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Top 25 Matchups
by Matt Fargo - 01/29/2010
Top 25 Matchups for Saturday, January 30, 2010
Duke Blue Devils (7) at Georgetown Hoyas (11) 1:00 PM ET
After starting the season 1-3 on the road, Duke was able to gain some confidence with a rather easy road win at Clemson last weekend. On Wednesday the Blue Devils improved to 5-2 in the ACC with a home win over Florida St. and now steps out of conference for the second to last time this season. This will be the third and final road game this month against a ranked opponent and starts a stretch of a brutal four games. Following this, Duke has a home revenge meeting with Georgia Tech, who won the first matchup this season, followed by two tough road games at Boston College and at North Carolina.
On Monday, Georgetown jumped ahead of Syracuse 14-0 and looked as though the Hoyas were going to capture their second straight conference road win but it was the Orange that dominated after that. Georgetown was outscored by 31 points the rest of the way as the Orange 2-3 zone made things really frustrating for the Hoyas. Georgetown was clearly outmatched by Syracuse in height as the Orange were able to collapse the zone and prevent anything taking place down low. Duke presents the same disadvantages but the Blue Devils are not as athletic and playing at home is a big bonus.
Duke defeated Georgetown last season by nine points at home so this sets up a revenge situation for the Hoyas on top of trying to regroup from the ugly loss on Monday. Both teams were involved in physical matchups this week and the edge has to go to the Hoyas. Duke played Wednesday with the game not ending until after 11 ET so the quick turnaround could be a big disadvantage while the Hoyas have had two extra days.
Vanderbilt Commodores (23) at Kentucky Wildcats (1) 4:00 PM ET
With Vanderbilt’s win at Tennessee on Wednesday, the Commodores are now the lone undefeated team in SEC action. Staying that way will be a challenge on Saturday as they will have to face a Kentucky team that is coming off its first loss of the entire season. With that win over the Volunteers, Vanderbilt has quietly won 10 straight games including three of the last four coming on the road. This is the best SEC start for the Commodores since 1965-66 when they also started 5-0 and this is just the second ranked opponent they have faced this season.
Kentucky comes in as the number one team in the nation but it won’t stay there no matter the outcome of this game. The Wildcats were stung by the Gamecocks on Tuesday, the first time this season in seven games that saw them on the wrong end of a single-digit final score. The first defeat of the season was inevitable for this young squad but it was probably the best thing that could have happened and head coach John Calipari is the happiest of anyone that it took place. The pressure is now gone and Kentucky can once again play loose which is really big edge.
This game will likely come down to the Kentucky defense. The Wildcats have held 14 of 20 opponents to less than 40 percent shooting from the floor while Vanderbilt is a perfect 11-0 this season when shooting 50 percent or better from the field so something has to give. Vanderbilt has won six of the last eight meetings in this series but the Wildcats have taken two straight at Rupp Arena.
Kansas Jayhawks (2) at Kansas St. Wildcats (13) 7:00 PM ET
The last time we saw Kansas St. in this situation, it knocked off then number one Texas so the Wildcats will be looking to make it two straight wins over top five teams at home. They had a big letdown after that with a home loss against Oklahoma St. but they came back with what could be a big turning point win as they went to Baylor and defeated the 24th ranked Bears on Tuesday by a bucket. Defeating Kansas is not going to be easy as the Jayhawks have won 25 of the last 26 meeting played in Manhattan (2008 was the loss) and this is arguably one of the best Kansas teams ever to make a visit.
Kansas won its first rivalry game this week as it easily took out Missouri on Monday night to extend its home court winning streak to a national best 54 games. This will be the first quality road opponent since its first and only loss of the season at Tennessee three weeks ago. A victory here likely vaults the Jayhawks back into the number one spot in the polls. Balance and depth are the calling cards of Kansas as through 20 games, nine different players have led the team in steals, seven in points and six in assists. The Jayhawks rank in the top three in all but three Big XII statistical categories.
This should be a very interesting matchup down low as the Wildcats are an attacking team that averages 15.8 offensive rebounds per game and they go to the free throw line 33.8 times per game which is easily the most in the nation. The Jayhawks meanwhile are sixth in the nation in rebounding margin and they allow only 19.2 free throw attempts by the opposition per game. Kansas also has a huge edge in assist/turnover ratio, 1.47 to 0.97.