Feb. 1, No. 6 North Carolina at No. 2 Duke
Tobacco Road will be the host of yet another instant classic between the Tar Heels and the Blue Devils. Along with bragging rights, the winner will sit alone atop the ACC standings in the fiercest rivalry in college basketball.
The Tar Heels are riding a 14-game winning streak, while Duke is still thanking a divine force for its 10 unanswered points in the final 54 seconds against Maryland on Saturday (hmmm, a possible point shaving scandal).
Look for sophomore sensation Joseph Forte, averaging 20.7 points per game, to battle to the end with Duke”s Jason Williams, who is averaging 21.3 points. Both teams are stacked with All-Americans, so whichever team stays out of foul trouble may end up with the advantage.
The infamous Cameron Crazies, who even skipped the premiere of Survivor II to camp outside Cameron Indoor Stadium, will be the difference.
Duke 86, North Carolina 79 (OT)
Jan 31, Minnesota at No. 17 Iowa
Minnesota will try to avenge a loss to Iowa earlier in the Big Ten season. Although the Gophers are 3-4 in Big Ten action, do not let their conference record fool you they are 15-5 overall and still in contention for a bid to the Big Dance.
The difference in the game may come down to a battle of the boards, where the Hawkeyes” Reggie Evans will reign supreme over the small front line of Minnesota. Evans leads all Big Ten players in rebounds with 11.9 per game.
Iowa came back from a 19-point deficit this past weekend against Indiana. Look for the Hawkeyes” momentum to carry them.
Iowa 69, Minnesota 60
Feb. 1, No. 22 Southern Cal at No. 1 Stanford
Stanford is the only unbeaten Division I team. It has also set a school record with 19-straight wins. In 1997-98, Stanford started the season 18-0, finishing the year with a 30-5 record.
Southern Cal has struggled to put teams away this year. But the return of guard Jeff Trepagnier from an NCAA investigation will give the Trojans some needed experience on the court.
With the potent line up of Casey Jacobsen, who is leading the Pac-10 in 3-point shooting at 50 percent, as well as Jason and Jarron Collins, the Cardinals will be too powerful for Southern Cal.
This is the one time when choosing a Trojan may be deemed unsafe.
Stanford 79, Southern Cal 60
Feb. 3 No. 23 Texas at No. 4 Kansas
Texas is coming off its worst loss of the season, an 80-52 pummeling at the hands of Arizona. The future is not looking too pretty for the Longhorns as they must travel to Kansas this week.
Kenny Gregory leads the Jayhawks in scoring, averaging 16.9 points per game. Texas” fate may lie with the performance of Chris Owens, who is leading the Big 12 in rebounds at 8.7 per game as well as 14.2 points per game.
The Jayhawks” home, Allen Field House, is one of the premiere college basketball venues in the nation. Kansas rarely loses there, with an all-time home record of 212-17.
Look for the Longhorns to fall prey to the Jayhawks.
Kansas 76, Texas 68