If nothing…we’re all about alliteration.  So right before Super Bowl Sunday college hoop fans get to enjoy Showdown Saturday… as a new rivalry is born in the ACC.  Or whatever.  Second ranked Syracuse plays #17 Duke at the Carrier Dome…as a new era really gets underway.  Just like when Miami was going to take the league’s football profile to the next level.

NOON–Maryland (12-9, 4-4 ACC) visits Virginia Tech (8-12, 1-7) as the Terps breathe a sigh of relief after holding off a late Miami rally.  Dez Wells needs 40 minutes like the second half he had against the Hurricanes…and Virginia Tech needs to bounce back from a 24 point loss at then-14th place Boston College.  The Hokies are in a bad, bad place now…

12:30–George Washington (17-3, 5-1 Atlantic 10) visits Dayton 13-8 (1-5) as the Colonials continue to chase league leading Saint Louis (they visit the Billikens February 22nd…how do they not play a home game on GW’s Birthday?).  Isaiah Armwood notched his sixth double-double of the season in the win over La Salle…but the highlight was a defense that held the Explorers to 27% shooting (22% from 3-point range).

1PM–American (13-7, 9-0 Patriot League) entertains Holy Cross (12-9, 6-3).  While the surprising Eagles will not be the mystery they were in January… they have the book on their opponents as well during their second run through the conference.  After close wins over Lehigh and Lafayette… AU has won three straight games by double figures.  The question might be now– who upsets them in February?  The Crusaders lost by 15 to the Eagles at home.

2:30PM– George Mason (7-13, 0-6 Atlantic 10) visits #19 St Louis (19-2, 6-0).  Worst meets first as the Patriots continue to chase their initial conference win in the A-10.  They’ll have their hands full with senior guard Dwayne Evans–who averages 15 points and 6 rebounds a game.

3PM– Georgetown (11-9, 3-6 Big East) goes outside the conference to face  #7 Michigan State (19-2, 8-1 Big Ten) at Madison Square Garden.  While a break from league play might be a good thing with five straight losses… the Spartans might not be the medicine they need.  Adreian Payne’s (16ppg, 8rpg) presence in the post could be painful to a Hoya team that struggled down low even before Josh Smith became ineligible.  But…they more than held their own against #9 Villanova earlier this week.  A victory wouldn’t necessarily resuscitate the season…but it would give the Hoyas a little hope.

4PM– Howard (5-16, 3-3 MEAC) entertains North Carolina Central (14-5, 5-1) in what should be a fun duel between Bison freshman James Daniel (averaging 24 points in last four games) and Eeagle senior Jeremy Ingram (21ppg over the same span).  Howard’s wins in league play have come against teams combining for a 3-15  conference mark…or a little more than half the MEAC wins the Eagles have all by themselves.


NOON– #8 Maryland Women (16-4, 4-3 ACC) visits a Syracuse (16-5, 5-3) team that’s fresh off an upset of #6 North Carolina in Chapel Hill.  The Terps are trying to avoid their first four-game losing streak since 2002-03.  Too many jumpshots led to a nine point lead vanishing in Raleigh:   the team shot 5-of-20 after grabbing a 53-44 lead at #18 NC State and lost by nine.  While the Terps have a ton of depth… the ensemble piece needs co-star for Alyssa Thomas instead of a cast of recurring characters.  

12:30PM– Virginia (16-5, 7-1) meets #18 Pitt (18-3, 6-2) in the ACC undercard (one day after league leading Syracuse faces third place Duke) the conference’s second and fourth place teams meet.  Travis Patterson (18ppg) will test the Cavaliers defense like none other…but UVa has 7 double digit ACC wins this winter (and has enjoyed a 20-point lead in each one).  The perfect Super Bowl appetizer…