Alright, there’s a lot of basketball this week, and a lot of hockey too. Which means I’m doing hockey tomorrow.
Biiig week for College Basketball. And for the Michigan Wolverines. One of the biggest weeks in a long time for our team.
Rankings: We’re #23 in the Media poll, up from last week. #24 in the coaches’ poll, which improves over last week’s NR. Thanks for waking up coaches! Now, the Big Ten season begins, and we have a chance to prove we deserve to be ranked. So, us and the 5 teams above us in each poll, whose potential losses are the most likely to affect our rank:
(Rankings go Media/Coaches’, if only one is listed it’s unanimous.)
#23/#24 Michigan: Tonight against North Carolina Central is a win. For real. They’re winless. Then, B10 season begins, and we gotta stay on our toes. A 9-3 Badgers team will not let up on New Year’s Eve (Tickets are quite available at Crisler!), and a couple days later, neither will the 12-1 Fighting Ilini (Tickets are quite available!). Crucial to pick up the home wins in both games, crucial even to our tourney bid.
#24/#23 Ohio State: I think but am not sure after that West Virginia game that the Buckeyes can take out Iowa on New Year’s Eve. Saturday is a tough contest against the #21 Minnesota Golden Gophers. I’ll get to that later.
#22 Xavier: Not too hard a week for the Musketeers, Wednesday against Robert Morris, a .500 team they should beat. A little harder on Saturday against a 6-4 Virginia squad, but, they should be able to pick up two wins this week.
#21 Minnesota: Wednesday against the #10/#15 Spartans. I’m honestly not sure what helps us more in the long run, a win by Minnesota or a win by State. I think I’d prefer the Minnesota win, because if it’s a close game State shouldn’t take too big of a hit (they then get to beat up on Northwestern a couple days later), and I’d rather two mid-ranked Big Ten teams, one of which can easily recover, than one high ranked and one unranked. The Minnesota/OSU game: Again, I’m going to root for Minnesota. Because, well, I’d rather the lower team fall out of the rankings. And I hate the Buckeyes. Then, a couple days later, I can watch State beat them without feeling like it’ll hurt our strength of schedule too much.
#20/#16 Clemson: Tomorrow, against South Carolina. SC’s 9-1, and the game’s at their house, so, the undefeated Clemson should be able to win, but can’t look past this game. Much easier game at home on Saturday, against an East Carolina team on a three game losing streak.
#19/#20 Baylor: Tonight against Portland state. Portland State is 10-3, but, I’m still picking the 1-loss Bears to win at home. Really easy game New Year’s Eve against 1-win Jackson State, then, Friday night against the previously mentioned Gamecocks.
#18 Louisville:New Year’s Eve against UNLV. Louisville can beat the Rebels, but, UNLV’s 10-2 and could be dangerous. Then, Sunday against Kentucky, a team that you should always watch out for.
#14/#18 Tennessee: There was a tie in the Coaches’ poll, meaning both Louisville and Tennessee are #18. At any rate, they get the best named team in college sports, the Ragin’ Cajuns tonight. UL-Lafayette is 4-6, so, easy win for them. Saturday they’re in Kansas, against a Jayhawks team looking to be ranked again.
So, that’s that. A lot of potential upsets, but, if Michigan wants to be ranked higher, they’re going to have to hold up their end of the bargain and go undefeated this week.
Here’s a regurgitation of the schedule up to Wednesday in order of when games are actually taking place, along with where to watch them. I’ll be back tomorrow with hockey, and Thursday with an update on Wednesday’s games. Lemme tell you, New Year’s Eve is looking like a Saturday. Hope to see some of you at Crisler on Wednesday:
#23/#24 MICHIGAN v. NC Central, 7:00, BTN
#14/#18 Tennessee v. Louisiana-Lafayette, 7:30, Online
#19/#20 Baylor v. Portland State, 8:00, Online
#20/#16 Clemson at South Carolina, 7:00, FSN South/Florida, ESPN360.com
#21/#21 Minnesota v. #10/#15 Michigan State, 12:00, BTN
#23/#24 MICHIGAN v. Wisconsin, 2:00, ESPN2
#24/#23 Ohio State v. Iowa, 4:00, BTN
#19/#20 Baylor v. Jackson, 5:00, FSN Southwest
#22/#22 Xavier v. Robert Morris, 6:00, FSN Ohio
#18/#18 Louisville v. UNLV, 6:30, EPSN2