Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday's Pregame

There is a lot of really good basketball to be played today, so if your football team played Thursday, or you happen to hail from Kansas City, you are in luck. Besides, everyone knows the only good game this week is Monday Night.

Here's your Sunday hoops line-up.

Old Spice Classic

  • 10:00 am: Creighton vs. Iona: Iona has looked very good through two games, giving both Florida State and Baylor all they could handle. Creighton is a different team, however. Still athletic, the Bluejays get much more out of the guys on their perimeter, even employing a trapping full-court press. Given how well Iona has played in the interior in their first two OSC games, don't be surprised if the Gaels pull out a win so long as they protect the ball.
  • 12:30 pm: Baylor vs. Xavier: Xavier had a rough showing in their first game, specifically Jordan Crawford, who finished the opener against Marquette just 4-20 from field. But in game two, Crawford looked like the guy that dunked on LeBron, going for 22 points on 8-12 from the floor and 4-5 from deep. If he shows up again, X has the bigs the match-up with Baylor on the interior and should pull out the win. If you haven't had a chance to see Epke Udoh of Baylor play yet, tune in. He has a chance to be special.
  • 5:00 pm: Michigan vs. Alabama: In the third place game, the Crimson Tide are going to have to figure out a way to slow down Manny Harris, who is averaging 21 ppg, 8.5 rpg, and 7.5 apg in the tournament. Bama has some bigs and some athletes, but do they have enough shooting to beat the Wolverines zone?
  • 7:30 pm: Marquette vs. Florida State: Marquette once again is a team that is based on spreading the floor offensively, taking advantage of the mismatches created by Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler. But the Seminoles are as big as any team that Marquette has faced this season. Granted, guys like Solomon Alabi and Chris Singleton are far from dominating offensive post presences, that length could cause some problems. Will FSU have to go small against Marquette, or will the Noles be able to utilize their mismatches inside? That will decide the game.
76 Classic
  • 2:30 pm: Long Beach State vs. UCLA: The Bruins looked much better against Butler, as they made a big comeback and tied the Bulldogs late. UCLA still has a long way to go, but the biggest issue may actually be effort - are these kids going to play hard for 40 minutes? LBSU gave Clemson a fight on Friday, so UCLA is going to need to be prepared. Going 0-3 in this tourney would be quite an embarrassment for the Bruins.
  • 5:00 pm: Minnesota vs. Texas A&M: There is something to be said for teams that are disciplined and well-coached defensively, and that is the Gophers and the Aggies to a T. A&M was simply out classed against a very good West Virginia team playing wih Devin Ebanks, but the underrated Aggies should have the horses to run with Minnesota. The Gophers were upset by upstart Portland in the second round, and a big reason was their interior play; their bigs just didn't show up. Combine that with cold shooting, and Minnesota just wasn't right offensively. The Gophers are too talented for that to be the norm, and with their defense playing great right now (Portland was over 50% from three on the year before going 8-25 vs Minne), Tubby Smith shouldn't be too worried.
  • 7:30 pm: Butler vs. Clemson: The first of two great games out in Anaheim, the uptempo, pressing Tigers take on the more deliberate Bulldogs. Both of the teams rely on their defensive prowess to be successful, but it is two completely different styles. Clemson plays full court, trying to force tempo and create turnovers. Butler is more comfortable in the half court game. Booker-Howard will be a fun match-up to watch, as will Hayward going against the multitude of athletic wings Clemson has, but this game will be decided by how well Butler defends Clemson from behind the arc. That was the question mark for the Tigers coming into the season, and they have struggled from out there in Anaheim.
  • 10:00 pm: West Virginia vs. Portland: Portland can shoot, West Virginia can defend and rebound. That right there is going to decide this game. Will WVU's size, strength, and athleticism be an issue for Portland on the glass and on the offensive end? Will they be able to create open looks from three? They struggled a bit with it against Minnesota, and WVU is stronger and more athletic than the Gophers.
Other notable games:
  • 2:00 pm: New Orleans @ NC State
  • 2:00 pm: Radford @ Duquesne
  • 2:00 pm: Niagara @ Akron
  • 3:00 pm: South Alabama @ Arkansas
  • 4:00 pm: Texas A&M CC @ Ole Miss
  • 4:00 pm: Texas @ Rice
  • 4:30 pm: Nebraska @ USC
  • 5:00 pm: Princeton @ Cal
  • 6:45 pm: Nevada @ UNC
  • 9:00 pm: Montana @ Washington
  • 10:00 pm: Portland State @ Stanford

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