The College Basketball Notebook

February 1, 2011 6:19 AM

The Next Two Nights Of TV Hoops

Jon Leuer.JPGThe next two nights promise to be good ones on ESPN's college basketball coverage. Here's a rundown of what's ahead...

Purdue-Wisconsin (Tuesday, 7 ET, ESPN): The Boilermakers backs are to the wall in the conference race right now, trailing Ohio State by two games and now having to go to the hostile Kohl Center. But Wisconsin may be a collapse waiting to happen. They're 4-3 in the league, but this will be the first time they play either of the league's top two teams and they've yet to win a game on the road. Both teams are well-coached and both have two great players that balance each other inside and out. Purdue was E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson. Wisconsin has Jordan Taylor and Jon Leuer. Both teams have had problems getting support for their key players. Wisconsin's Keaton Nankivil has started to step it up consistently, but on the flip side Purdue is more experienced and Johnson's shotblocking capabilities are a dimension Wisconsin can't match. Overall, perhaps my partisan Badger loyalties getting in the way, I lean UW to escape at home.

Syracuse-UConn (Wednesday, 7 ET, ESPN): If Wisconsin might be a collapse waiting to happen, Syracuse is one that's actually transpiring. Last week they were blown out at home by Seton Hall and lost on the road to Marquette. While UConn split two games, they're showing signs of getting other players to consistently help Kemba Walker out, both in the starting lineup and off the bench. Working in Syracuse's favor is that UConn's production has been guard-oriented, especially recently and the Orange forward tandem of Kris Joseph and Rick Jackson could have a big night. Even if they do, it's not happening in Storrs against an improving, well-coached team coming off a tough loss.

Duke-Maryland (9 ET, ESPN): Maybe it's because I live in ACC country right in the heart of this rivalry that I see this game as marquee. The typical fan probably sees it as a night for Duke to re-assert themselves after a rough go of it in the Garden on Sunday. IAnd they're probably right. Maryland's Jordan Williams is one of the best players in the country, but he's young and his supporting cast is too. Playing at home, I expect they give Duke a game for a while, but I'm looking to see the Blue Devils' inside people--Mason & Miles Plumlee along with Ryan Kelly--start to control the boards consistently and make Coach K's team more than just one of the latest guard-heavy outfits. Duke pulls away in the second half.

Those are the three that should move your TV dial. Others to keep an eye on Tuesday include North Carolina-Boston College in the ACC, as the Tar Heels try and get a key road win and keep pace with Duke in the league race. Penn State is suddenly knocking off everybody at home in the Big Ten and now goes to Illinois to try and get it done on the road. On Wednesday, Marquette goes to Villanova and San Diego State travels to face improving Colorado State.

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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary on the NFL playoffs and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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