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December 15, 2009
This might be the worst week of college basketball all season. It's exam time for numerous schools, and the pickings are slim.
So slim, in fact, that there is no need for a "5 to watch" this week because there aren't five worthy games to spotlight. Instead, we're going with the more generic "games to keep an eye on" designation this week.
We will do this again Friday to spotlight the weekend games; luckily, there are some good ones over the weekend.
Games to keep an eye on
Rider at Rutgers, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday: This is the second game in a 14-game stretch in which Rider plays 11 road games. Broncs guard Ryan Thompson, the brother of NBA player Jason Thompson, must be productive if Rider is to upset its in-state neighbor. Rutgers is in the midst of a six-game stretch in which it plays five teams from New Jersey.
Wright State at Mississippi State, 7 p.m. Wednesday, ESPN2: Wright State's backcourt will pose problems for Mississippi State. Wright State, which is in the Horizon League, wants to keep this one in the low 60s. Mississippi State has won four in a row by wide margins and has been playing superb defense.
Richmond at South Carolina, 7 p.m. Wednesday, SportSouth: Richmond has beaten Mississippi State and Missouri and now gets a chance to take down its second SEC opponent this year. The Spiders have a solid backcourt, but so do the Gamecocks. South Carolina would prefer a faster tempo than the Spiders. Can either team impose its will?
UCF at USF, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Big East syndication/ESPN FullCourt: USF won't play UCF in football anymore, but the Knights do get a shot at the Bulls on the basketball court. While the schedule hasn't been that tough, UCF still is off to a much-better-than-expected 7-2 start. USF also is 7-2, and the Bulls, too, have been more impressive than expected. This is the second game this season against a Big East foe for UCF, which lost to Notre Dame by 18 last week and plays at Connecticut next.
Cincinnati at UAB, 7 p.m. Wednesday, CBS College Sports: Both of Cincinnati's losses have come in overtime - to Xavier and Gonzaga (in double overtime). UAB is off to an 8-1 start, and a win over the Bearcats would legitimize the Blazers, who play six of their next nine on the road after this one.
UTEP vs. Ole Miss in Southaven, Miss., 8 p.m. Wednesday: This game will be played about an hour west of Ole Miss' campus in Oxford, in a town just a bit south of Memphis. UTEP, which is expected to contend for the Conference USA title this season, is coming off its first loss of the season, a home setback to New Mexico State; the Miners had ripped the Aggies by 21 in Las Cruces on Dec. 1. This will be the second game for UTEP forward Derrick Caracter, a transfer from Louisville who made his Miners debut in the loss to New Mexico State. Two of UTEP's key players - guard Randy Culpepper and big man Arnett Moultrie - are Memphis natives. UTEP should have the advantage up front, but the Rebels' backcourt is going to be tough for UTEP to handle.
Oklahoma State at Stanford, 11 p.m. Wednesday, Fox Sports Net: Oklahoma State is off to an 8-1 start, but the loss was by 21 at Tulsa. Stanford has been better than expected, but the Cardinal's most impressive outing was an overtime loss to Kentucky. This is just the second true road game of the season for Oklahoma State; the first was against Tulsa.
Auburn at Florida State, 7 p.m. Thursday, Fox Sports Florida/Northeast Sports Network: This will be the third ACC opponent of the season for Auburn, which lost to N.C. State by two and beat Virginia by one. A big problem for the Tigers: FSU is a lot better than either N.C. State or Virginia. FSU will have a big height advantage and should control the boards.
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.