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Quick Takes: Weekend Bracket Games

Dave2015For us nerdy bracket types, the biggest games aren’t always those between highly ranked teams.  While it’s true that all games matter, some results are more important than others – especially for teams residing on or near the proverbial bubble (even in January).

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of this weekend’s biggest “Bracket Games” …

Friday (Jan. 6) …

  • Rhode Island at Dayton – combined, the Rams and Flyers have two wins against the RPI Top 50 and four against the Top 100.  The best of those is Cincinnati (by URI).  At the moment, the Atlantic 10 is a bit thin on at-large profiles, so match ups against two upper-tier teams is that much more interesting.  All in all, a good way to start the weekend.

Saturday (Jan. 7) …

  • TCU (at West Virginia) – TCU’s resume is short on quality wins despite a fast start.  The Horned Frogs have also only played three games away from home (including neutral sites).  Starting with their trip to Morgantown, four of their next six games are on the road.
  • Texas AM (at South Carolina) – The Aggies beat Virginia Tech in November but haven’t won a meaningful “bracket” game since.
  • Providence (vs. Creighton) – The Friars righted the ship against Georgetown this week.  Knocking off the Blue Jays would be their best win since Rhode Island in early December.
  • Maryland at Michigan – The middle of the Big Ten is a quagmire.  Did we mention that three of the Terps next four are on the road?  If there’s a separator in the league’s belly; it’ll likely be road wins or the ability to protect home court.
  • Kansas State (vs. Oklahoma) – For a team with an NC SOS around 270, league play will define the Wildcats’ season; KSU needs to win their winnable home games.
  • Illinois at Indiana – At one point, this game would have been about Illinois’ opportunity for a resume-changing road win – especially after a lopsided loss at Maryland to open the Big Ten season.  Now, it might be more important for IU, which has already dropped two B1G games at home.
  • Oklahoma State (at Baylor) – The Cowboys are fun to watch, but they don’t yet have a resume-defining win.  Opportunity goes knocking in Waco.
  • Texas Tech (at Kansas) – Tech’s NC SOS is around 300. Repeat: That doesn’t bode well; the Red Raiders need a strong Big 12 campaign.
  • Iowa State (vs. Texas) – The Cyclones have looked suspect at times.  Thus, they need to make sure their Hilton Magic stays in tact.
  • Marquette (at Villanova) – Not an ideal spot for the Golden Eagles, obviously, but they’re among a handful of teams right along the cutline.  A road win in Philly would certainly help their profile.
  • NC State (at No. Carolina) – The Wolfpack were our First Team Out on Thursday.  They can change that with a win in Chapel Hill.
  • Cincinnati at Houston – At the moment, this is great opportunity for the Cougars to take an early lead in the AAC race.
  • Nevada (at New Mexico) – The Mountain West is looking like a one-bid league.  If the Wolfpack want serious at-large consideration in March, they probably need to win the conference outright by multiple games. That means winning tough roadies at places like The Pit.

Sunday (Jan. 8) …

  • Northwestern at NebraskaSee Maryland/Michigan above.  Only in this case, the Wildcats are searching for their first-ever NCAA bid.  Hierarchy in the standings could be important.
  • Ohio State (at Minnesota) – The Buckeyes are slowly slipping down the bubble.  And three of their next four are away from home.  Their best win is Providence at home.
  • California (at USC) – If the Golden Bears are going to make an NCAA run they’ll need to beat a couple of the league’s top four teams.  A victory on the road would be that much sweeter.

Enjoy another great weekend on the hardwood.  As we noted in Thursday’s bracket lead-in, it could be a bumpy ride.

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