Courtney Wetzel and her Oregon State Teammates Will Be In For The Fight of Their Lives Against a UC Irvine Team With Much To Gain
(All times listed are EST.)
UC Irvine vs Oregon State (9:00)
Friday’s match against Oregon State may be the biggest match in the recent history of UC Irvine women’s soccer. The Anteaters have enjoyed a great start to 2010, with a draw against Cal and win over San Diego to their credit. On the fringe of the NCAA at-large discussion, UCI can improve their position by leaps and bounds by shooting down a fancied Oregon State side. The Beavers are largely an unknown commodity this season. Touted as a sleeper team to watch by many in the preseason, OSU hasn’t really played anyone of note and couldn’t solve Aubree Southwick enough times in a 2-2 draw with San Diego State last weekend. This match will say just as much about them as it will the home side.
Purdue vs Wisconsin (4:30)
Wisconsin have slowly clawed their way back from the abyss after a wretched start and now face a crossroads weekend with matches on the road against Purdue and Indiana. The Boilermakers figure to be the more difficult opposition, but there’s no question how Purdue will respond after last weekend’s stunning setback against Denver where they conceded an equalized and winner in the final eighty seconds. Purdue doesn’t face an impossible task to make it to the Big Dance but they certainly need a lot of wins between now and Selection Monday. Wisconsin doesn’t want to plunge itself back into the hole it dug itself out of with great effort, so they really need to keep grinding out wins.
Nebraska vs Texas (5:30)
Legitimate NCAA Tournament team or flat track bully? That’s the question hanging over hosts Nebraska as they prepare for conference play. The Huskers have racked up non-conference wins but have failed miserably against the two best teams they’ve faced in New Mexico and Arizona State. Opponents Texas are coming into Big XII action flying after a fantastic win over BYU in Austin on Monday night. The Horns are tantalizing darkhorses in the Big XII but need a result in Lincoln to put the pressure on Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.
Rutgers vs Georgetown (5:30)
Georgetown took a credibility hit after losses to Santa Clara and Stanford last weekend, but they can’t make that losing streak a protracted one entering into Big East play. The Hoyas still seem to be a solid team and will get a change to prove it on the road against a desperate Rutgers team. The Scarlet Knights’ loss to Boston College was expected, the setback to lowly Seton Hall was not. They need to defend their turf to keep from sinking deeper into bubble trouble on the first full weekend of league play.
Colorado College vs Memphis (6:00)
It’s Tiger vs Tiger, as Memphis heads west to try and repair its shattered reputation after a humiliating 3-0 reverse to TCU. The visitors came into 2010 with high hopes but find themselves struggling on the bubble after the crushing defeat against the Mountain West side. Colorado College showed their mettle against Oklahoma State in a scoreless draw, with a sensational goalkeeping performance from Caitlin Hulyo. While Central Florida will have a hand in the conference race as well, this match figures to go a long way in deciding who ends up on top in CUSA at the end of the regular season.
Georgia vs LSU (7:00)
Drama, drama, drama. The odds of this one being a five-star classic aren’t exactly overwhelming (LSU isn’t really setting the world on fire thus far), but there’s more than a little history behind this fixture that should nonetheless make it a tasty dish at the beginning of conference play. Examples? Players dissing the opponent in the media, near leg shattering tackles from behind by reserves on stars, parents threatening to fight coaches, assistants throwing water at field marshalls, 2-1 thrillers, and 6-0 beatdowns. LSU are unbeaten in three matches in this series, but there’s no question that Georgia will want payback for the hellacious beating they took in Baton Rouge last season. Should be a fun one.
Kentucky vs Florida (7:00)
The Gators’ first test in the SEC is a tricky one. Kentucky has to be full of confidence after a fairly successful non-conference season and will have the home advantage of Lexington to further buoy them in their pursuit of an unlikely NCAA Tournament bid. An upset win over Florida would go a long, long way of getting them there, but the Gators are overwhelming favorites to win the conference for a reason. After a battling defeat against UNC, Florida knows they have a realistic chance of getting to Cary and will be looking to continue their charge with three points in their first league match of 2010. Kentucky’s defense is usually stout, but the Gators have more weapons than just about anyone UK’s played on their schedule so far.
Long Beach State vs Arizona State (7:00)
Long Beach State has one final chance to make an impression in non-conference play before Big West season starts. The 49ers righted the ship after a potentially disastrous three match winless streak with a pair of wins in Las Vegas but still probably need a win over ASU to be in the thick of the bubble discussion. The Sun Devils’ themselves are still smarting after their unbeaten run was stopped with a thud by a merciless UCF side in Tucson. Arizona State should still be safely in the NCAA field at this point, but they’ll still want momentum before league play starts in a few weeks.
UCF vs East Carolina (7:00)
East Carolina are just about hanging on to their at-large hopes after a crippling loss to UNC Wilmington last Thursday. They need quality wins that Conference USA isn’t likely to provide en masse, meaning that Friday’s tilt in Orlando could be a season defining one for the Pirates. It could be a Herculean task for ECU, as Central Florida are flying after a vivisection of Arizona State out West. The Golden Knights look safely in the field at this point, but mere NCAA Tournament qualification isn’t the only goal for Amanda Cromwell’s side, who have the Conference USA regular season title in their sights.
Notre Dame vs Cincinnati (7:30)
After early September’s unexpected loss at UCLA, Notre Dame have rolled along in solid but unspectacular fashion to three straight wins. Realistically, the Irish should mow right through Cincinnati, but the Bearcats will be desperate for a result after losing two of three. With a rebound derby win over Xavier, Cincy got back on track, but they need big results to solidify their NCAA Tournament profile. It goes without saying that even a draw here would boost the Bearcats Big Dance hopes remarkably.
Oklahoma vs Texas Tech (8:00)
Bubble eliminator for Oklahoma? Probably not that extreme at this point, but at home with a beatable Tech team coming into town, the Sooners need all three points against Tom Stone’s team. Oklahoma’s best result is a draw (Colorado College), never a good sign. Tech’s loss to a mediocre Alabama team was a pretty big red flag in what had been a promising season up to that point. Their computer numbers are good at the moment, but if they take a step back in league play, they’ll soon slide their way out of bubble discussion. Not the biggest glamour tie, but certainly one of Friday’s most important.
Texas A&M vs Colorado (8:30)
Colorado scored a dramatic win over UCLA to breathe a little life into their moribund season but will need encores and then some to seriously enter the NCAA at-large discussion. They’re presented with a golden opportunity when they travel to College Station to play a Texas A&M team that has looked deadly against less talented opposition and merely average against the elite. Colorado aren’t anywhere near that elite category, but they’ve got a fresh boots of confidence after felling the Bruins and could be trouble if the Aggies are overlooking them or are just having a bad day at the office.
UCLA vs San Diego (10:00)
It was one year ago when a draw between these two threatened to send UCLA’s season into chaos after the Bruins’ debacle in Chapel Hill to open up the season. It didn’t exactly turn out that way as UCLA recovered quite nicely to get back to the College Cup, but you can bet that they still remember just how much of a threat the Toreros can be. Unfortunately for San Diego, they may be catching the hosts on the good half of their bizarre Jekyll and Hyde form that has seen them look like world beaters on Friday and a pub team on Sundays. Having already beaten the red half of Los Angeles, the Toreros will look for the City of Angels double at Drake Stadium with a win over UCLA on Friday night.