Friday, December 28, 2007

Weekend Preview

Well, first of all, I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays – and now it’s time to get back to college basketball after a week featuring two days of no games, one day of one game and two days of mediocre match-ups. There are just a couple days left until 2008, and conference play is going to be in full swing across the country once the calendar turns. In some leagues, they are starting this weekend, while other teams are attempting to beef up their non-conference resumes with cross-country headline battles. It should be a great end to 2007.

Top Games

Wisconsin (+7) at Texas (Saturday, 12:00 PM, ESPN2): Two of the more successful programs in the last decade or so, this game should be a factor when it comes to seeding both teams in March. Wisconsin has been a solid team without Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor, sitting at 9-2. However, the Badgers have no significant wins and lost to Duke and Marquette in their only tough games. Trevon Hughes has emerged as a scorer in the backcourt for Wisconsin, while Brian Butch has finally performed up front. Texas has been one of the best teams in the country all season despite the loss of Kevin Durant to the NBA. D.J. Augustin has stepped up at both ends of the floor and could be the best point guard in the country right now. The only loss Texas has was at the hands of Michigan State on the road last weekend. Prediction: Texas 75, Wisconsin 64

Tennessee (+1.5) at Gonzaga (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN2): Although it is one of the last marquee non-conference match-ups of the season, this should be an outstanding game. Both teams are very deep; they like to get up-and-down the floor in transition but also have the ability and personnel to get points and defend in a half-court setting. Tennessee will press the entire game, especially after made baskets, hoping to force turnovers and create easy baskets. Gonzaga has players who can run the floor, but it also has plenty of good shooters who can get open in the half-court, which makes them more difficult to defend. Prediction: Gonzaga 79, Tennessee 75
Click here for the rest of this week's Game of the Week

Oklahoma (+8) at West Virginia (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPN2): A battle between two squads that are doing better than predicted in their respective conferences. Oklahoma looks like an NCAA Tournament contender in the Big 12 as it has notched back-to-back wins over Arkansas and Gonzaga. Freshman Blake Griffin and center Longar Longar are a very good frontcourt duo. West Virginia has been outstanding in its first season under new coach Bob Huggins, with its only loss at the hands of Tennessee. The Mountaineers still run a difficult-to-defend offense but now play tough man-to-man defense. Joe Alexander and Alex Ruoff are a very good wing duo on a team that can do a variety of things offensively.
Prediction: West Virginia 73, Oklahoma 66

Pittsburgh (-2.5) at Dayton (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPN2):
Match-up between two of the more surprising 10-win teams in the country. Pittsburgh has always been a good early-season team, but this year’s version solidified itself among the nation’s best when it came back to win in overtime against Duke last week in New York. DeJuan Blair is one of the best freshmen in the country. Dayton has only a loss at George Mason between itself and an undefeated record. The Flyers have wins over Miami (Ohio), Louisville and Holy Cross – all on the road. Senior guard Brian Roberts is one of the best perimeter players in the country and could be the favorite for Atlantic-10 Player of the Year – and that’s saying something, especially this year. Prediction: Pittsburgh 67, Dayton 64

Arizona (-8.5) at Memphis (Saturday, 10:00 PM, ESPN2): As with most Memphis and Arizona games, expect an up-and-down contest filled with plenty of transition basketball and plenty of points. Arizona is the nation’s top-ranked team in the RPI, and has reeled off six straight very impressive victories since falling in overtime to Kansas at home. Chase Budinger and freshman Jerryd Bayless are one of the best wing tandems in the country, while Jordan Hill is emerging as a consistent post presence down low. Memphis had struggled somewhat heading into last weekend, but its 14-point victory over Georgetown quieted the doubters for now. The Tigers are my No. 1 team and are ranked No. 2 in the polls. Freshman Derrick Rose is an outstanding point guard, while junior wing Chris Douglas-Roberts finally awoke from his recent slump. Prediction:
Prediction: Memphis 83, Arizona 73

Other Games to Watch

Washington (+5) at LSU (Saturday, 3:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Can either of these teams contend in their respective conferences? Washington has won three in a row since losing four of five and could be hitting its stride. LSU has been up-and-down all year, but the Tigers have talent. Prediction: LSU 77, Washington 71

Northern Iowa (+4.5) at Bradley (Saturday, 3:05 PM, Regional TV): One of many quality Missouri Valley Conference battles this weekend. Bradley was projected to finish second in the league in the preseason, but it has lost two in a row and three of four. Northern Iowa has been very inconsistent in the past month.
Prediction: Bradley 69, Northern Iowa 58

Winthrop (OFF) at Miami (Fl.) (Saturday, 4:30 PM, Regional TV): Usually, these two teams are flip-flopped when it comes to success. However, this season Miami is 11-0 while Winthrop is only 6-5 with five losses in its last eight games, including one to Mount St. Mary’s. Miami should head into ACC play at 13-0. Prediction: Miami (Fl.) 63, Winthrop 55

Fresno State (+20) at Stanford (Saturday, 5:00 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Battle in California. Fresno State has won two in a row and could potentially be a contender in the wide-open WAC. Stanford won at Texas Tech last weekend and look like an NCAA Tournament team now that Brook Lopez is back in the lineup.
Prediction: Stanford 68, Fresno State 57

Miami (Ohio) (-3.5) at Cincinnati (Saturday, 8:00 PM, Regional TV): Intrastate contest. Miami (Ohio) might have been in the mix for an at-large bid if it hung with Kansas last weekend, but it was blown out and just needs to keep its resume strong. Cincinnati needs momentum heading into Big East play. Prediction: Miami (Ohio) 62, Cincinnati 59

Illinois State (+6.5) at Creighton (Saturday, 8:05 PM, Regional TV):
The MVC is wide-open this season, and these two teams have as good of a chance as any to win the league. Illinois State has won three in a row and five of six, while Creighton is a surprising 9-1 in its “rebuilding” year. Prediction: Creighton 75, Illinois State 64

Drake (+1.5) at Wichita State (Saturday, 8:05 PM): Another big first game for both teams to kick off conference play. Drake has been a surprise so far this season, winning its last eight games and looking impressive doing it too. Its only loss is at Saint Mary’s by six points. Wichita State has won back-to-back games over LSU and UAB.
Prediction: Wichita State 71, Drake 65

BYU (-4.5) at Boise State (Saturday, 8:30 PM, Regional TV): An underrated battle of big men out west. BYU has one of the best post players in the country in Trent Plaisted, while Boise State counters with a terrific duo in Matt Nelson and Reggie Larry. Both teams might be the favorites in their respective conferences right now.
Prediction: BYU 73, Boise State 71

Missouri (+2.5) at Mississippi State (Sunday, 1:30 PM, ESPN FullCourt/Regional TV): Two teams that really need a win in order to boost their at-large profile and get momentum heading into conference play. Missouri started strong at 5-1 but is only 4-3 in its last seven games, while MSU went from possible SEC West favorite to marginal bubble team. Prediction: Mississippi State 77, Missouri 70

Missouri State (+6.5) at Southern Illinois (Sunday, 3:05 PM, Regional TV): Two of the disappointments in the conference. Missouri State is just 6-5 after losing two in a row, while Southern Illinois is just 5-5 heading into a huge non-conference game tonight against Butler. The Salukis were expected to be a top-25 team all year, but have struggled thus far. Prediction: Southern Illinois 60, Missouri State 51

Florida State (+4) at Georgia Tech (Sunday, 5:30 PM, FSN): The ACC is going to be very unpredictable this season, mainly because of the extensive middle-of-the-pack it has – and these two teams are right in there. Florida State has shown the ability to knock off Florida and Minnesota but also lose to Cleveland State and South Florida. Georgia Tech has plenty of talent but has yet to put it all together at both ends of the floor. Prediction: Georgia Tech 83, Florida State 77

Minnesota (+2) at UNLV (Sunday, 7:00 PM): Two of the top-32 RPI teams in the country square off in what could be a surprisingly solid non-conference game. Minnesota has been solid in its first year under Tubby Smith, losing only at Florida State – although the Golden Gophers have played a soft schedule. UNLV has three tough losses to Arizona, Louisville and UCSB. Prediction: UNLV 71, Minnesota 64

Valparaiso (+22.5) at North Carolina (Sunday, 7:30 PM, FSN): Don’t laugh at this one (although I also said that last week against UCSB). Valpo has just two losses on the season, one at undefeated Vanderbilt and one at Wisconsin, two games in which the Crusaders hung in there throughout. North Carolina is emerging as one of the handful of teams that look like early favorites to cut down the nets. Prediction: North Carolina 88, Valparaiso 69

1 comment:

  1. Not a good weekend for you so far...good luck the rest of the way.