Sophie Schmidt and Portland Will Be Looking For Revenge for 2009 on Friday Night Against Texas A&M
(All Times Listed are Eastern.)
Portland vs Texas A&M (10:00)
It was nearly one calendar year ago when a Portland team with a 100% record and a season so far that had resembled a wrecking ball smashing all in its sight went into College Station, Texas and capitulated in stunning fashion to a wildly inconsistent Texas A&M team. It was the last blight on the Pilots’ record until the quarterfinal loss to UCLA, making the defeat all the more shocking in retrospect. With both sides having started out very well in 2010, this rematch figures to be one of the last marquee matches of the non-conference season. You can bet that Portland hasn’t forgotten last season and will be eager to repay the favor to the visiting Aggies at Merlo on Friday night. It’ll be interesting to see if the Portland defense is able to slow down A&M’s defense like UNC did or if they’ll just be another notch on A&M’s belt.
UCLA vs Denver (3:30 in Boulder, CO)
Oh, UCLA. The Bruins seemed to have gotten their groove back with a stirring 2-1 extra time win over Notre Dame, only to come up flat against UC Santa Barbara a few days later, being held to a draw by the Gauchos. UCLA clearly has enough talent to give anyone a game, but the consistency seems to be lacking. That could be a problem in Boulder against a pesky Denver team with a pseudo-homefield advantage. The Pioneers are plenty good enough to cause the Bruins problems and will be eager to build their resume for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. This will be the last game Denver will be underdogs in until (possibly) the NCAA Tournament.
UConn vs Providence (7:00)
UConn’s sour start to 2010 seems a long, long time ago after four straight victories to revive the Huskies’ season. Odds were that UConn were equally happy in avoiding extra time last weekend after opening the season with five straight contests that went past regulation. They’ll look to continue their hot streak in Big East play against a Providence side that has a nice record but very little evidence to whether they’re a contender or not on their non-conference record. These two teams do share one thing though: they both lost to mid-major Siena earlier in the year.
Tennessee vs Wisconsin (7:00)
The equivalent of a Loser Leaves Town Match. For the NCAA Tournament bubble that is. Wisconsin finally dug in and scratched out a win against state rivals Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but there’s still much work to do if they want to salvage their season. Tennessee has just as much work to do after a three match losing streak that has seen them concede fourteen goals! At least the Vols can take solace in the fact that an anemic Wisconsin offense isn’t likely to put up any crooked numbers against them in Knoxville. But who knows where this Tennessee team’s head is at after so many lopsided defeats?
South Florida vs Marquette (7:30)
Is this the time for South Florida to break through and reach the NCAA Tournament? It looks shaky. The Bulls have played exactly one good team thus far, Central Florida, and they lost, albeit closely. USF has some good talent on the roster, but I’m not sure if that non-conference slate has prepared them for the rigors of Big East play. They’ve got a big test ahead of them with Marquette coming to town. The Golden Eagles have played well for much of 2010 but have struggled to bang out results. Having gone winless last weekend, Marquette needs a result badly to avoid a possible crisis in confidence in Milwaukee as conference play heats up.
Arizona State vs Ohio State (8:00 in Tucson, Arizona)
Arizona State probably raised an eyebrow or two last weekend as they obliterated Tennessee and Nebraska by a goal differential of 9-2 over both games. The Sun Devils have been one of the nation’s most surprising teams this season and have a chance to silence the doubters this weekend against a strong Ohio State team and the always tenacious UCF Golden Knights. Since a poor first weekend, Ohio State have rolled along, scoring eleven goals and only conceding once in five matches. This will likely be their toughest match to date, and is pretty much a de facto road game with ASU still playing in-state on Arizona’s campus.
Duke vs Florida (8:45)
The Blue Devils haven’t exactly been pushing themselves since that eye opening weekend where they downed Missouri and ran Stanford hard in Chapel Hill before falling. A couple of cupcakes left Duke rusty against Florida International, resulting in a damaging draw before a slim win over Yale. It’s a big jump up in opponents as the Florida Gators come to town for a televised clash. The Gators have shown signs of having a team capable to go deeper than any Florida team has in a while but Duke could be the best team they’ve played so far. A win on the road would be a massive signal of intent from UF that they’re capable of challenging for a spot in Cary later on this season.
Santa Clara vs Georgetown (10:30)
At long last, it’s finally time for Georgetown to prove what they’re made of. The Hoyas have looked damn good in the opening weeks of the season but haven’t exactly been facing the stiffest opposition. Now they’ll get their chance against Santa Clara and Stanford in one weekend. The Broncos are still searching for a win to hang their hat on and the Hoyas represent a good opportunity for SCU to finally join their lofty ranking with actual results. Make no mistake though, this one’s all about the visitors. Will it be the biggest sign that Georgetown really is a contender on the national level? Or is it just the same old, same old from a team that has promised so much and delivered precious little?