- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 17, 2008

FORTUNES RISING

DAYTON

 The Flyers entered last night on a 13-game winning streak and had knocked off Louisville, Pittsburgh and Rhode Island during their 14-1 start. Point guard Brian Roberts and Dayton have a showdown at Xavier next week and have positioned themselves to remain in the Top 25 for the rest of the season.

FORTUNES FALLING

GEORGIA TECH



 When overscheduling and point guard issues meet early defections to the NBA, you get the Yellow Jackets. Making matters worse: Georgia Tech does not play a team with a losing record for the rest of the season. It’s hard to believe the Jackets reached the national title game just four years ago, especially since they are staring at their second losing season out of three.

MID-MAJOR SPOTLIGHT

SOUTH ALABAMA

 Are there no second acts in college basketball? Don’t suggest that to Jaguars coach Ronnie Arrow, who is back for his second stint in Mobile after replacing John Pelphrey after last season. What’s more, he has South Alabama on a nine-game winning streak. Two of the Sun Belt favorite’s losses came at Mississippi and Vanderbilt, which is nothing to be ashamed of.

THIS WEEK’S SIX-PACK

TONIGHT

No. 16 VANDERBILT (16-1, 1-1 SEC) at No. 6 TENNESSEE (14-1, 2-0)

7 p.m., Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, Tenn., ESPN

Skinny: The first of two in-state showdowns between the Commodores and Volunteers figures to assert Tennessee as the favorite in the SEC East. Vanderbilt worked a high-wire act during its 16-0 start and finally stumbled at middling Kentucky on Saturday. The Commodores are better than that but probably not as good as Bruce Pearl’s crew on its home floor.

SATURDAY

No. 10 TEXAS A&M; (15-1, 1-0 Big 12) at KANSAS STATE (11-4, 1-0)

4 p.m., Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, Kan., ESPN

Skinny: The Aggies really haven’t been tested since losing at Arizona on Dec. 2, but a visit to the Little Apple will change that. Freshman star Michael Beasley produces double-doubles with remarkable ease and might be able to get the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1996. A victory over A&M; would look awfully good come March.

No. 24 CLEMSON (14-3, 2-1) at No. 7 DUKE (13-1, 1-0)

6 p.m., Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, N.C., ESPN

Skinny: The Tigers have an all-time record of 15-152 when playing at Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State. That is below average, even against that wrecking crew. Things could get worse in this one, though the stellar recent play of sophomore center Trevor Booker hints Clemson could be effective in the paint — assuming it doesn’t get hit with foul trouble.

ILLINOIS STATE (13-3, 5-0 MVC) at DRAKE (14-1, 5-0)

8:05 p.m., Knapp Center, Des Moines, Iowa

Skinny: Mark this down as an improbable Valley showdown. The host Bulldogs, who beat Missouri State on Saturday despite the absence of Missouri Valley scoring leader Josh Young (sprained ankle), have ripped off a school-record 13 straight wins. The Redbirds, meanwhile, have an eight-game winning streak, their longest since 1991-92.

SUNDAY

OREGON (12-4, 3-1 Pac-10) at No. 8 WASHINGTON STATE (14-1, 2-1)

8 p.m., Beasley Coliseum, Pullman, Wash., CSN

Skinny: Tony Bennett’s Cougars finish with nine of their last 15 at home, including this visit from the surging Ducks. Oregon earned a much-needed home sweep of California and Stanford in the last week and will visit Washington before swinging across the state. The Cougars are coming off their first loss, a setback at UCLA, but likely have the balance to fend off the Ducks at home.

WEDNESDAY

No. 1 NORTH CAROLINA (17-0, 2-0 ACC) at No. 21 MIAMI (14-2, 1-1)

9 p.m., BankUnited Center, Coral Gables, Fla., Chs. 20, 54

Skinny: All those questions about whether the Hurricanes are for real are about to be answered. Frank Haith’s team already has surpassed its victory total from a season ago and is well-positioned for a run at its first NCAA berth since the program’s Big East days. Miami might be derailed in this one; North Carolina center Tyler Hansbrough has averaged 24 points and nine rebounds in his career against the Hurricanes.

64 PLUS ONE

Four Atlantic 10 teams appear again in this week’s field, with Saint Joseph’s coming into the bracket and Massachusetts falling out after the schools’ head-to-head meeting. But don’t call this a mid-major uprising; Xavier wouldn’t allow it, and Dayton and Rhode Island have shown plenty of pluck in the first two-plus months of the season.

EAST

1. North Carolina*

2. Pittsburgh*

3. Wisconsin*

4. Texas A&M;

5. Dayton*

6. Arizona State

7. Arkansas

8. Gonzaga

9. Florida

10. Illinois State

11. South Alabama*

12. Connecticut

13. Davidson*

14. Brown*

15. Austin Peay*

16. Texas Southern*/McNeese State*

SOUTH

1. Memphis*

2. Indiana

3. Washington State

4. Marquette

5. Mississippi

6. Clemson

7. Butler

8. Arizona

9. Baylor

10. West Virginia

11. Creighton

12. Saint Joseph’s

13. Oral Roberts*

14. Utah State*

15. Northern Arizona*

16. Hartford*

MIDWEST

1. Kansas*

2. Duke

3. Vanderbilt

4. Michigan State

5. Oregon

6. Saint Mary’s*

7. Stanford

8. Rhode Island

9. Villanova

10. Notre Dame

11. Kent State*

12. Niagara*

13. Cleveland State*

14. Hampton*

15. UNC Asheville*

16. Wagner*

WEST

1. UCLA*

2. Tennessee*

3. Georgetown

4. Xavier

5. Texas

6. Miami, Fla.

7. Ohio State

8. Louisville

9. Drake*

10. Oklahoma

11. San Diego State*

12. Florida State

13. Cal State Northridge*

14. Delaware*

15. Lafayette*

16. Jacksonville*

* automatic qualifier

-Patrick Stevens

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