Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Guess That Is What I Get

Kudos to LSU for the second half comeback to defeat South Carolina. LSU is now a bonafide #3 seed going for a #2 (probably have to win conf tourney). I guess that is what I get for doubting LSU minus one of their best players on the road. BC took care of business as expected vs Wake.

As usual, the SEC and ACC have a plethora of games tonight. Kentucky at Tennessee has a lot riding on it for both teams. With a win, the Wildcats will probably secure a bid while if the Vols win they can moved back into position for a possible #2 seed. In the ACC, Miami and Maryland meet in what will be an ultra game for both. The loser will very likely have to win the ACC Tournament to get in (or at the very least make it to the finals). Virginia travels to UNC in a must win and FSU hosts Duke in another must win - No pressure guys.

Season: 75-31

Kentucky @ Tennessee 8:00 JP
Tennessee has rebounded from losses very well this season. The Vols were shocked at home last weekend by Arkansas and it looked as if they had reached a point to where they thought they could impose their will upon teams and win. Bruce Pearl knows how big this game and will make sure his players get the message. A season sweep of Kentucky would be a milestone for this Vols program. The Wildcats need a win badly in this game or the Lexington faithful will start to get pretty worried about their post-season destination. Patrick Sparks will be the X-factor for Kentucky. Rondo must also play at a very high level for Tubby Smith. In the end, I think the Vols pressing style is too much for the under-talented Wildcats.
Prediction: Tennessee

Miami @ Maryland 9:00 JP
When Miami blew out Maryland back in December it was a pretty big surprise. Now, Miami has a chance to beat Maryland for a second time and move closer to a possible at-large bid. Maryland's tourney hopes are on life support. Maryland has been a pretty good home team only losing twice; Miami is 3-6 on the road this season. The big question will be if Maryland shows up for this game since they probably think the aren't making it to the tournament anyways. This season has gone very similar to last season for the Terps. With all the doubt surrounding Maryland they are an equal team to Miami and they are at home.
Prediction: Maryland

Vanderbilt @ Ole Miss 8:00
Ole Miss will have their best player back for this game Dwayne Curtis. Vandy is still trying to make it into the Tournament and their win over South Carolina helped last week. Curtis missed three game, so it will be interesting to see how he comes out early. I like Vandy and their guards to win this game.
Prediction: Vanderbilt

Duke @ Florida St 7:00 ESPN
FSU came so close to winning in Cameron last time, but when you miss an opportunity against the Devils you rarely get a second one. I like Duke in this one by close to double-digits.
Prediction: Duke

Georgia @ Florida 7:00
Hardcourt version of the World's Largest Cocktail. Florida has lost three in a row, but I don't see a complete tailspin with a loss here. The Gators have too much talent for the Dawgs.
Prediction: Florida

Auburn @ Alabama 8:00
Iron Bowl Style... Alabama should hammer their cross state rivals at home. Don't look now, but the Tide is playing for a top 6 seed.
Prediction: Alabama

Miss St @ Arkansas 8:00 JP
Arkansas will have to guard against a let down here after the big win on Saturday over the Vols. I think they will.
Prediction: Arkansas

Clemson @ Virginia Tech 7:00
Hokies have been tough at home this year and Clemson has been awful at times on the road. Hokie Pokie time.
Prediction: Virginia Tech

Virginia @ North Carolina 9:00 JP
The wine and cheese crowds meets for this Wednesday night game. If the Cavs won, they would be back on the bubble, but I don't see it happening. Roy has his kids playing their best ball of the season.
Prediction: North Carolina

Prediction Confidence:
1. Alabama
2. North Carolina
3. Arkansas
4. Virginia Tech
5. Florida
6. Duke
7. Tennessee
8. Maryland
9. Vanderbilt

As Heidi Klum Says

Are you in or are you out? Weekend games were up and down. Home teams were only 7-4, while favorites were just 6-5. As of now, it looks like the ACC is going to get just 4 teams into the Tournament. Miami, Florida St, Virginia still have a chance, but most do very well down the stretch.

Meantime in the SEC, the dust is clearing a little better. LSU, Tennessee, and Florida are in. This weekend's victories by Alabama and Arkansas as underdogs will greatly help their case. Kentucky showed a lot of gumption playing LSU as tough as they did on the road. The Wildcats are the team most on the bubble, but barring 3 losses to finish out the season (2 regular season games and 1 conf. tournament) they should get in.

Just two games for Tuesday. Only 1 has tournament "in or out" implications - LSU @ South Carolina. Dave Odom's team must win this game or else they will need to win the SEC Tournament. Wake travels to BC who wants to make sure they hold onto a top 4 spot and a first round by in the ACC Tourney.

Season: 74-30

LSU @ South Carolina 9:00 ESPN
I think LSU is the best team in the SEC right now. They have a very good inside game, can execute well in the half court, and play outstanding defense especially around the goal. The Gamecocks really blew their chance of having a shot at the Tournament by losing to Vanderbilt at home. That loss could send the Gamecocks into a downward spiral. On the other hand, I could see a possible letdown by LSU knowing they have wrapped up a tournament bid, but I also think they are playing for as a 3 seed right now. Late Injury Update: LSU's freshman phenom Tyrus Thomas is out for the game with a high ankle sprain. Thomas is the SEC's leading rebounder and shot blocker and ranks third on the Tigers in scoring. Considering the closeness of LSU's recent games and with this injury, South Carolina looks like can win this game now.
Prediction: South Carolina

Wake Forest @ Boston College 7:00 JP
If Wake wins this game, it would constitute the biggest upset in the ACC so far this season. BC showed a lot by beating NC State in 2OT on the road. BC is playing for anywhere from a 4-6 seed right now I think. BC rolls over Wake.
Prediction: Boston College

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Not Going to Plan

Saturday was a rough day for favorites and home teams, especially in the SEC. Home favorites like South Carolina, Ole Miss, NC State, and Tennessee went down. I was shocked by the Vols loss. Just when I thought they had reached a level to where they could handle a big victory they blow it by losing to a bubblicious Arkansas team. South Carolina and Georgia did in their hopes of Tournament bids, while Vanderbilt is still alive (although on life support).

Two games on Sunday and both should be pretty good.

Florida @ Alabama 3:00 CBS
This game should go right down to the wire and the books feel the same way (Florida is -1). Florida has been so up and down in conference play it has been very hard to pick their games (and costly at times too). 6 losses seems like alot for a team as good (at times) as the Gators and they still have to travel to Kentucky. Vanderbilt is the best team Florida has beaten on the road in the SEC and that was by the skin of their teeth. A loss would be the third in a row for Florida. Alabama has lost only 1 home game in conference (Ole Miss). You could really flip a coin with this game, but I like the Gators.
Prediction: Florida

Maryland @ North Carolina 5:30 Fox Sports
The Terps have had chances to bolster their tournament resume, but have not and it appears sometimes as if they don't care. UNC is fresh off a big (margin) victory at NC State and smells blood. I like the Tarheels here at home with Hansborough having a very solid game (as if he has competition for Rookie of the Year).
Prediction: North Carolina

Season: 73-29

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Do or Die Time

Teams only have 2-3 more chances to improve their seeding in the conference tournament. The top 4 teams in the ACC and the top 2 in each division of the SEC will get an all important bye in the first round.

Other teams are fighting to stay on the bubble and give themselves a chance to make the NCAA Tournament. In the ACC, a couple of bubble teams travel to teams fighting for NIT berths. Virginia plays a very important at Clemson, while FSU travels to Virginia Tech in hopes of improving their postseason hopes. In the SEC, two bubble teams face tough challenges by going on the road to face division leaders. Arkansas travel to Knoxville to face the Vols, who are fresh off the defeat of Florida on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Tubby's Cats travel to LSU and are hoping to bring with them the momentum off two straight resounding victories.

Season: 68-24

Boston College @ NC State 3:45 CBS-split
The Eagles travel to NC State in hopes of gaining a season split after the Wolfpack won in Boston early in the season. Evtimov should be playing for the Wolfpack (he missed the last two games). Both teams were beat badly this week so no advantage there. I like NC State at home to win in a "tournament-like game".
Prediction: NC State

Kentucky @ LSU 3:45 CBS-split
LSU bounced back with a win at Vandy after some lackluster games previously. Kentucky is playing some of its best basketball of the season the last two games. LSU knows they are in, while Kentucky still needs to win a few. I like LSU at home as they are the better team, but I expect Kentucky to give them a very good game.
Prediction: LSU

Arkansas @ Tennessee 1:00 JP-split
The Vols are favorites here, but not by as much as I would have expected (-5). After sweeping the Gators, the Vols are a legit Top 10 team. Their pressing defense and outside shooting is too much for the Stan Heath's Razorbacks.
Prediction: Tennessee

Vanderbilt @ South Carolina 1:00 JP-split
The loser of this game will have to win the conference tournament to get in. South Carolina lost in an ugly game at Georgia on Thursday night and may be a little bit tired, but I like them at home.
Prediction: South Carolina

Duke @ Temple 2:30 ESPN
Duke survived a horrible shooting night by JJ Redick and lackluster defensive effort this week. Temple will be pumped for this game, but Duke has too much talent.
Prediction: Duke

Georgia @ Miss St 5:00
Probably one of the best games of the day, but it features two teams in the lower half of the SEC. Georgia has more to play for than Mississippi St right now. I like the Dawgs in a mild upset.
Prediction: Georgia

Wake Forest @ Georgia Tech 1:00 ABC
A battle of two teams having very down years after much recent success. Wake finally got their second conference in overtime this past week. Tech has been playing much better and their 11 conference losses is not indicative of how good this team could be.
Prediction: Georgia Tech

Auburn @ Ole Miss 8:30 Fox Sports
Ole Miss is again without their best player for this game. Still, they should be able to pull this one out at home versus Auburn.
Prediction: Ole Miss

Virginia @ Clemson 2:00
Virginia should be sky high after destroying BC at home on Tuesday. Clemson has been in a downward spiral that started with a 1 point home loss to VT. Still, the Cavs have made their living at home this season and have struggled on the road.
Prediction: Clemson

Florida State @ Virginia Tech 7:00
This could be the best game of the day. VT is much better than their conference record shows. FSU is another team which has run up victories at home, but struggled on the road. I like VT in a very close game.
Prediction: Virginia Tech

Ranking my Picks:
1. Duke
2. Tennessee
3. LSU
4. South Carolina
5. Georgia Tech
6. NC State
7. Clemson
8. Ole Miss
9. Virginia Tech

Friday, February 24, 2006

Just Win Baby

Some teams are already in and everybody needs to do some work (some more than others).

Duke, NC State, UNC, Boston College

FSU (17-7, 7-6; @VT, vDuke, @Mia)
Miami (15-12,7-7; @Mld, vFSU)
Virginia (14-10,7-6; @Clem, @UNC, vMld)

Win out and go far in conf. tourney (from most likely to get in to least)-
Maryland (16-10, 6-7; @UNC, vMia, @Vir)

Win conference tournament-
Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

In -
Tennessee, LSU, Florida

Bubble -
Alabama (15-10,8-5; vFla, vAub, @MSU)
Kentucky (18-9,8-5; @LSU, @Tenn, vFla)
Arkansas (18-8,7-6; @Tenn, vMSU, @UGA)

Win out and go far in conf. tourney-
South Carolina (14-12, 5-8; vVand, vLSU, @Aub)
Vanderbilt (14-10, 5-8; @SC, @OM, vTenn)
Georgia (15-11, 5-8; @MSU, @Fla, vArk)

Win conference tournament-
Ole Miss, Miss St, Auburn

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Making Statements

Two teams really made statements that they are ready for March: Duke and Tennessee.  The Blue Devils survived a poor first half defensive effort and a horrific shooting night for JJ to beat Georgia Tech on the road.  Duke was outplayed for the first 30 minutes, but then really outexecuted, out hustled the Jackets in the final 10 minutes.  Hewitt's club failed to take advantage of Shelden Williams getting his third foul with about 15 minutes left in the game.  The Jackets puckered at the moment of truth-something you have seen before if you are a Tech fan (UNC, Maryland, FSU).
Tennessee was down by double digits in the first half at Florida, but battled back by halftime and their pressing defense and shooting outlasted the Gators.  The Volunteers are a serious contender for the Final Four.  The only thing that may hurt the Vols in the Tourney is they rely more on the press and fast break game.  The Florida loss really surprised me though (I had them as #4 in my confidence rankings last night).
Florida State took another step towards getting off the bubble by drubbing Maryland.
UNC took advantage of Elian Evtimov's absence to round up the Wolfpack and complete a season sweep for the third straight year.  I was not surprised about NC State losing (had them #9 in confidence rankings), but I was surprised about the margin.
LSU now has a strangle hold on the SEC West and should be one of the favorites to win the SEC Tournament.
Tonight's Game...
South Carolina @ Georgia 7:00 PM ESPN
The Bulldogs have been struggling recently and battled some of the court issues with suspensions.  South Carolina suffered a crushing loss at home to Kentucky last Saturday.  Georgia is very tough at home and has already beaten the Gamecocks in Columbia.  This game will go right down to the wire, but I think South Carolina is the hotter team right now. 
Prediction: South Carolina
Season: 68-23

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Just a Few Headliners Tonight...

Virginia really surprised me last night. BC just could not make a shot it seemed in the first ten minutes. The Cavs front line really stepped and negated the Eagles advantage inside. Meanwhile, the Hogs neeed a 13 point comeback in the second half to edge Alabama. I thought this game would be closer than expected and it was. This is a big win for Arkansas. Alabama did not hurt their chances as much as Arkansas helped theirs.

Tonight has some heavyweight matchups on the board as Tennessee can all but wrap up the SEC East with a win; NC State gets a revenge game versus rival UNC at home; JJ Redick needs 31 points to become the all-time leading scorer in ACC history; Maryland @ FSU is an interesting bubble matchup as well.

Tennessee @ Florida 8:00 JP
Florida is relatively large favorites considering how Tennessee has pretty much run through the SEC this year. Maybe the experts think they have hit a wall with their loss to Alabama last week. Florida is very tough at home and hard to pick against. I like Gators, but closer than the experts think.
Prediction: Florida

UNC @ NC State 9:00 JP
Another game which should be a classic on Tobacco Road. Ilian Evtimov may be out again for this game with a foot injury. NC State has only lost one game at home this season (Seton Hall). With a win, NC State could all but sew up second place in the conference. Gotta go with NC State at home, but a UNC win would not surprise me one bit.
Prediction: NC State

Duke @ Georgia Tech 7:00 ESPN
Duke has a chance to win the ACC regular season title tonight and pass another hurdle towards an undefeated conference season. Despite losing 9 of its last 10 games, Tech has been playing much better as of late. Could JJ be putting up some extra shots trying to break the record tonight (he needs 31 and his season avg is 28.9)? I like Duke to win, but closer than expected.
Prediction: Duke

Clemson @ Wake Forest 7:00
The Tigers have to win this game to have any shot at the NCAA Tournament (how long have I been saying that for?). Does anyone think Wake will only win 1 conference game this year? This is probably their best shot at a second victory for the rest of the year. I like Wake in a close one and the students will probably rush the court.
Prediction: Wake Forest

Virginia Tech @ Miami 7:00 ESPNU
A game that most thought would be an all-football affair, but both the Hokies and Canes have shown the ACC they can compete. I like Miami at home here.
Prediction: Miami

Miss St @ Auburn 8:00
A battle of the cellar dwellers in the SEC West. The Bulldogs showed some bite with a blowout of rival Ole Miss last weekend. I like Auburn here though at home.
Prediction: Auburn

LSU @ Vanderbilt 8:00
Vanderbilt is a slight favorite here which really jumped out at me. The Tigers do not have any significant injuries, but have gone 0-4 at Vanderbilt under John Brady. Vandy is playing for their tournament lives, but LSU wants to grab a strangle hold on the SEC West after Alabama's loss last night. I like LSU in an "upset".
Prediction: LSU

Ole Miss @ Kentucky 8:00 JP
The Wildcats crawled back out of the deep end with a resounding win at South Carolina. They should beat Ole Miss fairly comfortably.
Prediction: Kentucky

Maryland @ Florida State 9:00 JP
This should be on the better games of the night. Both teams need victories to potentially move of the bubble (if their momentum continues). FSU has been very good at home and won the games they should have.
Prediction: Florida State

If I was to rank my picks in order of confidence.....
1. Kentucky
2. Duke
3. Miami
4. Florida
5. Florida St
6. Wake Forest
7. Auburn
8. LSU
9. NC State

Season: 61-21

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Intensive Care

With Viginia's loss at Florida State on Saturday, their Tournament hopes have been moved to ICU. Tonight, they face a Boston College team who has established themselves as an elite team in the ACC. The Cavaliers really need this victory.

In the SEC, Alabama travels north to Fayetteville. Both the Razorbacks and the Tide got big wins on Saturday to help their cause. Alabama has been hot as of late and wants to keep that momentum going. Arkansas has more to lose in this game, but a loss by Alabama will set them back too.

Boston College @ Virgnia 7:00 Raycom
This game will come right down to the wire. The Cavs problem is that their front line is thin and they will facing one of the better frontcourts in the conference. I like BC to win this game in a slugfest.
Prediction: Boston College

Alabama @ Arkansas 9:00 ESPN
This game should be a barn-burner as well. Both teams are good, but not great at any one thing. Ronnie Brewer will have to have a big game for the Razorbacks. Arkansas is a considerable favorite in this game and I think they will win, but it will be closer than the "experts" think.
Prediction: Arkansas

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Saturday: 7-2
Season: 60-20 (75%)

A couple of thrilling games on Saturday. Maryland-GT went to overtime as did Florida-Arkansas. Teams like Alabama, Kentucky, Florida St, Maryland, Arkansas really helped their NCAA Tournament chances while South Carolina and Virginia fates may be sealed now.

Two games this afternoon-both in the ACC.

Miami @ Duke 5:30 Fox Sports
Duke will look to grab the number one spot in the country with a win over the Hurricanes. Miami's backcourt trio will be hard pressed to keep their team in this matchup. When Duke is given opportunities they rarely waste them. I like Duke by 10-20 points today.
Prediction: Duke

North Carolina @ Wake Forest 1:30 ABC
The Deacs are still looking for their second ACC win this season. This is from a team who is second to Duke over the last 4 years in ACC wins. Memo to Wake: Eric Williams can score inside. In the Duke game, Wake seemed to forget about Williams when he was matched up with Duke's second and third string big men. No wonder they are struggling. Carolina wins by 5-12 points.
Prediction: North Carolina

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Day(s) of Reckoning

The regular season is starting to wind down and teams are beginning to jockey for position. SEC is having a "Throwback Weekend" where teams will wear jerseys from yesteryear. I saw some of jerseys and they really don't look much different from today's. Three home teams in the SEC need wins to help their Tournament chances - South Carolina, Arkansas, and Alabama.

In the ACC, one matchup is an elimination game for the Tournament (Virginia @ FSU), while cannot afford to lose at home to Georgia Tech or else their postseason hopes may be gone.

NC State @ Virginia Tech 1:00 ABC
The Wolfpack's long range shooting is too much for the Hokies.
Prediction: NC State

Kentucky @ South Carolina 1:30 CBS
This game is going to be the best one of the day. The Gamecocks have been very tough at home and Kentucky has struggled on the road. I like Dave Odom's crew here as they continue their hot streak.
Prediction: South Carolina

Florida @ Arkansas 2:00 JP
Arkansas is a pretty tough draw at home, but they have hurt me on some picks this year. Still, you never know with Florida on the road. I like Arkansas here at home with their backs against the wall in a very close game.
Prediction: Arkansas

Ole Miss @ Miss St 3:30 ESPN Classic
Basketball version of the Egg Bowl. Both teams have struggled this season. I like the Bulldogs at home.
Prediction: Miss St.

Tennessee @ Alabama 4:00 JP
Another great mathcup as Alabama faces the unbelievably hot Volunteers. I don't think UT can go through the conference with only one loss and Alabama is pretty tough at home versus the SEC. The Vols only have one more tough game (@ UF) after this and I think 14 conference wins is a bit much in the SEC.
Prediction: Alabama

Virginia @ Florida State 4:00 JP
The loser of this game is probably out of the Tournament (barring a conference Tournament run). I like Florida St with likely All-ACCer Al Thornton to get it done at home.
Prediction: FSU

Georgia Tech @ Maryland 4:00 JP
After being up by 20 at UNC and losing, the Yellow Jackets confidence has to be shaken. Or it could be a stepping stone to a win on the road. Tech is still too young this year to beat a better team on the road.
Prediction: Maryland

LSU @ Auburn 6:00 Fox Sports
The Tigers will win this game...the ones from Baton Rouge that is.
Prediction: LSU

Vanderbilt @ Georgia 8:00 Fox Sports
Another great matchup, which Georgia won in Nashville not too long ago. I like the 'Dawgs at home as they are very tough there.
Prediction: Georgia

Season: 53-18 (74.7%)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

UNC Point Record, BC Meets Miami

Wednesday's game went pretty much as the experts thought they would. However, UNC was down 20 points at one point in the first half against Georgia Tech. The Heels used suffocating defense and Tyler Hansborough's 40 points to come back and win.

A mild upset in the SEC as Ole Miss defeated Arkansas at home. Arkansas made a furious comeback at the end of the game, but fell short by 3 points.

Only one game tonight and that is in the ACC.
Miami (14-10, 6-5) @ Boston College (20-5, 7-4) 7pm Raycom Sports
This is a very important game for the Hurricanes as they need to keep close to UNC for the all important fourth position in the ACC standings (top 4 teams get byes in the first round of the Conference Tournament). Doing so will be a tall task as BC has been very solid in the ACC since starting very shaky. Miami's has the players to play with BC for 40 minutes, but road games are so tough to win in this conference. I like BC in a close game.
Prediction: Boston College

Wednesday: 7-1
Season: 52-18

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Jackets, Heels, Noles, 'Pack, Gators, Commodores, etc

Full slate of action tonight with 3 ACC and 5 ACC games. Biggest games in the ACC is Florida State at NC State. The Seminoles need a victory to stay above the magical .500 conference record. In the SEC, Florida travels to Vanderbilt where they will be favored, but the Gators have been Jekyl and Hyde in SEC play this year. Vanderbilt is a very tough out on the road.

Florida State (15-6, 5-5) @ NC State (19-5, 8-3) 7pm ESPNU
The Seminoles last two games on the road have been against two of the best teams (Duke, BC) and both came right down to the wire. I would expect the same in this game versus the Wolfpack. NC State has been very good at winning their home games, but most have been very close. I like NC State to win this game, but they I think they will have to come from behind to do it.
Prediction: NC State

Georgia Tech (10-12, 3-8) @ North Carolina (15-6, 6-4) 7pm ESPN
The Yellow Jackets took a step forward as a young team on Sunday by beating favored NC State at home. Now comes a bigger step - beating a favored team on the road. Tech has won but one road game this year (at Centenary). The Tar Heels are coming off a big win at Miami on Sunday and should win this game fairly comfortably.
Prediction: UNC

Longwood (7-18) @ Virginia (12-9) 7pm
Cavaliers win in a blowout
Prediction: Virginia

Auburn (10-11, 2-8) @ Tennessee (18-3, 9-1) 7:30pm
The Volunteers were not picked to do much this season, so not many of their games have been on TV this year. Bruce Pearl's group keeps the run going with a blowout win over Auburn.
Prediction: Tennessee

Florida (21-3, 7-3) @ Vanderbilt (13-8, 4-6) 8:00pm Sunshine Network
This game could be very interesting. Vandy gives most team a struggle at Memorial Gym and this one should be exception. It will be interesting to see which Florida team shows up. The team that played the second half versus Kentucky or the team that played South Carolina in Gainesville. I think the Gators find a way to pull it out, but it will be closer than expected.
Prediction: Florida

Georgia (14-9, 4-6) @ Kentucky (15-9, 5-5) 8:00pm JP
Tubby's crew looked like they had gotten back on the winning track and were headed straight to the NCAA Tournament, but 3 straight losses have put Kentucky in a position where they need some wins in the weak SEC to get off the bubble. Georgia still has hopes of a Tournament bid and a win in Lexington could be a jump start. Kentucky has played pretty well at home in conference play, but will probably have to come from behind to win this game.
Prediction: Kentucky

Arkansas (16-7, 5-5) @ Ole Miss (13-10, 3-7) 8:00pm
I like the Razorback here on the road. I think they are better than their 5-5 record.
Prediction: Arkansas

Mississippi State (12-11, 2-8) @ LSU (16-7, 8-2) 8:00pm JP
LSU will win this game by double-digits
Prediction: LSU

Tuesday: 2-1
Season: 45-17

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Too Close to Call

Three games on tap tonight. Two of the matchups should go right down to the wire. The conference season is starting to weed out the contenders from the Pretenders.

Alabama @ South Carolina 7pm ESPN
The Gamecocks are creeping their way back up the SEC East, but face an Alabama team that has been red hot after a very slow start to the season. South Carolina has been very good at home this season, but I like Alabama in a barn-burner.
Prediction: Alabama

Wake Forest @ Duke 8pm JP
The Blue look to sweep the season series from the Deacs; a feat that should be fairly easy this season unlike years past because of Wake's struggles. WIll JJ get 30 again? If he doesn't, he will probably come close. Right now, it doesn't look like anyone can beat Duke in the ACC. Probably just jinxed them.
Prediction: Duke

Maryland @ Clemson 8pm JP
A game that is very important for both teams. For Maryland, they need wins to get off the bubble for the Tournament. For Clemson, they need wins to have a shot at the NCAA's. I think this game will come down to the wire. Maryland has had the habit of not showing up for some games this season. I don't think it will happen tonight, but I wonder if they will bring 100% effort to this game after losing to rival Duke on Saturday. I like Clemson in a very, very close game.
Prediction: Clemson

Season: 43-16

Monday, February 13, 2006

Upsetting Sunday

Upset Sunday (of sorts) as two favorites went down.  Georgia Tech broke its 8 game losing streak to the team who started it – NC State.   With the Tar Heels win over Miami, they have broken into the top 4 and somewhat separated themselves from the middle of the pack.  At this point in the season, it is fair to say that Duke, NC State, BC, and UNC are the four best in the ACC.


With the SEC, the picture is clearer.  Tennessee has to be considered the top dog right now, followed by Florida, LSU, and Alabama.  The Vols are the only real surprise in this group with Kentucky's struggles being the disappointment.


One game tonight – an out of conference matchup for Boston College against Stony Brook

Prediction: Boston College


Weekend 9-4

Season: 42-16

Sunday, February 12, 2006

JJ Redickulous

Every favored team won despite 3 being on the road. JJ Redick looked phenomenal again scoring 35 (again), but this time his teammates carried the load as well (especially in the early going) with Shelden Williams grabbing a double-double and Greg Paulus nailing threes from the old Cole Field House. Florida, behind a strong second-half, was able to knock off LSU. Wake Forest finally got off the schnide with a win over Charlotte.

3 games on Sunday with the best one being North Carolina @ Miami.

North Carolina @ Miami 8:00 FSN
Almost one month ago, Miami went into Chapel Hill and shocked the Tar Heels 81-70 behind 65 points from their talented backcourt. Both teams have remained right in the middle of the ACC pack not able to capitalize on chances to break away. As of now, both of these teams look as if they are on track to get NCAA Tournament bids, but a win tonight will make them rest a little easier. Miami lacks the inside bodies to bang with Tyler Hansborogh (25 pts last meeting), but UNC lacks the athletes on the perimeter to match up with Miami's talented trio. Both are coming off heartbreaking home losses. I like Miami in a very close game because they have the biggest game changer on the floor, Guermilo Diaz.
Prediction: Miami

NC State @ Georgia Tech 1:00 JP
NC State has swept the season series from Georgia Tech the last two seasons and looks to make it three on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Jackets are looking to break an 8 game losing streak; their longest since the 1980-81 campaign. Paul Hewitt's team played the Wolfpack tough for 37 minutes last time in Raleigh, but the long range bombing of State proved too much at the end. NC State broke a streak of 7 consecutive losses in football to Georgia Tech this year, maybe the Yellow Jackets can repay the favor? I doubt it.
Prediction: NC State

UMass @ FSU 5:30 FSN
An interesting non-conference matchup to break up the grueling confernence schedule for the Seminoles. The Minuteman are at .500 in the weak Atlantic-10 this season, so I look for FSU to win this contest relatively easily at home.
Prediction: FSU

Saturday: 8-2
Season: 41-14

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Basketball Bonanza

All 12 SEC Teams play on Saturday, while the ACC has 5 conference matchups and two non-conference (FSU and Wake). A couple of big games highlight the SEC schedule as LSU travels to Florida and Kentucky heads to Vanderbilt. Florida may still be in shock (along with me) after their loss to South Carolina on Wednesday.

LSU @ Florida 1:00 JP
Florida won't lose two games in a row at home right? Well, under against any other team in the SEC I would say 'no', but LSU looks to be one of the top 3 teams in the conference right now. They have only lost 1 conference game and have the horses to run with Florida. I like the Jekyl&Hyde Gators at home coming off a loss.
Prediction: Florida

Duke @ Maryland 1:00 CBS
This rivalry is not at the level it was 3 or 4 years ago, but Maryland fans have no love lost for JJ Redick and the Duke Blue Devils. This could be a "signature" win for Maryland that gets them into the Tournament. The key for the Terps will be to contain Redick (i.e. keep him under 25). If they do this they have a very good shot at the upset because Duke's supporting cast has not been able to pick up the offensive slack this season. Problem is that JJ thrives under pressure and loves being the villain (ala Christian Laettner). I think Duke got wake up calls the last few contests in the ACC and will not be taking any chances on letting an undefeated conference season go by.
Prediction: Duke

Kentucky @ Vanderbilt 3:00 JP
Both teams need this game really bad, but for different reasons. Kentucky needs to get back on the winning track and move towards soldifying a NCAA bid. Vandy needs this game if they even want a shot at the Tourney. This may be the best game of the day, as I feel it will come down to the wire. I like Kentucky though on the road in a minor upset.
Prediction: Kentucky

Charlotte @ Wake Forest 3:30 ABC
Wake really needs a win bad. They are 1-9 in the ACC, 12-11 overall and in danger of not making the NIT. Meanwhile, Charlotte is second in the A-10 and needs this win to gain momentum for a NCAA bid. After the Virginia Tech game, I have not picked Wake again. Somehow they are favored in this game, but they haven't held home court all year.
Prediction: Charlotte

Alabama @ Ole Miss 3:00
Alabama looks to have hit their stride after some early season stumbles. Ole Miss has been very tough at home this season, but they have really struggled as of late. I like Alabama in a very close game.
Prediction: Alabama

Virginia Tech @ Virginia 8:00 JP
Two teams that are playing for NIT bids (barring a major upset in the ACC Tournament) square off in an intra-state matchup. The Cavaliers have played very well at home all year and I like them in this contest as well.
Prediction: Virginia

Tennessee @ Georgia 4:00
The Vols are definitely one the biggest surprises in the nation this year. They have shown they can go on the road and win in tough places, but could they be getting a little too confident? Georgia is a tough matchup in Stegeman and will give the Vols all they can handle. I think the Vols will get a major scare, but come out of Athens with a victory.
Prediction: Tennessee

Clemson @ Boston College 8:00 JP
The Tigers are sliding downhill fast right into the NIT and the late game collapse against Virginia Tech at home on Wednesday did not help. BC has lost two games at home this season, but they are to the two best teams in the conference (Duke & NC State). BC should win this one comfortably.
Prediction: Boston College

Miss. St @ South Carolina 6:00 FSN
The Gamecocks have to be at a high after going to Gainesville and knocking off the Gators. Overconfidence may be an issue, but the South Carolina is better than the Bulldogs.
Prediction: South Carolina

Auburn @ Arkansas 8:00 FSN
Auburn can win a game like this at home, but doesn't have much of a shot on the road. Wooo Pid Soey!
Prediction: Arkansas

Season: 33-12

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Curse of Spurrier?

Rough night last night for home teams. I was shocked that South Carolina went into Gainesville and came out with a sweep of Florida for the season. Florida is now 0-3 versus the Gamecocks since Spurrier joined the parade in Columbia. Clemson lost a tough one at home to Virginia Tech. The Tigers have really struggled in the ACC after starting the season hot (with a cream puff schedule).

NC State kept Miami at arms length the whole night and grabbed a strangle hold on second place in the ACC.

Wake just can’t win anymore. They may be the first team ever to win only 1 game in conference after almost winning it the year before.

Tonight’s Game…

Georgia Tech @ Florida St 7PM JP
Paul Hewitt has shaken the lineup in hopes of breaking a 7 game losing streak in the ACC. Florida State is coming off a tough, tough loss at Duke. The Yellow Jackets gotta break their losing streak sometime……I don’t think it will be tonight though. Don’t worry Tech fans, next year will be here soon enough.
Prediction: FSU

Wednesday Record: 4-2
Season: 32-12

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Tobacco Road Classic

What a game between Duke and North Carolina last night! Looked like for while in the second half that Duke was going to run away with it. Roy Williams' put in his "blue" (second string) team, which energized the crowd with their play by going on a 12-0. The first team came back in and continued the run. UNC eventually took the lead, but could not hold on at the end. Redick really stepped up at the end and had the energy to put UNC away (almost) despite having to score seeemingly each possession. The Tar Heels made a charge at the end with some good pressing and poor ball handling to get within 1, but Duke iced the game at the free throw line.

Don't look now, but Tennessee is the top dog in the SEC East. They went into Lexington and led the whole way against Kentucky. The Volunteers are winning with Bruce Pearl's up tempo offense and pressing defense in just his first year. The Volunteers have to be the favorites to win the East right now despite Florida's wonderful season so far. Kentucky has turned the corner from their ugly start, but need to win their home game to solidify a NCAA berth.

Now onto Wednesday's games...
South Carolina @ Florida 7PM Sunshine Ntwk
The Gators should roll in their rematch with the Gamecocks and gain revenge for one of their two losses.
Prediction: Florida

Vanderbilt @ Alabama 8PM JP
Coming of their big win at home versus LSu, Alabama will continue gaining momentum with a home win over Vandy. The commodores really need to make a move if they want a chance at the NCAA's.
Prediction: Alabama

Arkansas @ LSU 8PM
LSU is the class of the SEC West this season and should beat a pesky Arkansas team.
Prediction: LSU

Ole Miss @ Auburn 8PM
This may be one of Auburn's best chances to win in conference for the rest of the season.
Ole Miss is struggling after a fast start in the SEC. The Tigers pull out a squeaker here
at home.
Prediction: Auburn

Boston College @ Wake Forest 7PM ESPN2
Wake has got to win one at home eventually right? BC is playing some of the best ball in the ACC right now. I just can't pick Wake anymore even though I want to.
Prediction: BC

NC State @ Miami 7:00 ESPNU
Probably the best game of the night. This game will determine second place in the ACC (for the time being). Miami's version of "Lethal Weapon 3" will give them a chance in most any game this season. NC State will counter with long range bombing from Atsur, Evtimov, and Bennerman. This game will go down to the wire, but I think Miami pulls it out at home. However, Miami won't be in second place for long.
Prediction: Miami

Tuesday: 2-1
Overall: 28-10

Rivalry Week Begins Tonight

Three games on tap tonight.  The biggest by far is on Tobacco Road-Duke and North Carolina meet for the first time this season. 
Virginia @ Maryland 7:00
Maryland is coming off two straight losses while the Cavs were able to squeak one out at home.  I don't see the Terps losing a third straight game.
Prediction: Maryland
Duke @ North Carolina 9:00 ESPN
Duke should come into this game favored as they are the much better team.  Could they have been napping against FSU this past weekend?  Carolina is coming off two solid wins last week and does not want to be shown up by their neighbors 8 miles down the road.  I look for a good, tough fought game that goes down to the wire.  I think UNC has to play much better than Duke to win this game though.  I like Duke on the road by the narrowest of margins.
Prediction: Duke
Tennessee @ Kentucky 7:00
This will be a major litmus test for the Vols as they enter Lexington at a time when the Wildcats are beginning to come together as a team.  Kentucky has been playing much better as of late despite a 15 point loss at Florida last Saturday.  I don't think the Vols are quite ready to take that next step yet in the SEC.  I think Kentucky pulls away at the end.
Prediction: Kentucky

Monday, February 6, 2006

Wrap Up of the Weekend

10-2 this weekend. Home teams went 9-3. Totally did not see FSU taking Duke to the wire in Cameron. Teams like FSU have always had the athletes to play with the best, but never the execution. Miami is another team that is really coming along this year. After playing even in the first half, they pulled away in the second half. Next year and the Top 10 recruiting class that comes with it can’t get here soon enough for Paul Hewitt. Tennessee just keeps on rolling in the SEC.

The biggest surprise for me was Georgia upsetting Vanderbilt. If the Bulldogs get on a run here, the NCAA Tournament is not out of reach. Dennis Felton has done a magnificent job only one season after winning a total of 8 games and only 2 in the SEC.
I didn’t expect Kentucky to fade in the second half like they did. I was not surprised one bit how they remained even in the first half, but I thought it would remain that way until the very end.

LSU is the best team in the SEC West, but they are going to lose 2-3 more games in conference. Alabama has played much better since starting the SEC is now only one game back of the Tigers.

Rivalry Week is this week as Duke travels to Chapel Hill, Tennessee hits the road against Kentucky, and Arkansas meets LSU in Baton Rouge.

Weekend: 10-2
Season: 26-9

Saturday, February 4, 2006

Weekend Predictions

Florida St @ Duke
Duke has too much for an improved Florida St team at home.
Prediction: Duke

Miami @ Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets will look to break a 6 game losing streak against one of the best backcourt trios in the nation. I think Georgia Tech gets it done at home.
Prediction: Georgia Tech

Wake Forest @ Virginia
I just can’t pick Wake Forest any more on the road this year. Virginia is really surprising a lot of people this year.
Prediction: Virginia

Ole Miss @ Tennessee
The Volunteers are way too much for the Rebels.
Prediction: Tennessee

South Carolina @ Arkansas
Arkansas has had a rough go after a fast start to the conference season. They get back to winning against the Gamecocks.
Prediction: Arkansas

Clemson @ North Carolina
Clemson has never won in Chapel Hill. They will have to wait until another year.
Prediction: North Carolina

Boston College @ Virginia Tech
Coming off a tough home loss, BC must travel to Blacksburg to face the pesky Hokies. BC gets it done with the inside play of Craig Smith.
Prediction: Boston College

LSU @ Alabama
LSU is undefeated in conference, but Alabama has been playing better as of late (minus a loss to Georgia this week.). I think Alabama wins here as LSU is not good enough to go undefeated in the conference.
Prediction: Alabama

Georgia @ Vanderbilt
Georgia doesn’t have the same bark on the road as it does at home. Vanderbilt should win this one.
Prediction: Vanderbilt

Auburn @ Miss St
The two bottom feeders of the SEC match up in this contest. Mississippi St will win this one at home.
Prediction: Miss St

Kentucky @ Florida
This is the biggest match up of the weekend by far in either conference. ESPN Gameday will be there and the O-Dome should be rocking. I think Florida wins this one, but will be close until the end.
Prediction: Florida

Maryland @ NC State
Maryland looked out of sync and out of heart against UNC on Thursday. NC State looks to keep hold of its second place standing. As of late, the Wolfpack have made these home games tougher than they should be.
Prediction: NC State

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Sweatin' Through the Suits

UNC surprised alot of people, myself included, with their 15 point win at Maryalnd Thursday night. Despite 20+ turnovers, the Tar Heels were able to pull away in the second half after being down 2 at halftime. The Heels controlled the boards and the tempo in the second half. After a strong first half, DJ Strawberry was held in check for the second half.Caner-Medley was the leading scorer for the Terps, but had a poor shooting night(6-19) like most of the Maryland squad. Maryland was attempting the break away into the upper tier of the ACC, but North Carolina was going to let that happen. I guess Gary Williams will have to sweat it out the second half of the conference season.

Season record now 16-7.

Big Weekend slate of games coming up. Conference play has reached its mid point too. Look back at how teams are faring compared to expectations and what they need to do to reach post-season play.

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Throwdown Thursday

Had a pretty good Wednesday night. 6-1. Virginia continues to impress me hanging in there with NC State and having a chance to win at the end. Don't look now but here is Kentucky right in the thick again.

One game tonight...
North Carolina @ Maryland 7:00 ESPN

I like Maryland in this game for several reasons. Despite the loss to Temple, they have been playing better ball than the Tar Heels as of late. They will be at home and the Comcast Center is a tough place to get a win. Nick Caner-Medley is playing as good as anyone in the country right now. It all adds up to Terps victory pulling away at the end.
Prediction: Maryland