Yes, it is Super Bowl weekend. But that doesn’t mean you can’t check out some college hoops in the days and hours leading up to the game.
Pennsylvania (11-9, 3-0 Ivy) @ Yale (13-5, 3-1): Penn at Yale is important? It is when you consider Penn is undefeated in Ivy League play and Yale is 3-1. Both teams need the win to keep pace with Harvard (18-2, 4-0). A Yale loss would all but eliminate them from Ivy League championship contention. A Penn loss wouldn’t be devastating, but the Quakers would love to be undefeated in league play when they host Harvard on February 10.
Seton Hall (15-7, 4-6 Big East) @ Connecticut (14-7, 4-5): The Huskies have hit the skids recently with four straight losses. They also would like to even the series with the Pirates, who knocked them off, 83-75, in New Jersey on January. It won’t be easy for Connecticut, which will be playing without coach Jim Calhoun, who took an indefinite leave of absence citing health issues. Seton Hall has been even worse, losing five straight games. Consecutive losses to South Florida and Villanova were especially discouraging.
Virginia (18-3, 5-2 ACC) @ Florida State (15-6, 6-1): Florida State, winners of six straight games, is the hottest team in the country. Wins over North Carolina, Maryland and Duke in succession prove are proof of that. The biggest thing driving the Seminoles is their defense. They held four of those six opponents to 59 points her less, while the other two –Maryland, Duke– scored 70 and 73 points, respectively. Virginia got off to a great start and is still playing well, but it might be too much to ask of them to win in Tallahassee.
Ohio State (19-3, 7-2 Big Ten) @ Wisconsin (18-5, 7-3): It will be offense against defense in this one. The Badgers have been playing their usual tough defense and have won six straight thanks to it. They masterful in their 57-50 win over Indiana on Thursday, January 26 and were even better last Tuesday at Penn State (52-46). Ohio State has also been showing its defense side recently. Michigan shot just 35 percent in Sunday’s 64-49 loss at Ohio State. Something’s got to give.
Syracuse (22-1, 9-1 Big East) @ St. John’s (10-12, 3-6): The good news for St. John’s fans is that their team looks like it might be turning the corner. Mo Harkless and D’Angelo Harrison have been outstanding. A three-point home loss to Villanova, followed by its 16-point win over West Virginia, an 83-76 loss at Duke and its most recent 87-81 win at DePaul prove all is not lost. The bad news for St. John’s is that Syracuse’s Fab Melo will be playing. It won’t be too ugly, but the Red Storm has a tough road ahead.
Stony Brook (14-7, 9-1 America East) @ Albany (15-9, 7-3): Stony Brook is playing like it’s on a mission. The Seawolves have won 11 of their last 12 and have sole possession of first place in the conference. But Albany is 9-0 at home this season and is looking to exact some revenge after being handled by Stony Brook at Pritchard Gymnasium last month. If Stony Brook sticks to its defense-first mentality, you can chalk up another W.
Georgia State (15-8, 7-5 CAA) @ Hofstra (8-16, 2-10): The record doesn’t show it, but Hofstra isn’t such a terrible team. The Pride has two primetime scorers in Mike Moore and Nathaniel Lester. The Pride’s biggest problem has been getting key baskets late in close games. Georgia State has lost four of six, but perked up a bit on Wednesday with a 68-53 shellacking of UNC-Wilmington. Of course this is the same Wilmington team that lost to Towson. GO figure.
Central Connecticut State (10-11, 7-4 NEC) @ LIU Brooklyn (16-7, 10-1): Few teams are hotter than LIU, which has won 11 of its last 12. Most importantly, the Blackbirds have really found themselves on offense during that stretch, topping the 80-point plateau seven times and hitting triple digits twice. Central Connecticut State has three capable scorers in Ken Horton (19.4), Kyle Vinales (18.3) and Bayport-Blue Point graduate Robby Ptacek (18.2). Look for a shootout.