going with the home team here and taking the Hoyas in a good one.
We'll see you again Wednesday, to look at Monday and Tuesday's best games, along with an overview of the midmajors' impact on the NCAA field, as we head toward Bracket Busters Day on Saturday.