Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday dribble: UVa., Hampton in marquee matchups

Monday's games

No. 18 North Carolina (16-7, 4-5 ACC) at No. 21 Virginia (18-6, 7-3 ACC), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Given the recent history between these teams (Tar Heels have won 13 straight and beat UVa. by 29 last season), it's hard to believe Virginia would actually be the favorite. But the struggling Tar Heels have dropped four straight, are just 3-6 since Jan. 9 and are actually in danger of playing themselves out of an NCAA tournament bid (the only basketball team mired in a more dramatic freefall is the UNC men). All of a sudden, Virginia Tech's seemingly shocking 79-64 whipping of UNC last month makes a bit more sense. Two major problems stand out for the Tar Heels - poor rebounding and the wild inconsistency of star guards Italee Lucas and Cetera DeGraffenreid. Both came off the bench in UNC's last game and DeGraffenreid was benched for the final 6:55 of a seven-point home loss to Boston College. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, have won seven of their last eight and are playing their most efficient ball of the season. It would be foolish to take a Tar Heels team loaded with McDonald's All-Americans and All-ACC-caliber types for granted. But at this stage of the season, you pretty much are what you are. Virginia 75, North Carolina 63

North Carolina A&T (17-7, 11-0 MEAC) at Hampton (13-10, 8-3 MEAC), 6 p.m.
Here we go. The Lady Pirates have won seven straight - all by 13 points or more. The Lady Aggies have won 11 straight and 13 of their last 14 - the loss was a six-point decision at Liberty. When these teams met on Jan. 18 in Greensboro, the Lady Aggies survived an 82-81 shootout. We're expecting another wide-open, up-and-down affair, the type of game that frankly women's basketball could use a lot more of. Hampton 79, North Carolina A&T 78

Liberty (17-5, 7-2 Big South) at Winthrop (10-14, 4-6 Big South), 7 p.m.
The Lady Flames haven't played since last Monday's 59-56 loss to Gardner-Webb. But Liberty hasn't lost back-to-back Big South games since 1997, have had a week to prepare for this one and will be playing a team they beat by 29 last month. In other words, we suspect the Lady Flames will bounce back from that G-W loss quite well, thank you. Liberty 65, Winthrop 47

Radford (5-16, 4-6 Big South) at High Point (13-11, 5-6 Big South), 7 p.m.
The Highlanders dropped yet another close game Saturday with a four-point loss at Winthrop. Radford has now dropped five straight, and three of the last four of those have come by six points or less or in overtime. High Point is also reeling as the Panthers come in on a four-game slide. But High Point prevailed 78-67 when these teams met in Radford on Jan. 11. Radford 58, High Point 57

Norfolk State (3-17, 0-11 MEAC) at Howard (11-5, 6-5 MEAC), 2 p.m.
The Spartans have lost six straight and have failed to crack the 50-point barrier in their last two losses. NSU proved it could play with Howard in a nine-point loss to the Bison in Norfolk last month. But even there they lacked enough firepower to finish the job - the final score was 55-46. Howard 59, Norfolk State 47

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