Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday's Pregame Beat

With the 76 and Old Spice Classics getting the day off, there is not much in the way of great basketball today. But if you dig a little bit, there is still plenty of good college hoops to be seen.

3:30 pm: La Salle @ Villanova: One thing you can guarantee about these Big Five games is that they are always going to be a dog fight. Nothing less should be expected today, as the Wildcats and Explorers butt heads. Villanova is once again playing short handed, as they are likely going to be without Mouph Yarou due to a viral infection while Reggie Redding is still a good two-to-three weeks from reinstatement. That said, the Cats are coming off of a win in the Puerto Rico Tip-off in which their back court never really got on track. A big reason for their early success has been the emergence of Antonio Pena as a legit double-double guy. Nova will need to slow down La Salle's Rodney Green, but the Explorers will be looking for Aaric Murray, a top 50 recruit, to become less of a jump shooter and more of a real post player.

4:00 pm: Louisville @ UNLV: Louisville has yet to look great outside of one half of basketball against a depleted Arkansas squad. The Cardinals have the pieces this season, with a solid and deep back court rotation to go along with Samardo Samuels, Jared Swopshire, Terrence Jennings, and the rest of their front line. A good UNLV team led by Kentucky transfer will be a good gauge of how far along the Cardinals are at this point.

5:30 pm: Michigan State vs. UMass, 8:00 pm: Rutgers vs. Florida: I'm not sure exactly why the Gazelle Group decided to go with Florida and Michigan State in the semifinals of this one, as we now have two relatively unintriguing match-ups on the second day of the Legends Classic. Florida has looked very good the last two games, beating MSU and running Florida State out of the gym. The Gators will have their hands full with Mike Rosario, a St. Anthony's product who is one of the best scorers in the Big East. UMass is going to have their hands full with the Spartans. Derek Kellogg's group is still learning the dribble drive motion offense, and the Minutemen look like they are still a year or two away.

5:30 pm: Notre Dame vs. St. Louis; 8:00 pm: Northwestern vs. Iowa State: It is a shame that Notre Dame lost, as I'm sure everyone was hoping to see Luke Harangody and Craig Brackins do battle. But Brackins and Marqus Gilstrap taking on the tough 1-3-1 of Northwestern should be a treat as well. The Cyclones are going to need to be patient on the offensive end and disciplined defensively, or Northwestern may land themselves another nice win. Keep an eye on sophomore John Shurna of the Wildcats. St. Louis will get a chance to slow down Harangody, who hasn't been impressive yet this season. Although, to be fair, I'm so used to Harangody's "pedestrian" 21 and 9 games (like last night) that not much from the big fella impresses me anymore.

5:30 pm: Old Dominion vs. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have had a pretty disappointing season this far. After being picked as a possible contender in the SEC, MSU has now lost two games early in the season to mid-major schools. Old Dominion could end up being a contender in the CAA. Will they spring the upset as well?

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