So many conference games are important at this stage of the season. It's still early enough that just about everyone has hope in conference play. This list will likely shrink a bit as the season wears on, but this early jockeying in conference play matters so much come March.
For example, take the Vanderbilt-Georgia game on Saturday. Those teams have Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee twice. They also play Alabama, Arkansas, and LSU. Vandy and UGA probably expect to beat the lower tier of SEC teams, but wins against the list above would be considered upsets. They are caught in the middle. Hence, this looks like a huge game for both. Gotta have wins against fellow conference Bubble Boys.
In fact, there are a host of games that fit this mold. Enjoy them.
--Lipscomb at Belmont. I believe they call it The Battle for the Boulevard down in Nashville. One of these two will likely represent the A-Sun in the NCAA Tourney.
--Bucknell at Holy Cross. HC has a chance to send a message about who is the favorite in the Patriot this season.
--Creighton at Northern Iowa. Match ups of MVC contenders are precious regarding Valley standings and Bubble status.
--Virginia at Boston College. Two teams that look quite Bubbly at this point.
--Washington at California. Both teams need it badly. Huskies need to make a statement if they are to be considered an elite team this year.
--Vanderbilt at Georgia. In the stacked SEC, these are must wins for teams in the second tier.
--Florida State at Georgia Tech. Two ACC clubs on the way up this season.
--Nevada at Hawaii. It's never easy on the island.
--Bradley at Indiana State. Two MVC teams both looking like Bubble Boys.
--West Virginia at Marquette. Both could use quality wins, but Marquette needs it more since it's a home game.
--Clemson at Maryland. Tigers look to go 18-0.
--Oklahoma State at Nebraska. Huskers have not lost at home this season.
--Tennessee at Ohio State. Monster non-conference match up.
--Drexel at Old Dominion. Two CAA contenders jockey for position.
--Georgetown at Pitt. Hoyas need a statement win.
--Michigan at Purdue. Interesting game. Purdue was embarrassed by Indiana this week and this is the type of game that Michigan has to win to be considered a true NCAA team at this point.
--Gonzaga at Santa Clara. Let's see if the Broncos are going to challenge the Zags for the WCC crown this season.
--UCLA at Southern Cal. Huge opportunity for the Trojans to solidify their NCAA status a bit.
--Missouri State at SIU. These two figure to be at the top of the heap in the Valley.
--Washington State at Stanford. Cardinal could use a signature win. Cougars have been impressive to this point in Pac-10 play.
--Villanova at Syracuse. Orange in dire need of a big win.
--BYU at UNLV. These two figure to duke it out for 2nd in the Mt West behind AFA.
--North Carolina at Virginia Tech. VT usually plays big in big games.
--Air Force at Wyoming. Cowboys took out UNLV in Laramie earlier this week.
--Oregon at Arizona. Man, nearly every game in the Pac-10 seems important this weekend.
--Duke at Miami-FL. Important for Duke to get that first ACC win.
--Illinois at Michigan State. These perrennial powers' NCAA outlook is far from rosy at this stage. They need to make bank.