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Top 25 NCAA Basketball Match-ups
by Matt Fargo - 01/21/2011
Villanova Wildcats (7) at Syracuse Orange (3) 12:00 PM ET
Syracuse returns home following that crazy game in Pittsburgh. The Orange fell behind 19-0 before coming back and actually tying the game at one point but the Panthers proved to be too much on their home floor. The absence of Kris Joseph was definitely felt as numerous freshmen were put into play in his place but the good thing is that the Orange players got some needed experience. Syracuse is 13-0 at home this season and this one could be a sellout as over 33,000 tickets have already been sold.
Villanova is also coming off its first Big East Conference loss of the season on Monday as earlier in the day, the Wildcats and Connecticut played a gem. Villanova lost on a runner by Kemba Walker with a few seconds remaining and now it must regroup from that heartbreaker and head onto the road into another tough environment. Villanova lost here last season by 18 points which snapped a three-game winning streak for the Wildcats in this series.
Ohio St. Buckeyes (1) at Illinois Fighting Illini (23) 12:00 PM ET
Ohio St. takes to the road for the first time since becoming the number one team in the country and it certainly is not going to be easy. The Buckeyes remained undefeated on the season with a 22-point win at home over Iowa on Wednesday to improve to 6-0 in the Big Ten. Surprisingly, that was only the second double-digit win in conference action as the others came by five, three, four and three points. Three of the five Buckeyes road wins have been by 10 points or more.
Illinois rebounded from back-to-back losses at Penn St. and Wisconsin to defeat Michigan St. at home on Tuesday by nine points. That moved the Illini to 4-2 in the Big Ten and kept them undefeated at home at 10-0. Illinois is trying to win consecutive home games against ranked opponents for the first time in 10 years. If the last meeting is any indication, we could be in store for a classic. Ohio St. defeated Illinois by seven points in the Big Ten Tournament Semis last season but it took double overtime to do so.
Texas Longhorns (10) at Kansas Jayhawks (2) 4:00 PM ET
The Longhorns did not let that overtime loss at home against Connecticut two weeks ago get to them as they have rattled off three straight wins by 31, 20 and 21 points. Most impressive was the victory last time out against Texas A&M as Texas shot 58 percent from the floor and 86.4 percent from the free throw line. The Longhorns are 2-1 in true road games with the only defeat being a shocking one at USC by 17 points. One concern could be the depth Kansas enjoys with a lineup that goes 10-deep.
Kansas has won 69 straight games at Allen Fieldhouse as the last time the Jayhawks were defeated at home was way back in February of 2007, when Texas A&M escaped Lawrence with a 69-66 victory. This does not mean Kansas is unbeatable though as it was challenged by UCLA and Nebraska, winning those games by one and three points respectively. Do you think the home team has an advantage in this conference? The Big XII teams are a combined 126-10 at home on the season.
Michigan St. Spartans (17) at Purdue Boilermakers (14) 9:00 PM ET
The Spartans lost yet again, making it six defeats on the season and their spot in the top 25 is in serious jeopardy. A win here could keep Michigan St. ranked but a loss definitely knocks it out of the polls where it started second in the nation in the preseason poll. Michigan St.’s last three wins have been by three, three and four points with the last two coming in overtime so things could be even worse. The Spartans have played a very tough schedule with four losses against teams currently ranked in the top ten.
Purdue bounced back from consecutive road losses to defeat Penn St. at home although it wasn’t easy as it came by just a single point. Purdue enters the game on an 11-game home winning streak, including a 10-0 record this season and the Boilermakers surely remember the last visit from the Spartans. Michigan St. defeated third ranked Purdue in West Lafayette last season and that was the highest-ranked Big Ten opponent the Spartans have ever beaten on the road. It is safe to say Purdue will be out for payback.