Friday, December 1, 2006

Weekend Preview

Not into college basketball yet? (First of all, welcome to my website if that's the case). Well, with the calendar turning to December and college football’s regular season ending, it’s time for college basketball to take focus. Some teams are starting to come together, while others are looking like disappointments already. Conference play also kicks off this weekend in several leagues. In other words, this weekend is chock full of games worth watching and you shouldn't miss it.

Top Games

Kentucky at North Carolina (Saturday, 12:00 PM, CBS): Once CBS starts showing games, one knows the season has really started. This game matches two of the most storied programs in the history of the sport, and two NCAA Tournament teams. North Carolina is looking like one of the best teams in the country, despite their loss to Gonzaga. Tyler Hansbrough is dominating inside, while freshmen Brendan Wright, Wayne Ellington, and Tywon Lawson are producing as expected. The Tar Heels can really light up the scoreboard. Kentucky has looked impressive thus far, even with their 1-2 Maui appearance. Randolph Morris is playing very well on the interior, and Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley are scoring well from the perimeter. Prediction: North Carolina 88, Kentucky 78

Gonzaga vs. Texas (Saturday, 3:00 PM, ESPN): A match-up of two teams that will be better come March. Gonzaga has not missed a beat without Adam Morrison, with a win over North Carolina. Josh Heytvelt is one of the best big men in the country, while Derek Raivio and Jeremy Pargo are playing well on the perimeter. Matt Bouldin has also been one of the best freshmen in the country. Texas struggled in New York for the NIT Final Four, but has been solid thus far. Kevin Durant has shown that he is one of the best players in the country, with A.J. Abrams providing an excellent perimeter option. D.J. Augustin has performed very well at the point. Prediction: Gonzaga 76, Texas 69

Illinois at Arizona (Saturday, 5:00 PM, ESPN): A rematch of the epic Elite Eight game two years ago, when Arizona blew a 15-point lead in the final four minutes. Don’t expect a repeat. Illinois has not played to its potential thus far, although much of that can be attributed to injuries. However, six players are averaging in double figures, and Shaun Pruitt and Warren Carter are playing well down low. Jamar Smith and Chester Frazier are a solid perimeter duo. Arizona could lead the nation in scoring by season’s end. They have great forwards in freshman Chase Budinger, Marcus Williams, and Ivan Radenovic. Point guard Mustafa Shakur is among the nation’s leaders in assists.
Prediction: Arizona 84, Illinois 73

Wichita State at Syracuse (Saturday, 7:00 PM, ESPNU): Although Syracuse doesn’t leave New York until the turn of the calendar year, the Orange will be tested Saturday night. Wichita State is one of the best teams in the country, regardless of conference. They have a slew of versatile inside-outside players in P.J. Couisnard, Kyle Wilson, and Ryan Martin, while Sean Ogirri can shoot it from anywhere. Syracuse, on the other hand, has not received much production from the inside duo of Terrence Roberts and Darryl Watkins. However, Eric Devendorf, Paul Harris, and Demetris Nichols have been very good on the wings, while Josh Wright has handled the point.

Georgetown at Duke (Saturday, 7:00 PM, ESPN2): This game looked a lot more appealing back in October and early November—before the season started. Since then, Georgetown has lost two games and not looked impressive whatsoever, while Duke has looked solid but inconsistent. The Blue Devils have relied on junior DeMarcus Nelson at both ends, with sophomores Josh McRoberts and Greg Paulus not taking the step that most had anticipated they would. Freshmen Jon Scheyer and Lance Thomas have played well. Georgetown has not dominated the interior as expected. Roy Hibbert is struggling to rebound the basketball, while Jeff Green is not the go-to-guy he needs to be. Jonathan Wallace has played well at the point, but the Hoyas are not getting much perimeter production.
Prediction: Duke 74, Georgetown 67

Boston College at Massachusetts (Saturday, 7:30 PM, CSTV): A intrastate battle between two teams that could be in the NCAA Tournament come March. Boston College has not played to their potential yet this season, although they are coming off a solid win against Michigan State. The Eagles have losses to Providence and Vermont. Jared Dudley is one of the best all-around players in the country, while Sean Williams is dominating the paint defensively. Tyrese Rice and Sean Marshall anchor the perimeter. Massachusetts is looking like an Atlantic-10 contender. Rashaun Freeman and Stephane Lasme are a very good inside duo, while Gary Forbes and James Life can score from the wing. Prediction: Boston College 69, Massachusetts 67

Florida at Florida State (Sunday, 7:30 PM, FSN): Another intrastate battle between one team hoping to reach the Final Four and another just hoping to reach the NCAA Tournament. Florida has been one of the best teams in the country so far, with their lone loss coming in overtime at the hands of Kansas. They will be without Corey Brewer for this one, who is out indefinitely with mononucleosis. Joakim Noah’s availability is also up in the air due to a respiratory infection. However, Taurean Green and Al Horford still form an excellent inside-outside combo, while Lee Humphrey can shoot it. Florida State has struggled against any good team it has faced this year, and needs a good showing here to gain confidence. Al Thornton and Toney Douglas have provided the scoring for the Seminoles, but they need someone else to step up against the Gators. There will be a tremendous amount of athletes in this game. Prediction: Florida 82, Florida State 75

Nevada at California (Sunday, 9:00 PM, CSTV): A West Coast battle that pits a veteran, upperclassmen-laden group (Nevada) against a young, exciting team (Cal). The Wolf Pack are undefeated at 6-0, although they don’t have any truly impressive wins yet. Nick Fazekas is one of the best players in the country, averaging over 24 points and 13 rebounds per game, while Marcelus Kemp has been lighting it up from the perimeter. Cal has been led by the inside-outside combo of guard Ayinde Ubaka and forward Ryan Anderson, while DeVon Hardin has been an athletic presence on the interior. He will have to come up big against Fazekas down low. Prediction: Nevada 72, California 70

Other Games to Watch

Clemson at South Carolina (Saturday, 1:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt): Intrastate rivalry between two teams projected to finish in the bottom part of their respective leagues. Clemson has been solid so far, led by a deep perimeter group and James Mays inside. USC is led by Tre Kelley. Prediction: Clemson 67, South Carolina 60

Northern Iowa at Bucknell (Saturday, 1:00 PM): Bracket Buster rematch from last season. Both teams have taken a few steps back from a year ago, although they will be in hunt come March. NIU has Eric Coleman and Grant Stout inside, while Bucknell is led by Chris McNaughton. Prediction: Northern Iowa 63, Bucknell 59

Kansas at DePaul (Saturday, 2:00 PM, ESPNU):
Can DePaul turn their season around after a rough start? Beating Kansas would go a long way towards determining that. The Jayhawks have looked very good this season—despite their loss to Oral Roberts. Watch the matchup between Julian Wright and Wilson Chandler. Prediction: Kansas 78, DePaul 66

Saint Louis at Southern Illinois (Saturday, 3:05 PM): Another chance for Southern Illinois to beat a quality, postseason-bound team. Also a shot for Saint Louis to avenge their blowout loss to Texas A&M a few weeks back. Ian Vouyoukas needs to have a big game down low for SLU.
Prediction: Southern Illinois 64, Saint Louis 48

Georgia at Wake Forest (Saturday, 5:00 PM): Both teams have been decent so far this season, with only two losses between them. Kyle Visser has been a beast in the paint for Demon Deacons, while Georgia counters with the inside-outside duo of Mike Mercer and Takais Brown. Prediction: Wake Forest 75, Georgia 71

Holy Cross at Dayton (Saturday, 7:00 PM): Holy Cross has emerged as the Patriot League favorite with Bucknell struggling. Dayton has a nice win over Louisville and looks like they could make noise in the A-10. Brian Roberts of Dayton and Keith Simmons of Holy Cross will be a match-up to watch. Prediction: Dayton 72, Holy Cross 63

Villanova at Pennsylvania (Saturday, 7:00 PM, Regional TV): Two NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago battle for Philadelphia supremacy. Ibrahim Jaaber leads a Penn team that could give a higher-seeded team a run for their money in March, while ‘Nova has Curtis Sumpter leading the way. Prediction: Pennsylvania 68, Villanova 65

Houston at VCU (Saturday, 7:30 PM): Tom Penders and Houston were expected to make a run at an NCAA bid this year, but have struggled so far this season. They could use a win against Virginia Commonwealth, who could surprise in what is suddenly a wide-open CAA. Prediction: Houston 74, VCU 72

Charlotte at Indiana (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPN+): The Hoosiers need to get some confidence after losses to Butler and Duke already this season. D.J. White has to dominate the paint in order for Indiana to reach their potential. Charlotte has a win over Hofstra over on their resume, but that win looks worse than it did in early November. Leemire Goldwire and De’Angelo Alexander form a very good perimeter duo.
Prediction: Indiana 70, Charlotte 66

Akron at Oral Roberts (Saturday, 8:05 PM): Two of the top mid-majors in the country go head-to-head. Both are capable of pulling off an upset in March, with ORU already boasting a W against Kansas. Romeo Travis leads the way for Akron, while Caleb Green dominates inside for Oral Roberts. Prediction: Oral Roberts 74, Akron 71

Loyola Marymount at USC (Saturday, 9:00 PM, Regional TV): A West Coast battle between two teams hoping to make noise in their leagues come January. LMU has been very solid so far, led by Matthew Knight and Brandon Worthy. USC has a nice group of athletes, with Nick Young one of the more underrated stars in the country. Prediction: USC 72, Loyola Marymount 64

Bradley at Michigan State (Sunday, 12:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt):
The Spartans have played surprisingly well this season, although they have lost games late to Maryland and Boston College. Drew Neitzel has become the go-to-guy. Bradley has also been a surprise so far this year, with Jeremy Crouch and Zach Andrews forming a nice duo.
Prediction: Michigan State 62, Bradley 55

Bucknell at George Mason (Sunday, 1:30 PM): The Bison have another tough game on their slate this weekend. Chris McNaughton and George Mason’s Will Thomas will do battle on the interior. Both of these teams lost a lot from last season, but will once again be factors in their conference races come February. Prediction: George Mason 68, Bucknell 60

Pittsburgh at Auburn (Sunday, 3:00 PM, Regional TV): Pittsburgh has been arguably the best team in the country this season—despite struggles against Oakland and Robert Morris. Aaron Gray is one of the best centers around, while Mike Cook is a solid scorer from the wing. Auburn has played solid this season, and is led by the trio of Korvotney Barber, Rasheem Barrett, and Frank Tolbert. Prediction: Pittsburgh 83, Auburn 69

North Carolina State at Virginia (Sunday, 3:30 PM, FSN): The ACC starts their conference season early this season, with a battle between undefeated NC State and potential at-large candidate Virginia. Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds form a very good backcourt duo for the Cavs, while Gavin Grant has been one of the best all-around players in the conference. Prediction: Virginia 77, North Carolina State 66

Virginia Tech at George Washington (Sunday, 4:00 PM, Regional TV): Both teams have struggled somewhat in the early parts of the season, with Tech losing to Western Michigan and GW getting blown out by Providence. This game features a lot of veteran guards, led by Maureece Rice and Carl Elliot of GW, and Zabian Dowdell and Jamon Gordon of Virginia Tech. Prediction: George Washington 78, Virginia Tech 75

Texas Tech at Stanford (Sunday, 6:30 PM, CSTV): Two major-conference teams trying to building confidence for league play in a month. Stanford has one loss, a blowout home defeat to Air Force, but Lawrence Hill and Anthony Goods have formed a solid duo for the Cardinal. Texas Tech fell to the same Air Force team, but have one of the best backcourts in the Big Twelve in Jarrius Jackson and Martin Zeno.
Prediction: Stanford 67, Texas Tech 66

Notre Dame at Maryland (Sunday, 6:30 PM, Regional TV): Maryland has been one of the most impressive teams in the country this season, starting 8-0. D.J. Strawberry and Mike Jones have played very well on the wings, while the Terrapins stable of athletes have created havoc at both ends of the floor. Notre Dame has a loss to Butler, but have played better lately. Russell Carter and Rob Kurz form a nice inside-outside duo. Prediction: Maryland 84, Notre Dame 67

1 comment:

  1. The Arizona Illini score wound up 84 72.....

    Scary close prediction.

    Good job.