Saturday’s Slate…December 20th

December 19, 2008
Ho, Ho, Ho...

Ho, Ho, Ho...

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…March!!! December 20th is a date that has been circled on the calendars of many avid college basketball fans.  For many teams it is a “resume builder” type Saturday, vying for that signature “W.”  Some mysteries will be partially unveiled.  Will Stephen Curry drop 40?  Can BYU (yes, those Mormons can play) rise to the occasion and crack the Top 25 with a marquee win?  Can the Mighty Muskies of Xavier perform on a neutral court in a “made-for-tv-game” against the Dukies?  We will find out who was on Santa’s “Good” List tomorrow.

Our obligatory picks in Red.

#9 Louisville  (7-1) @ Minnesota (9-0); 2 pm
#22 Michigan State ( 7-2) @ #5 Texas (9-1); 2 pm
#7 Xavier (9-0) @ #6 Duke (9-1); 2 pm
#2 UCONN (9-0) @ #7 Gonzaga (8-1); 4 pm
#20 Davidson (8-1) @ #18 Purdue (8-2); 4 pm
BYU (10-0) @ #17 Arizona State (8-1); 4:30 pm
#11 Syracuse (10-1) @ #21 Memphis (6-2); 6 pm
VCU (7-3) @ #4 Oklahoma (10-0); 10 pm

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The Big Ten is athletically challenged (maybe)

November 30, 2008

accbigten1

On Monday night the ESPN networks will begin showcasing their 10th Annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Yes, we think there’s a small opportunity for a play on words here, to poke fun at the Big Ten’s recent failures in college athletics (see Ohio State vs The SEC).

We still think its a great concept however—two BCS conferences, early season excitement, chance for some conference bragging rights—but the problem lies in the lack of true competition. The ACC has won this “challenge” every year for since its inception in 2000. Both Duke and BC are undefeated in the event, although it should be noted the Eagles are newbies to the conference, and ACC teams are 33-4 on their home courts. Expect more of the same for this latest installment tipping off tonight.

Our obligatory picks in RED

Monday

#22 Wisconsin @ Virginia Tech 7 PM Est. ESPN2

Tuesday

Ohio State @ #22 Miami 7 PM ESPN
Iowa @ Boston College 7:05 PM ESPNU
Clemson @ Illinois 7:30 PM ESPN2
Virginia @ Minnesota 8:30 PM ESPN2
#4 Duke @ #10 Purdue 9:00 PM ESPN

Wednesday

Indiana @ #17 Wake Forest 7:15 PM ESPN
Penn State @ Georgia Tech 7:30 PM ESPN2
Michigan @ Maryland 7:30 PM ESPNU
#1 North Carolina @ #6 Michigan State (At Ford Field in Detroit, MI) 9:15 PM ESPN
Florida State @ Northwestern 9:30 PM ESPN2 — ***we’re very impressed if you toggle between this and UNC-Mich St.



What we’re looking forward to — week of 11.24

November 24, 2008
Can the 6'0" Flynn fly over the Gators?

Can the 6 foot Flynn fly over the Gators?

After a slow weekend of college basketball, we can only be excited for what lies ahead; the Maui Invitational, the Old Spice Classic and the O’Reilly Auto Parts College Basketball Experience (No, we’re not joking, that is the name). So, between overweight Samoan women dancing in grass skirt’s, the over exaggeration of how “manly” a particular deodorant stick is, and Irish car parts – All fitting Basketball Tournament Sponsors, eh? – Almost sounds like the that should be followed by, “All this can be your’s if the Price is Right…” Anyway, tonight’s best bet comes from the car parts classic in Kansas City, Missouri (couldn’t they pick a more Irish city?).


Syracuse vs. # 19 Florida Gators 7:30 pm ESPN2

Jimmy Boeheim’s Syracuse Orange will meet the #19 Florida Gator’s in the first of two semifinals of the College Basketball Experience. The victor will face the winner of the nightcap, Kansas vs. Washington. Expect points, and a lot of them. Both team’s come into tonight’s game undefeated, with the ‘Cuse posting over 82 points a clip and the Gator’s pouring in 75 per showing. For Florida, everything is run through Nick Calathes, filling the stat sheet and leading the team in all major categories (points, rebounds, assists and steals). The Orange will be lead by Sophomore PG and dark horse for “First Team All American,” Jonny Flynn.


Monday’s Second Option (MUST READ ARTICLE, see link):

MNF: I thought the Saint’s were doing their part with the United Way, cleaning up New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, but wait…oh yeah…they are just selfish, whiny, spoiled professional athletes. Saint’s host the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football, 8:30 pm on ESPN. (I really just had to find a way to put this article on the blog, it’s my job).


Obligatory Preseason Top 10. #s 10-6

November 12, 2008

OK it’s just about that time. Baseball is finito, ESPN is in full on “NFL ALL DAY EVERYDAY UNTIL IT HURTS!!!” mode, and it’s getting effing cold in the Northeast. That can only mean one thing…National Novel Writing Month college basketball is about to finally tip-off. We’re not that into the whole preseason prediction crap–we’ll leave that to the talking heads. But even so we must post something. So we will stick to a quick top ten, as we finally get this blog rolling.

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#10 OKLAHOMA SOONERS

Blake Griffin does a pretty mean David Tyree

Blake Griffin does a pretty mean David Tyree

When Sophomore Blake Griffin announced in April that he was giving up his Lottery Pick status, millions of dollars and stripper groupies to return to trifling Norman, Oklahoma, you better believe coach Jeff Capel was pleased. Chances are however, the rest of Sooner Country said, “cool” and resumed their insatiable anticipation for the upcoming spring football game.

It’s pretty simple with this team: As (Blake) Griffin goes, so go the Sooners. He’s a preseason All-American, which is well deserved. We should note that his older brother Taylor is on this team, but serves as a bench reserve and doesn’t garner any attention from the NBA.

In addition to BLAKE GRIFFIN, there’s a few other guys to keep an eye on. Tony Crocker will have to continue his 3-point prowess-as he shot over 40 percent from 3 last season. He will look to spot up with passes from freshman Willie Warren, a Top 25 recruit making the transition to point guard.

OU will participate in the NIT Season Tip Off, with potential noteworthy match-ups against Davidson and Purdue. Other than that it’s a pretty easy non-conference schedule, although we’re full of glee for that December 10th match-up against the Maine Black Bears. WHOOOO!!!

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#9 NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH

I mean, they sure don't not look alike

I mean, they sure don't not look alike.

GODY!!! OK we just wanted to say that once. The Irish look good this year, and return Big East Player of the year Luke Harangody. That red head can play.

The Irish are set up for a very entertaining season, with one of their best teams on paper and toughest schedules in recent memory. They will get lei’d out in Hawaii and participate in the Maui Invitational, with potential match-ups against Texas and UNC.

We’re expecting a 30 win season from this team, but keep this stretch of games in mind…from January 12th to February 12th their schedule is as follows: @ Louisville, @ Syracuse, UCONN, Marquette, @ Pitt, @ Cincinnati, @ UCLA, and home to Louisville… Good Luck Leprechaun.

In addition to luck and Harangody, the Irish will always be in games with Kyle McAlarney stroking it from deep—he shot 44 percent from 3 last season. They also have Tory Jackson, the “Tito” to McAlarney’s “Michael,” as he led the Big East in assists last year. That reference probably resonated with our fathers, but none of our other readers.

There will be depth issues as the bench lacks a real sparkplug who can score, but a good, top-heavy team here that will certainly be battled-tested come March.

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#8 UCLA BRUINS

It all falls on Darren Collison now, as UCLA is sans Kevin Love

It falls on Darren Collison's shoulders, as UCLA is sans Kevin Love

If college basketball powerhouse programs were like little girls, they would all be whispering into each other’s ears talking about how UCLA has been to three straight final fours, but won NO NATIONAL TITLES!!! HAHAHA!

So this year, as The Buffalo Bills look to reach their fourth straight Super Bowl UCLA looks to reach the Final Four for the fourth consecutive season, Ben Howland will have to find a way to maximize effort. The Bruins return All-American Darren Collison and have an explosive freshman in Jrue Holiday. But with the losses of Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and that really handsome boy Lorenzo Mata-Real, depth will certainly be an issue. If you don’t believe us, James Keefe is expected to start at power forward—over the past two years, he’s only managed 1.9 points per game.

Yes, the Pac-10 will be down this year so UCLA will still be the class of the conference. But getting to Detroit will be tough, as well as keeping those little girls from laughing.

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#7 PURDUE BOILERMAKERS

A Final Four appearance could make Matt Painter national coach of the year

A Final Four appearance could make Matt Painter national coach of the year

If you’re looking for a trendy pick to follow this season jump on the Boilermaker bandwagon, a team that’s got a ton of energy and depth.

All five starters return, and seven of their top eight scorers, to a team bounced by Xavier in the 2nd round of the 2008 tournament. We saw these guys in person last year, and were very impressed with their backcourt—something that’s imperative to success in college basketball.

Coach Matt Painter has supplanted ESPN weirdo Steve Lavin, and New Mexico Head Coach Steve Alford as the “Coolest Guy In College Basketball With Slicked Back Hair.” Although few other competitors really come to mind.

Anyways, getting back to that backcourt, they have guards a plenty and a point guard by committee comprised of E’Twaun Moore (all around stud), Keaton Grant (voted by teammates last year as team MVP), and Chris Kramer (reigning Big 10 defensive player of the year).

There’s also Robbie Hummel. A 6’ 8” guy who can shoot lights out, even though he looks like a 3rd grader shooting with both hands.

Yes there’s a lot of talent here and a lot of guys who can handle the ball, making them a team you don’t want to press. However, the Boilermakers will need to do better on the boards this season. They virtually broke even in rebounding margin, so that will have to be improved if they want to close out games. If they can gel and figure out each other’s roles, there could be great success! in West Lafayette.

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#6 PITTSBURGH PANTHERS

These kids are good at watching basketball, not playing

These kids are good at watching basketball, not playing

We’re not descendants of Nostradamus, but we’re nearly certain that despite Pitt’s high level of talent, they will win at least 20 games, reach the Big East Tournament final, then struggle in the NCAA Tournament. They’ve accomplished the first two feats seven times this decade but have never even played in a regional final. They’ve got the make-up to finally break down that wall this season but some players will have to take on, and perform well, in larger roles. The backcourt now falls on the shoulders of Levance Fields. He is a typical, tough Panthers point guard plucked from the NY/NJ area. Now he will have to run the show with Ronald Ramon no longer around.

Dejaun Blair will be an absolute horse down low. He’s a rebounding machine that loves attention and loves to compete.
Expect him and Tyrell Biggs to take lesser opponents lunch money throughout the season.

The bulk of the scoring will come from Sam Young, a versatile senior who is the 2nd highest returning scorer in the conference. Pittsburgh will be fun to watch, probably even more then their intra-city professional counterparts Steelers and Penguins. I purposely didn’t include the Pirates because they’re more like semi-pro, but even that is being generous.


Obligatory Preseason Top 10. #’s 5-1.

November 12, 2008

OK it’s just about that time. Baseball is finito, ESPN is in full on “NFL ALL DAY EVERYDAY UNTIL IT HURTS!!!” mode, and it’s getting effing cold in the Northeast. That can only mean one thing…National Novel Writing Month college basketball is about to finally tip-off. We’re not that into the whole preseason prediction crap–we’ll leave that to the talking heads. But even so we must post something. So we will stick to a quick top ten, as we finally get this blog rolling.

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#5 DUKE BLUE DEVILS

Elliot Williams might actually make the Dookies seem cool

Elliot Williams might actually make the Dookies seem cool

There’s a lot of Dukie haters out there, we fully understand that. Those haters are already piping off about how Kyle Singler and Greg Paulus have no business being in the discussion of All-Americans. They’re piping off about how Coach K will surely have an Olympic hangover, and they’re piping off about how Duke is a school for tools. We get that, but Duke is back.

Despite only three tournament wins in the past three seasons, the Blue Devils will have a swagger again, despite having the highest percentage of Caucasians in this top ten. That’s OK though, cause white boys can shoot and usually come from wealthy families that were able to pay for superior private education. This means they are smart and resourceful.

Expect an unbelievable season from Gerald Henderson. This guy is a poor (yes very poor) man’s version of Kobe Bryant, with his ability to slash and beat anyone off the dribble. Nolan Smith will see more minutes this year, and can play any guard position, as well as help out Paulus at the point.

Also take note of incoming freshman Elliot Williams. He’s drawing Jason Williams comparisons, which is good news for Cameron Crazies. He also has a nick name: E-Mail, we guess that kind of makes sense. They rumble with UNC on February 11th, and again on March 8th to close out the season. Hopefully the Dukies, and “E-Mail”, can fill the Tar Heels inbox with spam. ZING!!!!!!!

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#4 MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS

He's got two left feet, but we still love Idong Ibok

He's got two left feet, but we still love Idong Ibok

It’s easy to forget about how consistent the Michigan State program has been under Tom Izzo. But hey, they play in the Big 10 and that conference can’t really be analogized with anything overly exciting.

Despite losing fan favorite Drew Neitzel, the Spartans return more experienced and more athletic. Kalin Lucas will take over the point. He’s a solid all-around player who will pose more of a scoring threat than Neitzel. Raymar Morgan is the league’s most versatile player and our darkhorse for national player of the year. And while he won’t make or break the season, Idong Ibok is back. He’s off the charts in terms of unintentional humor.

Keep an eye on incoming freshman Delvin Roe, who missed much of his senior year of high school after severely injuring his left knee. Tom Izzo is high on this kid who is from talent rich Ohio and could make an immediate impact once he’s 100 percent.

College basketball enthusiasts will get a good read on the Spartans early in the season, as they once again have some great match-ups against the likes of UNC and Kansas, and are playing in the Old Spice Classic with headliners Gonzaga, Tennessee and Georgetown.

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#3 UCONN HUSKIES

Loaded with NBA talent once again, UCONN is scary good

Loaded with NBA talent once again, UCONN is scary good

If incoming freshman Kemba Walker is as advertised, then Jim Calhoun will just have a ball with his backcourt rotation. Between him and team mainstays AJ Price, Craig Austrie and Jerome Dyson, this quartet could moonlight selling ball-handling instructional DVD’s to AAU coaches across the country.

Price will probably start the season off a little slow. Let’s not forget he suffered a torn ACL in the 1st round of last year’s tournament, which they were beaten at the buzzer by San Diego and bounced from the tourney. Another story line to keep an eye on: Jerome Dyson. He’s gonna have to stop pissing off Jim Calhoun if he wants to stay in the rotation. Hey UCONN fans, does it hurt thinking about all this? Should we cut deeper. OK we’ll stop.

On the flip side, Calhoun absloutely loves Hasheem Thabeet. The big man really came into his own last year, and we expect him to be the most imposing player in the country by the end of the season. Also, don’t forget about Jeff Adrien — “The Banger from Brookline, Mass” (We totally just coined that ourselves). If someone gave us three to one odds that he throws down at some point during the always grueling Big East schedule, we’d wager 50 bucks and expect a $150 payout. We’d also bet on them winning 30+ games, and making the Final Four.

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#2 LOUISVILLE CARDINALS

A lot of people get peeved at Rick Pitino, and a lot of people think he gets dressed in the dark, but we like him even though he made a mockery of the Boston Celtics by letting roughly 27 Kentucky Wildcat guys play for the green during his tumultuous tenure. Nonetheless, he’s a great recruiter who has put together a roster of upperclassmen and underclassmen who can all contribute, and will certainly compete for minutes throughout the season.

Earl Clark is back for his junior season, Terrence Williams is our choice for Big East Player of the year, and incoming freshman Samardo Samuels will easily fill the void of David Padgett and Juan Palacios. Thankfully, the negativity in Louisville doesn’t suck like it does in Boston, so their departure won’t lead to a Pitino rant justifying why his team is in shambles. No really we do forgive him, seriously.

Not a lot to complain about this team, except how we’re still not sure how to exactly pronounce Louisville (is it Lulville, Loulville, or Louisville). Whatever, we’re never going to live there so screw em. Just enjoy this team, and their fairly easy schedule even though they’re in the Big East. This team is destined for the Final Four, and a potential 2008 Elite Eight rematch with UNC, only this time it could be for the national title.

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#1 NORTH CAROLINA TARHEELS

Yeaaa Bobby Frasor, you're wicked sweet

Yeaaa Bobby Frasor, you are wicked sweet

Duke fans can bitch and moan all they want, so I (Nick) guess I will too, but this could become the season of the ubiquitous Tar Heels. Anyone not predicting UNC to tear down the nets on April 4, 2009 either wants attention, or is a complete and ignorant homer of one of these other nine teams.

We love attention and we hate UNC, but have to be rational and give them their props. Ty Lawson is back, Wayne Ellington is back and, oh yeah, that goon with limited NBA potential who has Medusa like powers when others look at his face, Tyler Hansborough, is back to patrol the middle and bother us tremendously.

The good news for the Tar Heels is obvious: there’s a wealth of talent and experience from top to bottom and that should allow them to overcome any and all obstacles thrown at them. The bad news is they will be expected to win nearly every game, and anything less than a title will certainly be labeled a failure. If they fail it will be awesome but, realistically, don’t expect it to happen.