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World, Meet Portland State

December 24th, 2008

I’ll be taking a break from the “Best of the Rest” Top 15 Mid-Major poll this week to being you an extended look at the basketball slate for this lovely holiday weekend.  Hope you enjoy yours.  I may check in briefly over the weekend should anything noteworthy happen, but chances are this will be it until the last Bracketless Monday of the year…

Last Night…

Portland State, that if Big Sky Champion fame had an interesting couple of days.  It took them a meare 48 hours to make the treck from Portland to Spokane (google maps says it should take about 5 hours and 45 mins).  Gotta love winter, eh?  Well, once they arrived in snowy Spokane, they were more than happy to see they were playing a Gonzaga team that was obviously still deflated from Saturday’s devestating loss to UConn.  The Vikings outhustled the Bulldogs from start to finish, scoring nearly 30 second chance points to the ‘Zags 2.  Gonzaga finally started to show some fire with about 4 minutes left, but it was quickly extinguished by Portland State’s clutch shooting, and Gonzaga’s inability to convert easy baskets down the stretch. 

Arizona bounced back from a weekend loss to UNLV with a solid, 17 point win over Kansas in Tuscon.   The Cats trailed by 9 at the half, but used a 26-9 run to key a solid half, giving the Wildcats another key win on their resume. 

Texas picked up a key road win at the Kohl Center over Wisconsin.  Not an easy place to stroll into and walk away with the W.  Speaking of Ws though, the ‘Horns thought it would be funny to stomp on Wisconsin’s midcourt W at the end of the game.  Rest assured few Badger fans shared that sentiment.

Illinois trounced Mizzou in this year’s installment of the Border War (or whatever they call it).  Either way, at 11-1, the Illini are starting to put together a rather impressive resume heading into Big Ten play.

Last but certianly not least, a very solid road win by Butler over Xavier.   The Bulldogs only loss thus far was a three pointer at Ohio State, and they should be favored in every game from here on out.  The Muskateers on the other hand have now lost two straight after starting 9-0. 

The weekend ahead…

Only one game before Saturday – Fairfield @ UConn – which should be a blowout on Friday.

Saturday…

UAB travels to Louisville to take on the Cardinals.  The game is  Louisville’s first since losing to Minnesota last week, and the Blazers are a dangerous team.

West Virginia plays Ohio State, as the Buckeyes look to stay undefeated.  WVU looked ready to get back on track over the weekend with a convincing win over Miami (Ohio). 

Sunday…

Southern Illinios hits the road to take on Bradley.  Both teams will need good showing in the MVC to make the cut come March 15th.

Drake hits the road to play Evansville.  Both teams picked up nice wins out of conference, and could be in contention for a bubble bid with good conference records.

Western Kentucky, who already owns wins over Louisville and Georgia, heads down to beutiful Sunrise, FL to take on Florida State.  Hard to tell which Seminole team will show up for this one.  If the team that played steller defense in their near-upset of Pitt last week comes out, they should roll.  If the team that struggled with Tennessee Tech and Charleston Southern takes the floor, watch out world. 

Siena decided to make  a relatively difficult schedule this year to back up its great returning players.  Sooner or later, they’ve gotta start knocking people off.  Sunday’s game against Saint Joe’s might just be the best opportunity they’ll have.   

Texas Tech heads to the bay to take on Stanford, in what is easily the undefeated Cardinal’s toughest test thus far.

Mike On Sports is Mike Fahmie, who wishes you and yours a happy holiday weekend.  He can be reached at MikeOnSports@gmail.com

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