Thursday, November 17, 2005

Thursday Night Preview

Wake Forest vs. Florida- Two teams that are at opposite ends of the spectrum heading into the season. Wake is being talked about as one of the more overrated teams in the country, while Florida is flying under the radar and not being discussed as much of an SEC contender. The Demon Deacons are led by one of the best inside-outside duos in the country in guard Justin Gray and post player Eric Williams. Gray is an excellent scorer but he is playing the point this season and has struggled. He had 10 turnovers in an overtime win over George Mason. Wing Trent Strickland has averaged a double double in his first two games. Florida is a young team. Forward Corey Brewer is looking like a star, while point guard Taurean Green is developing into a very solid player. The Gators inside quartet of Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Chris Richard, and Adrian Moss has been very productive. If Florida pressures Gray into plenty of turnovers and keep Williams in check inside, they can pull off the upset. However, I don't see anyone for Florida being able to get buckets down the stretch against Wake, and I see Gray stepping up in the second half leading the Deacons to victory. Prediction: Wake Forest by 6

Syracuse vs. Texas Tech- Similar to the previous game, Syracuse is being discussed as the most undeserving Top 25 in the nation, and Texas Tech has been mentioned as a Big 12 sleeper. The Orange have a new version of the Gerry McNamara-Hakim Warrick duo from a season ago in McNamara and Terrence Roberts. Roberts is averaging a double-double, while McNamara has struggled mightily with his jump shot without a Josh Pace-type player on the wing. Demetris Nichols and Josh Wright are playing well in the backcourt, but freshman Eric Devendorf may be the key to this team. When he plays well, it makes the Orange much better. Texas Tech is led by one of the best backcourts in the country in Martin Zeno and Jarrius Jackson. Zeno is developing into a star, while Jackson is not disappointing those who chose him as a Wooden Award candidate. Wing Terry Martin is also scoring. Darryl Dora and Jonathan Plefka are solid down low. If McNamara gets his shot back, the Orange should win as Roberts is tough to stop down low and the perimeter gang for Syracuse is deep and versatile. Jackson and Zeno will be a good test for them, though. Prediction: Syracuse by 5

Memphis at Alabama- The best game of the young season, by far. Both teams are somewhat unknown going into the season, as the Tigers were an NIT team last year and are now being picked to go to the Sweet 16, while the Tide are starting essentially four forwards. However, both are definitely Top 15-20 teams. Memphis has an excellent duo in Darius Washington and Rodney Carney, who came off the bench last game and will do this game as well. Freshman forward Shawne Williams has looked like a potential star thus far. Post player Kareem Cooper has played very well inside, and will need to against 'Bama. Ronald Steele is a very good point guard, and Chuck Davis is one of the best post players in the country. He went for 19 and 9 last game. Wings Justin Jonus, Alonzo Gee, and Jean Felix are all playing solid. Washington-Steele will be an outstanding sophomore point guard match-up, while Williams will be forced to show if he is for real against Davis. However, 'Bama has no one to guard Carney, and that will be the difference. Prediction: Memphis by 7

Temple at UCLA- Two potential NCAA teams face off in the quarterfinals of the NIT. UCLA has been led by an extremely potent perimeter trio. Aaron Afflalo has played outstanding, going for 23 points and 6 boards last game. Jordan Farmar is one of the best point guards in the nation, and Cedric Bozeman is a very versatile wing. Michael Fey and Ryan Hollins need to provide more than the 15 and 8 they gave against New Mexico State. Temple is led by one of the best all-around players in the country in Mardy Collins. Dustin Salisbery and Mark Tyndale are good scorers on the wings, while they, like UCLA, are not getting much production from inside. This game will be decided on the perimeter, and Collins-Farmar is going to be an unbelievable point guard match-up. UCLA has the better perimeter, with Afflalo looking excellent and Bozeman looking very solid. If either team gets consistent points and rebounds from the interior, they will likely win the game. Prediction: UCLA by 9

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