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The Morning Dish – Saturday, February 7, 2015

February 7, 2015 Columns No Comments

Friday night in February is usually a relatively idle night in college basketball. This one was a bit different, as it was full of big matchups and games that delivered on their promise. A few stand out enough to warrant a little further look.

Leading the way is the Atlantic 10, where Dayton visited George Washington. The two teams were picked to finish right behind VCU before the season, and have been right there for much of the way. In particular, we’re going to learn something about the Colonials, who are in the midst of a challenging stretch. After two road losses, they came home and nearly lost it in overtime, but Joe McDonald was the hero as put back a blocked shot before the buzzer to give the Colonials a 65-64 win. McDonald finished with a game-high 19 points.

If you’re looking for a great conference race, you might want to try the Big South, especially on Friday night. Charleston Southern used a big second half to pull even with host Radford by way of a 79-71 win. In both meetings between the teams this season, the road team won, as Radford won in Charleston just over a week earlier, and both teams now stand 8-4 in Big South play. They have company, though, as Coastal Carolina beat High Point 65-60 to create a seven-way tie at 8-4 atop the conference. The final month is going to be a lot of fun in that conference.

For good measure, a big matchup Saturday night in the Ivy League was set up by the results of Friday night, which included some drama. Brown has played Harvard tough in recent years, and Friday night was no exception. It took overtime and 33 points and ten rebounds from Wesley Saunders to lift Harvard past Brown 76-74 in Providence, setting up a showdown at Yale on Saturday night. The Crimson needed two of those points just to get to overtime, as Saunders got a stickback right before the buzzer.

Side Dishes

Eager to see how a 30-second shot clock will work? We’re going to find out, as the NCAA announced on Friday that the NIT will be played this year with a 30-second shot clock and four-foot restricted arc. While there has been much talk about the former, the latter has been talked about less even with a lot of conversation about the block/charge call in basketball. Right now, the restricted arc extends three feet from the basket.

Texas has lost four games in a row and will be short-handed when they play at Kansas State on Saturday, but just how short-handed remains to be seen. They will be without Jonathan Holmes due to a concussion, while Javan Felix traveled with the team but may sit out for the same reason after missing Wednesday night’s loss against Oklahoma State. Holmes is the team’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, while Felix is the team’s fourth-leading scorer.

Ohio State will also be without a player, as CBS Sports reported that the Buckeyes will hold sophomore forward Marc Loving out for Saturday’s game at Rutgers. Loving was suspended for the Buckeyes’ last game, a loss at Purdue.

Tonight’s Menu

A big day is ahead of us with over 140 Division I games on tap, and among them are many games well worth watching.

  • For as storied as its history is, the ACC has never had two matchups on the same day of AP top 10 teams – until now. Notre Dame heads to Duke in what might be the game of the day, an early afternoon matchup, though an evening tilt with Louisville at Virginia will rival it. Also, Syracuse visits Pittsburgh in an old Big East matchup.
  • Temple travels to Memphis in a key American Athletic Conference matchup early on, then the big game comes in the evening as Tulsa tries to stay undefeated against visiting SMU, the latter fresh off a loss to Cincinnati on Thursday night.
  • An early matchup worth watching is Baylor at West Virginia, then Kansas heads to Oklahoma State. Later, Texas goes to Kansas State desperately needing a win to get back on track.
  • In a Big East showdown, Villanova hosts Georgetown. A bit earlier, Xavier tries to get back on track as they host Providence, and a little later, DePaul tries to stay in the mix as they visit Butler.
  • Michigan State hosts an Illinois team that has been down but not out in what is likely the best Big Ten game of the day. Wisconsin hosts Northwestern as well.
  • The Mountain West has an intriguing matchup in mid-afternoon with young and improving UNLV visiting Colorado State.
  • Arch-rivals meet in Tempe as Arizona visits Arizona State to headline Pac-12 games, while UCLA visits California and Colorado hosts Utah later on.
  • A couple of important SEC games are on tap, starting with Tennessee at Georgia and ending with Kentucky at Florida. In the afternoon, Mississippi State tries to remain a factor as they travel to Arkansas.
  • The night closes with a big showdown in the West Coast Conference as Gonzaga could essentially clinch the regular season title as they go to Saint Mary’s.
  • Several mid-majors have big games with conference leaders. The CAA has William & Mary visiting UNCW, while the Ivy League has a big showdown as Harvard visits Yale. The Southland also has a big showdown as Sam Houston hosts Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and likewise the Sun Belt with UL-Monroe at Georgia Southern.

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