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January 24, 2011

Weekly Watch: Unbeatens face big tests

The past few weeks have had their share of upsets -- Duke lost its first game since March 3, Kansas lost at home for the first time since 2007, Syracuse and the Jayhawks both lost their first games of the season.

Perhaps some other streaks will end this week.

Ohio State and San Diego State are the lone remaining unbeatens, but the Buckeyes and Aztecs have stiff tests this week against other top contenders in their conferences. And Boston College gets a chance to end what now is the nation's longest active home win streak when it plays at Duke.

Here's a look at the top games and matchups this week. All times Eastern.

Individual matchup to watch

Purdue F/C JaJuan Johnson vs.
Ohio State C Jared Sullinger
Tuesday, 9 p.m., ESPN

Sullinger, a freshman, is making a case for national player of the year honors. He is coming off a fantastic effort against Illinois -- 27 points, 16 rebounds, 13-of-15 from the free-throw line while playing all 40 minutes -- in a 73-68 road win. He plays against the Big Ten's other "best big man" Tuesday.

Game of the week: San Diego State at BYU, Wednesday, 10 p.m., CBS College Sports. The Aztecs and Cougars are a combined 39-1 overall and 10-0 in the Mountain West. Throw in a little star power -- BYU G Jimmer Fredette is leading the nation at 26.7 points per game and San Diego State F Kawhi Leonard is averaging 15.7 points and 10.3 rebounds -- and it's the top game of the week. That is, if you can find it on TV.

Don't overlook this one: Georgia at Kentucky, Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN. The SEC East is far better than the SEC West, but that doesn't necessarily mean the East is all that great. That said, Georgia has a big week ahead of it; it plays host to Florida on Tuesday (7 p.m., ESPN), then has a rematch with the Wildcats. Georgia defeated Kentucky 77-70 on Jan. 8 in Athens. Despite all the preseason accolades that went to F Trey Thompkins and G Travis Leslie, G Gerald Robinson -- a transfer from Tennessee State -- has been the big story for Georgia so far: He's third in the SEC in conference-only scoring at 18 points per game.

Mid-major to watch: Richmond will get an idea of where it stands in the Atlantic 10 race this week. The Spiders are 4-1 in the league, but they haven't faced any of the "good" teams in the conference. That changes this week, with a road trip to Dayton (Tuesday, 7 p.m., ESPNU) and a home contest against Xavier (Saturday, noon, ESPN2). Xavier (13-5) is tied for the conference lead at 5-0 with surprising Duquesne (13-5).

Coaching matchup to watch: Creighton's Greg McDermott vs. Northern Iowa's Ben Jacobson, Wednesday, 9 p.m., ESPNU. McDermott led Northern Iowa to three consecutive NCAA tournaments before a lackluster four-season run at Iowa State. McDermott is back in the Missouri Valley this season, at Creighton. Meanwhile, Jacobson -- McDermott's former assistant at Northern Iowa -- guided the Panthers to a Sweet 16 appearance last season. Both teams need a win in the MVC race to stay within striking distance of the top. Other coaches returning to face previous employers this week include USC's Kevin O'Neill against Arizona (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports regional) and West Virginia's Bob Huggins at Cincinnati (Saturday, 8 p.m., Big East syndication/MSG network/Mid-Atlantic Sports Network/Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh/ESPN Full Court).

Injury update: Minnesota PG Al Nolen suffered a broken foot Saturday against Michigan. He could miss four weeks or the remainder of the season, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. ... Georgetown F Julian Vaughn (ankle) is not expected to play Wednesday at St. John's. ... LSU leading scorer Ralston Turner has missed the past four games with a stress reaction in his right foot.

Key stat: Kansas' loss to Texas at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday ended the nation's longest active home winning streak. The 10 longest active winning streaks at home heading into Monday's games are Duke (30 consecutive wins), Kentucky (28), Utah State (26), Pittsburgh and VCU (20 each), Missouri State (19), North Texas and Saint Mary's (17 each) and Ohio State and Temple (16 each). Duke had the fifth-longest active home winning streak heading into the season, but Kansas, Siena, Xavier and Old Dominion have lost at home this season. The Division I record for longest home winning streak belongs to Kentucky, at 129 from 1943-55.

Tournament implications: West Virginia has had some high points this season, including victories over Vanderbilt and Purdue. But the Mountaineers also have ugly losses to Miami and Marshall. West Virginia could use at least one win in its two road games this week, at Louisville on Wednesday (7 p.m., ESPNU) and Cincinnati on Saturday (8 p.m., Big East syndication). It's also important to keep an eye on Gonzaga, which lost back-to-back road games to Santa Clara and San Francisco last week. The Bulldogs (13-7) play host to West Coast Conference leader Saint Mary's on Thursday (11 p.m., ESPN2). Saint Mary's leads the Zags by two games in the league race.

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com, and you can follow him on Twitter.



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