Monday Viewing Guide and Saturday Travel Recap - 26 January

January is wrapping up, which means things are about to get really serious in the race to Selection Sunday. The matchups I've called out for tonight feature three conference leaders, two of whom face stern tests in rivalry games. The third cannot afford a stumble before a huge matchup to close the week.

Marquette @ Notre Dame (ESPN, 7 EST) - The Golden Eagles are off to a flying start in the Big East, fueled by the hot shooting of Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews, Lazar Hayward, and Dominic James. However, they've yet to be really tested in the conference, with wins over some decent teams (Cincinnati, Providence, Villanova, and West Virginia) and a couple of really lousy ones (DePaul and Rutgers). The Irish should be fighting mad after their 45-game home winning streak came to an end at the hands of UConn on Saturday night. One thing in Notre Dame's favor is that Marquette really doesn't have an answer to Luke Harangody inside.

South Carolina-Upstate @ East Tennessee State (CSS/Full Court, 7 EST) - The Spartans (4-14, 3-6 ASun) shouldn't be much of a test for the Bucs, but ETSU can't look ahead to their first place battle at Jacksonville Friday night.

Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State (ESPN, 9 EST) -It's Ibrahima Thomas' turn to try to stop Blake Griffin. The Cowboys have the outside shooters (Obi Muonelo, James Anderson, Keiton Page, and Terrell Harris are all shooting over 40 percent from outside the arc.) and point guard play (Does the name Byron Eaton sound familiar?) to cause OU trouble, particularly at Gallagher-Iba. A Bedlam win would help OSU's profile immensely.

Have I mentioned that I miss the post-SportsCenter "Big Monday" game yet?

On Saturday, I got to see games in two fantastic facilities. First up, Georgia State and Delaware at the Acierno Arena in Newark. Like many schools, the University of Delaware has grouped most of their athletic facilities so they're removed from the majority of campus. While this can help alleviate parking and transportation issues, it does take a bit away from the college athletics experience.

A Rollout by the St. Joes Student Section Makes Light of the Current State of Penns Program

The Exterior of the Bob Carpenter Center/Acierno Arena"]The Exterior of the Bob Carpenter Center/Acierno Arena

The seating issue we had in our row, thanks to a couple of late arrivals, reminded me that the Palestra is definitely an old-school building. Aside from a few chairback seats courtside, the vast majority of seats are benches. Combine this with the small amount of legroom present, it's not the most pleasant place for a person with any height to have to stand for an extended period of time. (Of course, people could try to make it to a game on time, especially on a weekend evening, but that would probably be asking too much.)

The atmosphere was definitely unique, a throwback to when teams shared gate receipts for Big Five contests. Both teams websites list Saturday's contest as a home game. Fitting, since St. Joe's is currently sharing the Palestra with Penn while Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse is remodeled. Penn wore their white uniforms, but St. Joe's sold the programs and provided the public address announcer. As I mentioned, there was an Atlantic 10 decal along one baseline, but the St. Joseph's University and sponsor decals normally present on the floor for Hawks' home games were missing. Both schools' bands and student sections were in full force. The atmosphere was truly one of the most unique and electric I've ever experienced.

I will be heading back for the Cornell-Penn game on February 7th, since I will be in town for Syracuse-Villanova earlier in the day. You can see my whole album here.

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