Friday, January 13, 2006

Weekend Preview

Another weekend of college basketball means another two days completely filled with quality conference tilts. This week, there is a very good non-conference game mixed in with the usual docket of top teams from the top conferences going up against each other.

Top Games

Georgetown at Connecticut (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Georgetown is looking for a quality win to make their NCAA Tournament resume look somewhat attractive, while Connecticut is going to be fighting for a #1 seed throughout the season. For the Hoyas, Brandon Bowman and Jeff Green are a good forward tandem, while Roy Hibbert is an underrated center. Ashanti Cook is an athletic scorer in the backcourt. On Connecticut's side, Marcus Williams is becoming the All-American point guard he was last season, while Hilton Armstrong has developed into the Huskies' best big man. Rudy Gay can take over a game from the wing and Rashad Anderson can carry the Huskies if his shot is falling. Prediction: Connecticut 72, Georgetown 61

Villanova at Texas (Saturday, 1:00 PM, CBS)- The talent in this game is going to be unbelievable. On the perimeter, Daniel Gibson of Texas, and Allan Ray and Randy Foye of Villanova are in the Top 5 at their respective positions. Up front, Texas’ P.J. Tucker is a matchup nightmare, while the Longhorns’ LaMarcus Aldridge is a dominant big man. The key matchup will be Ray vs. Tucker and Foye vs. Brad Buckman. Ray is nowhere near strong enough to stop Tucker on the block. Foye might have a better chance at stopping Tucker when he posts up. If the Wildcats decide to put Foye on Tucker, it will help them out. On the other side, Buckman is going to have to defend Foye. Foye is too quick for Buckman, so he is going to need help. In the end, however, Texas has too much inside-outside balance for the Wildcats to handle. Unless Jason Fraser and Will Sheridan figure out a way to stop Aldridge on one end, and get some baskets on the other, Texas will be too much on the interior. On the perimeter, the Longhorns’ Gibson is good enough of a perimeter scorer to match Ray, while Foye is going to get his no matter what for Villanova. The variety of ways in which Texas can score is going to be the difference. Foye, Kyle Lowry, and Ray are going to give them a heckuva game, though. Prediction: Texas 76, Villanova 71 Click Here For a Complete Preview of Villanova-Texas

Washington at UCLA (Saturday, 4:00 PM, FSN)- This game could go a long way towards determining the Pac-10 Championship. UCLA went to Arizona and won, and the Wildcats went to Washington and emerged victorious. It’s Washington’s turn to pick up a big road win. The Huskies are a very balanced team offensively, led by National Player of the Year candidate Brandon Roy. Jon Brockman and Jamaal Williams are tough down low, while Bobby Jones is an excellent defender who can also score. Justin Dentmon is a solid point guard, and Ryan Appleby is an excellent shooter. UCLA is getting killed by injuries, but are still going to be competitive. Jordan Farmar and Aaron Afflalo are one of the best backcourts in the country, while Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is an underrated forward. Darren Collison is a developing scorer at the point guard spot. Prediction: Washington 80, UCLA 76

Michigan at Illinois (Saturday, 4:30 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Both teams are coming off of less-than-impressive games: Michigan's 3-point victory at home against Purdue, and Illinois' loss at Iowa in a game that they were never really competitive. The Wolverines have one of the best backcourts in the league in Daniel Horton and Dion Harris, and big man Courtney Sims can dominate a game from the paint. Graham Brown is a rugged rebounder down low. Illinois has one of the best inside-outside combos in the country in Dee Brown, possibly the nation's best point guard, and James Augustine, an underrated big man. Jamar Smith and Rich McBride are excellent long-range shooters for the Fighting Illini. Prediction: Illinois 69, Michigan 59

Syracuse at Cincinnati (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Two teams that will be in thick of the Big East race come March. Syracuse is starting to develop into a team that is going to be a tough out in a couple of months. Gerry McNamara can keep the Orange in the game from the perimeter, while Terrence Roberts is the main man down low. Demetris Nichols is a versatile scorer at the forward spot and guard Eric Devendorf is a crafty player in the backcourt. Cincinnati is falling apart due to injuries, and are going to be very thin for the rest of the season. James White is an excellent all-around player, while Eric Hicks is one of the best big men in the country. Devan Downey is a very good freshman point guard and Cedric McGowan is a solid forward. Prediction: Cincinnati 68, Syracuse 64

Tennessee at LSU (Saturday, 8:00 PM, FSN)- An SEC crossover game between a team that will be a contender in the extremely competitive SEC East Division and a club that should run away in the weak SEC West. Tennessee is a perimeter-oriented team led by potentially the best backcourt in the league in C.J. Watson and shooter Chris Lofton. Major Wingate provides balance on the inside, while Andre Patterson is a versatile scorer in the frontcourt. LSU might be the most talented team in the conference. Glen Davis is one of the best big men in the country and guard Darrell Mitchell has quietly been the best guard in the SEC (yes, including Rajon Rondo). Tyrus Thomas is one of the best freshmen in the country, while fellow frosh Tasmin Mitchell is also a contender for Conference Freshman of the Year. Prediction: LSU 76, Tennessee 68

Missouri State at Wichita State (Saturday, 8:05 PM, Regional TV)- Two teams fighting for second place in the Missouri Valley Conference behind undefeated Southern Illinois. Both teams are 4-2, and with injuries to other contenders' key players (Creighton and Nate Funk, Northern Iowa and Erik Crawford), the door could open for one of these two teams to make a run at the league title. Missouri State is a high-scoring bunch, led by super-scorer Blake Ahearn. Guards Tyler Chaney and Deke Thompson are also very good guards, while Kellen Easley is one of the best sixth men in the country. Wichita State may have the best frontcourt combo in the MVC in Paul Miller and Kyle Wilson. Guards P.J. Couisnard and Sean Ogirri are the top players in the backcourt for the Shockers. Prediction: Wichita State 81, Missouri State 75

Pittsburgh at Louisville (Sunday, 1:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- This could be the coming-out party for Pitt. The Panthers are one of three undefeated teams left in the country, and are showing they are going to be a team to be reckoned with in March. Carl Krauser is one of the best guards in America, while center Aaron Gray might be the most improved player in the country. Levance Fields is a shifty point guard that can score and fellow freshman Sam Young is a versatile scorer at forward. Louisville needs a quality win in order to bounce back after what seems like a season-long slump. Juan Palacios and David Padgett are a good inside duo and Taquan Dean is one of the best all-around guards in the country. Brandon Jenkins is an underrated perimeter player and Terrence Williams leads a host of freshman that contribute. Prediction: Pitt 70, Louisville 68

Michigan State at Ohio State (Sunday, 4:30 PM, CBS)- Two of the Big Ten’s best teams battle it out in Columbus. Michigan State needs a win in order to avoid a 1-3 start in conference play. They are coming off of a dominant win over Indiana at home. Maurice Ager and Shannon Brown form one of the best wing duos in the nation, while post player Paul Davis is having an All-America-type season. Drew Neitzel is a solid point guard that doesn’t turn the ball over much. Ohio State is still one of the big surprises in college basketball at 12-1. Je’Kel Foster might be the best three-point shooter in the country and Terence Dials is one of the best big men in the conference. J.J. Sullinger is a good inside-outside swingman, while Ron Lewis leads a host of perimeter players that can put the ball in the basket. Prediction: Ohio State 84, Michigan State 79

Wake Forest at Maryland (Sunday, 7:30 PM, FSN)- Will anybody in the ACC stand up and give Duke a running mate in the race for an ACC Championship. It doesn't look like either of these teams are ready to give the Blue Devils any sort of threat, after the Demon Deacons and the Terrapins lost to the Dukies by 18 and 24 points, respectively. Wake Forest has an excellent inside-outside combination in guard Justin Gray, an outstanding scorer, and big man Eric Williams, an efficient player around the basket. Trent Strickland is an athlete on the wing that can get to the basket and is also a good rebounder. Maryland is deep and has several guys that can beat you. 6-5 guards D.J. Strawberry and Chris McCray form a tall, defensive-minded backcourt that forces turnvoers. Nik Caner-Medley has the potential to be a very good inside-outside scorer, while Ekene Ibekwe and James Gist are energetic rebounders and shot-blockers on the interior. Prediction: Maryland 84, Wake Forest 75

Other Games to Watch

Miami (Fl) at North Carolina (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN2)- Miami picked up a big win last week against Maryland, while North Carolina looks like it could be the second-best team in the ACC. Prediction: North Carolina 75, Miami (Fl.) 65

Iowa State at Texas Tech (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN)- Texas Tech needs to start picking up some wins, while Iowa State is one of the few true good teams in the Big 12. The backcourt matchup of Iowa State's Will Blalock and Curtis Stinson vs. Martin Zeno and Jarrius Jackson of Texas Tech is going to be exceptional. Prediction: Iowa State 70, Texas Tech 63

Virginia Commonwealth at Old Dominion (Saturday, 12:00 PM, Regional TV)- Two of the seemingly endless group of quality teams in the Colonial do battle. Alex Loughton going up against Nick George will be an interesting matchup. Prediction: Old Dominion 74, Virginia Commonwealth 67

Georgia Tech at North Carolina State (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Two of the best (Georgia Tech? Best?) teams in the ACC--according to the standings, at least--go at it in Raleigh. Georgia Tech has been hot lately, while NC State always comes out with a solid performance. Prediction: North Carolina State 65, Georgia Tech 58

Holy Cross at Bucknell (Saturday, 1:00 PM, CSTV)- One of the few teams in the Patriot league that can actually give Bucknell a test pays the Bison a visit. If Bucknell doesn't lose this game to the Crusaders or the return trip, I can't see them losing a conference game. Prediction: Bucknell 66, Holy Cross 52

Alabama at Kentucky (Saturday, 1:00 PM, CBS)- The preseason favorites in the SEC have not lived up to expectations. Alabama doesn't look like it will come near the NCAA Tournament, while Kentucky needs to start beating some quality teams. The Crimson Tide isn't a "quality team", though. Prediction: Kentucky 71, Alabama 63

Oklahoma at Texas A&M (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN2)- Will one of these teams make the NCAA Tournament? It's up in the air for both the Preseason Top 10 Sooners and the previously 11-0 (now 11-2) Aggies. Prediction: Texas A&M 72, Oklahoma 68

Florida State at Boston College (Saturday, 2:00 PM)- Boston College is off to an 0-3 start, while Florida State is 2-1 in the ACC. The Eagles need a win here, while the Seminoles are poised to give them problems with their stable of athletes on the wings. Prediction: Boston College 72, Florida State 61

Duke at Clemson (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN)- Will anyone beat Duke this season? The prospects for potential defeats are shrinking. Maybe the Tigers can keep it close on their homecourt. Sorry, I was just joking. Prediction: Duke 84, Clemson 70

Marquette at West Virginia (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- West Virginia is becoming a team that can make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament, while Marquette is just trying to get there. Prediction: West Virginia 77, Marquette 66

Tennessee Tech at Samford (Saturday, 3:00 PM)- Two of the OVC's best try to keep pace with Murray State atop the conference. The winner moves to one game behind the 7-1 Racers. Prediction: Samford 71, Tennessee Tech 65

Vanderbilt at Arkansas (Saturday, 3:05 PM)- Vanderbilt looks for another road win against a quality SEC team (not too many of those, are there?). Arkansas needs to bounce back from an 0-2 conference start. Prediction: Vanderbilt 79, Arkansas 77

UNC-Wilmington at Hofstra (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Another quality matchup in the Colonial Conference as two of the best teams in the league battle in Long Island. UNC-Wilmington is tied for the league lead at 5-1, but Hofstra is undefeated at home and are still in the thick of the conference race. Prediction: Hofstra 82, UNC-Wilmington 75

Montana at Montana State (Saturday, 5:00 PM)- The two preseason favorites in the Big Sky go up against each other to try to keep pace with league leaders Northern Arizona and Sacramento State. Montana State's Ja'Ron Jefferson against Andrew Strait of Montana will be a key matchup. Prediction: Montana 70, Montana State 67

Arizona at Oregon (Saturday, 6:00 PM, FSN)- Arizona is coming off of a loss to Oregon State, while Oregon beat Arizona State this week. The Wildcats might be the most talented team in the conference and Oregon is struggling, Eugene is never an easy place to play. Prediction: Arizona 72, Oregon 63

Colorado at Missouri (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt)- Can Missouri seriously move to 3-0 in the Big 12 with a win at home against the Buffaloes? Richard Roby needs to have a big day for suddenly struggling Colorado. Prediction: Missouri 73, Colorado 66

Xavier at Charlotte (Saturday, 7:00 PM)- Two of the Atlantic-10's best teams try to keep their undefeated conference records intact. Xavier is flying under the radar, but have quietly been one of the nation's best teams, while Charlotte is starting to live up to their preseason expectations. Prediction: Xavier 73, Charlotte 70

Northern Illinois at Akron (Saturday, 7:00 PM)- The lone good team from the MAC's West division battles one of four undefeated teams from the East division. Akron needs a win to keep pace with the rest of the division, while Northern Illinois just needs to not collapse in order to win their half of the conference. Prediction: Akron 75, Northern Illinois 67

Washington State at USC (Saturday, 8:00 PM, Regional TV)- Two of the Pac-10 teams that could get on the NCAA bubble if either of them strings together a couple of good conference wins. Both teams can beat any team in the league, but also lose to any team in the Pac-10. Prediction: Washington State 61, USC 56

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