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January 12, 2010
The best game of the week is in the Big East, but there also are some big ones in the ACC and Big 12.
Here's a look at the five best games of the week, plus a few more you need to keep an eye on. We will do this again Friday to spotlight the weekend's best games.
Five games to watch this week
Texas A&M at Kansas State, 7 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN2: This is the first game in a huge three-game stretch for the Aggies - at K-State, at Texas and home against Oklahoma. K-State is coming off a loss at Missouri, which gave the Wildcats a lot of problems with its pressure defense. K-State starting guards Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen were a combined 10-of-30 from the floor against the Tigers, and that percentage obviously needs to climb if K-State is to win this game.
Pittsburgh at Connecticut, 7 p.m. Wednesday, ESPN2: Pitt lost a lot of talent off last season's Elite Eight team, and the Panthers were expected to take a step back in the Big East race this season. But they've won two road games in a row in conference play, over Syracuse and Cincinnati. If they can finish the trifecta with a win over the Huskies, the Panthers definitely can show they're in the title mix. UConn has lost twice in Big East play, by a total of five points in road games against Cincy and Georgetown. Pitt guard Ashton Gibbs is playing at a high level, as are UConn guards Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson and forward Stanley Robinson.
Miami at Virginia Tech, 7 p.m. Wednesday: These teams are a combined 27-3, but questions remain about both. UM is playing solid defense. Virginia Tech has played good defense as well. Miami is going to have problems with Hokies guard Malcolm Delaney. These teams might not end up contending in the ACC, but this is the type of game that could loom important when the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee starts its deliberations.
North Carolina at Clemson, 9 p.m. Wednesday, ESPN: UNC still has some issues, but the question is whether Clemson can take advantage. The battle in the paint between Clemson's Trevor Booker and UNC's Ed Davis and Deon Thompson should be fun to watch. After this one, Clemson plays four of its next six on the road; UNC, on the other hand, has three of its next four at home. This is the only meeting of the season between the teams.
Gonzaga at Saint Mary's, 11 p.m. Thursday, ESPN2: Gonzaga's main challengers in the West Coast Conference are Portland and Saint Mary's. The Zags already have won at Portland, and if they can double up, it's hard to see them not winning the league title. Saint Mary's gets Portland on Saturday in another WCC showdown.
Other games to keep an eye on
Ohio State at Purdue, 7 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN: Purdue is coming off its first loss of the season, and this is the only home game in a four-game stretch for the Boilermakers. Ohio State is 1-3 in the Big Ten, with the losses all coming on the road. After this, five of the Buckeyes' next seven are at home.
Maryland at Wake Forest, 8 p.m. Tuesday, ACC syndication/ESPN FullCourt: Wake is coming off a one-point loss at Miami and has Duke and North Carolina on the road in its next two games, so it would behoove the Demon Deacons to win this game. Maryland beat Florida State in its most recent game, and the Terps need a big game from their backcourt if they're to pull the upset.
Kentucky at Florida, 9 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN: UK muddled past Georgia at home on Saturday and now travels to play a Gators team that has made some noise this season. But UF's backcourt lacks depth, which bodes ill against John Wall and his playmates. UK plays three of its next four on the road.
Minnesota at Michigan State, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Big Ten Network: These teams meet twice in 10 days. Minnesota will be looking for a split, but if the Golden Gophers can win this on the road, a sweep seems likely - and would stamp them as a leading Big Ten contender.
Wisconsin at Northwestern, 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Big Ten Network: Northwestern is off to a surprisingly good 12-3 start, but the Wildcats could be headed down. They are 1-2 in the Big Ten and now play Wisconsin, Purdue, Ohio State, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan State in their next six games. This will be the first game for the Badgers without injured forward Jon Leuer, a key cog in their attack.
Kansas at Nebraska, 9 p.m. Wednesday, ESPN2: Nebraska is 12-4, but the Huskers still have a lot to prove. A win over Kansas would be impressive. KU is coming off a loss at Tennessee, and you'd have to think the Jayhawks are looking forward to getting back on the court.
Vanderbilt at Alabama, 9 p.m. Wednesday, SEC syndication/ESPN FullCourt: The SEC East looks to be stronger than the SEC West; is that really the case? This may help determine that. Alabama has a good record (11-4) and each of the losses has come to a "good" team. Vandy is a better team when center A.J. Ogilvy gets involved offensively.
Missouri at Texas Tech, 9 p.m. Wednesday, ESPNU: Neither team was expected to be a legit Big 12 contender before the season, but both have played well enough to move into the conversation. Mizzou is coming off an impressive home win over K-State; if the Tigers can follow up on that with a win in Lubbock ?
San Diego State at UNLV, 10 p.m. Wednesday, CBS College Sports: This is an important early season game in the Mountain West between two of the league's top four teams. UNLV is coming off an impressive 12-point road victory over New Mexico. San Diego State followed up a 10-point home win over New Mexico with a surprising road loss to Wyoming.
Utah State at Nevada, 11 p.m. Wednesday, ESPN2: Utah State went into the season as one of the favorites in the WAC, but the Aggies have struggled out of the gate. Nevada forward Luke Babbitt is playing at a high level of late.
California at Washington State, 10 p.m. Thursday: The Pac-10 race is a mess, but these appear to be two of the league's better teams. A road win would be a nice boost for Cal; Washington State, on the other hand, needs to hold serve in conference home games.
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.