All my thoughts and opinions on college basketball for the week of February 25th , 2015:
Rhode Island has been one of the biggest surprises out of the Atlantic 10. The Rams were picked sixth in the conference's preseason poll. After going 14-18 last season, Rhode Island enters Wednesday with a 19-6 overall mark, and 11-3 in the A-10, tied for first in the league standings with VCU.
The Rams are 8-1 in their last nine games. Danny Hurley has done a super job as the program moves closer to its first NCAA berth since 1999. EC Matthews has had an outstanding season for Rhode Island, averaging a team-high 16.3 ppg.
Of the six losses this season, only one came by double figures (vs. Kansas in a tournament in Orlando).
Kentucky continues its pursuit of perfection, but Saturday could be an interesting challenge. Assuming John Calipari's team can win at Mississippi State Wednesday (the Bulldogs are 12-15 overall), the Wildcats host Arkansas this weekend.
Last season, the Razorbacks swept the Wildcats in two thrilling games: 87-85 in overtime at Arkansas, and 71-67 in overtime in Lexington. I believe Calipari will remind his team about those results. It should serve as additional motivation.
The Wildcats did a good job against Arkansas star Bobby Portis, who averaged under 10 ppg. in those two meetings last season.
One of the biggest games this weekend is out west. Oregon is at Stanford on Sunday.
The Ducks are currently third in the Pac-12, but have few quality non-league wins. The Cardinal is in fourth in the league, and also on the bubble according to several pundits. Stanford is 2-4 in its last six games heading into a Thursday meeting with Oregon State.
Interesting to note, Oregon and Stanford have not met this season. It should be a good one.
Northern Iowa and Wichita State meet in a Saturday showdown which should help determine the Missouri Valley Conference regular season championship. Both teams are currently 15-1 in league play and both are ranked in the national polls.
Northern Iowa currently sports a school-record tying 15-game win streak. Wichita State is unbeaten at home (14-0) this season and has won 31 straight home contests.
Wichita State's lone double-figure loss this season came at Northern Iowa in the first meeting, 70-54 on January 31st. Ron Baker shot four-of-12 from the field in the loss while Seth Tuttle of Northern Iowa had a monster game with 29 points.
Something has to give this time around.
What a difference a year makes. New Mexico has really hit upon hard times. The Lobos have lost six straight games for the first time in 44 years entering Tuesday night at Boise State.
Craig Neal's team is trying to stay over .500.
Last season, New Mexico made the big dance, losing to Stanford. The Lobos won't dance again unless they score several upsets in the Mountain West tournament.
High Point vs. Charleston Southern is a pivotal game this weekend too. These teams are vying for the Big South regular-season crown. Both are currently 12-4 in conference play.